Thursday, November 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Thanksgiving Blessing Tree

This week I wanted to share a post from the past that is part of our annual November traditions.  It is our Thanksgiving Blessing Tree, something I started several years ago when I wanted to help my kids recognize their blessings.

I wanted a way to help my kids understand the true meaning of Thanksgiving and had seen several versions of Thanksgiving Blessing Trees online.  To make ours I made 21 pockets from felt to count down the twenty days until Thanksgiving, and the last one for Thankgsiving Day itself.  The pockets were sewn rough, they aren't pretty but to me Thanksgiving has a pretty rustic feel to it.  I free hand drew the numbers on felt and cut them out to sew onto the pockets.  For the pocket for Thanksgiving Day I found a Turkey foam sticker at Hobby Lobby to put on it.

After I made the pockets I used a clothespin to clip them onto the ribbon.  I then cut out leaves from construciton paper and placed one leaf for each family member into each pocket, plus one leaf with a Bible verse written on it.  I used several verses that were about Thankgsiving, and being thankful.  For Thanksgiving Day I added extras since we would be having family over for dinner.  I used leaf shaped cookie cutters as stencils for my leaves, and cut them out with scissors. 

After I did all that I drew a picture of a tree onto a piece of poster board (I am not an artist by the way so it's very basic).   I also added a Bible verse about Thanksgiving. 

Each night at the dinner table we would read the Bible verse for the day, then we would each get a leaf and write what we are thankful for on it.  We then share our answers with each other, and let the kids glue the leaves onto the tree, which explains why there is no order to how they are glued on. 

At the end of Thankgiving I roll the poster board up, put a rubber band around it, write the year on the back of it, and store it.  It's been fun to go back and look at our trees from the last two years.  It really gets the kids thinking about Thanksgiving and all the things we have to be thankful for. 

I am linking this post up to:


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month With Your Kids

November is Native American Heritage Month and Leslie Stine is back to share with us some ideas on celebrating it with your kids.  

Native American Heritage Month

November is upon us, which means it is Native American Heritage month. You may be thinking it is important for your children to learn about different cultures. What better way than to learn about them yourself and teach your child? Now you may be thinking how do I teach something I don’t know a lot about? Easy! Everything is online now or something long lost... the library. Do some research yourself; find out what you would like to teach your child about the similarities and differences in cultures.

Native American month makes me think about strengthen, tradition, and family. Some things you can do to get your children learning about these things are, finding which states in the United States derive from Native American words. Another idea is to use “code talk” like the Navajos; your child can then create their own “code talk” you can use as a family to make fun messages. Native Americans language is still used today; a fun way to find out what words are still used is to create a glossary of them with your children. Allowing them to write this will also encourage handwriting skills and cognitive progression. Remember to, a great way to learn and spend time with your family is to get a book about Native Americans from your local library. This encourages reading skills, and reading comprehension.

Now that you have found a way to learn some of the basics of Native American Heritage, let’s talk about ways you can celebrate with your family. Cooking is fun for all ages, and food is always a great way to celebrate. Creating a Native American dish can be a fun and exciting learning experience. Try these: Cherokee fry bread, tin can pumpkin bread, grape dumplings, fried green tomatoes, and cornmeal pudding. Look for those recipes online!

There are other fun ways to create family memories and learn at the same time, one is learning through art. Art teaches children self-expression and a sense of self-reassurance of doing something they are proud of and enjoy. Here are some art ideas that allow your child to self-select materials; these are also good for ages two to adulthood. Create your own dream catcher, allow your child to choose which colors and beads they would like, then in the morning talk about what dreams were found in their dreamcatcher as well as yours. Remember you can used feathers, string, beads, and ribbon to make them.

Rain sticks are another great and inexpensive way to teach your child about Native American heritage. Use things like a toilet paper roll, markers, rice, beads, feathers, and whatever else your child would like to create these.

 Lastly, try something new called Wampum weaving, use pieces of fabric or just plain paper to create a weaving of your own, this will encourage your child to use their fine motor skills as well as their persistence.  

After doing all the activities you can, there is one thing you will know for sure. Nothing is more important than strength in your family. That is something Native American families will always teach us. As a mom you know how special time with your family is, and nothing is better than reliving a tradition you carry with you from your own heritage. Or here is my advice no matter how old your child is start a new tradition today!

 Feel like you are stuck and have nothing new to grow on? Here are some great ideas even for the smallest member of your family:

 Have a family “cook off” once a week. You have to make dinner anyways right? Why not make it fun for the whole family!

Have a family movie night. Place everyone’s name in a hat and pick on out that person gets to choose the movie. Find a fun movie themed snack to go along with it.

 Support each other in event. If you have older and younger children you know this one is big, take the younger ones with you.

Participate in a family event, run a 5k with the whole family. Check what local community events or drives are going on and go together.

We can learn so much from studying the Native American heritage, so join me this month in learning something new and keeping the traditions going. As well as making our own memories along the way.  

I am linking this post up to 

Works for Me Wednesday at Giving Up on Perfect

Menu Plan Monday, November 9 - 15, 2015

Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

For the second week in a row I am posting my menu plan on a Tuesday instead of a Monday.  I think that is a testament to how busy I have been.  Last week I left Sunday's dinner on my menu plan open and I filled it with an amazing meal, Spicy Seafood Pasta.  It was a decadent meal that didn't take a lot of preparation.  The recipe calls for clams, but I left them out.  You really should give it a try!

Here's what I have planned for the rest of the week:

Monday - Whole Foods Cinnamon Apple Bacon, Eggs, Hash Browns

Tuesday - Smarty Pants Stroganoff from the new Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook

Friday - Salmon Croquettes, Macaroni and Cheese, Lima Beans

Saturday - Eating Out

Sunday - Home Style Pork Chops with Pan Sauce, Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Teaching Your Kids to Be Thankful

How often do we as kids or adults have the attitude where we can't see what we are thankful for even when it is sitting on the table right there in front of us?  During November many of us spend time thinking about our blessings and it is the perfect time to teach kids about being thankful.  

Leslie Stine is joining us today as a guest writer with tips on how to teach your kids of all ages how to be thankful for what they have.  Leslie has been married to her husband Andy since 2010, and is mommy to a baby girl named June who was born in March, 2013.  Leslie has a degree in Early Childhood Education, specializing in ages 0-3.  I am excited to share Leslie's post today and hope that we will be seeing more of her here at The Modern Day Mom.

Every mom can agree the hardest job in the world is to balance getting and giving your children everything they need and most of what they want, and teaching them how to appreciate it at the same time.  When we are teaching our children life lessons this is a big one, from toddlerhood to teens this is just hard. Here are some ideas that are not your typical “take things away until they appreciate it more”.

Let’s start with some ideas for toddlers, as a small child under the age of three you are naturally self- centered. You are used to relying on mommy, daddy, and caregivers your whole life. By the time your child is the age of two their cognitive abilities are to learn that they are a separate being from you, with thoughts and choices of their own. So how do we teach these little bundles of emotional expressive children to be thankful? We lead by example, telling people around you “thank you”, or “I appreciate you doing this for me”. This creates a reaction of gratuity in their little minds. Also, teaching them the developmentally appropriate response to a kind act done in their favor, especially by a parent, sibling, or caregiver.

Now what about ages three to preteen? At this point your child is vocal and has the abilities to understand empathy. They go from “all about me” toddlerhood, to a more caring and respectful manner. Along with leading by example, at this age there are more hands on activities you can do such as, handwriting thank you cards. This encourages handwriting skills, and a life skill that has been long forgotten. When your child sits down to write a thank you note to someone they truly have to think about the things in their life this person effects and how they make it better. Have your child write a thank you note to someone in their life once a month. Don’t just limit it to special events and times, this continues to keep them thinking about their blessings they have every day.  Another idea is at dinner time or bedtime have your child name at least three things that happened that day that made them feel thankful for all they have.

Now what about the last of those preteen years and teenage years? Now this may seem impossible some days, but your teenager does have it in them to care for other people. Through all the changes in their lives and the way they think, as they gain full independence in their minds, your teachings of life lessons and morals are still in there somewhere. This is the time to teach them to feel good about the things they have but also the things they can do to help others. Teach them that the gift of giving feels good. Lead by example, this is big, you can tell your child “that must be terrible” when watching all those commercials about mistreatment of people or animals. But, if you’re not doing anything they won’t either. This doesn’t mean jump up and send all your extra money to a foundation, this means get online, research the people or places in your local committee that need help. Teach your child that life happens and it is not always good, these people that need help once had what you have and now it is gone for many reasons. This shows your child that there is no way to know what your plan is. Volunteer with your teen at a local food pantry, or homeless shelter. Do this on a week day during the summer or on a weekend in the school year, not just when the holidays come. This teaches your child that people are always in need, and reinforces the ideas that you have many blessings in your life all year round. You may be surprised what happens when your teen starts feeling good about what they can do for other people. Lastly, encourage them to thank the people that are in their lives on a regular basis such as, teachers, coaches, and friends.

A few other ideas that may work for all ages of your family:

.       Make gratitude jar. Fill it with little notes of gratitude throughout the year, (I am thankful we won the game) choose a day each year to open this and read everything good that has happen.

   Celebrate your year. Every birthday make a list of things in your life that you are thankful for right now. Even a three year old could name a few of their favorite things.

  Make a homemade gift list. Help your preschoolers make a list of homemade gift ideas they can make that they know their friends or teachers would like. This teaches them that they can show empathy to others and it feels good to do for others, and it is fun!

       Commit to memory. Memorize your favorite poem, prayer, or Bible passage. It will be helpful to have it there for a little extra support when things get hard.  
Okay, mom hope some of these ideas help, it isn’t easy to teach your child to count their blessings. The more you do it the more it will stick and you will be surprised at the results you may get. Remember to count your blessings every day, even on the days when being a mom is hard.

This post is being linked up to

Menu Plan Monday

I know it's Tuesday, not Monday but can we pretend that I had my meal plan posted on time?  It's been a busy few weeks, and I am excited that fall is here.  I love fall!  And it's pumpkin flavored everything in the stores!  I am going to try making the Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal for Ms. Criddle's Kitchen one day this week for breakfast.  

Here's what else I have planned for the week:
Links to recipes are in Blue

Tuesday - Salt and Pepper Pork Chops, Garlic Red Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts

Wednesday - Chicken Cordon Bleu, Mashed Potatoes, Corn

Thursday - Salmon Croquettes, My Grandmother's Green Beans, Macaroni and Cheese

Friday - Trader Joe's Soy Ginger Cod Fillets, Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley

Sunday - Undecided

Surviving the Daylight Savings Time Change

Did anyone else feel like this last night?  I arrived home from work at 6:15 last night and it felt like it was dark enough to be midnight.  Needless to say, I do not like the time change.  

Tina Good is guest blogging today with a post telling us how to survive the time change.

The main key to successfully surviving the change to Daylight Savings Time is to maintain your normal sleep schedule.  This includes both bedtime and your wakeup time.  Maintaining your regular sleep schedule allows your body to adjust to the change to Daylight Savings Time with little to no fatigue.  It is important to remember that you are essentially getting the same number of hours of sleep, it's just different timing.  Some people adjust well to the fall back change in time because they feel they are gaining an hour sleep of the morning.  However, simply put, if you were going to bed at 9:00 p.m. prior to the change to Daylight Savings Time, then you should continue to go to bed at 9:00 p.m. after the change (even though it is dark earlier).  The same concept is equally as important when it comes to your morning wake-up time.  Do not adjust your wake-up time and cheat your body of the additional hour of morning sleep.   Your body will adjust more quickly to the change in a shorter period of time if you maintain the same number of hours of sleep you were getting prior to the time change.

Studies show anxiety levels increase in many individuals due to the change to Daylight Savings Time.  Increased anxiety can make it more difficult to fall asleep, in addition to the change in time.  It is important not to stress about the time change.  With the change to Daylight Savings Time, if you maintain your normal sleep schedule, your body will still be getting the same number of hours of sleep.  Mood changes are also common with the change to Daylight Savings Time.  The changes in mood could be the result of exposure to less sun during the daylight hours which results in less absorption of Vitamin D.   Studies show Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to symptoms of depression.  Natural light exposure also regulates how and when the sleep inducing substance Melatonin is released from our brain.  By exposing yourself to as much natural light during the day as possible it helps the brain to send important signals which affect your mood, as well as your ability to go to sleep.  Taking a Vitamin D supplement or adding a small dose of Melatonin may help with the initial Daytime Savings Time blues. However, you should always talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

Some additional tips to alleviate the anxiety induced by the change to Daylight Savings Time include relaxing prior to going to bed.  Relaxation methods vary from reading a book, taking a long bath, to use of natural oils, such as lavender oil, to induce the feeling of relaxation and calmness.  In sum, to successfully survive the change to Daylight Savings Time, stick to your routine, do not stress, and know that the days will begin getting longer less than seven weeks after the start of Daylight Savings Time.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Four Tier Cupcake Stand Tutorial

It's Thursday which means it is time for another Throwback Thursday post.  This week I thought I would reshare the Four Tier Cupcake Stand Tutorial that I originally posted four years ago.  I made this cupcake stand to display cupcakes for my daughter's birthday party.  All of the cupcake stands that I saw in the store were cardboard, flimsy, or didn't fit what I was looking for, so I decided to make my own.  

I will preface this post with the same disclaimer as before I have NEVER, EVER written a tutorial like this nor do I claim to be a great crafter.  In fact, I know I am a messy, non-patient crafter but I am working on that one. 

I started out with one piece of this Tri-Ply 4x4 underlayment that I bought at Michael's.  It was in the $5 to $8 range, I am not sure how much it was because I originally bought it for another project.  From this board my husband cut a 9" square, 15" square, 20" square and 24" square. 

Ignore the rectangles in the above picture I didn't end up using them.  I also used an old wooden broom handle for the center support of the stand.  We cut the broom handle into three 8" pieces.

Using Gorilla Glue Wood Glue (love that stuff) I took the 24" square and glued one support beam in the center of the square.  I allowed this beam to dry completely before I added the 20" square to the top of it.  I continued the glue, let dry process until I had added the 15" and 9" squares as well.  (I hope this makes sense - please feel free to ask questions if it doesn't).  I didn't use anything stronger than glue because the stand isn't going to be handling anything heavier than cupcakes, cookies, or sandwiches.

We ended up using masking tape to hold everything still until it dried completely.  The 20" square was still pretty wobbly, so we ended up adding cutting a dowel rod into 4 pieces and gluing it onto each corner between the 24" and 20" squares for additional support.  (See below for more details)

I painted it white with a quart of Porter Paints White Hi-Hide semi-gloss paint.  It didn't take anywhere near the whole quart and covered the wood easily.

Now were I to make it again here is what I would change:

I don't know that I would make it four tiers, I think three tiers would have been more than adequate.

I would have made more a size difference between the bottom two tiers.  Instead of making it 24" and 20" I would have probably made it 24" and 18" but then I would also have to adjust the top two tier sizes as well.