Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Drama

{REPOST from October 2011 as a part of my Practical Parenting series for The Daily Review Atlas} 

I have always found Halloween to be the most peculiar of holidays and not because people actually dress up to look disgusting. You know, with all the blood and gore and such. I mean I work hard every morning to not look like I am a part of the walking dead but on the last day of October somehow it's magically acceptable to look like death. It's so not fair.

As a mother of five kids I have always dreaded Halloween. If I wasn't such a thrifty person or if had a bottomless checkbook maybe it would be easier for me. We could simply order a costume on line or walk into the store and pick one up off the shelf but five kids multiplied by five twenty dollar costumes rings in a hundred bucks. I'm pretty sure I can do better than that. And thus my quest to create cheap and non-embarrassing costumes haunts me every year.


Monday, October 28, 2013

What's Wrong with Taking a Parenting Class?

(This article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for the Daily Review Atlas, a GateHouse Media company. You can read it from their site here)

Have you ever pondered the irony that you must be of a certain age to drink, smoke, vote or operate a motorized vehicle but there's no requirements in place, at all, in order to become a parent?

I did, especially when I became a mother for the first time eighteen years ago. I distinctly remember my husband driving the three of us home from the hospital in our baby blue Chevy Cavalier. As we drove away I looked over my shoulder at the nurse still standing on the curb and thinking how does she know I am going to do a good job caring for this child? We couldn't even figure out how to secure the car seat properly. What was I going to do once we arrived at home?
I didn't know the first thing about babies back then. I never babysat as a teenager, grew up relatively disinterested in children and most certainly lacked any sort of nurturing inclination. The only thing I knew was how to breathe through the contractions thanks to a Lamaze class. Which, by the way, did not help with the pain.
My son, who currently has his driver's permit, has a year to take driver’s education class and hours of practice behind the wheel before taking an exam. Shortly after that he will be able to participate in the next presidential election. But what, if anything, will he do to prepare for an even bigger responsibility? Parenthood.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Shopping Gene Frustrates Mom

Is Shopping Genetic?

You now what's so darn frustrating about kids? Well, beside the fact that they lick their snot, pee where they sleep and have the ability to make mealtime feel like a food fight in a junior high cafeteria? Their tenacity. 

And it's at every stage too; infants cry incessantly, toddlers scream throughout the grocery store, adolescents disobey and teenagers refuse to honor curfew.

It's as if at every developmental phase children are innately incapable of being agreeable. When they want something, they want it now. Not later. Not when you get off the phone. Not in five minutes. Not when you get paid. Now.

And that's just the typical kid. If you have a strong-willed child you experience everything I’ve just mentioned in greater intensity. It’s enough to make you want to give in just to get some peace and quiet.
I know because I have a kid who, at a surprisingly young age, is hyper aware of the good feeling one gets when an outfit is put well together. Because of this cognizance she incessantly dialogues with me about new bags, shoes, headbands, outfits and skinny jeans. 

In order to acquire all the new things she wants my daughter regularly, and without fail, asks me everyday to take her shopping. This, my friends, must be a genetic disposition because I, nor her father, enjoys shopping. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

THIS IS WATER David Foster Wallace

This video is worth reposting.
My favorite comes in about 6:45

Do you agree?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Menu Monday

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday Brunch - Pumpkin Pancakes & Sausage links
Mexican Monday - Nachos
'Talian Tuesday - Italian Grilled Cheese (french bread, pesto, provolone, spinach), carrot sticks
Chicken Wednesday - oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and rolls
Mom's Choice Thursday - Kentucky Betty Brown Bake & french fries
Pizza Friday - not sure what we'll do
Soup & Sandwich Saturday - Chili, corn bread, hot dogs (go ND!)

Bonus: Pumpkin Spice Latte !! so good!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

me on my 40th w flowers my
coworkers gave me!
I love celebrations. I believe special events need recognition and holidays deserve attention. I especially love birthdays. I love my children's birthdays. I love my spouse's birthday but mostly, I love my birthday.
The problem is my family doesn't love my birthday as much as I do.
Like today for instance. Today is my birthday. But to the five little minions I gave birth to it's the day I go to the grocery store, and get them ready for the homecoming dance, basketball practice and soccer championship.
In passing one of them said, "Oh, yeah mom, Happy Birthday."
Like that counts.
Apparently they have no idea how important I am. Their entire existence on this planet hinges on the fact that I was born first. They wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for me. Well, and their father. Whose birthday, by the way, falls three days after mine.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Toilet Paper Pumpkin

May I draw your attention to the easiest fall decoration ever?
I once made this craft at a playgroup I hosted. Kids could make it and moms loved it!
I loved it so much I still use this easy fall decoration annually in my bathroom.

You will need:
Rolls of toilet paper
Fabric in fall colors (cut about 20x14 inches)
Brown paper rolled up to look like pumpkin stem
Optional: green felt for leaf & brown pipe cleaner for vine

What you do:
Wrap up the toilet paper in the fabric of your choice, stuffing the extra in the top opening. Cram down other items to resemble pumpkin parts. Viola!

Now .... Go be awesome!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Menu Monday

Happy Monday friends!

It is time to plan & organize my week & that means figuring out what's for dinner now so that during the traffic rush (otherwise known as after school) I won't fight with my pantry for inspiration.

This week is a unique week.
I needed to stretch my budget so shopping was light, but also we have an abundance of games and ... wait for it ... birthdays!!
3 birthdays in six days!!

I love birthdays!!

Here's how our week is shaping up so far. 

Sunday afternoon - Leftovers! Check out these master pieces I made:
With leftover taco meat I made Taco Soup
With leftover chicken I made Chicken Salad (with pecans and grapes)
With leftover sausage I made Egg Fritata

Wednesday - Ebay's birthday out we go!

Thursday - Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Take treats to work day: Halloween Snack Mix & (if there is time) Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Homecoming Tailgate food: Chili Cheese Dogs, Hot Chicken Dip (I substituted 1 can of cream of mushroom & cream of celery soups), Frito Peanut Butter Nachos

As always I link up with www.orgjunkie for Menu Plan Monday and you can always find my favorite go-to, tried & true recipes on my Pinterest Board marked For My Recipe Box!

Thanks friends and have a great week! xo Steph

Over Night Apple French Toast

1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c butter
2T light corn syrup
2 large apples, peeled & sliced
3 eggs
1 c milk
1 t vanilla
9 slices french bread

In small saucepan cook brown sugar, butter and syrup till thick about 5 minutes
Pour into ungreased 9x13 pan
Arrange apples on top
In bowl, mix eggs, milk and vanilla
Dip bread into egg mixture for 1 min
Place over apples
Cover and let sit in fridge overnight
Remove 30 min before baking
Bake uncovered at 350 for 35 - 40 min

Optional Apple Syrup:
1 cup applesauce
1 10 oz jar apple jelly
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t ground cloves
Bring to a boil and let simmer until ready to serve.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Say What !??!

I often meet first time moms who are worried about their child's language development. They wonder when kids will understand proper use of pronouns or at the very least begin to pronunciate clearly. 

I always assure them that language will eventually come. In fact, it is normal for toddlers to speak in their own native tongue and most kids stop saying "Me want!" and transition to "Can I have it?" without any difficulty. 

In my mind the challenge is not when will our kids get a proper grasp on language but it is this; will our kids use language properly. I mean it's cute when your tyke gets his tr's mixed up with his f's when he's talking about his truck but it's not so adorable when he's a pimply faced preteen with a mouth like a sailor.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How to Avoid Power Struggles with Toddlers

Throwback Thursday - This is a Practical Parenting article I wrote back in January 2002. My youngest son, Eric, would have been two at the time.

"I don't like that!"
"I don't want to go to bed!!"

Welcome to the language headquarters of toddlers and budding preschoolers...and welcome to my world.

Remember the old adage, "Children should be seen and not heard" today's modern moms say that phrase is antiquated but I am finding that a form of that attitude still exists today.

As early as 18 months, toddlers begin to show signs of independence. They may become non-compliant when it comes to a parent's request. They may try to escape from their crib to get out of nap time, or wiggle away when getting their diaper changed. Toddlers may refuse to stop touching an unsafe item at your verbal request or refuse to pause long enough to have their hands or face washed. This is all normal behavior of a healthy, developing two or three year old!

Helping parents to recognize that this behavior is to be expected and equipping them with the parenting skills necessary to head off unwanted power struggles is important.

When parents recognize that their child is beginning to exert their independence, their immediate response should be one of enthusiasm, not remorse. A skilled parent will steer those energies into positive and healthy situations where the child can exercise his or her budding independence without upsetting the entire household or worse, making your child feel like a brat.

This takes time. Bad news, I know. Of course, you can put on your kid's coat quicker than they can but they need to practice emerging independence skills. So, the answer isn't to huff and puff and be exasperated. Instead, allow for more time.

Instead of entering into a power struggle over what there is or isn't time for, simply adjust your routine to allow extra time for your toddler or preschooler to help themselves. The long lasting effects will benefit you both.

Trust me, you don't want to hinder developing independence skills or you may find yourself brushing your kid's teeth waaaay longer than either of you want.

Remember, don't scold a child who wants to try something for themselves. You'd hate to discourage them with comments like, "You're just too slow" or "You do it all wrong". These types of negative comments can carry over and discourage children from being brave later in life.

Parents encourage your children. Let them try new tasks on their own. Offer them lots of praise both for trying and accomplishing tasks. Watch them grow and develop into strong, independent young adults who are willing to embrace the future with a steadfast spirit.

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