Acts of Kindness Countdown to Thanksgiving

In the past we have participated in the 30 Days of Gratitude for November (Where you make a Turkey out of two foam balls wrapped in yard, then each day you add a feather made from construction paper attached to a popsicle stick- write what you are thankful for on the feather, & then press it into the Turkey….thus having a full turkey at the end. This activity is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers!), and have done the Acts of Kindness Countdown to Thanksgiving and the children seem to favor the latter. Read more

Modern Day Life from the Perspective of a Pilgrim…where did we go wrong?

This past weekend, thanks to Netflix, the History Channel, and 3 loads of laundry I had the opportunity to watch an episode of, America the Story of Us.  The first episode discusses the establishments of the American colonies. I have to admit, it was nice for my mommy brain to have a refresher course on the establishments of Jamestown and Plymouth Colonies, especially before Thanksgiving. I have a feeling the kiddos will have a lot of exceptional questions for me, it’s wise that I start reviewing now.

As I sat there folding laundry I found myself being drawn to one particular character, Susanne Winslow. The episode addressed all the hardships the Pilgrims faced, the famine, disease, and the brutal winter when more than half the passenger that made the pilgrimage died in an epidemic referred to as “The First Sickness”. Susanna Winslow’s husband, William White, was one of the passengers who died the first winter; she remarried to Edward Winslow, whose wife Elizabeth had also died the first winter. Susanne and Edward’s was the first wedding in the new colony. They had 5 children, although only 2 lived to adulthood. It is said that roughly 10% of the US population can trace their lineage back to Susanne & Edward Winslow. I found this to be quite interesting and it got me thinking, what if Susanne Winslow could see us now? What would she think of our modern ways, of our modern women in comparison to the colonial women?

If Susanne Winslow could see us now…..

I think she would be absolutely blown away by the inventions of electricity, heat, indoor plumbing, cars, and all the awesome modern day appliances. I have a feeling she would be particularly fond of the idea of not having to empty chamber pots! I am certain she would be mesmerized by the conveniences we have like ovens, range, refrigerator, washer, & dryer. Considering the fact that most colonial women spent practically their entire days’ worth of time preparing fires, cooking, making candles, washing clothes, etc. one would think that us modern day women would really appreciate these conveniences but sadly we still complain about the amount of laundry, having to cook, and having to go shopping. Speaking of shopping, I do believe Mrs. Winslow would pass out when she saw ALL the options we have in terms of grocery stores and the abundance of food available. Food that we didn’t have to raise, tend, kill, and clean!

Famine is definitely not a problem like it was that first winter in Plymouth. Though Mrs. Winslow might be surprised to find out that with all this food we are a nation that suffers from malnourishment. That we have too many processed foods in our diets, that we have genetically modified our food, that we are consuming so many calories yet they are lacking in the nutrients, vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Our relationship with food has dramatically changed since the first colonist. We have become so obsessed with it; we no longer eat to live but rather live to eat. We are destroying our organs with these convenience foods. We are making ourselves sick.

Speaking of sick, sadly only 2 of the 5 children Mrs. Winslow had survived to adulthood. She might be overjoyed to find out that we now have immunizations against various diseases that would have wiped out generations in the past. Though, she might also be surprised to find that some Americans choose not to vaccinate their children from these diseases. She might also be staggered to find that American woman now have the option to homebirth or birth at a hospital. And yet we forget what a blessing a hospital can be if mother or baby is in distress. We have also forgotten that there are some mothers who cannot breastfeed and how fortunate we are to live during a time when fortified formula is available.

I do believe Mrs. Winslow would think that thanks to all these modern day conveniences like appliances, grocery stores, electricity, plumbing, etc. that we would have so much wonderful free time to spend with our families, playing music together, telling stories, playing games, etc. She would be extremely disappointed to find that this is not true. That we have instead overscheduled our children’s free time with organized sports and activities, that screens have become our focus, television screens, gaming systems, phones etc. that families may physically be in the same room but they are far too often not spending the time together. The quality family time that one would assume all these modern day conveniences would offer us is not so, we have lost our focus somewhere along the way.

Channeling the life of Susanne Winslow, one of the first Pilgrims has really opened my eyes to how far we have come and yet how much we have lost along our journey. We have come so far and have been blessed with so much and yet we still complain, find the negative, argue, etc.

It is fascinating how quickly our modern day lives can be put into perspective when comparing them to the hardships of colonial women. From now on I am making a valiant effort to be grateful for all my modern day conveniences and will be using my time more wisely, I kinda feel like I owe it to those strong, hardworking, persevering, determined, and amazing colonial women.

Weekend Wonder, Awe, and Appreciation

We had such a wonderful extended weekend and I hope your family did too! Thought I would share the relaxing weekend we had in town.  It was so nice to just hangout around the house on Saturday, we literally did not go anywhere and it was beautiful.  Our toddler had fun picking wild flowers and scooting in her scooter.  Our preschooler rode his bike up and down the sidewalk while our kindergartener created wonderful masterpieces on the sidewalk.  And mommy actually got to sit down and sip on tea, imagine that!

Sunday was a day for celebration! We celebrated Pentecost at our house by making a beautiful centerpiece that displayed the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and sang Happy Birthday to the church.

Memorial Day was all about gratitude and spending time with family. The day started off with a magnificent parade that exemplified community connectivity.

Honor Our Military

Let’s honor our military,

The men and women who serve,

Whose dedication to our country

Does not falter, halt or swerve.

Let’s respect them for their courage;

They’re ready to do what’s right

To keep America safe,

So we can sleep better at night.

Let’s support and defend our soldiers,

Whose hardships are brutal and cruel,

Whose discipline we can’t imagine,

Who follow each order and rule.

Here’s to those who choose to be warriors

And their helpers good and true;

They’re fighting for American values;

They’re fighting for me and you.

By Joanna Fuchs

How was your weekend? Did you have family and friends over? Did you have a cookout? Dish!

Our First Thanksgiving…..Gobble Gobble, Gube, and Gratitude

T’was the day before Thanksgiving and all through our house the children could be heard, it was as if we told them we were off to see the infamous mouse!  Truth be told, mom and dad were pretty excited as well and slightly nervous, we were going to be cooking our first gobble gobble, I mean turkey.

My little helper busy tearing bread for the stuffing/dressing

As tradition would have the family started off in the kitchen.  I prepared the stuffing with my little helper while my hubby peeled the potatoes.  Then they were off to pick up our daughter from school and purchase a Roaster, light bulbs, and cream for the coffee (those random but necessary last-minute purchases).  While he was gone I continued with preparing the stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrot and parsnip ginger puree, and slicing the sweet potatoes into sticks (the kiddos love sweet potato stick and they are a healthier option than the casserole).

Once home the kiddos helped my hubby clean out the fireplace, bring in some wood, and make a fire. Then the kiddo’s made name placing for our guests, tidied their rooms, and then the excitement slowly turned into annoying each other.  It was time to introduce technology to our thanksgiving preparations. They each took turns playing on sproutonline.com and using the iPhone app, Gube.

Gube is an iPhone app that provides parents with a catalog of pre-screened, moderated, and safe yet fun YouTube videos for toddlers through grade-school age. Kids can search for and add videos to their favorites list, or browse the wide selection and find new favorites. For the younger tots, videos can be set to repeat, or a list of videos can be looped.

The app is really handy when your child needs some discreet entertainment while you finish a task, like a thanksgiving feast, or simply run an errand. Also perfect for car rides and finishing a meal out. Many of the videos are educational songs, and some of them are just fun and even enjoyable for parents too! Parents- It’s on sale for just $0.99 through Tuesday, November 29th. Find Gube in the app store, or like them on Facebook to keep up on the latest deals and even post your favorite videos you’d like to see in Gube.

app store: www.gubeapp.com

facebook: www.facebook.com/gubeforkids

Thank-gube-ness for technology! I was able to finish setting the table while they played games, sang songs, and watched videos.  Then it was off to bed, and while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads mine was a whirlwind of Thanksgiving turkey cooking conundrums.

Thanksgiving Day

I awoke to my daughter repeating, “mom, mom, mom, I’m hungry….mom, mom, mom I am hungry”.  While the cat lay on my head poking my cheek with her paw and the dog continually nudged my arm.  Who needs an alarm clock; obviously, it was six o’clock, on the nose.  When the baby adds her cry to the mix it is 6:30am and when my son does his moaning walking to the bathroom it is 6:45am.

So I rolled out of bed, made coffee, fed all the living things in my home, changed the baby, and procrastinated.  I was still a little nervous about the turkey. Why? I had no idea.  I finally Momuped! I got the turkey out and stared at it for a few minutes actually thinking about the life it lead, all-be-it-short, but a life no less.  I quietly thanked it for giving its life, not exactly its choice, but still I appreciated the sacrifice and I said a quick prayer.  Then it was on with the show!

Our turkey….I think my hands were shaking while I took the picture in anticipation.

After consulting many of my mommy friends and my own mom we collated all the suggestions and advice and decided to prepare our turkey by infusing  thyme into butter and rubbing it under the skin directly onto the meat, we place thyme and orange slices into the turkey and cooked it in a Roasting pan upside-down. We were going for taste, not presentation.  I am happy to announce that everyone’s advice, recommendations, and prayers paid off, the turkey tasted amazing and we received so many compliments.  Thank you to all who contributed to our turkey preparations.

The yellow tablecloth is from Ireland; my family went this past summer and purchased it at a flea market, I like to think it has its own history to add to our table.

Our First Thanksgiving in our home, and possibly our last, was beautiful.  Our house is on the market so it seemed rather appropriate that after living here for nearly 8 years that we host Thanksgiving at least once in our first house together.  Thanksgiving was so wonderful that it almost had contemplating not moving.  Granted we never registered for fine China so our table was not perfectly set but it was genuine, it contained a few family heirlooms, and dishes passed down to my hubby and I when we were first married (you know the ones you hope to misplace but I am glad we did not).  The table told a story of us, of each of our family’s history, our first thanksgiving together as husband and wife, and our present family of five with Sippy cups, cutouts of little hands shaped like turkeys, and two adorable kiddos with headdresses.  Yes, it was genuine.

This was a wedding gift.
The kiddos picked out the Turkey placemat last year.
The Hurricanes on the table were my husband’s grandmothers thus, the kiddo’s great-grandmothers.

The atmosphere was a symphony for the senses.  A Steve Tyrell’s CD played in the background, we had a warm and beautiful fire in the fireplace, the aromas coming from the kitchen were mouth-watering, and the food was a rainbow of colors that delighted the palette.

One of my favorite dishes and it is so simple, Brussels sprouts and grapes tossed in olive oil and roasted, yum!

Our first Thanksgiving has come and gone and I realize we can never have another “first” again but I am grateful for the memories.  There was never a mommy meltdown, I relinquished the control (it was difficult but I did it) I think I came to realized the true value of the day, while the food is important, it is not the main reason for the gathering, it truly is about the people. If the turkey had not turned out or the dog had gotten to the stuffing first it would not have mattered, we would have made do. We can substitute a main dish or a side dish but we can not substitute the people.

Dessert
My mom’s yummy cupcakes!

I am Thankful for the people in my life.  I am thankful for…..my family, my children, my sister, brother, mother, father, hubby, in-laws, and their health, my health, for the fact that my hubby has his job and that we our fortunate enough to live in the same city as our parents so that our children can have a relationship with their grandparents.  I am thankful for….my grandfather, my many uncles (my mother has six brothers) and aunts and pray that their health continues.  I am thankful for…my cousins and the fact that technology (facebook) allows us to stay in touch.  I am thankful for…the wonderful friends God has put in my life, and the support system they provide.  I am thankful for….you.  Thank you for taking a moment out of your hectic schedule to see what is going on in this mommy’s on the go life here in Holy Toledo and thank you for contributing your thoughts, suggestions, and advice, it means a lot to me.

I hope you had a safe and Happy Thanksgiving with Family and Friends.

God bless,

Kat

Momup! Monday…Mommy’s Thanksgiving Meltdown

I am making my first Thanksgiving meal this year for my immediate family and my in-laws, and I am so nervous.  Of course there are the typical, run of the mill Thanksgiving concerns that consume my mind such as; will the turkey be cooked all the way?  Will the side dishes meet our guests’ expectations? Will we have enough seats?  Where should we keep the dog and cat so that they do not get a head start on thanksgiving? Will the house be cleaned in time?  Will my husband actually help?  He said he would help, but what does that mean? Does that mean he will take out the trash and disappear for a few hours, or suddenly have to run an important errand?…  What about the kiddos?…. What kind of activities can I plan to occupy them while I prepare the meal? But my biggest conern and fear is of a mommy meltdowns, all-be-it short-lived, but still, a meltdown no less.

I have such fond memories of Thanksgiving as a child.  I remember waking up Thanksgiving morning to the amazing aromas lingering from the kitchen.  My sister, brother, and I would help out in the kitchen doing age appropriate tasks, we would help set the table, and tidy the house while the Thanksgiving parade played in the background. Thanksgivings when I was a child brought about so many fond memories but there is one moment, every thanksgiving, which would inevitably show its face, the minor mommy meltdown.

The mommy meltdown usually showed its face two hours before guest arrived.  As a mom myself, I have such an appreciation for all the hard work my mother would do to make Thanksgiving such an amazing event for our family and friends (my mother is definitely the more the merrier type, so it wasn’t, and isn’t, unusual to have at least 40 people for thanksgiving). She would stay up late the night before preparing the tables, chair, tablecloths, napkins, food, and outfits for her children, vacuuming, sweeping, etc. She would get up early Thanksgiving morning and continue where she left off, not showering, or getting herself ready, until the last-minute. Inevitably one of us, my sister, brother, father, or I, would make a snarky remark that would usually trigger the mommy meltdown. Similar to the following clip.

So, my biggest fear isn’t burning the turkey, or if the potatoes have lumps, it is the mommy meltdown, and when it will show its snide face. I plan on taking all precautions by planning every last detail ahead of time, but life happens. Sometimes our expectations become to grandiose.

Have you ever experienced a Mommy Thanksgiving meltdown, where the mom hosting Thanksgiving just takes on too much? Are you a mom that has taken on too much? Perhaps you are a mom who has figured out the balance, please, share your secrets!

Thankful Thursday…..Rice Krispies treats, the treats that keep on giving

Thankful Thursday…..

I initially introduced the 30 days of gratitude to my family in hopes of teaching my children the importance of appreciation through simple acts of kindness each day. However, what was meant to be something minute has evolved into so much more.  The acts of kindness have fostered quality time with loved ones, comforting conversations with friends and acquaintances, and magnificent memories.

Rice Krispies Treats, the treats that keep on giving….

Monday afternoon I found myself pressed for time, as usual.  So I threw the kiddos pajamas, diapers, cups, box of Rice Krispies, bag of marshmallows, stick of butter, wooden sticks, bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, sprinkles, wax paper, and my book for book club into a laundry basket. I  put this kiddos in the car, picked up my daughter from school and headed to my mother’s.  We have dinner at my mom’s on Mondays; it has slowly become a tradition in our family, which works out great to because I have book club every other Monday.  So, we got to my moms and I started making Rice Krispies for my preschoolers snack box and the bake sale the next day to raise money for Special Olympics.  I formed them into balls and placed them on wooden sticks, way easy.  Then my mom got home from work and she started helping me melt the chocolate while we enjoyed conversation about our day.  We had the perfect consistency and started dipping the treats in the chocolate at which point the kiddos wanted to get involved too, so each took turns sprinkling the sprinkles on the freshly dipped Rice Krispies treat. Half way through we realized we were not going to have enough chocolate for all the treats.  Just then, as if on queue, my father came home from work and made a b-line for their leftover Halloween candy.  BINGO! My father and mother began unwrapping Nestle crunch bars like it was their job while I stirred the chocolate and the kiddos stood by with sprinkles in hand.  It had become a family affair, no longer was it just a task to check off, it had transformed into a family memory.

After book club my father helped me wrap the dozens of Rice Krispies Treats and we placed the necessary amount in my preschooler’s snack box and the rest were ready for the bake sale the next day.

The next day we dropped off the snack box, along with my preschool, at school.  When we picked him up the teacher said the Rice Krispies Treats on a stick were a hit. Thanks goodness, I was a little concerned since we invented the last batch via Halloween Candy.  I was also a little concerned that the teacher might be upset with our choice of snack given that it was picture day (looking back, it was a bad choice on my part but he was so excited to take in somthing on a stick).

Rice Krispies treats on a stick dipped in Nestle Crunch Bars, delicious!!

After I picked him up from school we were off to vote.  He had some leftover Rice Krispies Treats on a stick and asked if he could give them to people inside.  I thought it was such a kind gesture.  So we headed inside to vote and he passed out Rice Krispies Treats on a stick to the individuals volunteering.  Our neighbor happened to be volunteering at the time and my son made certain he received two.

After we voted it was time to drop off the initial Rice Krispies Treats on a stick for the bake sale to support the Special Olympics. We dropped off our Treats, the kiddos each picked out another baked-good, and we donated to the cause.  I am not sure who purchased the Rice Krispies Treats that we had made the Monday night at my moms but I do know that those Treats brought about much happiness and illustrated our gratitude towards our family, friends, and neighbors.

Recipe for Nestle Crunch Rice Krispies treats on a stick

  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 bag of large marshmallows
  • 4 cups Love
  • 6 Cups Rice Krispies Cereal
  • ½ cup gratitude
  • Package of wooden sticks
  • 1 tablespoon of panic (when you realize you are running out of chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup relief (when you realize there is Halloween candy, Nestle crunch to the rescue!)
  • 1 bag of fun sized Nestle crunch bars

Directions:

In a large sauce pan melt butter and add marshmallows. Stir constantly till both have melted, remove from heat, and add Rice Krispies.  Spray measuring cup and/or spoon with cooking spray and divide into portion sizes.  Spray hands with cooking spray and form the portions into balls.  Place wooden stick into the ball and let cool for 15 minutes. While the Krispies treats are cooling you can begin to melt the Crunch bars.   You will want to use a double boiler so that the chocolate doesn’t burn.  Once the bars are melted grab a treat, holding it by the stick, and quickly dip it in the chocolate and then sit it on wax paper or foil to cool.
Please note: if you leave the treat in the chocolate to long it will melt the marshmallows again.  To expedite the process you can place them in the refrigerator for a little while till the chocolate cools.

30 Days of Gratitude….a way for family to stay grounded

I was disappointed this morning. I was watching the news and noticed that there was a commercial for Christmas, Christmas! It is only one day after Halloween and already the attention has turned to Christmas. What Happened to Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving seems to be one of those Holidays where retailers can’t make much of a profit so why not skip it all together? I did hear that Nordstrom has taken a stand and they will not be putting up their Christmas decorations or marketing Christmas until
after Thanksgiving, way to take an initiative Nordstrom’s (we don’t have one around here but this might call for a special trip, that is an initiative I can support!).

So, thanks to Nordstrom’s inspiration and my own passion for thanksgiving our family will be living 30 days of gratitude and we invite your family to do the same.  I realize as mothers we already give so much of ourselves to our family which is why this
needs to be a practical endeavor.  30 days of gratitude is not meant to be overwhelming or add stress to your life, in fact it should hopefully have quite the opposite effect on you and your family. Living gratitude can be quite fulfilling.

Gratitude is more than an attitude. Recent studies show that grateful people are happier, more resilient, and less depressed. They also have higher self-esteem and better relationships. These results prove that gratitude is more than polite manners and positive thinking. It is a way of life, and a wonderful legacy to leave our children. http://www.more4kids.info/184/teaching-gratitude/

So, when thinking about different ways to express gratitude think of simple acts of kindness, and make sure you get your children involved.  Sure mommy can grab the Halloween candy, throw it in a box, and mail it but without expressing the purpose behind the act the act goes unnoticed by your little ones.  So remember to share these acts and when possible contribute and express gratitude as a family.

To get your family started I am providing a few ideas for ways in which your family can demonstrate gratitude.

Turkey of Gratitude

The first week of November or, two weeks prior to Thanksgiving have your children begin writing down something they are grateful for each day. Then have them stick the feather in the Turkey. On Thanksgiving Day your family will have a lovely center piece of thanks.

How to make it: Cut a 1-inch sliver off the bottom of a 9-inch polystyrene ball. Wrap sphere neatly in thick dark-brown yarn, covering surface completely; knot on bottom. Make a 4-inch ball from light-brown yarn and attach to body with a wooden craft stick. Create simple facial features using felt: white circles (approximately the size of a quarter, with 1/8-inch pom-poms for pupils) for eyes, yellow triangles for the beak, and long red felt teardrops as the wattle. Cut feather shapes from colored craft paper and bend in half lengthwise to create seam. Glue wooden craft stick to the bottom third of the feather and insert in a fan shape on turkey body. (Parents Magazine)

Donate Halloween Candy

If you don’t know what to do with all that left over Halloween Candy, send it to Operation Shoebox and they will get it over to our troops! Every year they go through tons of candy that they send to our troops and would be happy to have your leftovers!

Our mailing address is:

Operation Shoebox

8360 Highway 25

Belleview, FL 34420

Help a neighbor, family member, or elderly rake leaves.

Donate Food to a Food Bank

Donate Food- What they Can Use

  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned Goods: Meats,
    Stews, Tuna Fish,
  • Pork & Beans, Navy
    Beans, Spam, Soup
  • Apple Sauce, Peaches,
    Pears, Fruit Cocktail
  • Green Beans, Corn, Peas and other vegetables
  • Dry Pasta and Ramen
    noodles
  • Dried Beans
  • Powdered Milk
  • Spaghetti Sauce,
    Tomato Sauce, Ravioli, Beefaroni
  • Macaroni & Cheese
    and other packaged dinners
  • Cereal
  • 100% Juice
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Toiletries: Toilet Paper, Soap, Shampoo, Deodorant, Feminine Napkins

The Food Bank accepts contributions of both food and non-food items. They accept donations from individuals and companies. To get more information on making a product donation please call 419-242-5000 or email the Outreach Coordinator, Jennifer Mirelez: jmirelez@toledofoodbank.org

Donate Toys to Charity-Nationwide Donation Pick Up

Donating toys to charity has never been easier thanks to the free toy donation pick up service offered by charities nationwide. Schedule a toy donation pick up today and donate toys to the local charity you choose. While the holiday season is a favorite time to donate toys to charity, toy donations are needed year-round. Budget-strapped families often don’t have enough money left at the end of the month for these extras that can brighten the day of a little one in need. Schedule a pick up today… http://www.donationtown.org/donation-pick-up.html

Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness Inc.

Mission Statement:

Our goal is to create positive and inspirational homemade
cards for children with life-threatening illnesses. We also want our “Love
Letters Pen Pals” to inspire others in their community to commit to making
a difference through our organization.

Be sure to checkout the guidelines and suggestions for holiday & birthday cards, and share the idea with others. http://loveletterscares.org/

Please Send Your Cards To:

Kaitlyn Chana

Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness, Inc.

P.O. Box 161058

Altamonte Springs, FL 32716-1058

While you are filling your freezer make an additional meal for a neighbor or loved one

Drive-thru random act of Kindness

The next time you go through a drive-thru pay for the person’s order behind you, or a fraction of the person’s order behind you.  They will be delightfully surprised to hear that the complete stranger in front of them just paid for their drink and/or meal.

Volunteer at the Local Ronald McDonald House

Volunteer at the Local Ronald McDonald House

You could……

  • Bring homemade cookies or cupcakes for families. Or help children bake and decorate them.
  • Organize a craft project for children
  • Host a pizza party, ice cream social, or popcorn & movie night
  • Make welcome goodie bags and care packages for families
  • Make quilts, afghans or knitted hats and mittens for families

Give thanks for each other around the dinner table (we do this on
Sundays)

Each family member takes a turn and express why they are thankful for each of the other family members, specifically something they did that day.

Send a Letter to a Soldier

http://www.letterstosoldiers.org/write-letter

Call a friend who doesn’t live in town and ask them how their day is going.

Mobile Meals of Toledo

Home Delivered Meal Programs: Volunteer 1 -1/2 hours a day, two days per month or offer to substitute on an on-call basis.

Have kiddos send a Thank you for being a great friend Card.

http://www.kidprintables.com/thankyounotes/

I will be sharing updates on my families 30 days of gratitude every Thankful Thursday. There are so many ways to express gratitude everyday. Maybe your family has a special Thanksgiving ritual that illustrates gratitude, if so, please share.