Monday, July 28, 2014

Simple Ways To Show Your Kids You Love Them

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* This post was originally posted on 8/2/13.  Enjoy!

*Be silly--My kids just love being silly: dancing, skipping, making up silly jokes, giggling at stupid cartoons, making crazy faces.  Just be silly!

*Play one more game--My son is obsessed with Monopoly right.  Games could go on and on for days at a time and it can definitely wear on this Mommy's nerves.  But he cherishes every moment we spend playing this game together.  So just one more game, Mom!

*Give one more tickle--Again, my son is very physical.  His love language is touch.  And although he doesn't like to be rough when he wrestles, he does love to be tickled.

*Ignore your to-do list--This is a hard one for me.  I'm very Type-A and I have a running to-do list that is more than a mile long.  But the goal is to set it aside for a time each day and listen to what matters to them.

*Tell them you love them--My youngest really needs to hear "I love you" constantly.  He just craves that reassurance.  And I don't want my kids to ever grow up thinking "Do they really love me?  They never say it."  Just say it!

*Give them another hug--And hold them for a long while.  There's nothing like a hug that you can just melt into.  It just reminds them how truly safe they are.

*Say yes--This is another big one.  How often do we say No in a day?  And how many of those No's can turn into Yes'?  I know often I say No out of habit when I could just turn it around and make a new memory.

*Tell them the strengths you see in them-- Along with the No's, how much of our day to day interaction focuses on correction and discipline?  Our children need us to pour into them 10x as much as we correct them.  Pour in that love and tell them what good qualities you see in them.  Give them a long term perspective of how awesome they're made.

*Do something they love--Monopoly?  Need I say more....  Skip on the way to the gym.  Watch them ride their bike out front.  Make a special dessert together.  What does your child love?  Pick a time and do something THEY love.

*Speak only encouraging words--Pour into them.  Pour into them.  Pour into them.  No, this is not reality.  This is the goal.  Turn your correction around into encouraging them to do the right thing.  Encourage their dreams.  Encourage their friendships (within reason).  Encourage their grow.  Pour, pour, pour out those encouraging words.

What ways are you finding to connect with your kids?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Smore Bars

*This post was originally published on 7/29/13.  Enjoy!

Who can believe it's the end of July already?  Wow, where has the summer gone?  So before the kids head back to school, here's a recipe that's guaranteed to be a hit, whether around the campfire or the dinner table.

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Smore Bars
(*from Chocolate, Chocolate, and More)

3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. mini marshmallows (I really just dumped in handfuls)
2 regular sized Hershey chocolate bars

1. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter and press into pan.

2. Combine 1/2 c. butter and sugar until creamy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined.

3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt well.  Slowly add to wet ingredients.

4. Mix in marshmallows.  Spread dough over graham cracker crust.

5. Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 10-12 minutes.

6.  Break up chocolate bars and freeze while bars are baking.  After 10-12 minutes, remove bars from oven and top with chocolate bar squares.  Return to oven for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Turkey Cucumber Wraps

I love to cook, but with three kiddos, my life seems to be all about quick and say meals lately.  I thought things would slow down over the summer, but really... I may have over committed us.  So here we are, making quick meals and trying to keep them nutritious.

And these wraps are awesome for taking to the pool or grabbing a quick dinner before a baseball game.  They are so ridiculously easy and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand.

Just start with your favorite tortilla.  Spread on some veggie cream cheese and season as you like.  I love a little garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Layer with cucumber, tomato, avocado, and sliced turkey.  You can add some cheese if you'd like (but I love mine with just the meat and veggies).

See, so easy.  Just serve it with a salad or some fresh fruit and dinner's on the table in no time.

What yumminess are you discovering this summer?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: I'm working on a Family Book for the Little Man and some stuff for his Mickey Mouse Party.  Everything is in preliminary stages, but hoping to get some stuff done this weekend.

What I'm Reading:  The Rosie Project... I wasn't sure about it at first, but it's really funny.  I started the book club book for July, but quickly misplaced it.  I'm in trouble with that one.

What I'm Doing: Getting a new fridge.  This is the second one that's gone out this year and I just want to kick it.

What I'm Watching: We started watching Hitch last night, but it got late.  We both love that movie and plan on finishing it tonight. 

What I'm Enjoying: Lots of pool time... baseball games... plums... projects!

What are you up to?

Friday, July 18, 2014

10 Tips for Reading Aloud

*This post was originally published on 10/24/13.  Enjoy!

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Reading is in our blood.  I've always been a big reader and as a writer, words have a huge impact in my life.  Reading opens new worlds and experiences for our children, and I really want mine to grasp what a great experience it can be.  So one thing we did early on was read aloud to our kids.  Every night before bed, we all climb up on the couch and read the Bible, along with other books.  It's some of the sweetest moments in our days.  These are some of the tips we've learned along the way:

1. Get comfy--Find some place you want to linger.  For us, it's the couch.  For you, it might be your child's bed, or an old comfy rocking chair.  Pile on the pillow, find a comfy spot, and settle in.

2. Make it a routine--My kids miss it when we don't read every night.  Some nights are hectic or company is in town.  But it's become so routine that my kids miss it.  They come to crave the closeness and discovery together.

3. Speak clearly--Read clearly.  When you're "hearing" a story, it's harder to follow the story than when you're seeing the words.  So read with distinction, pause in important conversations, and pronounce new words clearly.

4. Read Slowly--Reading aloud isn't about just getting through it.  Savor the words.  Use your pauses well and don't let your kids miss a thing.

5. Speak with emotion--People don't speak in monotone so why read in monotone?  Using emotion conveys meaning and makes the story clearer.  And if you're reading a lot of dialogue, try using voices.

6. Use prediction questions--Ask the kids questions as you read.  What's going to happen next?  How do you think the character feels about what's happening?  Use the illustrations to your advantage.  As them to analyze the action and predict what's going to happen.

7. Ask questions to check understanding--Ask questions about new words and situations.  Does your child understand what's happening or need some clarification.  Checking for understanding as you read can bring the whole story together.

8. Take turns--Some times my kids want to read to me.  And that's ok.  In fact, that's great.  Allowing them the time to read to me gives them great practice in reading, pronouncing, and reading aloud, which is a skill in itself.

9. Define hard words--Don't assume that your kids know what every word means.  Sometimes new words can be defined in context.  But if you find you're reading a lot of new vocabulary, take the time to define new words and explore new concepts.  After all that's what reading is all about... new ideas.

10. Use Audio Books--Don't forget to use audio books.  We listen to audio books all the time while we're running errands or traveling to visit family.  We've explored so many new words, new characters, and new stories in listening to audio books.  So if you're struggling to find time for reading aloud, work audio books into your day.

Do you read to your kids regularly?  What are your tips?
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