Quick recipes for Super Bowl Party

My super bowl party this year is me, 7 tweens, a couple of preschoolers and 2 brave friends. I’m expecting loads of fun without much work in the kitchen (as you can see from the guest list, I have to be on my toes).  Thought I’d share some super-simple recipes with you in case you need a “no work/kid friendly party” also!

I use these for impromtu parties and to take along with me to others’ parties. They’re super simple, and I never have left overs.

Dips:

Spread Cream cheese in a pie plate, cover w chili and cheese..bake until bubbly. Serve with chips.

Unwrap Cream cheese, cover with salmon (I use the package salmon) pour spicy cocktail sauce over top. Serve w crackers.

Mix sour cream, Knorr’s vegetable soup mix, thawed (or freshly chopped) spinach. Serve in Hawaiin bread bowl and use the broken bread pieces to eat. Delish!

Munchies:

Mix Popcorn, Pretzel sticks, marshmallows, cheerios, and M&M. ( I leave out peanuts b/c of allergies, but they are a great addition). This one kids will love. Others things that you can add or mix and match:
chocolate covered raisins, almonds, any type of cereal, sesame stix, dried fruit, pecans. Use popcorn as your base and throw in whatever you like.

or try this w/out popcorn.

Pretzels, wasabi peas, chex mix, spicy peanuts, sesame stix, and yogurt covered raisins.

Hot appetizers

Meatballs: place frozen meatballs in crockpot. Add crushed pineapple, bbq sauce, mustard. cook 4-6 hours.
here’s another one: meatballs, grape jelly and chili sauce.

Serve on platter using toothpicks in meatballs.

Chicken kickers:

dice chicken breast, place chicken piece inside hollowed slice of jalepeno,  wrap in bacon, roast in oven until bacon is crisp and chicken is done. These are great on the grill too if you have time.

Boil Beer ( I know, what a waste right?) add shrimp and cook. Drain and serve.

Cold Appetizers

Dice cucumber and avacodo, tomatoes, and red onions. Mix together olive oil, garlic and salt. Toss all to coat. Serve with pita chips.

chop raw broccoli very fine, toss with cranberries and cole slaw dressing. serve w pita chips. (This was a huge hit at my last part)

boil shrimp and cool. toss with diced red onions, garlic, olive oil, 1 tsp mayonaise, crushed red pepper. Chill in fridg unti time to eat.

Dice vodiala onion in fine pieces, add one cup mayo and one cup sour cream. Spread in pie plate. serve w cracker or pita chips.

Kid Friendly

mixed fruit tossed w poppy seed dressing

wrap hotdog weenies w thawed pretzel dough. Bake until golden brown. Serve w mustard or cheese dip

Fruit skewers. Just dice up your favorite fruits and put on bamboo skewers. Kids will think it’s fun and mom sneaks in good for you food. (I also skew an occasional piece of cheese, carrot, celery– mix and match at your pleasure)

mix sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, chili powder and ham in mixer until smooth. Shape into football. Pipe soft white cheese (from can) to make the final football touches. Serve this cheese “ball” with crackers.

Sundae fun:

I buy vanilla frozen yogurt. An assortment of toppings and let the kids make their own sundaes. It is Super Bowl “Sundae” isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to My Girls

Dear Girls… it’s mom,

I spend every minute of every day with you on my mind. Something happened to me when I became a mom for the first time that I could never describe, so I won’t try. Just know that you both complete me.

You are brilliant–don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I watch as you grow and learn in amazement. The questions you ask me let me know you are aware of the world around you and have inquiring minds to find out more. I hope you keep that thirst for knowledge for the rest of your lives. The world won’t always be as innocent as it appears to you now, but I have no doubt you will excel through it. Here’s a few more things I want you know:

*Your dad and I love you more than life itself.
*We want the absolute best for you.
*Never let some bullying little girl make you feel inferior, and don’t be that bullying little girl to someone else. “Mean Girls” is s syndrome that little girls are born with, I believe, and it continues into womanhood. Shy away from it, don’t participate…get rid of phony friends, and if you aren’t doing something for the purpose you have made others believe..then you better quit!
*Boys don’t stink…(well, not all the time!)
*As you grow up and decide you “like” boys, don’t let one change you. Most likely, your first boyfriend isn’t Mr. Right…better yet, don’t look for Mr. Right..Look for who thinks you are Mrs. Right! Just. The. Way. You. Are.
*Dream Big and follow your heart.
*Can’t never could do anything.
*Don’t lie awake at night telling yourself negative thoughts–EVER–it’s the worst thing you can do.
 *Read alot!
*Study many subjects before you pick a major.
*Follow your passions, YOUR being the operative word, don’t do what you think others want you to do (your dad and I included.. well, within limits).
*Recognize bad habits and stop them before they take over.
*Be Kind to others.
*Find ways to give back to your school, community, and other things dear to you.
*If you are ever having a bad day, go out and help someone else.
 *Your first car is something that will be destroyed one way or another. Wear your seatbelt and dont cry over the first ding. (trust me, I know this one)
*Who you are today is not necessarily who you will be in 20 years. Grow, but try not to embarrass yourself later.
*It’s good to have friends with a variety of interest and personalities.
*Don’t mirror someone else.
*Never let anyone make you feel like you’re not good enough.
 *Laugh alot!
*Laugh at yourself the most!
*Take in a stray at least once.
*Feed the birds and squirrels.
*Plant flowers.
*Buy (or cut) fresh flowers for yourself just for the heck of it and put them in your room.
*Enjoy the days you say you are bored.
*Find a hobby, change hobbies as you change, but always have one.
 *Nobody’s perfect—and that includes you!
*Make mistakes, learn from them, make some more mistakes, learn from them.
*Wash your hair often and spend time and money on yourself.
*Be a good friend.
*You are 2 very different kids, encourage each other’s interests. 
 *Take vacations often.
*Believe me when I say your sister will some day be your best friend for life.
*Write a journal.
*Take tons of pictures along the way.
*Try a new style.
*Get up before daylight and sit quietly to watch the sun rise.
*Stay up til dawn at least once.
*Embrace others and be accepting.
*Bad people are out there, use your best judgment, if you are in danger SCREAM at the top of your lungs!  It is a fear of mine that something would happen to you, know this is why I tell you that you can’t go or that you have to check in all the time. When you have kids you will understand, it never has been about what I think you are doing.
*Play hard everyday.
*You are never too old to play!
*People who complain are miserable, don’t complain! Instead, look for what makes you happy every day.
*You will hear a lot about attitudes in your lifetime, it’s all true. If your attitude is bad you are going to have a tough road.
*Spend time with your family and friends but also learn to spend time alone, and like it.
*Music can be the best medicine.
 *Life is a big puzzle, fitting the pieces together each day and finding what doesn’t fit is part of the journey and the best part.
 *Give everything your best shot.
*If you put your name on it, make sure it’s your best.
*Find a sport you like and participate.
*Friendly competition is good for you. 
*You are going to “hate” your dad and I sometimes, that’s normal. We would be failing you as parents if you didn’t. We understand, and someday you will too.
*Don’t take things so personal all the time.
*A good cry can make you feel better, but A good laugh can make you feel great!
*Try new things
*Be creative
*When someone is mean to you forgive them. You are a captive of your anger.
*Smile!
*Learn to bake.
*Be comfortable in your own skin.
*Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” and never be afraid to accept someone’s apology.
*Your life is not predefined and your possibilities are endless.
*Remember, you are an original! Priceless and loved beyond words.

If I could bottle up the best of everything, harm and hurt free, and give it to you, I would. That’s impossible. There is a part of me that wants to keep you small and under my wings, and another part of me that is so fascinated as you grow that I can’t wait to see where the next phase takes you. It’s incredible being your mom, I hope you get to experience mommyhood (if you choose to). Above and beyond all else, I hope you know how much I love you and am honored to be your mom.

When you are old enough to leave the nest, I want you strong enough to fly.

Always, Always, Always!

Mom

Resolutions Made Real

new-years-resolutions-300 Every year I make a list of resolutions and as soon as I convince myself that I’ve thought about them, they go by the wayside and I do what I want. I think resolutions are a fun tradition and at the same time they are by definition meant to make me feel a failure and weak. Usually by January 10th, I’m not making progress toward unrealistic goals, so I quit all together. Shoved in the back of my mimd until the last week of December. I’m stopping that this year by opting out of resolutions all together for 2012!

I have a better idea! Good Bye 2011, yes I am rather glad to see you go. However, your trials and opportunities have made me stronger and better than I was a year ago. I’m stopping this vicious cycle and going forward. 2012, I’m making small changes, measured daily. Days make my week, weeks make my year. So HA! who needs to write down what I’m going to do this year in one sitting?!?! I’m thinking not!, minor adjustments daily are far more attainable.

Here’s How I plan to do this:

Positive thoughts and habits added with Freedom to “be” and mixed with lowering my stress levels monitored daily should produce a productive, healthy and accomplished year. If I mess up one day, back on board the next. No Guilt!

Try it, we’re not granted a 365 day pass. Any given day could be your last, so measure yourself daily and be the best “you” out there.  Simple enough!

 

Tis the Season to shop for Tweens!

Tweens can be hard to buy for. Not yet teenagers but still not kids. Having to find the perfect gift for one can be difficult if you aren’t used to their company. Here’s a list I came up with to help you find the perfect gift for your family or friend Tween on your list this year!

Tween Girls

  1. Girls love boots!:  House/lounge boots instead of slippers are a great choice. Anything Boots! Esp. the fuzzy ones.
  2. Some new board games: (act out, 20 questions, truth or dare, etc) girls at this age love slumber parties. At my house the games come out late at night!
  3. Craft kits: Found at local hobby shops you can find homemade spa, pedicure, painting rocks, jewelry making and others). Always a big hit with mine.
  4. Overnight bags: These girls are on the go. The have their weekends planned and a sporty new overnight bag is something to brag about.
  5. Accessories: Hair accessories like clips and bows, gloves, scarfs, hats. Fingerless gloves are “super cool” right now..esp with a matching scarf
  6. Sports: yes, girls like sports. Especially at this age. If you can ask a parent their favorite-great, if not…anything outdoor ball. Soccer, basketball, softball, band mitten. Maybe they like Cheer and Gymnastics…if so, how about a mat for their tumbling?
  7. Video games: Handhelds are in! Find out what system they have and add to their collection of games
  8. Nail Polish: Make her day with a few bright colors of polish. Lime green, blue, yellow, orange. My tween likes to paint each nail a new color or choose a pattern.
  9. Mini Locker or locked jewelry box: Privacy is a big deal. It’s cool to lock up only what they and their BFF’s can see
  10. Diary or Journal: Prime time for one of these!

Tween Boys:

  1. Sports: Baseballs, basketballs, footballs. Anything that causes them to get out and play a contact sport!
  2. Video games: Just like the girls, find out their system and add to their collection.
  3. Wierd Science Kits: you can find these kits at the local hobby store too. They can make chemistry projects, etc and little boys love this stuff!
  4. Models: It’s prime time to build a rocket, spaceship or race car!
  5. Nerf shooters: anything that shoots a nerf ball or arrow. Better ask mom first, but they love them.
  6. Football jerseys: who’s their favorite team ? get the jersey, you’re a hit! (can’t find a jersey? team sweatshirts are super cool too)
  7. Games: find a game that pops up, interacts or involves a robot and they’re happy.
  8. Pogo Sticks: Jumping up and down is right up their ally.
  9. Paint ball: again you better ask their mom first, but paint ball and all accessories is something they all love.
  10. Remote control: anything remote control…cars, boats, helicopters. You simply can’t go wrong if it’s remote control!

Here’s a few things you can give to boys or girls at this age:

Movie passes, tickets to an event, gift cards to the game store, pajamas, winter hats, gift cards to load their mp3 players (if they use apple products, an itunes gift card), cd’s, rubber boots, app store credits, locked boxes for personal items, toy store gift cards, posters for their rooms, magazine subscriptions, tickets to a sport event or silly slippers, bag full of small things that would be stocking stuffers( this group .

My house is full of tweens everyday, these are the items I hear from boys and girls alike. Hope this list helps!

Merry Christmas!

Tween behavior can be overwhelming for parents

Sometimes I have to laugh. I must be much older than I think I am. I remember rolling my eyes, cracking one liners and completely ignoring my mother like it was yesterday! So how is it that I am now on the other side of the fence, with an active tween doing this to me?

Well, for starters, let me first admit this is NOT fun now! She was so darling, innocent and well behaved…then she woke up one morning different. I’ve been rubbing my head trying to figure out where this came from and when I will get my little angel back! By all accounts, I think she won’t return until she has her own children and calls to apologize to me like I did my mom when she was not quite a year old.

That leaves me between a rock and hard place. I must manage through this and direct it as best I can without killing her. (some days are easier than others). I want to yell out “your eyes are going to lock up like that”, but we all know that’s not true. I want and need to be a little more effective. In observing her world lately I’ve noticed a few things I’ll call “major influences”. First, the media world is wired to teach them these things. TV sitcoms (esp on kids’ program channels) are packed full of smart aleck kids talking back to parents and teachers, mean girl spirits, and secret lives of tweens that mom and dad are too dumb to know about. Secondly, her friends are seeing the same things and trying their limits too. Third, boys are becoming of interest! And lastly…whether I want to admit it or not, I cannot keep her sheltered from the world around her forever! Sure…I could say no TV, video games, no friends, I’m sending you to boarding school, and you cannot play contact sports…..but! How realistic is that? I would then raise a kid who can’t socialize or worse, one who would later rebel in all forms I can’t stand the thought of! There’s a big part of me who wants to keep my little girl. Then the rational side appears and I begin to realize this is part of growing up. Remember the cliché, ‘Seek first to understand then be understood’ ? It’s not a cliché in my house anymore, it’s a daily challenge. NOW I’m really testing my parenting skills….

I first had to change my  mental program in 2 ways.

1) She’s not a mini-adult, she’s a kid. This is a phase, and one that is very well a healthy part of growing up! and
2) She deserves to grow up, state her individuality and have this experience.

Ok, done! Now what? Well, as her mom, I cannot let her tryout profanity, one liners, eye rolling and over all temper tantrums without interrupting! I must guide her and discipline her so that someday she is a responsible adult. I have to set limits. I have a quiet rule, she knows nothing about…I set my limits one step above what “everyone else” gets to do. If her friends are wearing shorts 2″ longs, her must be 4″. If her friends have data lines on cell phones and can be on them all night long, mine must give me the phone in off position at 8:30. (you get the idea).  I refuse to be run over by a 10-year-old and her buddies!

Here’s a few tricks I’ve come up with to help curve this growing appetite of independence she has. I hope that some of these will help you too.

  • Set a curfew for coming inside, turning off gadgets and going to bed. Each separately, and adjust it for a little more time on weekends. Don’t give in to the 5 more minutes plea!
  • Allow her the opportunity to try new things and explore her individuality in her fashion statements and quirky trends, within reason.
  • I made a chore chart. These things need to be done this week. Now she has a little more control over when they’re done. The daily argument is over, and it’s her responsibility. (She also has a few things on that chart to be done everyday)
  • Her allowance is tied to that chart….and a few things are done for “free” (the price of family life is what I tell her!)
  • I don’t reward bad behavior. If she wants a friend to spend the night or go someplace special this weekend. Great! as long as she’s not rude and in trouble all week. If she blows it, then I don’t give in on Friday night. She needs to experience disappointment sometimes too in order to learn from it!
  • I constantly praise my kid! Every day there is something you can praise a kid about…they need to hear it !!
  • I keep an open mind and tell her if she wants to know something,  I’m willing to answer it. I’ve gone so far as to say to her that sometimes it’s awkward talking to mom about some things, but I would rather be awkward for 3 minutes while she asks then have her learn from someone else who may not really know.
  • I reward her accomplishments and celebrate everything! (Team winning, her grades, small holidays, things at work for mom and dad, baby sisters’ first experience, her doing something on her own for the first time!) I truly believe home is where it all starts. A happy home she’s comfortable in will make her stronger and more confident.
  • I encourage her to learn new things. She’s recently been “promoted” to advanced studies at school (OMG! I just thought she knew everything before that! her parents are complete morons now!). Nevertheless, when she’s working on something and asks for help, I engage her in that conversation and we explore wherever that conversation may lead to. (last night she needed climate numbers in a state for her project. Before you know it, we’re looking up the average daily temperature at Mt Everest…Good for her for having that inquiring mind! It’s my responsibility to encourage it!)
  • Invest your time in your kid! It’s easy to think that they’re now old enough that they don’t need you every second. They go to their room and you get some free time, although that’s true to a certain extent, I’ve learned she needs my time now more than ever. Every night I encourage her to come out of that girl cave! * Hey, come see this!, did you read this?, want to help me do_______, Let’s play basketball,  hey let’s watch this movie…….whatever works! HINT: it works every time!
  • Laugh with them, Alot!
  • I’m lucky, she’s a doll at school and out in public. Never gets in trouble with any adult anywhere. I make sure I tell her how much this means to me and how important it is for her to continue caring herself in such a classy manner.
  • Don’t strive over the little things. I try not to constantly nag her about every little thing.
  • KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) a rule no mom should go without–don’t make unrealistic goals for kids or yourself.
  • Don’t  lose your temper or act crazy when something’s not right for you. Kids are watching you 24/7!
  • Understand that kids experience stress too. Tests, homework, peers, chores, activities can all be stressful for them. Getting everything done in a day can be too. It seems easy to be a tween now that we’re adults, but remember what it was for you then. I give her time to unwind after school. I also try very hard to give her time that is free of chores and scheduled activities during the week. Kids act out under stress. Having this quality time to themselves can really  help settle them down.

 

I don’t think any of this is fool-proof. I’m certainly not an expert in the field of child development. I’m sharing this blog post as an honest account of my daily dilemma as being the best mom I can be. Trying to help her grow and mature in her own right, while balancing what is and isn’t acceptable to me. Tween’s can be difficult to understand, if we lose site of being there once ourselves.  I hope some of these items are helpful, and I welcome any suggestions you have as well.

 

 

20 Things I’m Thankful for

I have alot to be Thankful for, and I am of course very thankful for the things I always write about: My family, friends, our health, my kids, their health, and all the things I have in my life that complete me.I make an effort to be thankful for these things all year. But this year as I was thinking of the Thanksgiving holiday, a few more things came to mind. Here’s a list of 20 things I’m thankful for that often are taken for granted.

  1. My attitude: Having an attitude of the glass is always 1/2 full helps me face shortcomings with determination and see opportunities I would miss if I was feeling sorry for myself.
  2. Social Media: I’ve been able to reconnect with “lost” friends and loved ones AND meet people I would otherwise never know.
  3. My friendship with my sister: I’m so lucky to call her my best friend. I have friends who don’t speak to their sister, unimaginable to me!
  4. My true friends: A select close group who tell me straight up. No fog and mirrors, they see right through that and will call me out on a spur of the moment.
  5. People who inspire me: I love having a conversation and walking away feeling inspired.
  6. People who intrigue my mind: Nothing is worse than not being challenged.
  7. Frienemies: yes, even the worst of fake friends have taught me something! If nothing else, they force out the best in me to try to stay ahead of their next stab.
  8. Computers and networks: WOW! Life is so much easier and creativity is so simple now!
  9. A good bottle of wine: pure indulgence
  10. Mentors: These are people who have inspired, motivated, and even made me mad at times. But none the less, they have all brought something of value to my life and career.
  11. My childhood: my parents were awesome! they took part in everything we did. Hindsight is 20/20 I learned so much watching them.
  12. Our American Military: (need I say more) They have sacrificed the ultimate for our freedom. Without them I may not be able to write this….
  13. Smartphones: I can’t imagine how my mom kept it all together without an app to make it easy for her.
  14. People who told me No: If they had said yes all the time, I may not be as determined to find a way.
  15. College: I never really thought about much in school except memorizing the answers until I went to college. I remember the challenge of figuring it out and thinking it through for myself first being introduced to me in college.
  16. A good journalist: few and far between these days, in my opinion, but a really good journalist that tells the truth and pushes limits is indispensible.
  17. Seasons: Everytime I get bored and stale, the seasons change. With each new season is a new spirit, new traditions and new things to celebrate.
  18. My pets: unconditional love and an ear without saying a word.
  19. A good book: I use books to teach myself new things, escape or travel without ever leaving home.
  20. Memories: My life is a great big reflection of memories. Almost everything I encounter reminds me of someone or something. I have lost loved ones who I hold many memories of and those memories inspire, challenge, and bring me peace.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Imagination

My 3 year old and her friend were sure quiet this afternoon. I could hear them giggling and laughing, so I let them be. A little while later they came our of her room, dressed up for their “party”. All smiles announcing they would be back, they had a party to go to.  There was no detail left unattended, they added all the accessories, even a glitter “puppy purse”. I grabbed the camera, and they struck a pose!  They were so proud of themselves.

I watched as they went out the back door. Filled a baby stroller full of their handbags and pushed it all over the yard as they “drove” to their party. They must have played for 2 hours. The funniest thing was when they came back inside. Each one started telling all about the party, who was there and all the events that took place. Then they announced what they bought while shopping on their way home. The very next thing my little one says “gosh, I need to go change my clothes, I’m tired”. I wanted to yell from the kitchen ‘put that stuff back up’ but instead, just let it go. We could clean up later, for now I will just let them play. I felt a sense of serenity come over me as I realized not every moment has to be planned, kids need time to use their imaginations.

Imaginations are wonderful. As a mom, I try to encourage my kids to use their imagination and creativity as often as possible. Both of my girls are unique in the things they like or dislike. That makes their imaginations more special.

While the little one was making herself into a princess for her backyard Gala, the oldest was learning to rip stick in the driveway. Poor kid, she took a few beatings but didn’t give up. She’s had that almost a year and hasn’t been able to do it. Another proud mom moment, when she called me in and asked me to watch…she did it!! When I told her how proud she was, she said “Mom, you just can never give up”.

I hope they always have their lively spirits.