Tuesday’s Tip: Schedule time to serve your Community

Like the little black dress (LBD) is the staple for any wardrobe, gratitude should be the staple attitude.  In this day and age it seems like many would prefer to be self-serving as opposed to serve others. As parents it is important that we break this cycle. How do we break the cycle? As Ghandi said, “be the change that you want to see in the world”.  Model the behavior you would like to instill in your children. In the book Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World the author Jill Rigby suggests a few ways in which unselfishness can be taught:

 •Refusing to overindulge your kids by helping them develop patience and teaching them responsibility

 •Teaching empathy and understanding

 •Helping them understand the importance and necessity of forgiveness and how to ask for it and accept it

 •Cultivating generosity

 •Nurturing gratitude

 •Spending time together as a family

 •Helping out in your community

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I realize that as parents we often have the best intentions of helping out in our community but sometimes it just doesn’t make it on the calendar.  So, we need to make it a priority, just like we place the PTA meetings, soccer games, dance class, piano lessons, etc. on our calendars we need to also include serving the community. It need not be something to time-consuming, you could make brownies with your children and drop them off with a thank you note to your local fire station, have kiddos help you go through the pantry and fill up a bag to donate to a local food shelter, volunteer at a local Ronald McDonald house, etc. You could do something different each month or the same things every month but the key is to schedule it on your calendar as you would any other priority. Make community service and gratitude part of your family’s routine and it will become a part of your children’s life.

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It can also be fun to get friends involved. This also increases your chances of following through with your plans, similar to having a workout buddy, have a family you volunteer with and chances are you will be more accountable.

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This year we started, Sponsor Pizza and Movie Night with our playgroup. Every other month our playgroup donates and serves pizza, pop, juice, dessert, and donates a movie to our local Family Shelter.  The experience has really taught my little ones the virtue of patience and service, to put others before themselves, to serve those residing in the shelter the food and dessert, to make sure others are provided for before themselves. It has also taught them to be thankful for what they have, their home, their bedroom, their toys, etc. It has been a positive experience and I look forward to serving many more meals.

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Please share ways that you have incorporated service into your life and/or family’s life. How did you find the time?

Filling the Freezer: Easy and Budget friendly Italian Cuisine

Every few weeks I try to prepare a few dishes that I can place in our freezer.  It is always comforting to know on those crazy days when I simply don’t have the energy to cook, when our kiddos have events in the evening, when unexpected company joins us for dinner, or when I, or my husband, have a meeting in the evening that there is a meal already prepared in the freezer. 

A couple of weeks ago I prepared Italian inspired cuisine to place in the freezer that definitely came in handy! I prepare Baked Ziti, Veggie Lasagna, Manicotti, and Meat Balls.  Which were each very easy to prepare and were budget friendly so I instantly thought, I have got to share these with other moms! So without further ado….

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Baked Ziti


  • 1 box of ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 Egg                       
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 1 jar commercial spaghetti sauce (whichever kind is on sale or you prefer)
  • 2 cups Mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (to be used after it is baked)


Follow directions on box of ziti or penne pasta to boil. Once the pasta is boiled, drained, and then place in pan 13 x 9 pan that is freezer friendly. Beat 1 egg and pour over pasta, mix it.  Sautee onions then mix onions, spaghetti pasta, and 1 cup of Mozzarella together.

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Pour mixture over pasta and mix so that sauce covers all the pasta. Sprinkle remaining Mozzarella over the top. Cover with aluminum foil. Label, date, and add directions with a permanent marker (this makes it effortless for your hubby, sitter, etc. to pull it out of the freezer and prepare).

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I know we did. The Baked Ziti I made was enjoyed with my in-laws who came over to celebrate my birthday.

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Manicotti (image above)

I joined a cooking club in November and this Manicotti dish was one of the meals we made. It was so delicious that I have added it to my fill the freezer regime. This is a dish I have managed to master after preparing a few times. At first it can be tricky stuffing the Manicotti but after some trial and error I am sure you will find your own technique.

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For the Manicotti recipe click here to be directed towards Lilly’s Kitchen Lab.

Our Manicotti dish came in handy the evening I taped Moms’ Timeout.

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Italian Meat Balls

These are perfect for Spaghetti night or meat ball subs. Meat ball subs are one of my hubby’s favorite lunches.  If you freeze these in Ziploc bags you can divide them in serving sizes so that you can simply grab 3 meat balls to heat up with sauce and place on a sub with some Mozzarella.


  • 1lb of ground meat (turkey or beef)
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 2T bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced

Directions: Mix everything together in a bowl and then form into 2inch balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (make sure they are cooked through).  Let cool completely and then divide into bags per your meal plans.


Like I said, my hubby adores meat ball subs thus; these went to a few subs over the past few weeks. I love the fact that he can have a hot meal for lunch and I don’t have to cook.

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Veggie Lasagna / Lasagna Roll-up

This is by far my personal favorite! I like to prepare these as roll-ups because they are much easier to serve though it does take a little longer to prepare but I think it is worth it. For the Lasagna recipe and some yummy bread to accompany it click here.

And last but not least, make this fun, put on some music, (I prefer the Lumineers ) and grab a glass of wine while you prepare…try some Julia Child lingo…make it fun!

Bon appetite!




Moms’ Timeout Show: Debunking Diets and More (Giveaway)

Here are a few more links that we found interesting that also address why diets don’t work.
4 Reason’s Why Fad Diets are Bad for You

Diets Damage Health, Shows Biggest Study Ever

5 Deadliest Diet Trends: Pills that Really can Kill

A healthy lifestyle can mean having your cake and eating it to, in moderation mind you. So we would love to encourage a healthy lifestyle and give one lucky follower a $10 gift card to Panera.

To enter the Giveaway:

  • Like Mom on the go in Holy Toledo facebook page (please like from your personal facebook page and not a business, only the personal pages count)
  • Follow on twitter @mamaof3onthego 
  • Post a comment expressing you have done both and include a question for the moms on Moms’ Timeout. We will answer all questions in March’s segment so be sure to tune in!

Winner will be randomly selected Feb. 3rd

Tuesday’s Tip: Upcycle Underwear Packaging

We are getting ready to potty train our toddler. And I refuse to start the process until we have accumulated at least 30 pair of panties/underwear. This might sound like an abundance of panties/underwear but our method for potty training is cold turkey, or as I prefer to call it 3 days of Hell (when potty training a little girl) and 5 days (when potty training a little boy). So the question is what to do with all those panty/underwear packages?

I always try to repurpose packaging, wrapping, old items etc. and give them a new life and underwear packaging is no exception to this rule. I have found that they are great methods to organizing kids’ small toys and/or accessories, such as Barbie clothes and shoes (I get so sick of stepping on Barbie shoes), small Legos (another item I dread stepping on…those things are vicious), Mrs. Potato head’s accessories (I know they can be stored in the butt, lol! That sounded horrible, let me rephrase, stored in Mrs. Potato head’s butt, but for some reason we are always losing her bottom piece….I really hope you have a clue about what I am referring to otherwise I might sound a little nuts, haha.), and there are so many other ways to get organized with panty/underwear packaging.

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For some more fun ways to upcycle items checkout 50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things.


What do you upcycle?

Teaching Feelings: Identify, Cope, and Respond

Why a lesson on feelings?…..

Our toddler is at that age where she is becoming easily frustrated when she cannot complete tasks, especially when her older siblings can.  Also, most recently, she basically lost her mind and sheer panic took over when she met Santa Clause.  I asked her how she felt when she met him and she said, “not happy”. Which was a valid response, but, it occurred to me that  her understanding of feelings was limited to happy, and, not happy. Thus, it was definitely time to identify and discuss feelings.

Now our preschooler  on the other hand is an old pro at expressing his feelings. If he is frustrated because his new toy won’t work, or he can’t unbutton his shirt fast enough he will use his words to express that. But it is what to do with those feelings that can be difficult for him at times, he could use a few good coping strategies.

In addition to identifying feelings and coping strategies the ability to respond to others’ emotions and feelings accordingly is essential to being able to empathize. And empathy is so very important for building relationships, including relationships with siblings. And lately there have been a few cases in our home where someone was responding inappropriately to another siblings feelings.

So, due to the reasons I explained, I tailored this lesson to our toddler and preschooler’s needs. In some cases our preschooler was receiving a refresher course, but who can’t use a refresher especially when it comes to feelings?

Identify Feelings…


I decided to introduce our toddler to feelings by means of one of her favorite learning methods, a story! She simply adores story time at the library and is always requesting a book be read to her at home.  So I went through our home library and pulled out The Way I Feel, by Janan Cain.  We had purchased it for our eldest daughter when she was 2 in order to help her identify and use her words to express her feelings.  It worked then and it appears to be working now….

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While reading the book I asked our toddler questions  that coincided with the book, such as, how does her face look when she is happy? …She is frustrated, do you ever feel frustrated?…She is sad, how do we know she is sad?…Her arms are crossed and she isn’t smiling, how do you think she feels?

After we read the book I gave each kiddo a pile of magazines to go through and asked them to identify examples of people expressing the following feelings: Sad, Bored, Happy, and Angry

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They had some difficulty locating an example of sad, which that wasn’t surprising since most articles, advertisements, etc. don’t focus on sad children or adults (of all times for an advertisement about depression or anti-depression drugs not to be present). So I allowed the dog, after all her does look a little sad.

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Then I grabbed the mirror and we did some role playing.  I asked the kiddos various questions and they then expressed the feeling they thought they would feel in each scenario.  For example, I asked them how they would feel if they just found out they were going to Disney World. (Happy and Excited)

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And then asked them to express how they would feel if they were told the flight was cancelled and they were not going to Disney World… (disappointed…I love how our toddler looks up to big brother to confirm that her expression is correct).

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Then we took a few minutes and each child had the opportunity to illustrate their own expression and the other child then stated the feeling being expressed.  (Our preschooler is illustrating anger and our toddler correctly identified the feeling)

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She them immediately started laughing as a result of him expressing the feeling of anger which was a nice transition to a discussion on ways to respond to other’s feelings.

Responding to Feelings….

Learning to empathize is such an important quality in life and it is vital for building relationships.  So in order to teach the children appropriate ways to respond to other’s feelings we simply had a discussion that included a series of questions.  I asked them what they would do if someone was crying…should we laugh at them…How would you feel if someone laughed at you when you were crying?…What would you like others to do when you are crying? And then we ran through additional feelings in a similar manner.

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Then we had some fun with expressing feelings! We played with Flip Flop Faces, Emotions in Motion! by discovery Toys (I used to be a Discovery Toys Consultant, they have amazing educational products!)

How we played…

Toddler version: Our toddler grabbed a bean bag and she matched up the color on the bean bag with the color on the bowl. She then threw the bean bag and it flipped the bowl to reveal the emotion being expressed. She then stated the emotion.

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Preschool version:  I tossed a bean bag to our son and stated the feeling indicated on the bean bag. He then made the expression that corresponded with the feeling. He then threw the bean bag and flipped the bowl to confirm his expression.

After emotions in motion the kiddos had worked up an appetite and we headed to the ktichen to fix lunch. The kiddos help make lunch, we had mexican pizzas….our son made a happy and angry pizza while our daughter opted for surprised.

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With our lunch we had hot chocolate. I know what you are thinking, mexican pizzas and hot chocolate yuck! But actually it didn’t taste that bad together and I had my reason for giving the kiddos hot chocolate.

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Coping Strategies…..

Hot Chocolate:

While waiting for our hot chocolate to cool I discussed how overwhelming feelings can be at time and how it is important to have a technique for coping with strong feelings (but I expressed this in kiddo lingo). Then I taught them a technique my mom taught me, the hot chocolate technique! 

How it works:  When a child is experiencing strong feelings, whether it be frustrations, anger, over excitement, etc. have them stop and be still for a minute and focus on their breathing, similar to the way adults take a few breaths to calm down. But, since children don’t really understand inhaling through their nose and exhaling through their mouth the hot chocolate image is the perfect way to express this. Have child imagine a cup of hot chocolate is in front of them, have them smell the hot chocolate (through their nose) and then have them blow on the hot chocolate (exhaling through the mouth) to cool it.

Code Word:

As to not embarrass your child when they are experiencing an influx of emotions use ‘hot chocolate’ as the code word for calming down and coping with their strong emotions.

This technique is extremely helpful in life; I even find myself using this coping strategy throughout the day when things become overwhelming.


I have noticed a change in our household over the past few days since we had our discussion on feelings. Granted, the kiddos will need reminders to use their words to express their feelings, encouragement to use the hot chocolate method when emotions become strong, and discussions will continue whenever possible on empathy.  I have found that the best method for expressing empathy to children is for it to be modeled and vocalized whenever possible. For example, the perfect time to engage in a discussion on empathy is when reading stories, watching television or movies, the characters always experience feelings, ask you kiddos questions, I promise it won’t take but a few minutes and the results will be well worth it!

Tuesday’s Tip: Choose Joy


From a very young age my mother taught me that I have options and choices in life.  Of course there are the very obvious choices like what to wear in the morning, what book to read next, etc. But what she was referring to was how I chose to live my everyday life.  I could choose to be very cynical, I could keep “score” of other’s lives, complain and compare myself to others, etc. or I could find the joy.

I Choose Joy!

Granted my journey to Joy has not always been smooth and there have been a few bumps along the way but I think that is just part of the human process.  Every now and then I do have a moody moment and find myself caught up in cynicism.  It is in those moments that I take a step back and reflect on the situation and evaluate the issues.  I often find that the problem is fleeting and not worth surrendering my joy.  Taking down the Christmas decorations is the perfect example of a task in life where you have the option of complaining, making it a neutral task, or finding the joy.

Truth be told, I had initially planned on taking down the Christmas decorations and tree when the kiddos went to bed.  I figured it would just be easier that way and I could make certain everything was stored away properly.  I started going through a box in our dining room that contained Christmas gifts we had received and in it was a bunch of Gingerbread themed items.  My parents had given us the cutest basket full of nothing but Gingerbread men themed items like, a hot pad, tins, kitchen towels, large cookie pan in the shape of a gingerbread man, gingerbread  books, cups, plates, hot chocolate, and so much more. 

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I figured I would just pack it all away for next year.  Then it dawned on me that I, we, none of us, are guaranteed tomorrow, let alone next year.  And then I repeated the phrase I say to myself every morning after first thanking God for another day…Live today as if it is your first, last, and best day of your life!.

So, instead of making the process of taking down the Christmas tree and decoration a boring and/or tedious task I busted out the gingerbread men basket and I chose Joy!

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First we sat near the Christmas tree and had hot chocolate, chocolate cover gingerbread men, and talked about our favorite memories from Christmas 2012. I asked the kiddos to point out their favorite ornaments and I in turn pointed out mine (the ornaments the kiddos made of course, they are priceless…their little handprints, fingerprints, artistic expression, and I adore those that illustrate all three).

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Then I read two books, The Gingerbread man and Ten Gingerbread Men. We discussed the books then put on some music and started taking down the Christmas decorations.

We had successfully taken something that could have otherwise been meaningless and put some joy into it and possibly came up with a great new family tradition.  

So, no matter what it is you have to get done today. Maybe it is changing the sheets, washing the floors, etc. put on some music and try to remove the idea that it need be a chore, add a little joy. Perhaps you have papers to grade, work that you need to bring home, light an aromatic candle, make your favorite beverage and sip on it while your finish your work, and add a touch of joy.  You have options in your life. Why waste this wonderful life you have been given on cynicism….what is keep you from your Joy?  We are not promised tomorrow, why waste today?

How do you find your Joy?





Snow Much Fun!

Our kiddos nearly lost their minds when they saw the white precipitation falling from the sky. As the snow accumulated the kiddos’ anticipation intensified as they eagerly awaited the moment that they could go outside and play.  So, after bundling up, unbundling, to use the potty, and then bundling back up again it was finally time to go out to play!

This year I decided to put together a Snow Much Fun basket for the kiddos and we are having a blast with it, so much so that I just have to share!

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The Snow Much Fun basket consists of:

  • Snowman Soup (hot chocolate, chocolate chips, mint marshmallows, peppermints)
  • Snow themed activity sheets (educational)
  • Various pails/buckets
  • Spray bottle and squirt bottles
  • Food coloring

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So first things first, I removed all the paper activities from the basket as well as the snowman soup. Then I placed water and a few drops of food coloring in the various water bottles.  Placed them back in the basket along with the pails/buckets, and we ventured outside for some snow fun!

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We had fun playing in the snow, making various things, such as the Very Hungry Caterpillar in the picture above.  The spray bottles were easy for all three kiddos to us, ages 2-7, and the colored water did not stain (though I suppose it could if the kiddos turned the spray bottles on each other, so do make certain there is adult supervision).

Once the children’s cheeks started getting too pink it was time to head inside for some warm Snowman Soup near the fire.

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As we warmed up we talked about the fun we had outdoors.  It was also the perfect time to talk about precipitation, the effects snow can have on a city, the need for salt, etc. Then we decided it might be fun to do some of the other activities that were in the Snow Much Fun basket.

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I had printed off an entire packet of lessons for our preschooler from Living Life Intentionally and we had so much fun completing the activities together. His favorites were the snowman mathematics and the Capital/lower case worksheet since it required bingo markers.

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To print off a packet click here. While you are there be sure to take a second to peruse, I love that blog!

For our 7-year-old I came across a fun activity about compound words that introduced her to the Dictionary, remember that thing we used to reference before google…you know that ginormous book just gathering dust?  She had to look up snow words in the dictionary and determine if they were 1 or 2 words.  snow_compounds

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And then for our toddler I printed off some fun activity sheets from Kiboomu.  Click here to print off the Mitten Counting Sheet we worked on.  Then she had fun making her own snowman out of cotton balls and construction paper.

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We had so much fun and hope you are enjoying all the fun winter, and especially snow, has to offer!