Thursday, January 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Making Valentines Day Special For Kids

Yes, it's still January but Valentines Day will be here quicker than you think.  For today's Throwback Thursday post I am going back to a post that was originally posted on February 4, 2010, you can find that original post here.  

Around our house everything we do is for the kids.  I mean everything.  I can not tell you how many times we have sacrificed something so that the kids can have a great day and not have to do without.  So of course, Valentines Day is no exception.

Here are some of the great ways we make Valentines Day a special day for our kids:

Heart Shaped Pancakes
These are a favorite tradition on Valentines Day around here.  I have a silicone heart shape that I use to shape my pancakes but if you can't find one, just simply make your pancakes the regular way and use a large heart shaped cookie cutter to cut them into heart shapes.  While our pancakes are always heart shaped we do add in variations from year to year.  Sometimes we add red and pink ice cream sprinkles to the batter to have pancakes with sprinkles in them, or we add red or pink food coloring to the batter to have colored pankcakes.

Salt Dough Hearts 
Last year we had a party for the kids friends for Valentines Day and one of the crafts we did was Valentines Day Salt Dough Hearts.  The day before the party I made a big batch of salt dough, rolled it out, and cut it into large hearts using a heart shaped cookie cutter.  Before I baked them I took an ice pick and made a hole in the top of the heart to put a ribbon through.  The next day we painted them, added glitter and other goodies to decorate them, then ran red or pink ribbon through them so that they could be hung up.  This is my favorite salt dough recipe.

Pink and Red Dinner
I know several families do this as well.  We set the dining room table with our fancy china, napkins, and decorate with plenty of hearts.  We use our fine china and our dinner consists of items that are red and pink.  Be creative when planning your meal, and don't forget you can use red or pink food coloring.  Pastas are an easy main dish that incorporates red.

You're Special Hearts
Using red construction paper cut out a large red heart.  You will need one heart for each member of your family.  Decorate the middle of each heart with the name of a family member.  What you are going to do is each family member will write why they think that person is special on their heart.  Then at supper time everyone will read what the other family members have written about them. 

Valentines Day Movie
After dinner we all enjoy a family friendly Valentines Day movie.  Be My Valentine Charlie Brown is one of our favorites.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tips for Treating Anxiety Naturally

Anxiety can feel overwhelming.  I have struggled with it for years myself, and it wasn’t until my thirties that I was able to get it under control.  When I was in my twenties I took prescription medicine for it but they were full of side effects as well.  Now, I treat my anxiety naturally.  Here are some tips and strategies that can help you to treat anxiety naturally as well.

Bach Rescue Remedy
Bach Rescue Remedy is a natural anxiety medicine, as it is a blend of five Bach Flower Remedies, impatiens, Star of Bethlehem, Cherry Plum, Rock Rose, and clematis.  Bach Rescue Remedy is available in a spray, drops, gum, and pearls.  There are also versions that are made for pets and kids. 
Many who use Back Rescue Remedy for anxiety carry it with them, it is easy to slip into your purse, and use it when they start to feel anxious.  It is fast acting, so relief comes quickly.

Exercise, can lift your spirits tremendously, as it increases your mood and overall well-being.  Walking and doing cardio are great ways to help reduce your anxiety symptoms as vigorous exercise helps alleviate symptoms for several hours.  Yoga is also a good exercise for those suffering with anxiety as it is relaxing, and can help you learn to focus on breathing. 

Lavender Lemonade
Research has proven that lavender can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Lavender Lemonade is a great way to introduce lavender to your body to help treat anxiety and depression naturally.  You can find a great recipe for Lavender Lemonade by visiting Complete Health and Happiness.

Memorize Bible Verses
Sometimes with anxiety, it is hard to focus on anything, and anxiety can take over our minds.  But focusing on something other than what I am anxious over is often just what I need to calm myself down.  Memorizing Bible verses can be a great way to give yourself something to focus your mind on when you are feeling anxious.

Some of my favorite Bible verses for this are:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.”  
2 Timothy 1:7

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all of your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:6-7

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.”  Pslam 94:19

Nourish Your Adrenal Glands
During times of high stress and anxiety it is important to nourish your adrenal glands.  Herbs that will nourish your adrenal glands include B vitamins, Holy Basil, Gotu Kola, and Rhodiola.
Stress and anxiety can cause you to use more magnesium.  Upping your magnesium intake, and taking a magnesium supplement can help to replenish your magnesium levels, and help reduce your anxiety symptoms.

Breathing Exercises
During an anxiety or panic attack focusing on your breathing can help to reduce your symptoms.  When you feel an attack starting, or in the middle of the attack, begin by breathing in for 5 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, and then exhaling for 8-10 seconds.  Repeat this exercise while focusing on your breathing until your attack subsides.

Eliminate Caffeine
For many caffeine can be a trigger of anxiety and panic attacks.  Eliminating caffeine has been a huge help for many who find that without caffeine their anxiety subsides.

Note:  While these suggestions here are meant to help you treat anxiety naturally it is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Menu Plan Monday, January 4 - 10, 2016

It's the first menu plan of the new year and I am excited for all that the year has in store.  I am determined to stick to the Trim Healthy Mama plan this year so all of our meals will be on plan, with crossovers for the kids.  I think menu planning is the key to staying on track.

Here's what I have planned for this week:

Monday - THM Crockpot Sloppy Joes, sweet peas and asparagus

Tuesday - Wicked White Chili (from new THM cookbook)

Wednesday - Cabb and Saus Skillet (from new THM cookbook), fried potatoes for kids

Thursday - Wipe Your Mouth BBQ (from new THM cookbook), beets, My Grandmother's Green Beans

Friday - Lemon Parsley Baked Cod, Brown Rice

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hike #1 of 52 Hike Challenge

I am out of shape.  Completely out of shape and need something to get me out of my comfort zone.  Last year one of my goals was to get in shape enough to hike to the top of Clingman's Dome in the Smoky Mountains.  I did that in October with my family and we loved every minute of it.  This year I want to make a concerted effort to hike more and the 52 Hike Challenge is just what I need to get there.  This works out to one hike per week for a year.

So today, after church we changed into our warm clothes and headed to the local park to complete our first hike.  It was 39 degrees but at least it was sunny.  So we now have one hike down, 51 more to go!  

Friday, January 1, 2016

THM New Year, New You Challenge

Happy 2016!  If you have followed my blog any length of time at all you will know that I have always struggled with my weight, and began following Trim Healthy Mama in 2013.  Trim Healthy Mama was a lifesaver for me.  It wasn't too strict, and allows me to give myself grace when I don't eat exactly as I should - I just tell myself that in 3 hours I will be back on plan.  I lost quite a bit of weight following this plan but in February, 2015 I began having problems with my endemetriosis.  As I was dealing with these problems, I fell off the wagon - in a big way.  This has caused me to gain back every bit of the weight that I lost plus a couple of pounds.

Well, I have had enough!  I know Trim Healthy Mama works, and I am committing to follow it.  I need accountability, because the freedom this plan allows makes it too easy for me to stray.  I am going to be joining the THM New Year, New You Challenge that is on Facebook and am committed to losing this weight again.

The challenge will last a month.  I am starting the challenge out posting before pictures, weighing in, and taking measurements (I found this cute printable to record them) .  During the month I will eat completely on plan, with five to seven E meals a week.  I also plan to do 15 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.  This will not necessarily all be gym days, to be honest I am a super busy mom who works full-time, homeschools my kids, and runs an Etsy shop.  I don't have time for the gym but am committed to get there at least two nights per week.  Luckily I have a stationary bike at home as well as a treadmill.  I am going to use my fitbit to track my steps and make sure that I get my steps in each week.  In addition I will be doing the Fit and Lean in 2016 Pushup Challenge from Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans,

So here are my beginning photos.

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