Using Food To Create Connection

After a long day last week, I lay awake in bed thinking: “All I did today was food: I bought food, put away food, cooked food, served food, cleaned up food, prepared for tomorrow’s food (oh, and ate food somewhere along the way, I think…).

Food, food everywhere.  Blah.  I was sick of it.

I recognize that as a result of having a big, fun, active family (that I wouldn’t trade for the world) there are big, unavoidable consequences.  Namely- laundry and food.  Lots and lots of laundry and lots and lots of food.

I’ve been getting pretty good at the laundry part.  (I quite often give my washer and dryer a small kiss and hug.  And eat a small chocolate treat in their presence.  Because they deserve it.)  But the food part?  I had a terrible attitude about it.  It was becoming a major drudgery and I hated it.

But I found a way to change my attitude.

Here’s how I did it:  I simply switched my reason for preparing food.  Instead of doing it just to “keep everyone alive”  my reason became  “to create connection.”  I began using food to create small moments of connection throughout the day.

It hasn’t change the amount of time or work in the process, but it has flipped my attitude and created something with a bigger, more important purpose.

Let me give you an example.

With the start of school, I began writing small notes in my kiddo’s lunch boxes.  I’ve never done this before.  It always seemed like one extra, frivolous thing to do.  But with the mindset of “using food as a connection”  I began writing small notes and tucking them in lunchboxes.

This has had two benefits: First, the evening before, as I packed lunches and wrote notes, I took a minute to think about the day my kids had coming up.  Maybe any big events or tests or worries.  I pondered and prayed over how I could help them or what they needed to hear from their mom.  Food gave me a few moments every night to connect with and bless my kids.

And secondly, it gave my kids a small taste of mom in the middle of the day.  A little slice of protection and love.  And unbeknownst to me, my middle school daughter has been putting them up in her locker.  She now has a collage of mom and dad notes whenever she opens it up.

Could a mother’s heart ask for anything more?

Food is such a routine in our lives (that just keeps coming and coming and coming). 🙂  Let’t harness that powerful routine to reconnect our families.

Here are some ideas that I’ve been using.  I hope it can be a starting place for your own ideas.

  • Breakfast:  Use this time at the breakfast table for more than just eating.  As your kids come to the table with bleary, sleep-fulled eyes, sing songs, read uplifting stories, pray together.  Create a morning that will bolster and carry them throughout the day.  It only takes a few moments.  Even if you just give each one a big, good-morning-I-love-you hug and look in their eyes.  That is connection.  If you have big and little kids coming in different shifts, you can still create moments with each of them.
  • Notes in lunchboxes: (I already wrote about this, but try it- it is a fun way to connect).
  • Lunchtime:  I use this time to reconnect with myself.  I take 30 minutes to just do something I want to.  Whether it’s watching useless YouTube videos, reading a book, staring off into space.  I do something that just I want to do.  It recharges me for the rest of the day.
  • Afternoon snack:  This one kind of comes naturally.  If you’re able to be home when the kids roll in, just be available.  Put your phone in the other room.  Put a healthy snack on the table AND JUST LISTEN.  It tends to be a crazy time of day, but if you choose to embrace the loud chaos, and simplify your own tasks, it becomes a magical time for kids to recharge and refuel.
  • Dinner:  I love family dinner.  I’ve written a post about it here.  Make this time important and consistent.
  • Dishes:  Even doing dishes can be a point of connection.  We have declared that dishes can’t be done without music blasting.  We turn up the music and dance around while we clean.  Or maybe a quiet conversation with a worried child, while you wash and she dries.
  • As a peace-offering:  My daughter and I had a disagreement yesterday.  She stormed off into her room.  A few minutes later, I brought in a bowl of fresh, chilled blueberries, sat on her floor and listened while she ate and vented.  That miracle was provided courtesy of food.

There are so many ways to use food to create connection.  My ideas are flowing.  How could you use grocery shopping to create connection?  Or cooking?  Or meal planning?  And then on to holidays.  They are ripe with ideas to create fun traditions around food.  I could go on and on…..

The possibilities are endless.  Try a new one today!

Love Dawnie

 

The Science Behind Making Cookies (For Kids!)

I was chatting with a friend recently about her daughter’s “evolution” of cooking.  With no experience whatsoever, this preteen braved the kitchen.  She started with cookies.  Simple enough.

Or so she thought.

She didn’t realize she needed to cream the butter and sugar together.  And seriously?  Who knows what cream means?!?!  The next time, she forgot to whip the eggs in.  Then she was out of baking soda, so she substituted it with salt.  (I’m sure you can imagine how those looked and tasted).

Yikes.

As we chuckled over her misadventures, I realized that with a little bit of food science knowledge, this adventurous girl could learn not only the basics of cookie-making, but move quickly on to all types of cookies, or even better, create her own recipes- with success.

So the nerdy dietitian in me, pulled out my food science background and created this tutorial for you and your kiddos to work through.  As you go through this recipe for “The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie” be sure to take the time to teach what each ingredient does and why it’s needed.  It’ll give them an arsenal for future cooking.

(And as you eat the delicious creations, dipped in ice-cold milk, be sure to check out a quick activity for you to connect with your kiddo at the end!)  Enjoy!

IMG_0896

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1/2 cup Shortening
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

  1.  In an electric mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, brown sugar and granulated sugar.

Cream together means to work together.  Make sure the ingredients get mixed thoroughly and then become a little bit fluffy (not marshmallow fluffy, just a bit lighter in texture.)  Using an electric mixer makes this much easier.

Why?  All this creaming together creates tiny air pockets throughout your batter that will help your cookie rise once it’s in the oven.  Don’t skip this step.  It’s important!  It should look similar to this:

IMG_0879

2. In a small bowl, beat together the two eggs.  Then add to the butter/sugar mixture.  Beat together until smooth.  Add the vanilla.

Beating the eggs together will create more air pockets for your cookies to rise.  

Why do we even need eggs?  Cookies would be lost without eggs!  Here are a few things they do for your cookie dough:

  •  They provide moisture so that the air bubbles can expand and rise while cooking.  
  • They are a binding agent- they hold your dough together.  
  • And as it cooks, the egg yolks help brown the cookie to a beautiful color (google Maillard reaction for more information!!)  
  • The egg protein also helps set up the texture of your final cookie

IMG_0884

3. In a separate bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups of flour, the salt, and the baking soda.  Slowly mix this into the butter/sugar mixture.   Mix until just combined.  Slowly add the remaining flour until the batter is not sticky and you can roll a ball in your hands without getting too messy.

Why does baking soda do?  Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.  When it meets with acid it immediately produces carbon dioxide (a gas).  This carbon dioxide gets caught in those air bubbles you made while creaming and beating your eggs.  When you cook your dough, this gas expands—- and then your cookies rise up!!

The acid that baking soda reacts with in this recipe is the brown sugar (or more specifically the molasses in the brown sugar).  Other recipes use vinegar, yogurt, lemon juice, buttermilk, chocolate.  So in future recipes, remember- your baking soda is going to need an acid to react!

The difference between baking soda and baking powder.  Baking powder comes with it’s very own acid to react with!  So unlike, baking soda, you do not need another ingredient to help it do it’s magic.  But it is not as powerful, so if you substitute it for baking soda, you will need to use 2-3 times more.  But be careful– too much baking powder can make your cookie taste bitter.  It’s a tricky balance.

What are the salt and flour for?  Salt provides flavor!  If you forget the salt, you’ll know.  It tastes bland and very unexciting.  The flour provides the gluten and structure to your cookie.  Without flour, you cookie would be a sloppy mess of goo on the pan.

IMG_0889

4.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Roll your cookies into a greased cookie pan.  Make sure they are a few inches apart.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  When they reach a slight golden-brown color around the edges they are done!  Cool on a cooking rack.  Enjoy!

IMG_0900

How did your cookies turn out?  I hope beautifully. 🙂  Now that you have the basics of how to make a cookie- do you have any ideas of new recipes you can create?  Or how you could adjust this one?  What would happen if you added more baking soda?  Less?   Cooking is exciting!  Especially in the eyes of kids.

A note to moms and dads:  Instead of pulling out your phone to catch up on emails, while your kiddo dunks and eats their cookies, here are a few questions to ask them:

  • What did you like about making cookies?
  • What kind do you want to try next?
  • Would you want to be a chef someday?  If not, what do you want to be?
  • What is your favorite treat?

Catch you guys soon!

Love Dawnie

 

 

 

Teach Your Kids To Cook: Oatmeal

My kids are growing.  Everyday they seem to be taller, stronger and more capable.  Each morning as they stumble up to breakfast, I notice their pajama pant legs seem to creep higher and higher up their calf.  I LOVE IT.

But…

They’re also eating more.  I can’t seem to keep enough food in the house to satisfy their appetites.  The first week of summer, they ate all the snack food in the entire house.  In. Two. Days.  It was supposed to last us all week.

I had to regroup.  There were staving children pilfering my pantry. 🙂

I needed food that was healthy, inexpensive and something they could make themselves.  As a registered dietitian, I refuse to buy many of the ready-to-eat snack foods or their frozen counterparts.  They have too much fat, make you feel sluggish and I don’t want to lead my kiddos down that road.  I don’t think you do either.

But this means- there isn’t anything ready-to-eat.  They can’t just grab a bag of fruit snacks, a handful of crackers.  Most healthy snacks and meals require a bit of prep work.

So here is my solution: Teach My Kids To Cook.

berries-in-hand

Daunting.  I know.

But we’ve started and it hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be.  They each have their own recipe book and we’re learning to make one recipe a week.  (I’ll have a post coming about their recipe books soon!)

This week: Oatmeal.

I love oatmeal.  I know it’s a typical breakfast food, but have you ever had oatmeal for lunch on a cold day?  Delicious.  For an afternoon snack?  So filling.  It’s a healthy snack that my kids make anytime of day, packed full of quality nutrition and filling, filling fiber.  (BTW- oatmeal is so incredibly affordable!!!  One of the cheapest foods on the market.)  My husband even keeps some in his office desk for busy days.

The secret for having kids make it on their own will be buying the right oatmeal.  There are usually three varieties available: steel-cut, old-fashioned and quick cooking.

Pick the quick oats.  They can be cooked in the microwave in a minute.  The other two require stove top time.  We’ll learn about those another day.

oatmeal-with-kid-hands

Below is the recipe for your kiddo to write in their notebook.  As he writes the ingredient list, help him remember his favorite toppings and write them on the list.  Really cater it to him.  Give him some suggestions of common pairings: cinnamon and apples, blueberries and strawberries, peaches and cream, etc.

Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (or honey)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Topping options:
    • Your favorite fruit (strawberries, blueberries and apples are especially delicious), almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, yogurt, raisins
    • My favorite toppings: ____________________________

Directions:

  1. Put the oats into a microwave safe bowl.  Add 3/4 cup water.  Put uncovered in microwave for 1 minute.
  2. With a hot pad, remove bowl from microwave.  Be careful, it will be very hot.  Stir in milk and brown sugar.  Add the toppings and stir.

 

I’m hoping this investment in teaching my kids will progress to them helping me with dinner because I need it!  Unplug today and connect with your kids,

Love Dawnie

 

Is Your Child Giving Out Too Much Info Online?

This topic scares me a bit.  The internet is a big, intangible world, with people, forces and information I can’t control.  I work best in the tangible-  teach the kids how to make their beds, cook, read, do homework.  But the internet?  It feels different to me.  Faster, bigger, scarier.  Easier to lose a grip on.

But coming to my rescue, the American Academy of Pediatrics put out talking points that made this whole “parenting and the internet,” a lot more concrete for me.

The digital world is just another environment, where children can do in a virtual (digital) environment the same things that they have always done- both good and bad.  Parents have the same duties regarding all environments: teaching kindness, setting limits (kids need and want them), knowing where their children are going, what they will be doing, and with whom, etc.  Would you let your child go out into the real world without asking them about their plans?

-AAP 2015

I LOVE this quote.  The internet is just another environment, like school, home, work, the playground.  You better believe most parents set strict rules on the usual environments:  “Be home at 3:00 sharp!  Who is going to be at this party?  Text me when you get there.  Curfew is 10 pm.  Be kind.  Share.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.”  On and on we go.

Sound familiar?

But how often do we ask about online time?  Do we teach them about kindness?  What not to post on Facebook?  What is an appropriate image to share on Instagram?  Give them a time limit?  How much information to give out?  That future employers and colleges can see what they’re posting?  (Or that they specifically look on their profiles when they’re looking to hire?)  Online safety?  Red flags for predators?

Hmmmm.  With my growing tweens, I know I’ve got some teaching to do.

Today I wanted to focus on giving out too much information.  Recent research shows that almost 50% of teens have revealed personal information, such as physical descriptions or photos, to strangers. (Greenfield 2015).  Strangers!!!  Many teens send out group messages to all of their Facebook friends (averaging about 500 people) and then who knows where it goes from there?

There is no such thing as privacy on the internet.  Even on Snapchat.  Yes, settings can be changed, parental control can be managed, but the most effective way to prevent this is to teach your kids.  They need help navigating this new environment.

This year, Harvard rescinded ten admission acceptances to students who were posting obscene memes in their private Facebook group.  Can you imagine?  Ivy league achievements stripped away because of social media habits.  Our kids need to know: what they do now, will affect their future.

In Digital Kids, by Dr. Marting Kutscher, he gives some guidelines for your kids.  Before they send or post any information, they should ask themselves:

  • Will this image/information get me or someone else in trouble?
  • Do I have consent to tag the person in the photo?
  • Will this image/information cause drama?
  • Do I remember that it might get passed on to anyone?
  • Would my grandmother approve of me sending it?
  • How will I feel a year from now?
  • Would I say this to the person’s face?
  • Am I sending this to true friends, or are they just added to my “friends” list so I can seem more popular.  Would they stand by me if something went wrong?

Sit down with your kids this week.  Begin your parenting journey in this digital environment.  Teach them about appropriate things to share.  Common Sense Media is a great resource for more information.

Love Dawnie

Mother-Daughter Dates

I have four kids.  FOUR.

Some days I wonder how I got here?!?!  It used to be just me, running around, worrying about… well, I don’t really remember what I worried about.  (It’s been a while.  I’m sure it was important.)

Now I have this awesome posse of children with me everywhere I go.  It’s amazing. 🙂

But one thing I do worry about is thinking of my kids like a “posse”.  I tend to clump them all into a group, while forgetting they are each individual little people.  Full of uniqueness and divine potential.

Especially my second daughter.

She is so independent.  She does her homework, clips her nails, tends the baby, keeps up on her chores and really doesn’t need much mom support (yeah, she’s amazing).  But as a result, she tends to get lost in the shuffle.  Sometimes I don’t really know what’s going on in her head.

In a quiet moment (you know, those mothering moments when I pull away from the world), I had the inspired idea to start mom-daughter dates.  Yes, I know this concept isn’t new, but at our house it is.  And we’re preteening it here, desperate times….

So I did what any sensible mother would do- I borrowed my little brother’s long board.

My daughter loves to long board.  She is the only one in our family who does.  And she is getting quite good at it.  So I figured, I’d jump into her activity and join the fun.  After dinner one night, while the rest of the family did the dishes and baths, the two of us strapped on our helmets and wrist guards and headed to the streets.

I felt as cool as this guy:

downill

But looked a lot like this:

longboard fall

Seriously.  I’m terrible.  I looked like a giraffe trying to balance on a log.  Although, I did make it past my neighbor’s houses without falling.  Small victories. 🙂

We spent 30 minutes boarding through the neighborhood (and no, I will not give you my address.  I don’t need any embarrassing pictures floating around.) 🙂  I didn’t improve much, but I did learn that my daughter is nervous about her upcoming testing and is going to miss her big sister when she goes to middle school next year.  I remembered what a contagious laugh she has and that she is always up for an adventure.

It was a sweet success.

Dropping into her world for just those few moments, has strengthened our relationship.  She snuggles up to me more often.  She talks more.  I understand her needs better.  Everything is a bit smoother.

My husband and I are now committed to spending a little bit of one-on-one time with each of our kids.  Often.  It is never big or expensive, but more small, sweet and tender.  Short walks to the river, playing at the park, studying a Pokemon book, talking in their bed with the lights off.  Whatever it is, the important ingredient is full-parental focus.

Here are a few ideas to get you started, and yes, they are in my typical, simple, no-fuss style:

  • Ask them to tell or teach you about their favorite interest (be sure to be in a quiet spot where no one else will interrupt);
  • Sign up for a class together.  I know one mother-daughter team that takes a Spanish class together every week;
  • Go out for Slurpees and drink them at a park;
  • Watch a youtube video on fancy handwriting and practice together. (here’s a favorite of ours.)
  • Snuggle in bed and make shadow puppets on the wall;
  • Take them to one of your favorite places;
  • Go on a bike ride;
  • Read a book snuggled under their favorite blanket;
  • Just sit on the floor of their room, at their eye-level and just listen.

What do you do for parent-child dates?  I’d love to hear your ideas!  If you don’t, I challenge you to try it out.  I bet you’ll see great benefits!

Love Dawnie

 

 

 

My New Favorite Book

Hey guys!

Happy Fourth of July!!!  I hope you have exciting things planned today.  It’s one of my favorite holidays.  The family.  The food.  The parades, fireworks, play.  The warmth of summer.  I love every moment.

I thought I’d pop in today with a recommendation.  A great book I’ve read lately is called The Fringe Hours, by Jessica N. Turner.  It totally changed my thinking.

Sometimes as a mom, I feel like my goals, my hobbies and my desires are always pushed to the back burner.  I know that oftentimes it’s my fault, but seriously, some days I don’t see any way to make them happen.

Until this book.  She talks about the concept of “fringe hours.”   You know those moments that are hidden in five minute increments throughout the day- waiting in the carpool line,  while you’re drying your hair, your daily commute.  There are amazing amounts of time just hiding on the fringes.

Jessica gives great ideas that are really outside of the box.  They really weren’t ground-breaking, but all put together, they changed my life.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed in life, but underwhelmed in your personal goals, give this book a shot.  Head out to the local library and reserve yourself a copy!

And happy holiday!

Love Dawnie

Creating Ways To Connect With Your Kids

My oldest daughter is hitting a new stage in life.  And it’s uncomfortable- like an itchy tag in your shirt that you can’t quite scratch.

Here’s a day from her typical summer life:  In the morning she hired herself out as a mother’s helper, spending a few hours tending the neighbor’s children.  She slammed home for a quick hour, eating and finishing up her music practice.  Then she spent the afternoon swimming with friends.  Again a quick dinner, and then out to play night games until 10 o’clock, collapsing into bed exhausted, but content.

But I wasn’t content.

I stood in her doorway that night mourning the end of an era in her life.  Where was that little girl who told me everything about her day?!?  The one who brought me muddy worms and snuggled up to read books?  The one who thought I was cool and wanted to play all day together?

She was long gone.  This new preteen, busy, independent girl was rocking my world.

I slept troubled that night, unable to pinpoint exactly what was bothering me, until I asked myself: what was I missing about that four-year-old?  It wasn’t the potty accidents.  Nope.  It wasn’t the mud or the chubby cheeks.  No and no.

And then it hit me.  *Light bulb moment*  It was the connection.  It was the time we spent talking, looking at each other.   Doing fun things together.  Talking about what was on our mind.  That’s what was missing!  We weren’t connecting anymore.

I understand that naturally, independence creates distance.  But we still need each other.  We still need to connect, converse and see each other.  I want a front row seat to watch her take on the world and create something marvelous with her life.  I am going to be a part of it.

So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.  I was going to carve out moments in our day to connect.  And carve away I did.  As I looked through her daily schedule, I realized that mealtimes were our golden ticket.  Those were the times that she came home to regroup and refuel before storming out again.

I began making these moments count.

Every mealtime, I began putting down my work, my laundry, my to-do lists and leaving my phone in the other room.  I focused solely on her.  I sat down right beside her, looked in her eyes and asked questions.  And then just listened.

Out came her thoughts, tumbling like rain from heaven.  The connection, the time together, the closeness, it all came back.  And it brought, not mourning for the end of childhood, but excitement for this new, growing, independent phase.

How do you create moments to connect with your kids?  

I’m convinced it is the simple moments built into our everyday that build strong relationships.  And it takes focused effort.  And… it’s different for each child.  My son won’t talk about his feelings, but he’ll play LEGOs with me for hours, so I capitalize on that.  My baby just wants snuggles.  Carve, carve, carve.  Those moments are far more important than any phone call, answered email, or clean bathroom could ever top.

Take time today to find ways to carve out time to connect with your kids.  Make it simple, but effective.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Give them a longer than usual hug, whispering simple loving words into their ear
  • Play a few minutes with them in a quiet corner of your home
  • Leave them a note on their pillow
  • LISTEN
  • Get down on their level and look into their eyes while they’re talking
  • Put down your phone during meal and snack times.  Really see what’s happening around you
  • Snuggle up and read a book
  • Ask- “How are you feeling today?”
  • Tell them something specific that you are proud of
  • Start a journal to pass back and forth between you and her
  • Jump into their hobby and help them.  Relearn how to throw a softball, draw a dog or play the piano
  • Be present and really hear and see them
  • Most importantly, pray.  Ask heaven how to guide and connect with your child.  Ideas will come flowing

Be brave.  Carve out that time.  You won’t regret it.

Love Dawnie

 

 

 

A Picture To Take Today: Cute Kiddo Feet

Yesterday, I pulled a pink shirt out of my laundry basket and casually threw it on.  It wasn’t until I looked in the bathroom mirror that I realized it was my 11-year-old daughter’s shirt.  What?!?!  How did she get so big?  Where is the time going?  Slow down… please slow down!

That incident inspired me to pull out the camera and take some pictures of my kiddo’s feet, dirt-stained and all.

I am hoping these pictures reminds us about this special stage.  The stage we realized my daughter can spread her toes enough to eat with a spoon.  The stage when my second oldest is almost as tall as her big sister.  The stage when my son’s feet are still smaller than mine.   And with my youngest, the last baby feet we’ll have around here.  Sigh…

IMG_0770

So pull out that camera.  Capture those quirky toenails, awkward toes and chubby feet!  Happy memory making!

Love Dawnie

Making Summertime Magical

When  my husband and I were first married, we received advice from a mentor that changed the way I see summer forever.

He said that he and his wife saved for years to take their kids on the ultimate California vacation.  Spending thousands of dollars on hotels, resorts, souvenirs and everything that was expected in such a trip.  They had a good time.

But do you know what his kids (now fully grown) talk about when they get together?  The time they went camping and their dad fell in the lake.  They laugh and reminiscence about how he plopped right in as he was trying to teach them to fish.  They talk about the hiking, the cramming into a tent that really should have only slept four.  The s’mores around the campfire.  The late-night talks.  For them, that trip was magical.

Boiling it all down, I took his advice to mean:  To have magical family time- You. Do. Not. Need. To. Spend. A. Dime.  His camping trip only cost him gas money.  (I guess that is spending a dime… but you get the idea.) 🙂

So nope, money is not the secret ingredient to the most magical, childhood-making summer ever.  (Thank goodness, right?)  But there is something that will ignite the spark and fan the flame to epic, story-producing summers.

The Secret Ingredient:  Doing things out-of-the-ordinary.  Unusual.  Unconventional.  Special.  Strange.  Off the beaten path.

IMG_0670

Think about it- why are vacations so fun?  They change our location.  We do new things.  We get a break from the monotony.  They’re out of the ordinary, unusual, unconventional, special, off the beaten path.

Why are movie nights so exciting?  They change our routine.  We lounge in pajamas, act a bit lazy.  A break from the ordinary.  They’re special.

I’m convinced the secret to a magical summer is doing as many things as possible that are out-of-the-ordinary.  Even the small things.  They all add up.

So far this summer, our most magical moment has happened when we ate dinner in the backyard and then played UNO until it got dark.  The whole evening was a break from the ordinary-  dinner outside, no outside commitments, game night by starlight, no bedtime.  The kids were on cloud nine.

I’d say it was magical.

What could you do to break the ordinary cycle of things to create magic this summer?

  • Eat dinner outside
  • Stay up late
  • Sleep in
  • Sleep in a tent in the living room
  • Visit new local places
  • Try a new park.  Create a challenge to visit every park in your city
  • Give kids a chore-free day
  • Have tons of friends over (or if that’s normal for you, don’t have any friends over and just enjoy your own crew)
  • Bring a music speaker outside and blast it while everyone draws with chalk
  • Be brave and let them get filthy- make a mud pit in the backyard
  • Move toys to a new location in the house (This one is seriously a lifesaver for me.  It makes things fresh and fun.  Don’t be afraid to plop fun toys right on the kitchen floor.  They’ll love it!)
  • Wake your kids up early to have a movie night in the morning
  • Instead of driving, walk or ride bikes to get a snow cone
  • Include your kids one of your favorite hobbies
  • Lay on blankets looking at the stars or clouds
  • Let your kids run around in swim suits all day
  • Concerts in the park

The possibilities are endless.  Just start with your normal routine and add some out-of-the-ordinary flair.

What do you think is the secret ingredient for a magical summer?

Love Dawnie

 

 

 

Mothering From Your Heart.

I get so tired of the noise.

So tired of the world telling me how I should raise my children and build my family.  It’s exhausting.

Oh?  Your son isn’t potty trained?  You use disposable diapers?  Your kids aren’t playing any sports?  How many play dates do you schedule a week?  Your kids don’t know how to code?  You don’t work?  Aren’t you eating all organic?  You know, those pesticides… (insert shaking head.)  You don’t travel?  You haven’t even taken your kids to Disneyland?  (Insert audible *GASP*)

My head spins with all these expectations.

The world is in confusion.  Can you feel it?  Families are under attack.  Experts weigh in on raising our kids, celebrities voice opinions on marriage, news articles convey the latest trend that- guess what? is proven wrong the next day.  No one seems to know up from down or right from wrong.

Pure confusion.  I’ve had enough of it.

My best mothering moments come when I pull back from the world.  I turn off my screens, take a quiet moment and prayerfully look into my heart.  This is when I feel the quiet, whispering guidance that I desperately seek.

These quiet times have brought great fruit into my life.

I found powerful ways to strengthen my marriage.  I felt the push to cancel an extracurricular activity that was putting too heavy a burden on our family.  We now have more time at home, to just be together.  I found ways to improve a weakness that I’ve been struggling with my entire life.  I created ways to connect with my children one-on-one.

Great fruit.

But you know what?  None of these ideas are in align with the world’s view.  In fact, most are in complete opposition.  And if I hadn’t stepped away, I would have never seen these answers that were just waiting for me.  Like ripe apples, hanging low on the branches.

I know what is best for my family.  And YOU. DO. TOO.

Take time this week to step back.  Prayerfully look into your heart and find the answers you seek.

Let the confusion swirl around you.  You know what’s right.

Love Dawnie