Make-A-Meal Mondays: Child-Friendly Traveling Trail Mix

Flatirons with Spring flowers

Image via Wikipedia

 

Green buds are opening up on our Clematis vine.

Iris shoots are about 10 inches tall already.

The wild cacophony of birdsong woke me at 5:30 this morning.

SPRING IS REALLY HERE!!!

Although we may get a little more funky weather here in Colorado – yesterday was Easter Sunday and a dusting of snow covered the grass when I looked out the window in the morning – the signs of spring are evident.

The school year is winding down and families will be planning outings and trips.  Some of them may have to be local…gas prices are on the rise again and it is quite costly to drive long distances.

But there is so much to do and see…even walking to a local park and having a simple picnic can be a wonderful experience for young children.  On Wednesday, I’ll review a classic story by Miriam Cohen about two young girls whose parents provide them with an exceptional vacation…just steps away from their home.

Whether you drive or walk, here is a great recipe for a child-friendly trail mix that will keep little hands and mouths occupied.

CHILD-FRIENDLY TRAVELING TRAIL MIX

 

Great to have on hand – keep several zip-lock bagsful to grab when you have to run out to the store with your child – it’s a much healthier alternative to candy bars and chips!

You will need: 2 cups Corn Chex, 2 cups Wheat Chex, 2 cups Rice Chex, 2 cups pretzels (thin sticks or mini), 1½ cups mixed nuts or peanuts (optional), 1 Tb margarine (use the healthier non-hydrogenated kind or substitute butter), 2 tsp Braggs Aminos or soy sauce and a 13x9x2 inch microwave-safe baking dish.

1.    Melt the margarine (you can do this in the microwave…just make sure you cover the dish), mix with Braggs Aminos or soy sauce and pour into the baking dish.

2.    Add the cereals, pretzels and nuts and mix thoroughly to coat.

3.    Microwave on high for three minutes.

4.    Stir and continue to heat in the microwave, one minute at a time, until evenly toasted.

5.    Makes about 2½ quarts.  Store in an airtight container.

6.    You can substitute the crispy or chex-type cereals you have on hand and eliminate the nuts if your child is too young or has nut allergies.

I often see young children in a shopping cart, fussy and hungry, mother frantically trying to grab the items she needs from the supermarket shelves.  Just think how much happier everyone would be if the child had a little zip-lock bag of this trail mix. 🙂

This is the last day to enter the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop and Giveaway.  One lucky winner will receive a copy of SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  The Traveling Trail Mix recipe is only one of 100 child-friendly cooking activities you’ll find in this great resource for parents and teachers.  Just click on the Hoppy Easter link above, follow my blog, and you might be the winner!  And you can also check out the over 250 other blogs that are participating and offering prizes and giveaways!

Temper Tantrums: 3 Winning Solutions!

Oslo, statue of a child

Image by dschubba via Flickr

 

Whether it is weekly grocery shopping or a quick run out to grab a container of milk and a loaf of bread, if we take our preschoolers, there is always a possibility of a temper tantrum.  WHAT!  NOT MY CHILD!  NO, NO, NOT EVER!…STAMPING MY FEET WITH STEAM COMING OUT OF MY EARS

Realistically speaking though, here are three easy discipline tricks that really work.

  1. Make a game out of what must be done: Sing a silly song, make funny faces, say the ABC’s in a high/low voice.  This works for things like buckling up the seat belt of the car seat (don’t all children hate that), leaving the toy store, putting on a jacket or hat.
  2. Be matter-of-fact: Don’t ask, “Do you want to put on your jacket?” or “Shall we put that toy down because we are ready to leave?”  Just say, “We are ready to leave and we are putting on our jackets.” (and maybe start singing a song about now we are putting our jackets on, jackets on, jackets on, etc.)  Or, “It’s time to leave the store and put the toy back…which shelf are we putting it back on, the top shelf or the bottom shelf?” (always make sure that when you give your child a choice, BOTH choices will lead to the goal YOU have in mind)
  3. Warn, distract, and then proceed with what needs to be done: Children like to know what the plan is…and they need to realize that what you say goes and that there is no discussion or negotiation.  It helps, if possible, to give a warning.  For example, when you need to leave the store, give your child a warning in a friendly upbeat tone of voice, “One more hug for mister bear and then we will put him back on his shelf and go and get a drink at the water fountain on our way to the car.”  After the hug, help your child put the bear back, scoop him up, head towards the water fountain, singing a song about bears or water or whatever.  Or, if you are at the library, you might say, “You can turn two more pages and then we will take our books to the librarian to check out so we can go home and read one of them.  Again, scoop up your child (if there is any question he disagrees about your plan to leave), and head towards the library checkout.  Let your child know you understand how he is feeling, “I bet you wish you could stay in the library all day, but it’s time to check out.  You can hold the library card and give it to the librarian.”

One of the hardest things about dealing with preschoolers is that they are easily distracted and often cannot stick with one thing for very long.  This distractibility is a blessing in disguise, however.  No matter what they are involved in: looking at a book, playing with a toy, having a temper tantrum…they can almost always be distracted from it if your are able to turn their attention to something else.  I am not really a very good singer, but when my children where little, I sang ALL the time…when I buttoned up their jackets, put them in the stroller, washed their hair.  Silly songs, happy songs, high songs, low songs…it really worked!   I can remember only one temper tantrum…one of my children (I won’t say which one) wanted a candy bar as we were checking out at the grocery store (don’t you LOVE how they put all those tempting sweets right at child-level?) and, being busy putting up the food on the counter and trying to watch the register read-out as the items were being scanned, I “ignored” my child’s rising whine of “I want a candy” and soon I had a 2-year-old laying flat on the floor, kicking his feet.  Had I been paying attention and intervened at the start of this candy demand, I think I could have distracted him and avoided the temper tantrum altogether.

I posted this several months ago…but thought it might be a good companion post to the one I did yesterday that was devoted to shopping with preschoolers.  I hope these three tips help smooth out those rough moments that will almost surely occur at one time or another.  At home, having a plan and activities to do also helps a day with preschoolers run smoothly.  Stop over at my website: www.positiveparentalparticipation.com  and grab a copy of my new book that provides 100 simple craft projects and 100 easy recipes and 100 picture book summaries to help you fill your child’s days with fun-filled educational self-esteem building activities…on special now at half price!

Please stop by tomorrow for Cinema Sunday: My Picks of Great Flicks!

Do’s and Don’ts: Shopping With Preschoolers

Child driving shopping cart in Japan

Image via Wikipedia

Although we’d all probably like to leave our children at home when we go shopping, this is not always possible.  So what can we do to make sure our shopping trips with preschoolers go as smoothly and safely as possible.  Many of the following tips are from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  I posted this back in November…but I see so many lost children, children climbing on shopping carts, etc. when I am at the store, I thought I should bring the article back again. 🙂

DO’S FOR SHOPPING WITH PRESCHOOLERS

  • Do keep children with you at all times.
  • Do accompany and supervise children in public restrooms.
  • Do have a plan in case you become separated…just like a fire safety plan which should be discussed at home and practiced routinely.
  • Do teach your child to look for people who can help…a uniformed security officer, salesperson with a name badge or another mother with children.
  • Do remind children to remain in the area where they became separated…there is a wonderful picture book story that addresses this issue…DON’T WORRY, I’LL FIND YOU by Anna Grossnickle Hines.  When Sarah and her mother go the mall to buy Sarah some clothes, Sarah insists on taking her doll.  When Sarah realizes she has left her doll at one of the stores, she runs to find it.  Now, however, she doesn’t know where her mother is.  Sarah remembers her mother’s instructions to “stay put” and so she remains  at the toy store and soon mother and child are reunited.  Read this story with your preschooler before your shopping trip and discuss the plan of action in case you become separated.

DON’TS FOR SHOPPING WITH PRESCHOOLERS

  • Don’t dress children in clothing that displays their first or last name…this may give strangers an opportunity to start a conversation with your child.
  • Don’t leave children in the toy area of a store expecting store personnel to supervise your child while you shop in another area of the store.
  • Don’t allow young children to shop on their own to purchase gifts for friends or family members.
  • Don’t shop with your child if you feel you will be distracted.  Try to make other childcare arrangements…perhaps you and a friend who also has young children can take turns watching the children while the other goes shopping for a morning or afternoon.
  • Don’t allow children to push the shopping cart if there is a younger sibling in it…and don’t allow children to hang on the cart, even if it is empty…too many accidents occur when shopping carts tip over.

Important tip: Make sure you wipe off the cart with a sanitizer (many stores provide them near the carts now) and clean your child’s hands when you leave the store.  Tawna at Random Thoughts, Advice, Gripes, etc. http://btrbb.blogspot.com/2011/02/prefenz-botanicals-alcohol-free.html is offering a giveaway of a great hand santizer product.  Head on over and enter…just a few more days!

For busy parents, online shopping can be wonderful option.  You can do it in the evening when the children are sleeping and avoid the crowds and parking hassles.  If you do go out shopping with your children, keep these tips in mind.  You’ll be glad you did!  If you need a gift for a parent, grandparent, teacher or babysitter of a preschooler, I’d like to suggest my new book, SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SLEF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  This great resource pinpoints 100 picture books every young child should hear and provides a story summary, gentle parenting tip, eco-friendly craft project and child-friendly healthful cooking activity for each   recommended title.   Hop over to my website: www.positiveparentalparticipation.com for a half-price special! 

MAKE-A-MEAL MONDAYS

A maid taking soup from a pot

Image via Wikipedia

Do you notice how lots of people who blog have catchy titles for different days.

Mailbox Monday

Wordless Wednesday

Follow Me Fridays

So, from now on, I’m going to be doing Make-A-Meal Mondays.

Every Monday, I’ll post a recipe that is a favorite of ours…and one that your child can help you prepare…I’m a big fan of kids in the kitchen!  Encouraging your child to participate with meal planning and preparation is important because:

  • Children master skills and tasks when helping in the kitchen…which builds their self-esteem.
  • Fussy eaters are more likely to eat meals they have helped prepare.
  • Children learn about where food comes from when they help shop for ingredients and use those ingredients in making the final product.
  • The time you spend participating positively with your child helps create a life-long parent-child bond.
  • You can utilize the shopping experience to develop pre-literacy skills…make the list with your child and draw a picture of each item next to each word…then let your child hold the list and check off each item as he or she helps you put it in the shopping cart.

The last few weeks, most of the country has been hit with severe weather…icy rains, blizzards and freezing cold temperatures.  I think a cup of hot soup would be a welcome addition to any meal this week, so here is a favorite of ours and one of the recipes that appears in SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.

The soup commercial on television says it all…eager smiling children sitting around the table in the cozy kitchen, mother wearing an apron, stirring a big pot on the stove.  The only thing missing is the delicious aroma of homemade soup.  With this recipe, you and your child can make that happen in your home.

ALPHABET CHICKEN VEGETABLE SOUP

You will need: 1 quart chicken broth, 2 Tb diced onion, ¼ cup dry alphabet noodles, 1 cup diced cooked chicken, ½ cup sliced carrots, ½ cup cut green beans, ¼ cup corn kernels, parsley (optional), and a large pot with a cover.

1.     In a large pot, mix the broth, onions and noodles and bring to a boil.

2.     Lower heat to simmer and add chicken, carrots, beans and corn.

3.     Simmer on low with the cover on for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.     Garnish each serving with parsley, if desired.

5.     Makes about 4-5 cups of soup.  You can refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.

6.     TIP: You can substitute other vegetables if you like…peas, lima beans, zucchini…use your imagination…or whatever you have available. J

7.     You can season with salt and pepper if you wish…but go easy…as a nation, we tend to use too much salt which has been shown to create all kinds of health problems.

And just to remind you…this is the last day of the SHARE THE LOVE BOOK BOGO EVENT going on right now on my website

You can grab a copy of the book that contains 100 EASY CHILD-FRIENDLY HEALTHFUL COOKING ACTIVITIES AND 100 SIMPLE ECO-FRIENDLY CRAFT PROJECTS at the regular cover price and you will RECEIVE ANOTHER COPY FREE!

Head on over to my website to get all the details…but please hurry…this SHARE THE LOVE BOGO BOOK EVENT goes away at 11:59pm on Monday night.

Please stop by tomorrow for TIMELESS TUESDAYS…I’ll be sharing some of my favorite quotations.

Just Leave Me Alone…I’m Reading!

Title page of the sixth edition of the novel L...

Image via Wikipedia

I held my mother’s hand as we approached the impressive façade of the eight-story building, my older sister excitedly chattering about the dress she was going to buy to wear at her junior high school graduation.  Located in downtown Brooklyn, Abraham &Strauss was a well-known department store with floors and floors of the finest merchandise. 

Taking the elevator to the eighth floor, we entered a paradise for book lovers!  Wall-to-wall books…and in between…tables and tables of books.  Admonishing me to stay there and find something to read, my mother and sister left for the dress department.

I know you are probably shocked and horrified that any mother would leave a nine-year old girl alone in a department store in New York City.  Looking back on the experience, I’m also surprised that she did…but it was another time…over 50 years ago…and people felt a lot safer, even though perhaps they weren’t.

So I wandered around, happy as a clam (are clams happy?), picking up this book and that book and just reveling in the ecstasy of having so many books at my disposal.  I finally choose LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott, one of my favorites.  I sat down on the floor and proceeded to read the entire book from cover to cover.  When I am engrossed in a book, the world outside of the book ceases to exist for me.  Is it that way for you?  I had no watch…time stood still for me until I finished the last page and closed the book.   And crawled out of my quiet little cubbyhole under one of the tables.

THERE SHE IS!!!!  I saw my mother and sister running towards me.  Several policemen, uniformed store security guards and sales clerks were with them.  Later, my mother explained that after several hours of shopping for my sister’s dress, they returned to the book department, but couldn’t find me (I am very petite and at age nine, I was pretty small…I had found a little cubbyhole under one of the tables).   Store personnel and the police were called in to help search throughout the entire store because they believed I had walked away from the book department.  Walk away from a book department?  It’s obvious they didn’t know the real Vivian!

I’m sure my mother never did that again…but at no time during the experience was I frightened or concerned.  I didn’t think I was lost in the store…I was lost in the world of the book…and I was very happy there.  And, although I wasn’t afraid that day, the fear of getting lost or being separated from a loved one is one of the most common concerns of young children.  Here’s another great children’s picture book that you can read with your child that will help open a discussion about this issue.

DON’T WORRY, I’LL FIND YOU written and illustrated by Anna Grossnickle Hines

Sarah and her mother go to the mall to buy Sarah some new clothes.  The little girl insists on taking her doll, Abigail.  After a long and tiring morning of visiting lots of stores and trying on lots of clothing, Sarah puts Abigail on a chair while she tries on shoes and forgets to take her doll when she and her mother leave the store.  Passing a toy store, Sarah remembers that she has left her doll behind and she hurries back to the shoe store without telling her mother.  Although she finds Abigail right away, she soon realizes that she has lost her mother.  Remembering her mother’s instructions to “stay put”, Sarah goes back to the toy store and waits there.  Meanwhile, Sarah’s mother has been checking all the stores and soon mother and child are reunited.

I’m sure Sarah’s mother was tempted to scold her daughter, not only for walking away on her own, but also for bringing the doll, even though she had been advised by her mother to leave the doll at home.  Instead, she chose to commend her daughter for obeying her instructions to stay where she was in case she got lost.  In the future, Sarah will be more likely to follow other rules she is given and, even though she was frightened, she was able to keep some amount of control in the situation by following her mother’s instructions.

Three great tips to talk about during the discussion with your child after reading the story:

1.     Your child should know his name, address and phone number.  Teach your child your first name also.

2.     If you get separated, STAY PUT!

3.     Seek help from a uniformed person or a woman with children.

Stop by tomorrow for one last “getting separated” picture book suggestion and a couple of fun-filled activities.

WE ALL NEED A CHEERING COMMITTEE AND PARENTS ARE A CHILD’S MOST IMPORTANT FANS!

Avoiding holiday shopping temper tantrums

We’ll all be shopping more in the next few weeks.  If we take our preschoolers, there is always a possibility of a temper tantrum.  WHAT!  NOT MY CHILD!  NO, NO, NOT EVER!…STAMPING MY FEET WITH STEAM COMING OUT OF MY EARS 🙂

Realistically speaking though, here are three easy discipline tricks that really work.

  1. Make a game out of what must be done: Sing a silly song, make funny faces, say the ABC’s in a high/low voice.  This works for things like buckling up the seat belt of the car seat (don’t all children hate that), leaving the toy store, putting on a jacket or hat.
  2. Be matter-of-fact: Don’t ask, “Do you want to put on your jacket?” or “Shall we put that toy down because we are ready to leave?”  Just say, “We are ready to leave and we are putting on our jackets.” (and maybe start singing a song about now we are putting our jackets on, jackets on, jackets on, etc.)  Or, “It’s time to leave the store and put the toy back…which shelf are we putting it back on, the top shelf or the bottom shelf?” (always make sure that when you give your child a choice, BOTH choices will lead to the goal YOU have in mind)
  3. Warn, distract, and then proceed with what needs to be done: Children like to know what the plan is…and they need to realize that what you say goes and that there is no discussion or negotiation.  It helps, if possible, to give a warning.  For example, when you need to leave the store, give your child a warning in a friendly upbeat tone of voice, “One more hug for mister bear and then we will put him back on his shelf and go and get a drink at the water fountain on our way to the car.”  After the hug, help your child put the bear back, scoop him up, head towards the water fountain, singing a song about bears or water or whatever.  Or, if you are at the library, you might say, “You can turn two more pages and then we will take our books to the librarian to check out so we can go home and read one of them.  Again, scoop up your child (if there is any question he disagrees about your plan to leave), and head towards the library checkout.  Let your child know you understand how he is feeling, “I bet you wish you could stay in the library all day, but it’s time to check out.  You can hold the library card and give it to the librarian.”

One of the hardest things about dealing with preschoolers is that they are easily distracted and often cannot stick with one thing for very long.  This distractibility is a blessing in disguise, however.  No matter what they are involved in: looking at a book, playing with a toy, having a temper tantrum…they can almost always be distracted from it if your are able to turn their attention to something else.  I am not really a very good singer, but when my children where little, I sang ALL the time…when I buttoned up their jackets, put them in the stroller, washed their hair.  Silly songs, happy songs, high songs, low songs…it really worked!   I can remember only one temper tantrum…one of my children (I won’t say which one) wanted a candy bar as we were checking out at the grocery store (don’t you LOVE how they put all those tempting sweets right at child-level?) and, being busy putting up the food on the counter and trying to watch the register read-out as the items were being scanned, I “ignored” my child’s rising whine of “I want a candy” and soon I had a 2 year old laying flat on the floor, kicking his feet.  Had I been paying attention and intervened at the start of this candy demand, I think I could have distracted him and avoided the temper tantrum altogether.

For more parenting help during the holidays, you can check out Katherine Lewis’ blog carnival:

Do’s and Dont’s: Holiday Shopping with Preschoolers

Although we’d all probably like to leave our young children at home when we go shopping, this is not always possible.  So what can we do to make sure our holiday shopping trips with preschoolers go as smoothly and safely as possible.  Many of the following tips are from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and they are valuable to remember all year-long, not just during the holiday season.

DO’S FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING WITH PRESCHOOLERS

  • Do keep children with you at all times.
  • Do accompany and supervise children in public restrooms.
  • Do have a plan in case you become separated…just like a fire safety plan which should be discussed at home and practiced routinely.
  • Do teach your child to look for people who can help…a uniformed security officer, salesperson with a name badge or another mother with children.
  • Do remind children to remain in the area where they became separated…there is a wonderful picture book story that addresses this issue…DON’T WORRY, I’LL FIND YOU by Anna Grossnickle Hines.  When Sarah and her mother go the mall to buy Sarah some clothes, Sarah insists on taking her doll.  When Sarah realizes she has left her doll at one of the stores, she runs to find it.  Now, however, she doesn’t know where her mother is.  Sarah remembers her mother’s instructions to “stay put” and so she remains  at the toy store and soon mother and child are reunited.  Read this story with your preschooler before your shopping trip and discuss the plan of action in case you become separated.

DON’TS FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING WITH PRESCHOOLERS

  • Don’t dress children in clothing that displays their first or last name…this may give strangers an opportunity to start a conversation with your child.
  • Don’t leave children in the toy area of a store expecting store personnel to supervise your child while you shop in another area of the store.
  • Don’t allow young children to shop on their own to purchase gifts for friends or family members.
  • Don’t shop with your child if you feel you will be distracted.  Try to make other childcare arrangements…perhaps you and a friend who also has young children can take turns watching the children while the other goes shopping for a morning or afternoon.
  • Don’t allow children to push the shopping cart if there is a younger sibling in it…and don’t allow children to hang on the cart, even if it is empty…too many accidents occur when shopping carts tip over.

For busy parents, online shopping can be wonderful option this holiday season.  You can do it in the evening when the children are sleeping and avoid the crowds and parking hassles.  If you do go out shopping with your children, keep these tips in mind.  You’ll be glad you did!  If you need a gift for a parent, grandparent, teacher or babysitter of a preschooler, I’d like to suggest my newly published book, SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SLEF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  This great resource pinpoints 100 picture books every young child should hear and provides a story summary, parenting tip, eco-friendly craft project and child-friendly healthful cooking activity for each recommended title.   If you are looking for fun-filled, educational, self-esteem building activities, check it out. http://amzn.to/9taz9u