Lessons From The Kitchen

LessonsFromTheKItchen.jpgI always found it humorous that children love doing the things that we as adults hate to do & vice versa. They fight naps & taking a baths while these are things that I dream about. Doing dishes & sweeping the floor are not my favorite activities in the world, but yet my daughter can’t wait to get her hands wet & pick up a broom. Children like to emulate what they see their parents doing. My daughter like many little girls has a play kitchen. She spends many hours a week cooking up delicious meals for mommy & daddy.

I used to find it difficult to prepare meals & clean up the kitchen with Mai running around. I realized the easiest way to get things done was just to involve my daughter. Cooking with my daughter is not only a fun bonding activity that we can share, but it also has a lot of learning opportunities as well.

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1. Measurements –  From as young as I can remember one of our daughter’s favorite toys has been our measuring cups & spoons. Now that she is older, she has learned that they are also used for other things. Show your child the different size cups & spoons & explain to them what each one is.  Let them scoop and measure. Assist them for accurate measurements. Let them pour the measured substance into the mixing bowl or dish.

2. Following Directions – Toddlers are not always the best at listening or following directions. Our daughter is no different, but when we are engaged in an activity such as cooking or baking, she is surprisingly attentive. Explain what needs to be done in each step & let them help with anything that she can do safely. Offer them encouraging pointers along the way.

3. Hand eye coordination – All of that pouring & measuring requires a little bit of dexterity. It may take some time, but with practice you will see their abilities grow. Our daughter has become great at pouring.

4. Counting – This is an especially fun side activity while you cook. If you are working with items such as chick peas, lentils, pasta or chocolate chips ask them to count out a small number of them for you. My daughter loves counting and separating.

6. Teamwork – A lot of toddlers wrestle with asserting their independence. This is a wonderful thing, but it also important for them not to lose sight of being able to work together as a team. Cooking and baking is also a great bonding moment for you & your child or your whole family.

7. Reading labels – Reading does not always have to be in just your children’s bedtime stories. Take every opportunity that you can to read to your toddler and point out new words. If you are following a recipe, read it aloud and point out the words and pictures.

8. Home Economics – Let’s not forget the main task at hand which is to cook or bake something fabulous. At an early age your child is learning basic principles in cooking. Hopefully this will encourage a love for cooking and maybe someday they will be fixing you gourmet dinners & desserts.

9. Responsibility – Making a mess in the kitchen is the fun part, the clean up after leaves something to be desired. Throwing away trash, wiping down the counters and doing the dishes are chores that I could do without, but like I said before our children seem to love this part. That sets a good foundation for chores in the future.

 

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Sometimes Mommies Cry

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Motherhood is riddled with a wide range of emotions. From the day that your child is born, you are overcome with feelings like you have never felt before. You have never loved so much, laughed so much, feared so much or felt so happy. As much joy as your children bring into your life there are days that can bring you to tears.

 When our daughter was first born, I cried a lot. I cried from exhaustion, confusion & from the endlessly overwhelming feelings of uncertainty that I felt. I didn’t think that I was doing anything right. I could not get my daughter to sleep or stop crying. I was certain that I was going to be a failure at motherhood. Time went on and those tears dried up. Things got easier. As our daughter grew so did my love. Not that I didn’t love her before mind you, but watching her develop into a person with her own personality and mind was magnificent. It was nice getting to meet my daughter.

This week I found those tears again. This time is was not from the exhaustion or uncertainty is was from a wounded heart. It first began over the weekend. Mai reached for her toy guitar in one of her toy bins. She was having a difficult time pulling it out as it was stuck on the lip of the shelf. I walked over to her and asked…

“Do you need Mama’s help?”

“NO! Daddy do it!”

“Mai, Daddy is resting. Mama can get it for you.”

“NO! No Mama! It’s Daddy’s turn.”

When I pulled out the guitar to hand it to her, she threw herself on the ground sobbing and kept asking for Daddy.

This was just one of many incidents similar to this that occurred over the past few days. With every diaper change or bath or bedtime story, my daughter cried and said that she wanted Daddy to do it. I felt as if I was just picked last in gym class, dumped at the prom & lied to by best friend all in the same day. I felt a sad little pit planting itself into my stomach. I tried to tell myself that she was just going through a Daddy phase this week. Lord knows that she has done the same thing to my husband, but this did not bring me any comfort. Tonight after Daddy gave her a bath & got her ready for bed, he had to leave for work. I tucked her in to read her a bedtime story. She pleaded and sobbed & asked for Daddy. I opened the book and started reading through her protests. As I read, she cried. I could feel my own eyes filling up with tears. After a few sentences she finally calmed down, snuggled in and listened. She looked up at me and smiled and said “Mama, one more book.” Of course, my baby. After she fell asleep, I drowned my hurt feelings in a bowl of frozen yogurt. Looks like mama might have to grow some thicker skin before the teenage years hit. I better buy some more yogurt.

 

 

 

 

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Popsicle Stick Flower Craft

Add a pom pom or gemstone to the center of your flower.

Last week after a few gloomy days, I got ahead of myself. Mai and I made our first Fall themed crafts a few weeks early. This weekend was a pleasant reminder that the summer was still indeed here.

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Mai & I had a lot of time outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather, but we did manage to squeeze in a craft or two. This time we stayed in theme with the season & made flower crafts.

Popsicle stick flower craft

What you will need:

Craft sticks

Cardboard

Pipe Cleaner

Bendy Straw

Paint

Glue

Pom Pom or Gemstone (Optional)

Directions:

Cut out two 1 1/2" circles out of card board for each flower that you are making.

Cut out two 1 1/2″ circles out of card board for each flower that you are making.

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Paint 12 craft sticks.

Paint 12 craft sticks & let dry.

Use a hole punch to punch holes in the middle of the cardboard circle.

Use a hole punch to punch holes in the middle of the cardboard circle.

Place & glue 8 of your craft sticks on top of one of the circles in a pattern like shown.

Place & glue 8 of your craft sticks on top of one of the circles in a pattern like shown.

Glue the second piece of cardboard on top, making sure to line up up the center wholes.

Glue the second piece of cardboard on top, making sure to line up up the center holes. Let dry.

Paint the top piece of cardboard. Let dry.

Paint the top piece of cardboard. Let dry.

Glue 2 sticks in a X pattern over the top of the circle.

Glue 2 sticks in a X pattern over the top of the circle.

Glue the remaining 2 in a similar pattern.

Glue the remaining 2 in a similar pattern & let glue dry.

Trim the short end of a bendy straw so that there is about a 1/2 inch left before the bendy part of the straw.

Trim the short end of a bendy straw so that there is about a 1/2 inch left before the bendy part of the straw.

Insert a green pipe cleaner into the straw to add sturdiness & color.

Insert a green pipe cleaner into the straw to add sturdiness & color.

Push the backside of the straw into the hole in the backside.

Push the bendy side of the straw into the hole in the backside.

Add a pom pom or gemstone to the center of your flower.

Add a pom pom or gemstone to the center of your flower.

Here is Mai's flower.

Here is Mai’s flower.

And Mommy's

And Mommy’s…They spin too.

Keeping with the flower theme we also did a hand & foot craft this weekend. Mai gets a kick out of the paint on her feet. She painted mommy’s feet & made me do a footprint as well. It only seems fair, right?

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Green feet for the leaves.

Mommy, I paint your feet too.

Mommy, I paint your feet too.

We did hand print too, but Mai got a little over jealous with this so we decided to trace hand after instead.

We did hand prints too, but Mai got a little over zealous with this, so we decided to trace hands instead.

That's better.

That’s better.

Of course this went straight to the refrigerator.

Displayed proudly on the refrigerator

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Our Sunday Menu – Toddler Victories & Failures

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There are some things in parenthood that do not make sense to me. The most recent in a long line of things that puzzle me is this, you have all heard me cry & whine over what a difficult eater our daughter is, then how do you explain this…

Mai's daily reports from daycare. As you can see the daycare provider has no problem getting our picky girl to eat.

Mai’s daily reports from daycare… As you can see the daycare provider has no problem getting our picky girl to eat.

If the daily battle with my daughter at mealtime wasn’t frustrating enough, I now find out that she is capable of eating at each meal, just not for us. Siiiiggh! There are a few foods that I can count on that she will eat, pancakes, French toast & spaghetti. As you can see she likes her carbs. When possible we try to sneak in meat and our fruits & veggies, but it does not always work. Today’s menu had a couple of wins and a definite loss.

Breakfast: Banana & Nutella Pancakes

I had a couple of over-ripened bananas that needed to be used, so pancakes were a great place to use them.

Smash the bananas with a fork in a small mixing bowl. Add the egg & beat together & set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl add 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 tbsp of brown sugar, 2 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 cup of milk & 2 tbsp vegetable oil & stir. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture & stir well. Stir in 1/3 cup of Nutella. Pour about 1/8 of a cup of batter into a griddle or in a frying pan set on medium heat. Cook until the pancake is bubbly & the edges are cooked. Flip the pancake & cook on the other side until cooked all the way through.

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Breakfast was a success. She ate 4 pancakes of her own & a few bites of mine too. Score one for mommy.

Lunch: Monte Cristo Roll Ups:

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the crusts off of 6 slices of bread. With a rolling pin, roll out each slice off bread. Beat an egg in a medium sized bowl. Brush one side of each slice with the egg. Cut a slice of ham so that it fits inside the slice. Cut a slice of Swiss cheese so that it only covers half of the slice. Roll the bread started at the cheese end. Dip the whole roll into the egg mixture covering the entire roll-up. Place on a greased cookie sheet & dust with confectioner’s sugar. Bake for about 7-8 minutes until golden brown.

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While this was a big hit with mommy & daddy, Mai refused to try it. I tried bribery & pleading. “Just take one little bite.” Negative. This was a lunch time fail. The score now is 1-1.

Mexican Chicken Rice Bake

Ingredients:

1 cup of uncooked white rice

1 pound of chicken cut into strips

1 cup of water

1 cup of milk

1 can of regular tomato soup (10.75 oz)

1 can of corn drained (8.75 oz)

1/4 cup of diced red peppers

1/4 cup of diced orange peppers

1/4 cup of diced yellow peppers

1 packet of taco seasoning

1 cup of shredded Mexican cheese

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 375. Dice your vegetables & cut your chicken into strips & set aside in a casserole dish (I used a 9×12) add the rice, water & taco seasoning, stir well until seasoning is broken up & evenly distributed. Stir in the tomato soup & milk. Pour the corn & peppers over the top. Place the chicken strips over the top. Cover with foil & bake for about 45 minutes (cook times may vary). Remove foil, add the cheese & bake for 5 more minutes. Remove & let sit for a few minutes to cool. The top may appear slightly watery. The sauce will thicken upon standing. Scoop & serve.

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After a little coaxing and bribery, I finally got her to take a bite & guess what she liked it.

It was a pretty good eating day other than lunch, but you win some & you lose some.

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Yes, My Daughter Wears Hand-Me-Downs

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Do you remember when you first found out you were pregnant? The anticipation to welcome your new little family member was overwhelming. There were so many things to do & buy before you brought home your new little bundle. If you were like me, you started brainstorming for themes for the nursery right away. You chose the perfect pattern & needed to compliment it with just the right furniture & paint. It would all be added to your baby registry of course. You saw a million adorable outfits & you wanted to buy every one. After your baby shower you came home with enough loot to last you what looked like a lifetime. It did not last a lifetime. It was more like 1 one year & 4 months. After your baby out grew all those beautiful outfits that you received (half of which never even got worn) & you packed up all those infant toys, it was time to hit the mall for new clothes, shoes, toys, books, etc, etc, etc… Cha ching!! Holy Crap, having a kid is expensive.

Right now my daughter is wearing high waters because she has outgrown most of her pants almost overnight. Thank goodness it is summer & we can pass them off as capris. With their little bodies growing out of clothes every few months & their interests changing almost as quickly as they learn, it could bankrupt a mommy & daddy. Luckily, there are ways to cut costs..

1. Hand-me-downs: If you are lucky enough to have a friend that is willing to give you their children’s old clothes, TAKE THEM. Hand me downs are one of the greatest things you can give to a mommy. We have clothes, toys, books & videos that have been handed down from assorted friends & family members. I have taken many hand-me downs & given many as well. As long as it is new to them, kids don’t care whether it was bought new.

2. Tag Sales: If you don’t go to tag sales you should. Tag saling is just fun. There is something about finding a great deal that makes you feel like you just uncovered a buried treasure. This is a great place to find kid’s stuff. You can find clothes with tags still on them & great toys & books for just cents. Our town just had a town-wide tag sale. We went this weekend. My daughter was in paradise. We left with a few treasure for her & even something for mommy,

3. The library: Our whole house is over-run with books. Our daughter loves to read & so do my husband and I. We would go broke buying new books all the time. That is why I love the library. Many libraries even have a kid section with a seating area & toys. Our local library has a Lego table that will entertain my daughter for hours. I pick out books for the whole family while my daughter happily plays away. Here is the best part, it is all free. How can you beat that?

4. Cut coupons & look for sales: I am not going to lie, I am terrible at cutting coupons. I am good at looking for great deals though. I have found amazing things on clearance. Buy out of season clothing for the following year, this is especially great for items such a winter coats which tend to be pricier.

5. Second hand stores: Do not scoff at thrift shops & second hand stores, if you are willing to take the time to poke, you can find great deals. There are even some stores that only deal in children’s items, such as Once Upon A Child. They sell everything. You can find gently used toys, furniture & other must haves such as strollers & pack n plays for dirt cheap.

6. Group Exchange: If you are Facebook or any other type of social media, I am sure that you have seen some sort of a children’s group exchange. People post photos of their old kid’s items & sell them at a reasonable rate. 

7. Pick free activities: We love going on fun family outings with our daughter, but it can get expensive. If you are a family on a budget, pick activities that do not require any money. Take a trip the park, go to a local pond or lake, as I said before the library offers a lot of fun options. 

8. DIY: If you or your husband are crafty or are able to sew, knit, quilt or build, Do It Yourself is always a great way to go. We are lucky enough that our mother in law both sews & quilts. She has made us sheets, clothes, washing mitts & one beautiful ABC quilt that I keep trying to get her to reproduce & sell on Etsy. 

9. Recycling Toys & Books: There is no need to keep buying new toys & books. Pack away toys & books and rotate them. After they have been out of sight for a while they become new and exciting again.

Tonight I am enjoying a fun family night playing the Ants in the Pants game that I bought for 50 cents at a tag sale & then following it up by reading good night stories from the library .

 

 

 

 

 

 

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