Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cheap and Healthy Dinner Idea!

Here was our dinner last night.  I got most of the ingredients from Aldi (my sweet German purveyor of staples...oh how I love you).

Intentionally Delicious Turkey Chili
1lb of ground turkey
1 package of McCormicks White Chicken Chili Seasoning
2 cans white beans (great northern, cannellini, whatever kind you fancy)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can sweet corn
1 can chicken broth (I used the light version)

Brown the turkey, toss in the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.  Then comes the fun part...what to top it with?  We went for chopped avocado and cheese but it would be great with sour cream and cilantro as well.  Or if you are going light, plain Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Less is way more

When our oldest was born we lived in a small apartment and were barely getting by.  We didn't have a lot of money for extras, and even though she was still a baby, I felt bad that we didn't have the room or the money for many toys for her to play with.  I asked my Parent Educator from Parents as Teachers what to do and she always reassured me that kids love simple things to play with like wooden spoons and a bowl.  She also said if we were to buy her anything, to focus on the 3 B's: books, balls and blocks.

Fast forward to her birthday and we started to receive some toys as gifts.  Then Christmas and Easter and another birthday and another baby and the toys keep rolling in.  Add to that, the toys from fast food restaurants and other giveaways everywhere we go and we started becoming buried under a sea of toys.  I couldn't help but think of a Focus on the Family broadcast where I heard a guest describing his family's 10 toy rule.  His kids were only allowed 10 toys and when they got a new one, they had to pick one to donate or hand down to a sibling.  I thought it was extreme at the time but as the playroom started filling up, it was beginning to sound fantastic.

I started to realize that keeping toys to a minimum was actually a blessing to my kids.  When I got rid of a lot of the little toys that they weren't playing with, they were able to clean up the playroom more quickly and didn't get as frustrated with the notion of cleaning.  They were able to see what they did have and played with their favorite toys more.  I'm going to keep lightening the load around here and enjoying a simple play space.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Learning to Read

Just as an update to the "Chick-fil-A"'s working!  My kids are saying "Yes, Ma'am, it would be my pleasure," several times a day and their actions are reflecting their words.  Wow!!!

Reading is a big deal in our home.  Not only is it important for school, but it is the key to unlocking new worlds of imagination and the Word of God.  My goal is to have each of my kids reading before they start kindergarten.  My oldest is in 1st grade (for another month or so) and is an amazing reader.  She has fluency I never could have imagined for a 6 year old.  I owe a lot of credit to my mom who did a lot to help her read.  I will never forget the first world she read.  We were eating dinner at Chili's and she saw the word "HOT" on a big sign.  She carefully sounded it out and started saying, "Hot!  That sign says Hot!".  It was like the world made sense for the first time to her.

My middle daughter is 4 and has another year of preschool before she starts Kindergarten in the fall of 2012 but she is already reading some sight words and trying to sound things out.  We are teaching her the same way we taught our older daughter.  We read to our kids every night and sometimes before naps as well.  I point to each word as a read.  I teach them the letter sounds by popping in The Letter Factory dvd from Leap Frog.  It is such a fun, creative way to teach letter sounds and by watching this every few days, in about a month both my kids learned all their letter sounds.  Next, we do things the old fashioned way and read lots of Dick and Jane books.  Those focus on sight words by repetition.  Once you can recognize some basic sight words (and, the, up, down), start to learn phonics, and have a base of knowledge about context clues from doing a lot of listening to are on your way to reading!  I also spend a lot of time at the library and encourage my kids to pick out books that interest them.

I hope this helps someone!  I love reading and it is such a joy to see that passed down to my kids!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

She's Your Sister

I have three beautiful little girls ages 8 months, 4 and 6.  Obviously the baby isn't involved in sibling squabbles yet but the older two have been known to push, shove, and otherwise engage in physical altercations over some pretty petty things.  Things like a Happy Meal toy or a five cent pencil.  The lesson that I try to get through to them after the punishment phase is over is that their sister means more than that little toy.  I try to convey that  those toys will come and go but those little objects are never worth hurting each other over.  A toy is just a toy but she's your sister and that matters more.

I was painfully reminded of those teachable moments when I was working on my current Bible study from Beth Moore.  It is the study of David and there is a section about how David dealt fairly with his enemies.  This is what caught my eye:

"Pray for your enemies.  Pray they will accept God's delegate of mercy toward them.  Pray for a willingness to be a vessel of God's mercy in their lives.  A battle is coming and all captives will be kept eternally."

I heard God saying as I read over those lines:
"She's your sister.  He's your brother.  You know those people that you were struggling with?  Not over a toy but over an ideal or a hot topic of conversation?  That topic or ideal is about as important as a Happy Meal toy in the view of eternity.  See them as I see them."

You drastically change how you treat others when you begin to view them through the telescope of eternity.  Their political party or parenting method don't seem to matter nearly as much as their heart.

So I will keep striving as a mom to teach my kids the lesson that, "she's your sister," as I learn to remember that we are all God's children and deserving of mercy and kindness.