Pasta is one of our girls’ favorite foods. It doesn’t have to be fancy; last night it was fettucine tossed with olive oil, parmesan cheese and a little salt and pepper. They basically licked the bowl clean. Since Jessica at Life is Mom is holding an “Ultimate Recipe Swap” and this week’s theme is pasta dishes, I thought I’d share one we enjoy here. It was hard to narrow it down; but, since we started out the week with cold temperatures, I was in the “comfort food” frame of mind. Hence, here’s my favorite chicken lasagna recipe.
12 ounces egg noodles
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
3 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese, grated
Cook egg noodles according to package directions; set aside. Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan; blend in flour, salt and pepper and cook until smooth. Slowly add broth and stir until sauce is thick and bubbly. Stir in chicken; set aside. In separate bowl, combine cottage cheese and eggs; set aside. In 9x13x2 inch baking dish, layer as follows: 1/3 of chicken mixture, 1/2 of cooked egg noodles, 1/2 of cottage cheese mixture, and 1/2 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle heavily with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees.
[You can also make this ahead and freeze it. When ready to use, thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.]
One day soon I’ll share one of our favorite summer pasta recipes! Check out Life as Mom for more great pasta dishes.
This edition of Teaching Tuesday is about letters. I would encourage you to introduce letters to your child at an early age, but NOT in a formal sense. There are many ways to incorporate the ABC’s into your day and have them become part of your play. Here are a few ideas that I used with our girls when they were very young.
- Read books that are centered around letters. One of my older daughter’s favorite books when she was around two years old was Dr. Seuss’ ABC book. Let’s just say I had it memorized! I have seen many cute books for young children that use letters as a basis for a story. Check these out at the library and read them during your reading time with your child.
- Play with blocks that have letters on them. For her second Christmas, my daughter received a set of very nice wooden blocks from my grandmother. They had letters in color on the sides. While these were great for building, they were also useful in playing other games such as finding letters that were the same and teaching letter names.
- I was able to find foam letter shapes that could be used in the bathtub. Both girls played with these, getting them wet and then sticking them up on the side of the tub. Again, we could name the letters or try to find the letter that started their name.
- One of the neatest things I found was a large rug that had the alphabet printed on it. It was actually decorative and very pretty; we bought it for our older daughter when she was about eighteen months old. In her room, she would play with her toys on it; however, she would also notice the letters and as we were playing on it, we would talk about what the names of the letters were. For some reason, she developed an affinity for the letter Z! It was one of the first letters she learned and she loved to find it in books and point it out.
- Using sidewalk chalk, write some letters on your sidewalk or driveway and see if your child can find a certain letter and jump on it.
- At snack time, form the shape of a letter on a plate with cheerios or another small snack food and see if they can name the letter.
These are just a few fun things we did together in an informal way to introduce the girls to letters. I’d love to hear ideas you may have used in this area with your children!
You begin with the infant who starts screaming as you cross the first item off your twenty-item list. From there you progress to the toddler who wants nothing to do with being restrained in a cart, to the potty-training one who needs to make two mad dashes to the bathroom in a twenty minute span when you’re in the store with the dirtiest restrooms in town.
None of this even covers the small revolution you encounter when you refuse to buy them something they feel they must have, the sibling knock-down, drag outs in the middle of the store, or the unexpected loud comments about the person standing directly behind you in the checkout line.
What worked for me when shopping with two little ones? Grocery shopping late at night or very early in the morning when my husband was at home with the kids, or, at a little later stage, a special treat of a blowpop or tootsie roll pop which could buy me about fifteen minutes of peace (albeit with a sticky ending).
So this mannerly Monday, let’s consider the manners we can teach our children to help them have self-control while out shopping. Prior to leaving the house on errands, I would usually try to discuss and practice the rules I wanted the girls to remember.
1) Look with your eyes, not with your hands. We have yet to conquer this one completely, but it’s an important one.
2) Stay close by your parent at all times. Try to stand still and wait patiently and quietly.
3) Never run in a store. If you should knock something over, put it back where it goes. If something breaks, let a store employee know right away.
4) Watch out for others whether walking or pushing a cart. Be sure to say “excuse me” if you reach or walk in front of someone to get an item.
5) After shopping, return your cart to the front of the store or to the appropriate parking lot stall.
I am sure some mothers have great ideas for making shopping with children a pleasurable experience. I’ve heard of moms who involve their small children with choosing items off of the shelf and finding ways for them to “help” throughout the trip. With plenty of time and only one little one, I think that might have been fun; however, I tended to have more of the mindset of dashing through the store as quickly as possible.
I do have to say that it has become easier as the girls have gotten older. They are now able to push the cart if the aisles aren’t too crowded and get familiar items off the shelf. If I’m shopping for something for them or someone they know, they’re interested in what I’m purchasing. If I’m shopping for myself, they’re a little more easily entertained by things like letting them play with the calculator on my cell phone while I try on clothes in the dressing room.
If you have special rules you use with your children when shopping, or ideas for passing shopping time pleasantly, please share in the comments section.
photo courtesy publicdomainpictures.net
When it comes to being a Mom, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the daily struggles and forget to focus on the big picture. God has given us the precious gift of children and we have only a certain amount of time to prepare them for life. I was recently reminded by a post at Life as Mom how important it is to set goals for myself as a Mom and then find practical ways to work toward reaching those goals. Here are my initial thoughts as I considered the kind of Mom I want to be.
I want to be a Godly mom who is supportive of her daughters through
- time spent together doing fun and serious activities, realizing how quickly time goes by;
- providing every opportunity for them to reach their God-given potential; and
- open, positive communication about what’s going on in their lives.
I started with prayer because I have come to realize (what I have known all along) that only God can work in a person’s heart and spirit and help them to become all that He would have them to be. There are so many areas in which I can pray for my girls: health, friendships, right attitudes, finding God’s will for their lives, future spouse. I also need to pray for myself that I will continually give them over to God and allow Him to work and lead in their lives.
As for time spent together, I believe that takes planning and preparation. I want to find activities that we can do together as a family. For example, I have scheduled us to attend a free kids’ cooking class next month. A few weeks ago, we attended a Charlotte’s Web play, then went out for dessert afterwards. However, not everything has to be a “big event.” It could be something as simple as a family game night or a picnic in the backyard. Another area I am exploring now that the girls are a little bit older is finding a volunteer opportunity that we can all participate in – a way to help others by working together. I want to keep in mind that they won’t be this age for long and I want to make the most of it.
With each girl, I am trying to keep my eyes open to potential gifts and talents they may have. One of them is currently going through a writing phase – “journaling” and writing little stories. Whether it’s musical or athletic ability, drama or art, I want to allow them to explore areas of interest to them and support them in it, even if it’s not something in which I’m particularly interested. The goal is to help them develop talents that can be used to serve the Lord and others throughout their lives.
Finally, I strongly desire to keep the lines of communication open. I think a large part of this is just being available – in the car, at meals, at bedtime. I’m hoping that being able to listen now to whatever they have to say and being interested in what’s going on in their lives will bode well for those coming teenage years. As the weeks go by, I hope to keep these thoughts in the forefront of my mind that I might seek to meet the goals I have set and accomplish the purpose God has for me as a mother.
Paper enters our house at alarming speed. I’m pretty good at sending most of it to the trash can as soon as possible.
However, with both girls in school, I often get field trip permission slips, book report instructions, holiday party information and sign-up forms for extracurricular activities. These are often papers that I need to keep as reminders of dates, times and other details, so I had to come up with a system for making sure the more important papers didn’t get swept up with the junk mail and deposited in the trash.
I went to an office supply store and bought a plain, very inexpensive cork board. We hung it in the hallway right above the hooks where the girls hang their book bags. Now, as soon as they come in from school, we clean out their bookbags and take any papers that need to be returned to school or kept for later and pin them on the bulletin board.
It’s so easy when I need to reference that material to not have to go looking through a folder or stack of papers to find the information we need. And that’s what works for me when it comes to organizing papers.
Okay, if last week’s Teaching Tuesday topic seemed like a no-brainer, today’s tip may seem even simpler. Talk to your child. Begin at birth, or before. I’ve heard “experts” say that you shouldn’t talk “babytalk” to your infant, but I don’t see how you can help it. It just seemed so natural to me.
In our second installment of Mannerly Monday, let’s discuss what manners we could be teaching our children to use when they are in public places. Keeping in mind that we are approaching this topic from the perspective of being considerate of others, here are a few ideas we have tried to work on with our girls.
1) At a play, concert or other performance, sit quietly and still in your seat until the intermission so that others are not disturbed. If you arrive late to an event, enter as quietly as possibly and sit in the back rows. [Just a side note: parents should take into consideration the nature and length of the performance and the age and temperament of their child to ensure that it is a good fit. A typical three-year-old, for example, will probably have difficulty remaining still through a performance of Handel’s Messiah.]
Please do not think that we have mastered these things with our children! However, they are goals we are working toward to ensure that they know how to act in various situations and are a pleasure for us and others to be around.
On Monday I posted here about how we’re working on table manners with our girls. I had a wonderful e-mail response from a friend of mine who is rearing three great boys. I’m passing along just a few of their table rules – things that may not even have crossed my mind. These may highlight some of the differences between boys and girls!!
1. We do not want to hear eating or drinking at the table. NO moaning or humming or loud chewing.
Another idea she shared which I loved was that her husband has each of the boys go to her and thank her for making the meal (whether they liked it or not). This is to train them to one day thank their wife for the food she prepares for them. What a nice way to truly be rearing your children with the future in mind!
I’ll be up front with you here….I promise not to have a theme for every day of the week. I’m a relatively scheduled, organized person, but that makes even me a little crazy. However, with my background in education, Teaching Tuesday was just too good to pass up. So, every Tuesday I’ll do a post on a teaching idea or tip that I’ve used or heard about.
Since I’m just beginning my blog, I have to start with the most basic concept of all. Read to your child. Start as early as possible and don’t stop. This one came naturally for me because I love to read. I know my Mom read stacks and stacks of books to us as children. I read to both of my girls while they were in the womb.
Once they were born, we established a habit of reading two books (or stories) before naptime each day and another book, along with a story from a Bible storybook, at bedtime. Many days we read more than that, but at least I knew we had those times scheduled for reading even if the rest of our day was too hectic to fit it in.
We’ve moved past naptime now (except for me some days!), but we continue our bedtime reading every night. The neat thing is that I’m getting to re-read some of my childhood favorites. What a joy to see my girls as enthralled with them as I was! I read a great article yesterday from Amy at Literacy Launchpad regarding treating books as family heirlooms. Go here to read her post.