When food was fun #2

More Quick Fun-Food tips:

Cookie-Cutters:

A. Allow your cookies to become a source for make-believe. Doggy bone cookies can be a day of playing “doggie” for your kids. ABC cutters can be a play school day or creating words.

B. Make food funner by using your cookie cutters to help kids eat vegetables, eggs, funner sandwiches, fruit slices, lunch meats, cheese, play dough…Tiny cookie cutters are great for toddler size pieces.

C. Real doggie cookies for animal friends: 3 eggs, 1/4 c. soy flour, 1 Tablespoon natural yeast, 2 T. wheat germ, 2 T. instant dry milk, 2 T. water. Knead the  dough for 3 minutes. Cut with doggie-bone cookie cutters and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Take out of the oven and turn over then bake for 23 more minutes. Place in a container for your pup or give away to your furry friends.

Pretzels:

  1. Magic Wands: Large pretzel rods or breadsticks dipped in melted chocolate, candy melts, yogurt, cream cheese, peanut butter then dipped in colored sprinkles make the most delicious magic wands. Let them play fairy or Wizards today…
  2. 2. Birthday Candles: Little stick pretzels placed in the center of individual cheese cubes is a family favorite for birthday candles…we sing every time we make them. No, its not for a real birthday, but the pretend one for Snowy, Little Truck, or Lego Batman. Great snack.
  3. 3. Pretzel Words: Did you know you can bite your way through a praying pretzel to make alphabet words. The praying pretzel are the large ones with two circles on the sides and the twist in the center.
  4. 4. Make-Your-Own: Freezer bread dough is great fun and you can make your own bread sticks or pretzels and put your own toppings on them. For cinnamon pretzels brush with melted butter after you spend some fun time making the shapes. Then sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and sugar over the top and bake. They don’t take long so watch the time.

Vegetables

Play with your vegetables.

Zucchini Boats: Carve out the center of a zucchini and float it in a pool or stream.

Mr. Potato Head began when children used to stick things into a real potato with toothpicks. It is great fun to use real veges and make funny heads. Don’t stop with potatoes, do this with pumpkins, squash, melons, citrus…fun!

Potato prints are really fun. Use other foods such as carrots, mushrooms, etc. Cut the vegetable in shapes, paint with tempera paint or if you have little ones, place paint on a sponge and allow them to dip it like an ink pad. Then make your own prints. A blast!

Pasta

Use pasta to your advantage to get children to enjoy their dinners. Kids love pasta! Create kid-friendly names of the dishes. Examples:

Wagon wheels in “cowboy dinner.” Butterfly soup. Under the Sea supper: shells and octopus (with the octopus as a hot dog then cut half way to mimic the eight legs placed on top. Use the twisty ones, the curly ones, angel hair, alphabet…so many fun pastas!

“For heavens sakes,” says grandma,  “make food fun and connective instead of a battle of whits! The dinner table is where you should be having family fun time together and enjoying the filling up both physical and emotional.”

 

 

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Stamp of Approval

Buy suckers! (lollipops if you are from the East)

Put some in

your purse,

diaper bag,

glove box,

coat pocket,

church bag,

the car door holder,

in your sweater pockets,

high up in your pantry,

upstairs on your closet shelf,

in the bathroom cupboard,

stashed behind the stroller,

under your bed,…

…but never always available anytime.

These are the specials

when you “need” to pull one out and give to the kiddos

for your own moment of sanity.

Grandma C’s approved! And her husband was a dentist. She, one hundred percent carried candy stashes (lollipops if you are from the east) on hand just when she needed one or two for a “surprise…”

She was the oldest daughter of 10, the mother of 6, the grandmother of 27 and posterity of over 100 plus.

I trust her judgement!

(Dum-dums are EFFECTIVE and you can buy them in big bags)

I’m so tired I can’t think…

I know. You can’t do another thing. You are barely surviving the day. A list of back-pocket ideas (last post) for your kiddos to happily play-by-your-feet-while-you-fix-dinner gives you less guilt but really, you just want to give them the I-phone, give in to the piece of candy they want, let them stay up or out all night if they chose, just, just, JUST PLEASE LEAVE YOU ALONE AND…

BE QUIET!

Then curl up and fall sleep anywhere.

(You know you have become a full fledged parent when you can fall asleep standing  up!)

A long list of back pocket ideas will clog all your receptors like fog and  you will shut down.

So here is the first and main one to work on for awhile…after you checked yourself in a hotel over night alone to nuzzle into a pillow and really get some shut eye…(well you can day dream about this…

or night dream as you nurse, change pee-pee sheets, readjust the vaporizer, find a new nightlight battery  or wait up for the teen.

#1: FIND YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR

Parenting is a total crack up! I pretend I am being videoed by angels and they are having a jubilant time reveling in my catastrophes. I talk to them all the time, in fact. (Sometimes I even give goofy looks for the invisible camera. It’s up at the ceiling, or in the sky.)

Like one of the 6 hour Jet Blue flights traveling with five children, each summer. This one I had to kneel down in the main aisle, 6 billion miles up in the air, after my third child vomited chunks right where everyone walks to the bathroom. I scrubbed with the only thing I had, an airline blanket as the entire plane leaned in to watch me clean the carpet, plugging their noses. The stewards made me keep that vomit blanket under my seat the whole flight because they didn’t want to touch it! I waved to all the passengers and smiled but all the while I whispered sternly to my video-tographers! “I hope you are enjoying yourselves!” Not many went to the front plane bathroom that flight without jumping over “the spot”…

All the negotiating, all the crying, all the crabbing, all the comparisons, all the guilt, all the squabbles, all the body fluids you have to touch, the thousand times you have to change diapers and little clothes. All the socks you have to match, all the schedules to keep, the food and more food to prepare and put away, all the sleep you loose, all the time you sacrifice and life that drains right out of you is NOT ABOUT YOU.

When the entire package of parenting becomes too serious and you start to feel aliens have invaded your life and now they will never leave it, its time to find your funny bone.

Do NOT laugh AT your children. (danger zone) But certainly laugh at the humor of your life with children because some days YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP!

Laugh more.

Look at situations for the sheer ridiculousness of it. If your child is tantrumming and you can’t stand it…tantrum with them. CRY and pound your fists on the floor. They stop fast!

Your child does not plan out their day and make lists of how they will torture you.

They aren’t even thinking of you.

They are thinking about themselves and trying to figure out how to live in the world at being only 2 years old, or 10 years old, or 16 years old… They have no clue.

They need you to show them how.

They do not have control of their life.

They are waiting for you to help them out.

If you are taking them and life too serious and make parenting a victim role then you react in your exhaustion, when you could actually take the entire moment and make it funny, or light, or defuse tension in the air.

Most things in childhood are not worth making it a bad memory. Most problems can be solved with a light heart and humor with children.

#1: Find humor in your pocket and your days will be…funner.

 

In the trenches

Right now, you may have kiddos pulling at your pant leg begging for your attention. You may have someone in “time-out” screaming while you move to another room and take a second away. Right now you may have kids calling, “Mom…” or “DAD!…” and you are purposely doing something else just to have a break. You may be changing a diaper, driving kids to practice, waiting for someone to come, putting in a load of darks while your tween-ager fills the hamper with clothes she doesn’t want to put away, or preparing food for cranky pants who won’t be consoled. You may have left the kids laughing in bed so you could sneak a bite of that chocolate bar you hid.

Most of my blog posts have been somewhat like boot camp explaining the why’s and reasons so sweetly written like a constant lullaby in white space where you struggle to keep from nodding off as you read. But I know real life with children. It is in the trenches where real “experience” exists. Those precious calm moments are usually when they are asleep.

So here we sit in the trenches. How do we make it through? My first tid-bit of advice is ALWAYS have a secret kept in your back pocket ready for the troops, when they blind-side you unexpectedly; because they will.

The posts coming are back pocket helps for those surprise attacks…

 

“Say Lovin’ Words” beyond…

Sticks and Stones can break my bones,

but words can actually destroy me.

Our children listen and watch. The way we speak about other people, issues, or living things; our choice of words, tone, and body language, will be picked up and mimicked. Adults are models for children.

“Say lovin’ words” about other people’s circumstances and about the beautiful world we live in. Be careful about grown-up issues that are too developmentally intense for children and do not speak about them when they can hear. Be careful how you speak in front of your children.

I have observed preschool girls stand with hands on hips, whispering and pointing at other little children and shun.

I have observed children say a parental script exactly down to the tone it was presented.

I have talked children back in to enjoying something in nature that was told by an adult was dirty, ugly, gross, or boring but when returned to their natural earth connection which is their birthright, they love it and love learning about it; such as holding and reveling in worms.

The world is harsh already. Teach children to  use words which contribute to a better place to live for all living things and allow them to be loving humans by you leading the way.

 

Winter Blahs

“It’s the season of eternal phlegm, of hissing vaporizers and silver teaspoons full of gooey bubble-gum-flavored syrups that break fevers and dry up noses and end midnight coughs. All kinds of coughs; whooping coughs, barking coughs, wheezing coughs, hacking coughs, sniffling coughs. Some are wet, some dry; some are in the throat, some in the chest; some are from allergy, some from colds, and some from a mysterious planet called Virus. In the middle of the night, though, I’m not awake enough to classify coughs. I’m just trying to locate from which room they are coming. (Fate, pg. 165)”

 

Fate, T M. (2011), Cabin Fever. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

“MINE!”

There is a squabble. The toddlers are fighting over the same toy. Seconds before they were each playing with their own, happily. But one looked over at the other toy and thought, ‘Hey, that’s mine. I want to play with that now.’ And she gets up to take what she believes is hers, even though the other child is playing with it.

You rush in as the responsible adult. You explain “sharing” as simply as you can, while taking the toy away. The squabble escalates…

How absurd is that concept; sharing! In toddler’s mind, everything is his and made for him. ‘Sharing…? You adults are so dumb!’

But do we grow out of “MINE?” Some people never do. And it creates a unique family dynamics.

A family is a little community. Each has a role in that space. It is a unit that learns to work together as a whole’ as an “US” entity but it does not always run as such. Many families do not operate in an “us, we, or ours” fashion. They chose or have learned by example to initiate a “mine” philosophy. A “mine” entity distinguishes separations in the unit and hierarchy and power are the result as it runs as independent pieces rather than as a collective connective whole.

Certainly a child is not going to pay rent even though a parent supplies shelter. Certainly a stay-at-home mother cannot pay bills when her income is based on a shared spouses income. Certainly a father’s income is not earned for him solely. As you build and create a family unit you are a whole unit and how you can operate collectively and interconnectively depends on how you assert what is yours or give and share what is “ours.” A family is not independent pieces of a unit just stuck together. It is supposed to be a sharing community that everyone connects to and learns to work with and consequently loves each other.

I have difficulty when I hear adults who live in family units talk about their things as “mine.” “My” car, “my” house, “my” table, “my” bed you sleep in, “my” food you eat…referring to family members as disconnects to things actually helping them thrive. It makes the member not a part of the money or object, but almost instills guilt that they are using or eating something not there’s and have to pay for it some other way. Have you ever heard a parent talk to a teen,  maybe on television, and say, “Don’t you dare put your feet on my coffee table…” And the teen takes his feet off. What that parent has established is that everything that is bought is the parent’s “mine.” The teen is not a part of it. Of course the teen did not buy it. But it WAS bought for the collective family unit to help everyone as a whole. The teen will not feel connected to it so he won’t care about it consequently, except for wrath for harming it and getting punished.

I grew up in a “sharing house.” Everything was collectively ours and a result of that was that we cared and loved it as our own instead of it being a “rental object” just put there with no love or connection attached. “Our” family car was not my father’s “mine.” It was “ours.” We all rode in it, we loved it, and we wanted to collectively take care of it because it belonged to ALL of us. We had a small cabin in the woods. My father did not tell us, “this cabin is “mine” and you all better like it. He bought it for “us” to share and make memories, and we did and love it and treat it with great respect. We felt that way about all of our things because it was given to us with love. There never was an intended feeling of being left out, or being disconnected in anything. Our family things were never an adult “mine’ but always intended for us all as a collective family unit; even as we built our own families. We are all family…always. And share collectively.

You may think this philosophy is absurd. If I work hard for it, I deserve to claim it as “mine.” This is so dumb…just as the normal ego-centric toddler thinks when a toy is taken from them. But ego-centric is vastly different than egotistic and independent. Aren’t we here to learn how to live together connectively.

If you think about it, the sharing philosophy, to help build families is much how God treats us as his big family and we his children. Everything HE has, HE offers to “US.” It is “OURS.” He never ever says, That’s “MINE.” “Get your eyes off my sunset.” “Don’t you dare drink all of my rain water I gave you.” “How dare you cut down my tree and build a house with it, did I give you permission for that!?” “You better eat every speck of my chicken because I can take it away when I want.”

You see…”mine” is only for toddlers…