The Muffin Tin Lunch

Or supper. Have any of you tried this? I got the idea from Pinterest recently and tried it a few times for my son… he loved it! The last time I used sliced summer sausage, cheddar cheese, pickles, carrot sticks, some cheesy crackers, and mandarin orange segments – all in a mini muffin tin:P1110945

There’s just something about being able to choose what’s in your next bite and play around a little. For a 3-year-old, that’s pretty cool!P1110949

And I like that it’s quick, easy and you can use whatever you have in the house!

If you’re new… head here to read about the purpose behind this blog (and perhaps a little bit of encouragement?)

Enjoying Our Children

Photo by Andre Mouraux - Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Andre Mouraux – Flickr Creative Commons

We all know how hard it can be to really enjoy spending time with our kids… and I mean REALLY enjoy it. We all have busy lives, with full-page to-do lists that we have to conquer every day, and when we force ourselves to spend some time with our precious little ones, it can seem like a chore. Every thing we’ve ever done with them has been boring, a challenge or has ended in tears, so why bother, right?

Wrong. Our children desperately need our attention and it’s our duty as a parent to give it to them, to invest in their emotional well-being just as we do their physical well-being. We need to feed them with our love every day and SHOW them (not just tell them) that they are special to us and we find joy in being their mother.

Here are 5 ways that can drastically change the relationship you have with your children.

1. Less screen time.

In our modern culture, we can easily waste hours every day in front of a screen doing nothing productive. According to sixwise.com, the average adult spends 162 minutes per day in front of a computer or engaged on their cellphone… that’s almost 3 hours. Now, if those screen hours are productive and wisely used, that’s not bad, but if most of it is wasted in mind-numbing web surfing or playing games, that’s 3 hours per day (or 19,656 hours before their 18th birthday) that could be spent investing in our children. We only have them for a short time (936 weeks from birth until they’re 18… I know, not a whole lot, is it?!) so take back those wasted hours and enjoy them while they’re still here.

2. Say “yes”.

This is a hard one, especially for those of us who prefer a clean home and clean children most of the time. But saying “yes” to the messy stuff will result in a ton of fun and lots of great memories for you and your kids to look back on. I know, at the moment of decision-making, we automatically want to say no to puddle-jumping, mud-pies, finger-painting and all the other messy things our kids want to do. But just saying “yes” sometimes can drastically improve our enjoyment in our children. And, hey, bathtubs were invented for a reason!

3. Fill your homes (and minds) with lots of quality literature.

You know those kid’s books that get boring after reading them only twice? Those aren’t quality children’s books. When you have some great, living literature on your bookshelf, you will find yourself in tears over a simple children’s story and be wanting to read to your kids every day. Believe me, I cry every time I read The Little House by Virginia Lee Murphy. My son looks at me a little confused, because even though it’s a story meant for kids his age and is very enjoyable and educational for him, there is a deeper meaning there that he doesn’t understand yet, but is being introduced to in a living, engaging way. For more information on what a living book is, click here. (And this can be useful in your personal reading selections as well. When we read living books, our minds are engaged and we learn and experience great things through our reading.)

4. Simplicity.

This applies to everything in life. But in regards to our children, over-complicating anything only creates more stress and less joy in their young lives. (Now, this does not, nor should it, always apply to answering their questions – more often than not, over-simplifying an answer to a question will not fill our child with the information he’s looking for. They are usually able to handle a lot more information than we give them credit for!) Rather, I’m talking about planned activities, clothing and food choices, decorating our homes, high-tech toys and gadgets, etc. In all of these areas, choosing simplicity over complexity is almost always better. They are usually much happier (and healthier) with less stuff, simpler homes and more time. And happier kids = happier mom!

5. Slow down… life is NOT an emergency.

Take a deep breath. So what if things take a bit longer than you want them to. Your kids are growing, learning, taking in the world around them and they are much smaller than we are. When we rush through life, we never really live. We are in the middle of our own wonderful story… why wouldn’t we try to slow down and breathe it all in while we’re still in this stage of our lives. We don’t have to hurry life up – it goes by fast enough on it’s own. So why not try our best to just slow it down?

 

If you’re new… head here to read about the purpose behind this blog (and perhaps a little bit of encouragement?)

Simple Fun for Your Toddler | 20 Ideas

For those of you with little ones, like myself, I know how easy it is to just let your kids find their own entertainment all day. Nothing wrong with that… it’s very healthy, in fact, this freedom to do as they please within certain boundaries.

But, sometimes, when life gets to be too much and the kids are bored and you just want to hear laughter in the place of whining, a little help from their mother could just change the atmosphere of your home for the rest of the day, and possibly even give them new ideas to employ the next time their little minds tire of the same old toys. Here are some quick, easy ideas to help you infuse some FUN into your toddler’s life, and maybe keep you sane!

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Photo from shareandremember.blogspot.com

1. Fill a tub with some rainbow rice and watch them dig for hours.

2. Have a party… juice, cookies, funny hats… and why not invite all the stuffed animals too?!

3. Bake something, anything… together.

4. Find (or create) a dark place and make silly hand shadows on the walls.

5. Mix up a batch of Cloud Dough and head outside on a warm day for loads of messy fun.

6. Then, jump in the tub with some homemade bath crayons.

7. Build a fort.

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

8. Build the highest tower possible out of MegaBloks, take a picture (complete with silly faces) and then destroy it (the tower, not the picture).

9. Have a pillow fight.

10. Put on some silly kids’ music and sing at the top of your lungs. They’ll think they have the most awesome mama in the world.

11. Make them (and you too!) a special cup of hot chocolate or cider and cozy up with a warm blanket and a good book. And a few teddy bears.

12. Grab some paper and scizzors and cut out some paper snowflakes or paper dolls.

13. Get out of the house – go for a walk and count things, run through the sprinkler or go swimming.

14. Make some finger paint, cover a table with paper (or head outside if it’s warm) and let them create their very own masterpiece. Hey, why not make one of your own!

15. Have a little man with too much energy? Mix up some gooey slime to entertain him.

16. Make a spider’s web of sticky masking tape across a doorway, wad up some paper balls to throw and see how many you can get to stick to the web.

17. Give her a broom and let her be mommy’s little helper.

Photo by albastrica mititica

Photo by albastrica mititica

18. Colour a picture.. yes, you too! Head here for TONS of printable colouring pages.

19. Play tickle tag. Be a kid. Giggle.

20. Blow up some balloons and have a blast stomping on them. Or if your child is scared of the popping noise, just play catch.

Check out my Kids’ Activities board on Pinterest for loads more fun!

 

If you’re new… head here to read about the purpose behind this blog (and perhaps a little bit of encouragement?)

Making Our Values Real – Part Two

(Continued from last week’s post…)

Now that we’ve discovered what our most desired characteristic for our home is, what do we do about it, what do we do WITH it?

We tailor our lives around THAT quality.

Last week I mentioned that mine is peace.

So how do I create that peace in our home? How do I make our lives more peaceful?

It’s all in the little decisions we make from day to day.

What can I do to make our home more peaceful?

Well, in a physical aspect, many things, actually: I can declutter, play soft music, decorate in a cozy style that says “come on in and relax” to anyone who happens to enter our door, cook good meals that the entire family can enjoy together, keep our home relatively tidy (the decluttering would help with this, minimizing stuff to clean up in the first place), keep our home free from expensive breakables so our children can play and live freely without any stuffiness… and the list goes on and on.

Now this may sound complicated. It’s not.

We just have to decide to do it.

You don’t have to take a course or buy a product.

You just have to change your mind.

-Steven Pressfield
 

But it goes further than creating a peaceful, comfortable home physically. What about our actual lives, our daily activities, the over-all flow of our days?

We put our purpose first.

For me: Peace comes first.

After that, it’s all in the application…

If I plan a playdate on Monday, coffee with my mother-in-law Tuesday, a doctor’s appointment Wednesday and so on… will our lives be peaceful? No, we will be constantly leaving the house, rushing here and there, and still trying to live normal, peacful lives at home, cook meals, make sure we’re home on time for the kids’ naps, etc. The stress would ruin all the good that might come from all these appointments. If I spread them out and, say, only plan something for 2 or 3 days per week, our lives will run smoother and be quieter, hence more peaceful.

Will me cleaning the entire house from top to bottom in a week cultivate peace? No, so I don’t do it in a week. Rather, I spread my deep cleaning out over the entire year so that I NEVER have to do any spring/fall cleaning that would take away from our peaceful home, even if only for a week.

Will rushing off to town for a last minute lunch ingredient cultivate peace? No, I would have to wake the baby from her nap, race to town and back and then frantically throw a meal together probably over the noise of a crying child (or two). NOT worth it… I’ll substitute with another ingredient I already have.

You get the picture.

But, this is me. I tend to like staying at home and taking life slowly. Obviously, not everyone is like me, so you may find comfort in having a busy, full schedule. Nothing at all wrong with that – every woman and family has different characteristics and values.

So, that quality that you deeply desire for your family, that characteristic that you want your lives built around?

Make sure that always comes first.

Find something you’re passionate about and stay tremendously interested in it.
-Julia Child
 

(Find Part 3 here)

If you’re new… head here to read about the purpose behind this blog (and perhaps a little bit of encouragement?)

Ideas for the Last Weeks of Summer

We are very quickly approaching the cooler weather of autumn, and the days are already significantly shorter than they were a few months ago. Let’s make the most of the summer we have left, shall we?

Here are some ideas that will bring joy to you and your family now and a smile to your face when you look back from the cold of January.

  1. Eat ice cream.
  2. Go to a park and swing as high as you can. Watch your children have the time of their lives.
  3. Lay on the grass, look up, and count the stars.
  4. Find a beach and build a sandcastle.
  5. Make apple pie (or cherry or berry) and eat it. (With a huge scoop of ice cream on top, of course!)
  6. Roast marshmallows over a campfire.
  7. Have a picnic.
  8. Run through the sprinkler.
  9. Find a hill. Sit and watch the sun go down.
  10. Open a window in the early morning, close your eyes, and listen to the world awaken. Better yet, wrap yourself in a blanket and sit outside. Breathe in all that fresh air.
  11. Take your camera with you everywhere and capture these moments. Make a scrapbook or collage and display it all winter to remind you that summer is coming again.

Treasure this time… it will be just a memory all too soon, so make it the best memory you possibly can.

But don’t get depressed thinking about autumn. It has its own brand of beauty, too…

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus