I’m back; kind of

We had a GREAT vacation.  It’s so nice to get away from the day to day pressures and monotony to do something awesome.  After a week in Disneyland and a week in Arizona it was refreshing to come home to our own beds and home, although we will miss all the family and adventures.

 We have some good friends that are in town from Georgia, and so we threw them a little welcome party.  I knew that I would not be able to make anything special for the dinner picnic, since I just barely put away our suitcases today, so I ordered some cookies from a friend of mine before we left.  Rule one of cooking:  DON’T  force yourself to make something if you don’t have time, or it will make life more complicated than it should.  You will end up dreading cooking, if it’s not a fun experience.  So,  for today’s post I decided to highlight these amazing cookies that I did not make.  Megan (the cookie diva) is amazing and she will make whatever you want on the sugar cookies.  She ships too!  The group of friends that we met with tonight originated with 12 guys in High School who were best friends.  Jones Soda was their staple drink and half of them were in an amazing a capella group together called 6th Gear (or the Gears).  They are all still in contact today and I’ve become great friends with some of the wives.  So, I asked Megan to make cookies with gears and Jones Soda and I trusted she would think of something cute, and she did.  Aren’t these amazing! It was a great conversation piece.  

Now that you’ve seen them you’ll probably want some, so here’s her information:

http://www.facebook.com/WellMixedSweets

and

http://www.wellmixedsweets.blogspot.com/

May the 4th Be With You! – Free Printables

So, if you have little boys like me who love light sabers and Yoda you just might want to take advantage of May 4th and celebrate over a festive Star Wars dinner, followed by one of the Star Wars movies.   Here are some food placement cards that might make your night a little more fun.  And if you’re spending the evening Solo (I couldn’t help myself) then invite a few people over and make it an event.   I’ve tried to put them in printer friendly form, but you’ll need to right click the image and click ‘save as’ somewhere on your desktop and then print it from there to get them full size.  Grab some cardstock and scissors and your party is ready to start!  Have a great week and May the Fourth be with you all!

(image found HERE)

It’s simple: print on cardstock, cut around the outer black lines, fold in half and place on the  table in front of the goodies:).  The perfect Wookie Cookie is a chocolate no-bake cookie but you could use pretty much any kind of cookie.  Light Saber ideas: Licorice or large pretzels dipped in chocolate or tin foil wrapped around the bottom as the handle.

Hot Dogs make the perfect Hoth Dogs and Leia Buns can be the hot dog and/or hamburger buns used.

You can’t have a good Star Wars party without Han-Burgers.  Yoda Soda could be anything with green food coloring or make something really yummy like sprite with green sherbet.  Mmmm.

Here are some napkin Light Saber rings!  Grab some large colorful napkins, wrap your utensils in them.  Wrap these around the bottom of the napkins so that it appears to be the handle of the light saber.

50 Parenting Tips + 2 Worth Remembering

This isn’t a typical post for this blog, but it’s a topic that has been on my mind for a while.  So, here I am flushing my thoughts out where I hope someone will get something out of it.   You can consider it to be a recipe for good parenting.  When I was a new mother my mind was constantly filled with questions of how I would be as a mother.   I was always getting advice, reading articles and books about how to be a good parent, and discussing with numerous family members and friends about how they have done it.  I love getting advice and tips.  They make me feel like I’m growing and learning.  Some advice has been treasured, while other advice I see as being a great remedy for certain families, but not a fit for mine.  Either way, I’m not one to turn down advice and I wanted to share some of the advise I have received in the relatively short time that I have been a parent.  Not all of this advice is stuff I live by, in fact I might only follow about a fourth of the advise I’ve received, but for your benefit and enjoyment here’s the list (in no particular order):

Parenting50

This is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to parenting tips.  A lot of times advice I receive from one person is opposite from advice I received from someone else, yet most of the time both people have great families and wonderful children.  I’m glad to hear how people have found success and joy in parenting, but that same success and joy may be achieved differently with my children.  Sometimes I read articles from so called experts on parenting and I finish only feeling like I am a bad parent and that I should be doing so many things better. I don’t think I’ll stop reading parenting advice, because occasionally I find a tip or some advice that is useful to me and my children and we can benefit from it’s application, but I will no longer assume that some stranger knows me and my children better than myself.  Don’t judge me and think I am bad because I don’t do  x, x, x, or x on the list.  Maybe I don’t do those but I do  x, x, and x really well, while you may not.   I am about as perfect of a parent as I am a perfect person, which is far from it, and I’m ok with that.  I still love hearing peoples advice, because I am trying to be a better parent, but now I look at advice as one person’s path in a journey with MANY paths, most leading to the same victory.  I think a great parent is one who does a few of the things on ‘the list’ really well and try’s to fit in the other’s when they can rather than a frantic person who insists on doing everything right and ends up failing on all accounts.   When it really comes down to it, my husband and I will be the ones that will answer to the successes and failures we have made as parents and no one can take responsibility but ourselves.  In some areas I know that I fall short, but I can only do the best that I can and rely on the Savior to fill in the gaps.   This post is my declaration that I am the universal expert on the rearing and raising of my three little boys, because only God knows them better than my husband and I, therefore we are experts.  As an expert, I am not saying that I know how to raise them perfectly, but of everyone in the world I believe that my husband and I are the perfect ones for the job.  My goal in posting this is that more parents can stop beating themselves up about everything they may be doing ‘wrong’ and start celebrating the things they do right.  Every child comes to earth with their own personality and traits and while loving parenting is essential, we also need to remember that kids will just be who they are meant to be, despite ourselves.  So, here is my expert parenting advice that I’ll share with you:

Do your best and forget the rest

I guarantee that there will always be someone that does something better than you, but NO ONE that can do everything better than you.  Everyone has their own set of talents, gifts, and abilities, but no person’s talents, gifts, and abilities can be identically duplicated, because YOU are unique and your parenting is unique to you.  So when the Jones’ down the street seem to do everything right, just remember that they have their own list of things that they are trying to improve on too.  Anyway, the only person that you should compare yourself to is the person you want to become.  This applies to parenting too.  Stop beating yourself up! Stop comparing yourself with the Jones’ and just do the best you can.  Forget about how perfectly Jane and John’s kids look with their perfectly combed hair and clean, ironed clothes.  How about this, my children may look like something out of the jungle, and might be running around and yelling in the grocery store, but they ate a good breakfast this morning, I read to them, and they love me.  We’re all just doing the best we can, and everyone’s best is on a different scale.  So, let’s spend less time competing and more time sharing and helping.

Find something you enjoy to do and share it with your kids

A happy parent tends to encourage happier children.  When you spend every day doing nothing for yourself and everything for your children, they will have nothing to look forward to as an adult.  Children need to see that you are your own person and you love to do your own things.  Someday they will be adults, and if they think parenting is a chore with no reward, then they will likely not look forward to being a parent themselves.  Not everything you enjoy can be shared, but you can still show them that you are having fun and loving life.  I have decided that my love of cooking is something I can share.  This may not be what you want to share with your kids, but let me tell you why it’s a perfect fit for me.

The kitchen is one of the few places where I can teach math, science, following directions, work, actions and consequences, teamwork, and confidence in accomplishments.  Having kids help in the kitchen isn’t easy, but I know the benefits outweigh the inconvenience.  They love to help me and they love to experiment with food.   On the days that one or both of my boys are helping me in the kitchen I always plan on whatever I’m making to take twice as long. Sometimes I loose my patience and sometimes I get annoyed, but at least once a week I make sure that my boys are helping me cook in the kitchen, because that’s where my best teaching opportunities come.  And in a few years I will be able to relax and read a book while my boys make dinner for the family, because they know how to cook.  I start with simple tasks like stirring, kneading or rolling dough, turning on the Kitchen Aid, etc. Then once they’ve mastered those tasks I move on to measuring and pouring ingredients together.  Cracking eggs and putting things into boiling water comes next.  Once my boys can read a recipe, I will spend more time teaching them about the ingredients and what they do.  Right now they just love being involved and being apart of creating something that benefits the whole family.  One hard absolute rule in my kitchen is if you don’t follow directions than you can’t be in the kitchen.  My three year old is starting to get used to this rule, but often is excused to do something else until he’s ready to follow directions.  He usually comes back ready to help because he knows that all the fun is with the food.  My four year old loves to help me cook and listens carefully so he can stay and help through the whole process.  He recognizes that I’m not making the rules of cooking.  If he doesn’t follow directions there’s a chance he will suffer the consequences of yucky food.  Trust me when I say that we have tasted some un-followed directions and it is a great lesson in choices and consequences.  Sometimes my boys will want to make their own food and I let them, with some restrictions. They have made some VERY interesting side dishes and fruit salads that we happily eat (or at least pretend to) and then we praise them for their hard work and encourage them to keep experimenting and practicing.  Take it or leave it, but as for me and my house the kitchen is the greatest parenting tool in the home.

Cooking with kids in the kitchen means a lot of cleaning up, but the kids learn how to work for something.

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Sometimes it means teaching a lesson on what goes up must come down and how to laugh at yourself.

(Yes, this little boy seems to love having flour all over himself at every age.)

Having kids in the kitchen means teaching them what happens when baking soda and vinegar meet, how we can work together to get something done, creativity, responsibility, and it gives them the opportunity to discover what they like. We’ve implemented a ‘Monday Man Menu’. It’s  a little book with several pictures of food and the boys take turns choosing what dinner will be on Monday. Here’s just another reason that a child’s place should be in the kitchen:Last of all, I love how much the boys learn while cooking.  We frequently have great conversations here, not all about food.  I fully agree that the kitchen is the heart of the home.   I told my oldest boy that I was going to be writing about how they help me in the kitchen and asked if he would like to teach the world how to crack an egg.  He was so excited!  I recorded him cracking four eggs, and he wanted to keep talking to ‘the world’ because he thought it was the neatest thing ever.  I cut the video down and hope you will enjoy his tutorial:). 

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