Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Tag: parenting

Family Togetherness: Say HooYah!

Photo: (info unknown) One of the best ways to bring out positive behavior is to acknowledge it. Children and teenagers especially need our encouragement. They enjoy knowing good deeds have not gone unnoticed. One way we show recognition for the positive things done throughout the […]

Add A Bit of Ambiance

I learned long ago in music appreciation class about the surreal power of music. Years later I felt that power as I sat in the front row of the music hall, with tears streaming down my cheeks, listening to a classical pianist’s rendition of Chopin. […]

April Making Family Ties


I emerged from March into April feeling somewhat defeated and now quite possibly embarrassed. My goal to laugh more in January rewarded me with the ability to let things go. Life is a series of complications. It is how we react to those complications that determines our character. Learning to relinquish the guilt often times associated with being a mom gave me the freedom to accept what may come. The house did not have to be spotless all the time. Celebrations were less about the fluff and more about simple fun. If the kids had a meltdown in public I was under control. In return I became a more relaxed mom capable of giving more.

February’s goal was to express my love more. I am convinced that I could not have accomplished my February goal without having successfully reached my goal in January. Research has shown that when we (parents) are high strung our kids tend to act out more. The more our kids act out the more frustrated we become and the less likely we want to tell them how amazing they are and how much we love them.

Then came March. I thought January and February were stressful. I playfully accused the Gods for trying to test my resolve. I certainly was not expecting what happened in March. March started out on the positive. We were still ill and unable to make plans with our friends most of the month. The times we could come out and play our friends were busy juggling hectic schedules. I was not successful in fulfilling my resolution and that worried me. As I write this I have come to the understanding that not all of March was a failure. We faced some pretty tough days. Had I been the business-like realistic perfectionist of 6 months ago I am not sure I would have escaped with only a terrible migraine. The ironic thing is I had to go through March to better understand my son so that in April I would know how to better meet his needs as his mom.

Which brings me to my April resolution- Family. In April my goal is to help my family reach their potential emotionally and mentally. Even the most loved kid or spouse will feel as though they do not matter. When we feel important and worthy we have the confidence to succeed. Knowing we are loved and that our feelings count is the first step to feeling important.


— Make sure they know they are loved. Express your love and admiration daily. Do not just say it….mean it! For some this may not be an easy feat. With practice you will begin to find the words and the emotions needed to connect with your loved ones.

— Leave little love notes filled with encouragement. Express what you admire most about them.

— Take time to really listen. It takes a loving ear to distinguish what is really going on.

— Linger a little longer. Make one on one time a priority. Allow your child to choose the activity. Keep the mood light and fun. This is not a time for reprimands. Value weekly dates with your spouse as a time to reconnect.

— Provide opportunities. Be cognizant of the hobbies, interests and talents your family members have an interest in. Provide opportunities to help them grow in these particular areas. If your son is into science you might want to search for science projects you can do together one on one or as a family. If your daughter dreams of being a ballet dancer rent movies or enroll her in dance class.

— Encouragement. For every time you have to correct negative behavior in a child you must find 5 positive things to praise them for. Be very careful when correcting a child that you do not cross over into criticism. Positive encouragement gives them the confidence to want to do better. A marriage and family counselor once said that men are actually weak inside. They need our encouragement to help strengthen them not our nagging and negativity.

Chinese New Year – Year of the Tiger

Photo By: Yang Yi, in China Hejin, Shanxi Province I am not superstitious; yet, I will admit I get a little nervous when salt is spilt. I do not believe in horoscopes; however, they really have my personality pegged. The Chinese baby gender calendar called […]

November Website Review:

“We empower learners of all ages to reach their full potential.” I love this site. I stumbled upon looking for expert child rearing advice. Family Education has been around since September of 2000. The site was designed to help foster learning in the home […]

Pre-Mealtime Tablecloth Craft

Table Setting

This idea came from a friend of mine Patty. Every time she had a birthday party the kids were kept busy for a short time decorating a bucket or paper table cloth. Since holiday’s tend to be a bit more hectic it is nice to have a craft to preoccupy them until dinner is ready.

Here we are making flag place settings and wild hats to celebrate with.

Large roll of paper
Craft paper, various colors

Creamed Peas and Potatoes

A friend of mine Jamie Shaffer taught me that kids love to dip. Give them a fruit, cracker or vegetable and a condiment such as cheese, peanut butter, chocolate or salad dressing and they will devour it. Sauces are another way to get kids to […]

Laughter Helps the Medicine Go Down

Not long ago, I made an amazing discovery. As in J.M Barrie’s classic Peter Pan, I had grown up. I had forgotten how to play dolls and cars or come up with a silly song or bedtime story. It is so easy to become consumed […]

Teaching the Value of Work Through Play

In today’s economic uncertainties proper money management is top on the list of priorities when it comes to preparing my children for the real world. When I was in college I did not drive anywhere on the weekends because I did not have the money to pay for the extra gas spent. I did not take money from my parents nor was I out buying clothes or going to the movies. I made just enough money to cover living expenses and that was it.

A few of my friends invited me to a little get-together one evening. These were friends I respected so imagine my shock when one of them got up and announced we were there to discuss financial possibilities. The owner of the house was my age. By age 24 he had secured a Hummer and a sizable home with many amenities. The scheme was not so much about selling products but rather sign up as many people as you can naïve enough to fork over $1500. I thought how dumb could they be to allow themselves to become a part of this. They had managed to convince a girl to turn over one thousand dollars of money she did not have to spend on get rich quick schemes. I had to hold them back as I ushered her out of the room and to her car. Not even one month later the gentlemen who started this scheme over in Switzerland went under taking all the blind that followed with him. I wonder how much of the oversized housing market was due to individuals like these who had not been taught the fundamentals of financial responsibility (or ignored it) and saw a quick buck.

My kids are still too young to recognize the value of money. I can only imagine the tantrum that would ensue over my giving Mason a dime and Adelin ten pennies. All they would see is one of them has more coins than the other. But, there are other ways to teach the little guys about money and the value of work.

By the age of one our children knew how to throw their diapers away, wash dishes and pick up toys. Toddlers love to put objects into things. In our home when we clean up I try to include our one year old, making it into a game. The other kids are driven by the excitement of teaching their baby brother how to put things away. By three the older two knew how to clean their own rooms (by themselves without me telling them too, I do not know how that happened), the bathrooms, mop the floors, pull weeds, vacuum, sweep, dust, set the table and help cook. At this age they help out because they want to and they do a pretty good job. I love it when Mason excitedly asks us to “come see.” Proudly he announces that he cleaned his room. Yes it was very clean. The funny part was he had thrown every article of clothing and all his toys into the hallway. They are practicing now how to work. And we give them every opportunity to do so. If they are bored I immediately find them something to do. At this age they are happy to comply when it is on their terms so I try to let perfection go and have fun.

I do believe in allowances, however; I believe that chores are part of being a family. Mason begins Kindergarten next year and will most likely start receiving a monthly, age appropriate, allowance when he has learned to associate a value to the coins. For now they love to sort the coins and play grocery store. They learn to conserve energy by turning off the lights and take care of their clothes by tackling stains right away and hanging them up to dry. By age twelve and thirteen they will be capable of finding odd jobs in the community such as babysitting, mowing the neighbor’s lawns, washing cars or selling homemade baked goods. They will learn about giving to charity, savings and being frugal.

Budgeting and a good sound worth ethic are the two most valuable tools my mom taught me. It did not happen on my way off to college. It happened when I was very young when my mom refused to give in to my demands and made me wash the dishes. I want to send my children off with the knowledge we work hard, we save for a rainy day, use what we have and go without when we have to.

The Simple Home and the Imaginative Child

At the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is clean. I sometimes stare at the horde of toys before me and wonder how my siblings and I ever conquered childhood with such a minimal collection. I began this year on […]