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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

September 5th, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Family Connection

Family Connection

Everyone should put aside some time to reconnect with their family each day. Dinner time is a great time to do this when you are all sitting at the table together. For many families, this is one of the only times during the day that you can actually have a full conversation. However, as kids get more involved in school and activities, and parents have obligations outside of the home, sometimes dinner isn’t always a full family gathering. Here are some tips to make sure you’re connecting as a family:

  • If someone is missing for dinner, you should still gather the rest of the family around the table when they do eat. Serve dessert to everyone else while the late family members are eating dinner, that way you’re still eating together.
  • Evaluate your day to determine the best time family time for your family’s schedule.
  • Build a daily review into your bedtime routine with the kids.
  • Go on a family walk and talk while getting exercise.
  • Gather the whole family for a different meal. If everyone is around during breakfast and it isn’t as hectic as later in the day, that may work better.
  • While driving kids places, talk to them while they are traveling in the car with you.

Some days, the only time my husband and I get to talk with my nine-year-old is while he is showering before bed. He chats from the other side of the shower curtain. Active kids are busy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find time to talk! Find what works for your family and enjoy those conversations!

 

 

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September 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Rewarding Kids’ Good Behavior

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One of the best ways to have children behave appropriately is by focusing on rewarding them for good behavior. I find that my kids LOVE to receive little “extras” and it motivates them to think about their actions. Positive reinforcement can often yield better results than punishment.

Here are some great ways to reward behavior:

Give Praise – This goes without saying, really. Simple things like saying “Thank You’”, “I Love You”, and “Good Job”, can sometimes go a long way.

Special Items Or Toys – Have a box filled with little trinkets for the children to select from.  When they acheive something we have been working on, or when they go out of their way to do something nice, they get to choose an item from this box as a reward.

Sweet Treats- Reward them with a piece of candy or another treat that is out of the ordinary. This isn’t the best thing to do right around bedtime, but every now and then i let my kids have ice cream in the morning when they’ve behaved well!

Reward With Activity – Use favorite activities or special trips do as a reward. A bounce house place, the zoo, a museum, miniature golf, the water park, etc. are great options for letting kids know they’ve been behaving well.

Give Your Child More Privileges – Kids love to do what they’re usually not allowed to, especially when older children and parents can do them. For example, children love to stay up past their bedtime. Allow them to stay up later usual, watch a “big kid” movie, etc.

Show With Affection - Reward them with some extra snuggle time on the couch or even a big hug.

How do you reward good behavior?

 

 

 

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August 29th, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Muffin Recipes

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Breakfast is one of my nemesis’. The boys get bored with the same thing, so I try to mix it up as much as I can. This muffin mix allows you to use one mix and change it up with different ingredients to make different types of muffins. These also freeze wonderfully!

Plain Muffin Mix

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

Cupcake wrappers, vegetable cooking spray or butter for greasing tins.

Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in one-half of dry ingredients. Beat in  yogurt. Beat in remaining dry ingredients, until incorporated.

Spray 12-cup muffin tin or put wrappers in it.  Spoon batter into tins and bake until muffins are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve. They freeze wonderfully!

Different kinds:

Feel free to add chocolate chips, nuts or blueberries to main mix or follow some of the variations below.

Raspberry Almond Muffins
Follow the main recipe and add 3 tablespoons almond extract with butter and sugar. Spoon one-half of a portion of batter into each cup. With small spoon, make a well in center of each cup of dough. Spoon 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons raspberry (or other flavored) jam into each well. Cover with remaining batter.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Follow the main recipe and add 3 tablespoons poppy seeds to the dry ingredients, and 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest to the butter-sugar mixture. While muffins are baking, heat 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice from 2 small lemons in small saucepan until sugar dissolves and mixture forms light syrup, 3-4 minutes. Brush warm syrup over warm muffins and serve.

Banana Walnut Muffins
Follow the main recipe adding 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg to dry ingredients, substituting 1 cup packed light brown sugar for granulated sugar and folding 1 1/2 cups finely diced bananas (about 3 small) and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts into finished batter.

What’s your favorite kind of muffin?

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August 26th, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Meal Planning

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“So…what’s for dinner?”

This doesn’t have to be a nightly question that you scratch your head over. Having a menu planned out means you never have to wonder, and you’ll save time and money!

Setting a plan for 1 week, 2 weeks, or even 1 month can:

  • Eliminate those pesky multiple trips to the grocery store every week.
  • Make use of what is on sale at your local stores, saving you money.
  • Cut back on wasted food
–cut back on eating out, take out, pizza delivery, etc.
  • The ability to buy in bulk from planning ahead can save you money as well.

How Do I Start?


First, consider how much storage space you have. Planning a menu for an entire month may not be possible if you don’t have a place to stash all of the ingredients you’ll need. Make an estimate of what your storage areas can accommodate.

Start small. Try planning for a few days at a time, then work your way up.

 Think about how and what your family eats, i.e. When a recipe says “serves 4,” does it really serve 4 in your family?
 Do you eat leftovers for dinner, or is this not an option?
 Does your family like to eat bread with every dinner? Is dessert a nightly occurrence? If so, will you have to make dessert nightly or can a pan of brownies last 2-3 nights?

A “Master Plan” may be a good starting point:
Sunday = Beef
Monday = Chicken
Tuesday = Leftovers
Wednesday = Pasta
Thursday = Vegetarian
Friday = Fish
Saturday = Mexican

Or, have a themed night every night (Italian night, Mexican night, Asian night, etc.).

To make things easier, keep a list of “family favorites” to rotate into your menu plan…customizing the plan to your family will help make it work for you.

When you’ve created a base for your meal planning, decide on the actual recipes/meals you want to make each night. Check the recipes against your existing items to avoid buying ingredients you already have on hand. Create the shopping list and head to the supermarket for an efficient trip!

What is your favorite menu planning resource?

 

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August 15th, 2014 at 11:25 am

Planning A Staycation

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A great way to save on vacations all year long is going on a “staycation.” A staycation is when you stay in your own town or somewhere closeby to have your family vacation. This cuts costs by eliminating the need for expensive airline tickets and hotel stays. Plus, you get to sleep in your own, comfortable bed! Staycations can also be quick overnights that don’t require extensive stays at a hotel or resort.

Visit local museums

Try Geocaching

Go to the movies or a play

Visit a nearby zoo, aquarium, or amusement park

Rent a boat or other water sports items

Take a hike or bike ride

Go fishing

Go to a sporting event

Go camping

Go mini golfing, go karting or other fun things you would do on vacation

Eat out and try some new places

The most important part is to RELAX just like you are on vacation. Let chores go for the week, put away the computer, and put down the phone! Take time to reconnect with your kids and spouse so you can laugh and talk and create memories! Be sure to get the camera out and document all the fun you have!

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August 13th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

First Day of School Treats

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The first day of school is a day filled with excitement and nervousness. It also is the perfect day to come together with your child after school to talk. Celebrate with some special treats! Your child will most likely be hot, tired, excited and most of all starving!!

Peanut Butter Sushi

Frozen Grapes – String some grapes on a stick and freeze. This is great for the child that is overheated!

S’mores Brownies

Crudite Platter – If your child loves veggies, cut some up and serve with their favorite dip!

Waffle and Peanut Butter – heat up a waffle in the toaster and cover with peanut butter.

Muffins

Smoothie

Peanut Butter Popcorn

Cookies

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August 11th, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Corn On The Cob Made Easy

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Our family LOVES to buy corn on the cob from the local farm stand. It is just starting to hit its peak here in Wisconsin, but in the meantime we have enjoyed summer corn from the grocery store. One of my favorite ways to make it is in the oven. You don’t have to shuck it, remove the stringy things or boil water, all you have to do is cook and enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.

Place corn husks directly on the oven rack and roast for 30 minutes.

Peel down the husks.

The corn will be steamy hot when you peel it, so be careful! The strings and husks peel away from the corn easily.

Enjoy with salt and butter, or however you like!

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This same method can be done on the grill, but I like to soak my husk-covered corn in water for an hour or so. This helps prevent it from burning on the grill.

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August 4th, 2014 at 10:10 am

Organizing Your Finances

Managing Your Finances

Wouldn’t you like to stop worrying about your finances? Making a plan and getting organized will help you understand your financial situation and lower your stress. I am constantly amazed at how many people find a budget so difficult to manage. Even people with an endless income can use a budget to manage their money and keep track of their spending and saving.

Here are some ways to get organized in the money department:

Create a budget. List all the different categories that you may spend money on. I like to get more specific but others do well with general categories. Take control of your money and assign realistic amounts to each category. Pay attention to categories that you have some control over and can use coupons or specials savings on ~ Eating out, groceries, utilities, and clothing.

Set goals for your finances.  Think about what you want to accomplish over the next year, 5 years, or even more. Set up ways to save for those goals. It is great to get the kids involved in these ideas too.  Also think about retirement and what you want to accomplish savings wise.

Set up a way to keep track of your finances. This may be done online, through spreadsheets or apps, or with pen and paper in a finance journal. Find what way works best for you.

Search online for ways to save and organize. There are tons of coupons and saving strategies available on the Internet. Most companies have some sort of loyalty program, app, or newsletter signup where you can be alerted when there are savings available. When making a big purchase, do research online to find the best price possible. Buying pre-owned or used items such as furniture, cars, etc. can cut prices significantly. Create a “savings strategy” and stick to it. I.e. Every week you clip the newspaper coupons, do an online search and print, and organize your coupons in a booklet or folder so it’s readily available when you shop. Set up an email account just for savings, and have all your newsletters and coupon emails in one place.

Make sure your family is on board. Make sure everyone is part of this process. If you are the only one trying to save money, the other family members will still make trips out to eat, keep the lights on in unused rooms, and plan extravagant vacations.  If you are all on task, more money will appear in your savings and all your financial dreams will come true!

How do you manage your money?

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August 1st, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Displaying Medals and Trophies

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With two boys who are actively involved in sports, we have to anticipate that sooner or later, medals and trophies will be won and the kids will be eager to display them. My son recently earned his first medal in a soccer tournament, and I wanted to find a fun way to display it so he can remember his accomplishments.

I took a regular towel bar found at your local hardware or department store and attached it to the wall. Then, I looped the medal over it so it hangs nicely. A quick and easy way to display! As you can see, I have displayed his trophies on a shelf underneath as well. I think I might even add some type of quote or word art about hard work or success to finish it off!

It’s important to remind your kids that with some hard work they can accomplish so much!

How do you organized/display your kids’ trophies?

 

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July 29th, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Fun iPhone Apps for Kids

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Looking for some fun apps to add to your iPhone or iPad?

For your younger kids, try Alien Assignment (free). It is a fun scavenger hunt app that uses your device’s camera. When the alien needs something, your child must find a household item that fits the description and take a picture of it. Fun and learning at the same time.

It’s never to early to learn about healthy eating. Go Nini  (free) is a helpful app that makes a game of making good food choices. Foods that are “Go”, “Slow” and “Whoa” help teach children about the types of food they should eat anytime, sometimes, and rarely.

For ages 8 and up, try StoryLines (free). Think of it as a digital version of the “telephone” game. The first person chooses a common phrase and passes the device to the next person, who draws a picture of that phrase and passes the the device to the next person, who must write a caption for that picture. And so on up to 9 players. When the last person is done, you review the storyline to see how different the last caption is from the first phrase. It’s both fun and educational.

9-11. Weird but True (free with 0.99 add-ons for additional fact packs) is a National Geographic app that provides lots of little known and downright strange factoids about any number of topics like lobsters and astronauts.

And of course for the little ones just starting out with basic learning, the Garanimals Learn, Play, Share app (free) teaches letters, numbers and shapes by association.

Add a little fun and learning to your summer.

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