Thursday, September 23, 2010

We Had Rice - teaching your kids to be more globally aware

A couple of nights ago we had rice for dinner.  That's it, just rice.  Not even very much of it.  And a glass of water.  No, I'm not lacking in kitchen creativity, I'm trying to teach my kids something.  Here in North America we are some of the most blessed people in the world.  The problem is, we often don't think about it.  We take it for granted.  My kids get 3 meals a day plus snacks.  Numerous children in the world cannot make the same claim.
I don't know about you but I get so tired of hearing complaints from my kids:
"I don't like this"
"Do I have to eat this?"
"I'm bored"
"I don't have enough toys"
"I want this"
"There isn't enough playtime at school"
"A Bath!"
Some of these are accompanied by eye rolling and lots of "ughs".
So what do we do about it?  I know the line of "starving people in Africa would love this" when I was a kid made me think, "well, ship it to them then!"  I want to take a slightly different angle with my kids.  I want to make it real to my kids.  Yes, there are starving children in the world.  Yes, there are children who don't have the opportunity to go to school.  Yes, there are children who don't have clean clothes, or toys, or a mommy and a daddy...
I believe if we teach kids about it early enough, maybe they will want to do something about it.
So we had rice.  A simple meal that many survive on once a day.  After dinner we read a story based on real boys and events in the Sudan, called:  Brothers in Hope.   This is a wonderfully written story that tells it like it is.  My kids were riveted.  There were questions along the way.  There was a little bit of shock as to how these boys survived and what they lived on.  And I think, an impact into my boys' hearts.  That night at bedtime my 3 year old added a prayer for the boys of Africa that they would be healed.  My 6 year old prayed that the rich people would share their food with the poor.  He also told me that he wanted to use some of his allowance to help.
This isn't the first time we've talked to our kids about living conditions around the world.  We often talk about the "Big Picture".  The big picture is food in our tummies, clothes on our back, a school to learn, a home to live in, clean water to drink, a doctor and medicine when we are sick, and a mommy and daddy to love and take care of them. 
Little by little, this is a message we want our kids to know. They are extremely blessed people and it is our responsibility to pass our blessings on to others.  How do you teach your kids global awareness?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

School Lunch Ideas - Pizza Pinwheels

The search for a great lunch for my first grader is officially on.  I answered the challenge with help from Jean Pare.  Jean Pare is the founder of the Canadian company Company's Coming.  I happened upon one of their book collections called Kids Cook.  It is a 3 in 1 collection (Bag Lunches, After School Snacks and Weekend Treats).  These cookbooks were designed with kids in mind.  It is geared to teach kids to cook (ages 8 - 15), but my 6 year old can do a lot of it with a little help from me.  We sat down together and looked through each recipe with him ticking off the ones that appealed most to him.  We decided that the pizza pinwheels would be the first recipe that we would try.  They were quick and easy and tasty.  He's had them in his lunch as the main part each day this week with no complaints.  This will be a repeat recipe for us.

2 1/4 cups Biscuit mix
1/2 cup water
7 1/2 oz can pizza sauce
2 sliced green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped pepperoni
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400*.  Stir the biscuit mix and water in a medium bowl until the dough forms a ball.  Turn dough onto a counter that has been dusted with flour or biscuit mix.  Kneed the dough 20 times.  Roll out to a 12 x 12 inch square.

In a separate bowl, mix the remaining 6 ingredients.  Spread over the dough leaving an inch space all around the edges.  Roll up the dough from one side to the other (like a jelly roll).  Pinch the edges to seal.  Cut into 12 1 inch slices.  Place the slices on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Back for 12 minutes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Look

"You look like a mom."  my husband smiled at me.
I did a once over of myself.  My mom uniform of jeans and a t-shirt (not mom jeans though, I haven't fallen that far yet).  My jeans had a touch of baby spit up on the knee.  My t-shirt had slight mucus stains from where my 3 year old wiped his nose while giving me a hug.  My hair was thrown up into its usual easy ponytail.  No jewelry save my rings that I never take off.  I couldn't remember if I'd taken the time to put makeup on or not, but my sunglasses hid my eyes anyway.  My feet were in my comfy Preevos.  The look of a mom?  Yep, I guess I have it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

School Lunch Ideas - Week 1 in review

Here's what was in the lunchbox this week:

Monday - no school

Tuesday -hummus and pita bread
              -sliced strawberries
              -vanilla yogurt
              -dried fruit snacks
              -orange juice

Wednesday - sliced beef hot dog wieners with ketchup dip
                   - watermelon
                   - raspberry yogurt
                   - goldfish crackers
                   - dried fruit snacks
                   - orange juice

Thursday - macaroni and cheese (in thermos)
                - apple/berry sauce
                - strawberry yogurt
                -goldfish crackers
                - dried fruit snacks
                - orange juice

Friday -spaghetti (in thermos)
            - apple slices
            -vanilla yogurt
            - zucchini bread
            - dried fruit snacks
           - orange juice

How was your first week back at school for lunches?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kid Shoes -- what to buy?

I have always had a quandry about buying kids shoes. Fall weather started here this week, and I realized that neither of the boys had running shoes that fit, and that in fact my oldest probably needed an extra pair for school, too. This meant I had to once more wade into my thoughts on kids shoes.

You see, I was one of those kids who always got good quality shoes. My mother firmly believed that bad shoes would ruin my feet and leave me forever awkward and flat footed (or high arched?). So every spring we would go and get me a good quality pair of buckle-up leather Buster Brown sandals for the summer. And every fall we would go to Sears and get two pairs of good quality running shoes for school, and one good quality pair of Mary Janes for church and skirts. Oh, how I envied all those girls in the early 80's that got to wear the little black Mary-Jane like slippers as their inside shoes at school while I had to endure my clunky, hard to put on running shoes. They seemed to float through the air, while I stomped along in my practical, quality shoes.

This lesson has stayed with me my whole life, and I still own a few pairs of good quality, generally clunky (but funky clunky) shoes.

When it comes to my kids' shoes, I do wonder, though. Is it worth the extra $20 to get my 5 year old Sketchers instead of Walmart shoes. Aside from the fact that I hate to shop at Walmart, is there really that much of a difference in quality? Its quite likely that both pairs of shoes were made in almost the exact same type of factory, with almost the exact same type of materials. And yet I am left with that voice in my head, saying "If you want to have good feet as an adult, you need good quality shoes."

So far, I tend to compromise. I get each kid one good quality pair of shoes -- their main outside shoes for playing at the park and walking around town. Then I get a cheaper pair of school shoes, since they do a lot of sitting at school, and if I feel like they need dress shoes, I will get another cheaper pair for those, too.

What do you think about kids shoes?

Monday, September 6, 2010

School Lunch Ideas - Day 1

My oldest child starts back at school tomorrow.  He's beginning grade 1, which means full day school.  This also means the start of 187 (give or take) lunches that I will be packing up and sending off to school.  Lunch at home is no problem.  Lunch for a family picnic is not an issue either.  Lunch for school, that's a little trickier.  I know that the lunch I pack has to meet the following guidelines:
-no peanut butter
-nut free
-able to eat in a short period of time
-stay fresh for a few hours out of the fridge
-be interesting enough for my son to eat
-something that doesn't need heating up
-be healthy
The problem with the school lunches for me is the main course part of the lunch.  I'm not a fan of the everything comes in a package kind of lunch.  I know how much salt and preservatives are in those. The only kind of sandwich my son really loves is peanut butter and banana.  Great for home, banned from school.  He doesn't really like lunch meats (though he will eat one of those sandwiches once in a while) so the traditional sandwich takes a backseat.  At home we eat a lot of hot lunches, grilled cheese, tomato soup, chicken noodle soup, macaroni, mini pizzas, etc.  Some of those I know I can make and heat and send in a thermos (provided the thermos doesn't leak everywhere).
I know I'm not the only mom struggling for good solutions here.  I'd love to hear what other moms have come up with.  As we find winning lunches, I'll post them on this blog, hoping to help inspire some of the rest of you.  I'd love to hear what winning lunches you have in the comments section too!

Day 1 Lunch
-hummus and pita bread
-sliced strawberries
-vanilla yogurt
-dried fruit snacks
-orange juice

Friday, September 3, 2010

Discipline: The Big D in Parenting

Anna, a friend and fellow clever mama in her own right requested that I post something about discipline.  "gulp" - confession time:  I have cleverly avoided writing on this topic for one reason and one reason only - the thought of someone saying, "SHE is writing about discipline, but I saw her kids (fill in the blank)".  Let me first say that I am clearly not an expert at discipline.  My children have been known to have the occassional temper tantrum in the store.  They don't always listen and do as they are told.  They will balk at cleaning up their toys.  They are kids.  Not perfect kids, just kids.
On the other hand, aren't we all just moms of kids.  Don't we all deal with these things.  Isn't one of my goals in writing on parenting to share in the challenges of it and admit that we aren't perfect, we just do the best we can?  Right.  So here it is, my thoughts on discipline.
Discipline roots itself in the word "disciple" which means to teach.  Unfortunately many get caught up in the negative aspect of discipline equaling it to punishment.   Yes, consequence (notice I said consequence and not punishment) is a big part of discipline but that is not all that it is.  I think the clearest way I can talk about behavior is to let you know what works best for us.

Consistency - be consistent with your expectations of your children.  Also be consistant with the consequences
Clarity - let your kids know your expectations of any given situation at any given time.  A visit to the grocery store works so much better if I review my expectations before we get there
Consequence - logical consequences are great.  Clearly defined 'time outs' and 'time to thinks' are wonderful too. 
Quality Time - my kids are so much better behaved when they are having real quality time with both of us
Responsibility - lay out what they are responsible for and praise them for it - give them a little responsibility too (age appropriate of course) they need it
Respect - aka the Golden Rule - Treat others as you want to be treated yourself.  Also, you don't speak to adults the same way you would another child
Accountability - say what you mean to your kids and keep your word.  It does your child no good to threaten them if they know you won't follow through - in the same way they need to be held accountable for their actions (or in-actions)

Yes, I've done that! 
I do take away toys and other privileges from my children.  If they don't clean up their stuff, mama will and it will go into the basement or into my closet until they have earned the privilege of that toy again.

No is word worth saying!
Nothing drives me crazier than people who don't believe in saying 'no' to children.  They need to know the word 'no'.  They crave boundaries. Remember, kids who have been told 'no' know what 'no' means.  This makes them more likely to use the word 'no' in the future.  (no to drugs, no to promiscuity, no to smoking...)

People whose parenting opinions I admire:

Dr. Phil - yep, I like his style.  He has some real solid, sensible advice for us parents.  He's raised 2 kids of his own.
The Supernanny - She has a wonderful, hands-on, involved approach available for parents.  I've used it, it works
Barbara Coloroso - if you haven't heard her you need to take a look into her work.  She knows kids really well.
Ron Morrish - another parenting expert with sensible advice and methods

My 2 cents on spanking
I do my best to NOT spank my kids.  Here's why.  I've found physical punishment makes them more physical themselves.  I do not want my kids to be afraid of me.  I do not want to use a consequence out of anger.  I know there are those who will argue that proper spankings are given when you have had time to cool off.  I know I can do better than that.  How can I tell them hitting isn't okay if I'm hitting them myself?

So there you have it.  When I'm doing all of these things in parenting, my kids are happier and much better behaved.  I know when their behavior is off, the first place I need to look at it myself.



We'd love to hear from you. Email us with your feedback, suggestions and general blog love at