Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Do You...Create Family Traditions?

How do you make your own family traditions?

Traditions are important to us as a family because they are what makes us unique.  They help us create memories that we hope our kids will carry with them into adulthood.  Our family traditions are often pulled from the traditions that Brian and I each grew up with, but adapted to fit our own family.  

Many of our traditions were never intended to be traditions. They just happened.  We ordered pizza for Christmas Eve dinner one year and enjoyed it so much that we did it again the next year, and now we wouldn't dream of eating anything else.  We made bags to hold our Valentines one year and now we do it every year.  Brian gave each of us a small piece of chocolate at the table one night and called it "after-dinner chocolate," and guess what?  Now we have after-dinner chocolate every night. 

Many of our traditions, like the pizza and chocolate, center around food.  Other traditions involve activities.  We pick out a Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving.  We watch the fireworks on July 4th at a local high school and the kids stay up way past their bedtime.  We name one thing we love about each family member on his or her birthday. 

Traditions cement us as a family and make us feel part of a bigger purpose.

How did you create tradition in your home?  Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Food For Thought" OR "Thoughts on Food"

On Thursday, I asked for reader questions 

Suanna asked:

"What is your favorite food and is there a particular reason you like it? Does it bring back a special memory when you think about it?" 

I love food and I love to eat.  There are only a handful of foods I could name that I don't like (asparagus, squash...)! 

Growing up, my favorite food was a grilled hamburger.  Hamburgers remind me of summer break, warm weather, cookouts, and lazy days.  I still love a summer cookout with my dad's grilling, my grandmother's potato salad, and homemade ice cream. 

In recent years I've fallen in love with sweet potato casserole (recipe here)-- not the kind with marshmallows, but a buttery melt-in-your-mouth version with brown sugar and oats.  It is a staple on our big extended family Thanksgiving table, but I also make it for our small family Christmas dinner and a handful of time throughout the winter, too.  It is the epitome of comfort food to me. 

I also love fresh fruit.  I love strawberries and cantaloupe cut into bite-sized pieces and chilled.  I eat watermelon straight from the rind.  Maddie and I can polish off an entire watermelon between the two of us! 

Hands down, my favorite veggie is broccoli.  If I place a bowl of broccoli on the dinner table, I have to fight Benjamin and Gavin for it!  That's a good thing, even though it means less broccoli for me.  We've discovered (in our house, at least) that the true broccoli lovers prefer the bushy parts and the broccoli haters can only tolerate the stalks. 

I think my ultimate favorite food, though, is pizza.  It's hard to find a pizza that I don't like.  I love homemade pizza, (most) frozen pizza, pizza chain pizza.  It's all good.  I prefer lots of sauce and a moderate amount of cheese, and my ideal pizza includes grilled chicken, sausage, and green pepper.  Our family tradition is to order pizza for Christmas Eve dinner.  We also make homemade pizza together on the weekends so pizza conjures up a sense of contentment and family togetherness. 

What is your favorite food? Does is bring back any memories to you?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Preparing For the Days to Come

Brian returns to work next week which puts me back into the role of all-day, full-time mom again.  I anticipate the feelings of being pulled thin as I readjust to being the only adult at home.  I'm praying for patience and grace.  

Benjamin and Brian repairing the girls' bunk bed during the winter break

I read both of these articles last night, and boy, were they timely!  I'm passing them on to you in the hope that they bless you as they blessed me.

from Kim @ In a Shoe

from Crystal @ Money Saving Mom

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How a Neurotic Mom Schedules Her Week

On Thursday, I asked for reader questions


"What are your limits for out of the house activities? Do you have a hard and fast rule or do you operate on a case by case basis? I know I need to be home for the majority of the day at least 4-5 days a week or household duties start slipping, but I'm sure this is different for everyone based on ages of children, personalities, etc."

I do not have a hard and fast rule, but I do tend to limit my days out of the house.  We have certain activities that occur on a regular basis and they are woven into the thread of our lives, barely noticed. I grocery shop on the same day of the week twice a month.  We meet with our small homeschool co-op on the same day each month.  We visit the library once a week.  Those outings are so standard that our routine is arranged to accommodate them. 

Otherwise, I try to limit us to only 1 extra event each week (excluding weekends).  Anything more and our school schedule is strained and I fall behind on the house work.  I keep a pocket calendar in my purse where I pencil in field trips or invitations so that I don't over-schedule myself accidentally. 

This is where the neurotic part comes in.  At this stage in my life-- my youngest being almost 2½ with none of my children nursing or taking an afternoon nap-- we could probably handle more activities in the week.  However, it stresses me out be out of the house more than 2-3 days a week.  I start stressing about the laundry that is piling up and what we're going to do for lunch and how we're going to find time to read our history lesson and not being too tired when I get home to cook a decent meal! 

I find it easier to add variety to our days by inviting people into our home or planning activities to do at home than to button coats, put on gloves, buckle everyone into car seats, and venture out.   (Again, this excludes weekends when Brian is home, too.)

Sometimes I push myself out of my comfort zone if I think the activities are worthy of our time.  Sometimes grocery shopping and co-op and a field trip to the space center happen to fall in the same week, and knowing that each thing is good on its own merit, I throw caution to the wind, maybe do a little extra planning, and then go with the flow. 

I recently realized that we have new options open to us now.  With Alaine giving up her nap right after she turned 2 in the fall, and school work usually finished by lunchtime, we can feasibly add more afternoon activities to our days without greatly sacrificing routine.  Afternoons used to be sacred, the only quiet time of the day where I could catch up on housework or take a nap.

It's so easy to continue in a rut, but I have to constantly reevaluate to see if what we are doing is working and makes sense.  For now, that means that quiet time is the evenings after the little ones fall into bed early after a long day, and it means that afternoons are mostly open and unscheduled. If we have another baby or if other circumstances change, we may need to tighten up again, but right now, I'm seeing more flexibility in our days.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

You Question, I'll Answer

I do this every year in February and it's become a tradition I love!  I ask you to ask me questions. 

Your questions can be easy or complex, silly or serious.  You can ask about my kids, my plans for the future, about running, about school, what we do on the weekends, or what my favorite color is! In the past, I've answered questions about breastfeeding, how I met my husband, how I transition my kids to big beds, and whether I prefer coffee or tea!  

Last year,  your questions even helped me launch my "How Do You...?" series.

So...ask away! What would you like to know this year?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Reading Quirks

Would you agree that most bookworms or book lovers have our own personal reading quirks-- our own picky preferences about what we read and where we read and how we read.  I know I have a few. 

  • I never, ever read ahead to find our what's going to happen at the end of a book.  In fact, if I want to see how many pages are in a book, I scrunch up my eyes while checking the page number so I don't accidentally read something on that last page. 
  • I like books with short chapters best.  I read those books faster because I can read a bunch of little chapters instead of committing to one long chapter at a time.  
  • I don't read in the car, though I'm often tempted.  I know that if I brought a book along, I would be anti-social and not talk to my husband. I do make an exception for magazines because I can skim and talk at the same time.

  • I set mini reading goals for myself when I start a book.  I'll say (to myself), "I want to finish this in four days so I need to read X number of pages today.  Most of the time, I finish ahead of schedule.  

What are your reading quirks? 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Crooked House

My sister and I launched our book challenge less than two weeks ago.  The challenge was to read (and blog about) at least five of the ten books on our list.

Fortunately for my reading obsession (and unfortunately for my aching body), I got sick with a cold/sinus infection/fever and spent some of last week on the couch reading.  

I began with Crooked House by Agatha Christie.  The very first Agatha Christie book I ever read was And Then There Were None, and it was perhaps the best "whodunit" I have read before or since.  I've read a few Miss Marple mysteries and I  liked  Murder on the Orient Express which is a Hercule Poirot mystery, but my mind always went back to the gold standard!

I'll admit tha Crooked House was not as good as And Then There Were None, but it was good enough to make me want to keep reading late at night when I should have been sleeping and good enough to pick up during the commercials of Survivor to finish the last few chapters.  

Crooked House was a short read (150 pages) and captured me from the first chapter.  The elderly patriarch of a wealthy family is murdered and everyone is a suspect.  With the extended family sharing space in one big house, all have access to the poison and no one has an air-tight alibi.  Just when you think it could be anyone...or no one...the answer is revealed.  

Do you read Agatha Christie?  Do you have a favorite?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How Do You...Find Penpals for Your Children?

How did you choose your kids pen pals? A family member or friend? Domestic or International?

submitted by Carters

I loved having penpals when I was a child and teen.  At my peak, I had eight penpals in eight different states!  I knew my children would love the experience of writing to friends they'd never met, but I wasn't sure where to safely find penpals for them.  

I decided to send out a request on Facebook.    I listed the genders and ages of the children who wanted penpals and asked if any of my friends had children interested in exchanging letters with my children.  We found penpals within a few hours. 

I've made it the unofficial rule of our house that you don't get a penpal until you are able to write.  I'll help spell and show you how to format your letter, but I won't write it for you!   Because of this, my younger children can't wait until they are old enough for the privilege of a penpal.

How did you find penpals for you children?  Did you have a penpal as a child?  Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Potty Training...Not Perfection, But Progress

Two weeks ago I talked about how we had begun to potty train Alaine.  I mentioned that my first four kids took about a week to train from start to finish and that we night trained at the same time.  

It would only be fair to mention that it's been a bit different this time.  

I wasn't totally ready to begin this venture.  I always find it easier to train in the warmer months when less clothing is involved, but Alaine began showing signs that she was ready, including asking to use the toilet.  At not quite 2½, she was younger than any of my other trainers, though Maddie had been only slightly older.  (The three boys were each +/- 3-years-old when they potty trained.) 

Maybe because she was younger or maybe because I was busy with four other children, but it took longer than a week for her master the whole potty routine-- recognizing the need to go, stopping her play, and getting to the potty!  About a week-and-a-half into it, I shared that we'd had three accidents in the space of one hour!  Brian noted that she seemed to take two steps forward before taking a step back again.  I had to consistently remind her to use the potty about every thirty minutes to ensure no accidents.  Sometimes she would have an accident but keep playing anyway without telling anyone.

Then suddenly it seemed to click.  On Thursday, thirteen days after potty training began, we had an accident-free day.  And then another and another and another and another.  Five dry days in a row!  We've had dry outings and success with public restrooms, too. 

My only dilemma now is that she can't seem to go the whole night without a diaper.  I've never night trained separately from day training so I'm at a loss.  Sometimes she wakes up dry, but not consistently enough to take the risk.  She does not nap at all during the day, but she sleeps almost twelve hours at night-- from roughly 7pm to 7 am.  I'm not even sure I could go that long between potty visits.   I've tried waking her before I go to bed, but she is always too groggy to use the bathroom.  Any ideas? 

Monday, February 11, 2013

More February Baking

For better or for worse, I get in the mood to bake when it's chilly outside.  We eat, we freeze, we give, we share.  In reality, I bake year round, and I love to experiment.  I don't enjoy cooking, but give me some flour and sugar and I'm ready to go.  The internet can be a great source of recipes, but it's also frustrating to take the time for a recipe that turns out to be a flop.  

As a present to you, my dear friends, I've baked, sampled, and photographed a few carby recipes and can promise you they are keepers.  {wink}

  • Want a sweet breakfast treat that you can prepare the day before and bake in the morning?  (Bonus points if  the bread machine takes care of  some of the work!)

  • Need a loaf bread that is soft in the middle with a good crusty crust?
image: mine

  • What about a flavorful loaf bread that requires no kneading?
image: mine

  • Need a dinner roll that goes with everything?  (More bonus points for the bread machine!)
image: mine
  • Want a cornbread that is the perfect combination of sweet and hearty, not crumbly...and feeds a crowd?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How Do You...Celebrate Valentine's Day?

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

At our house, Valentine's Day is a holiday that has no expectations and can be celebrated for the pure fun it brings. 

Several years ago, all of us (parents included) created Valentine bags out of cheap brown paper lunch bags.  We each wrote our name on our bag and then added stickers or drew pictures to represent our personality.  Then we filled each others' bags with cards, notes, and treats so everyone had a few surprises to enjoy on Valentine's Day.  It's a tradition we repeat every year now! 

The kids enjoy writing and sending cards to friends and their cousins.  Sometime we buy Valentine's at the store, sometimes we print ones we find online, and sometimes they make their own out of paper, glitter, and glue. 

I like to make a fun meal to share together, too.  This year we're making our own heart shaped pizzas and having our favorite special occasion chocolate pie for dessert. 

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?   Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sisters Book Challenge

Inspired by The Quirky Bookworm's BFF Book Challenge,  my sister and I are having our own book challenge this year.  It's low-key and low-pressure.  This is how it works:

I choose 10 books for her.  She chooses 10 books for me. 
We each pick at least five from the list to read and blog about sometime in 2013. 

Here's Kati's list for me:

Crooked House by Agatha Christie, The Wind in the Willowsby Kenneth Grahame, The Scarlet Pimpernelby Baroness Orczy, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, Calico Bush by Rachel Field,  Bride of Thistleloch Castleby Therese Stenzel, The Centurion's Wifeby Davis Bunn and Janette Oke,  Maid to Matchby Deeanne Gist,  Mr. Darcy's Diaryby Amanda Grange

Here's my list for her:

The Secret Keeperby Kate Morton, Peter Panby J. M. Barrie, Keep a Quiet Heartby Elisabeth Elliot, Wonderland Creekby Lynn Austin, Holesby Louis Sachar, Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryby Roald Dahl, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo,  The Air We Breatheby Christa Parrish,  Thr3eby Ted Dekker and How Not to Dieby Dr. Jan Garavaglia

I was slightly OCD about gathering a varied list (male and female authors, nonfiction and fiction, Christian and not, adult and children's literature), plus attempting to find books she'd not read! 

It's going to be hard to stop at only five of her choices because quite a few intrigue me.  I may need to revisit my book list  and re-evaluate my reading plan for this year. 

While we're not asking anyone to commit to joining us, we'd love to hear if any of these books are on your reading list for this year...or if you've already read any of them. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...