It’s the start of the thankful season. Everyone is posting their daily gratitude on social media to express what they are thankful for. Here is what I am thankful for- food. I am really thankful my kids have enough to eat (and even throw away). I’m also thankful for organizations like Share Our Strength which helps feed hungry families every where. No Kid Hungry.org helps connect thousands of kids around the country to food resources. They educate struggling families how to to prepare low cost, healthy meals.
Anytime this November you can host a pot luck, or gathering in your own home with friends and ask everyone to give a financial donation (or, they can donate online at any time). What a great way to connect with friends and family before the busy holiday season starts! Plus, you can help bring Thanksgiving to other families who cannot afford a meal on their own. Spending time with your friends AND giving to a good cause makes “Friendsgiving” a win-win!
To host your own FriendsGiving event visit the No Kids Hungry website and start a fund raising page. Register your event, send out invites and check out the resource center for tips on how to host a successful event! Super easy!!
There are also incentives for raising the most funds! Check out the No Kid Hungry blog for details. Why not make this an annual event and start a new tradition with your friends and family? Or, get your school involved and encourage your kids to help give!
Remember sharing is caring! Please feel free to share this blog post on Twitter or Facebook with the hash tags: #FRIENDSGIVINGNKH #FRIENDSGIVING
The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here, Find her two party Body Beautiful project here and here.
Before I was a mom I knew my kids were going to eat perfectly balanced, delicious, organic meals because that’s what I planned for them to enjoy. It was like I had psychic abilities and just knew they would love wearing adorable coordinating outfits and having their hair tied up neat with pretty little bows. And, of course, my children would know how important it is to follow directions perfectly and need only a few gentle reminders.
Then I had kids. Twins in fact. So, that’s two at once. I didn’t know that I would eventually eat my own words. My kids are picky eaters who typically wear crazy mismatched outfits with their hair tied up loosely in a sloppy bun. Most of their outfits are accessorized by large, rubber rain boots. I once had a parent look at my kids outfit and ask me during preschool drop off, “I thought wacky day was next week?” There is just NO “bending my kids will” in my parenting.
My one daughter is NAHAHAHAT a morning person. Waking her requires three stages:
Duck and cover.
Run like hell.
Screw it you’re going to school like that.
It is rare we have a peaceful morning. There is usually a 20 minute meltdown about the breakfast choices; which is then followed by another 20 minute crying fit because I made her selected breakfast items according to her exact specifications, but “that’s NOT WHAT I WANTED!!” This has resulted in many mornings of me shoving a piece of sandwich meat, or string cheese in her hand and marching her out to the car. We have exactly a four minute commute to her school so she eats what she can eat during our short trip.
Just as I began feeling guilty about the food choices she gets in the morning, I realize she only rejects the hot meals I wake up early to make. So, I no longer feel like a bad mom because she just won’t accept the available choices. I have come to accept that doing whatever it takes to make it through my morning is giving my kid a strange breakfast in the car on the way to school. Fighting against that just makes for more tension and arguing and resistance from my already super strong willed child.
I used to think (and judge) parents giving into their child like this was bad parenting. But, now that I am a mom I think it’s good parenting- good parenting looks like picking your battles. Fine, eat cold cuts for breakfast, but you are not getting away with pushing your sister. Go ahead and take your socks off before getting out of the car, but you cannot run through the parking lot without holding my hand. Sure wear that crazy outfit to school, one day you’ll decide six different layers of stripes isn’t necessary.
My mission isn’t to go to battle over every little thing my kids do that goes against my grain, or to control their behaviors to the point they can only respond with robot precision. With two kids in the same developmental stage of pushing boundaries, I’d loose my ever loving mind (and many days I do) trying to keep them perfectly in line. I think they’ll go farther in life when they know mommy loves them enough to accept them just the way they are; even with their crazy hair, mismatched outfits and refusal to eat my stellar breakfasts!
So parents with strong willed picky eaters your kids are going to be OK! You, are going to be OK! Believe me, I know how hard it is to choke back the tears and suppress the obscenities every time your efforts are rejected. As for me, I don’t think eating breakfast before leaving the house is ever going to be a non-issue, but I also won’t let it be our biggest battle. In the grand scheme of life letting my kid eat a weird breakfast on the way to school isn’t what’s going to land her in therapy one day. I am sure I am doing plenty of other things wrong that will keep her future therapist in a comfortable lifestyle.
Whatever. It’s just breakfast.
The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here, Find her two party Body Beautiful project here and here.
Here’s a #TBT for ya! (That’s a Throw Back Thursday). My husband was kind enough to surprise me with a trip to New Orleans for my 30th birthday! (Many years ago). It was a dream come true to spend a week in the beautiful Crescent city. One of my favorite memories from that vacation is our breakfast trip to Cafe du mond. A small little slice of local life mixed with bustling tourism. The beignets and chicory coffee are amazing! Before leaving NOLA I vow to make them once a year and add chicory to my coffee forever!
That ambition didn’t pan out. But, the memory still remains.
I remember these little pillows from heaven during this weeks snow storm. We spent the day inside wearing our pajamas and snuggling on the couch. The snow coming down in powdery fluffs- my kids asked me if we are in a snow globe. Watching the feathery precipitation pile up reminds me of the snowy mounds of powdered sugar on those delicious biegnets. I quickly Google a recipe to see if I even have the ingredients for them. Of course not. But, I DO have frozen bread dough!
Even before my favorable memories of biegnets and chicory coffee, I have even more delightful memories of making “Pizza frite.” I am not sure why my family calls fried dough “fried pizza,” but I think it is because we shape the dough into small little pizzas before we fry them. We spent many, many, Saturday mornings making these together! I am happy to pass this tradition down to my girls!
Lucky for me I have everything I need to make beignet knock offs:
Frozen bread dough
Powdered sugar (or granular sugar and cinnamon)
Paper lunch sacks
Simply follow thawing instructions on the back of the package and allow bread to rise.
Heat 1/4 cup of coconut oil in large skillet or frying pan. (Coconut oil is pretty much a health food- so you are really doing everyone a favor by frying your dough in it).
Once the dough is ready, pull off small pieces to roll into a ball. Using your fingers begin to flatted the dough, keeping it in round circles.
You will know the dough is ready to flip when the outer edges of the dough start to brown and thicken. The edges loose their “sheen” and you may see air bubbles. (Similar to cooking a pancake).
Once you flip the dough allow your pizza frite to cook completely on the other side (approx. another 3 minutes).
Dough should be golden, light and fluffy.
Next add powdered sugar, or sugar and cinnamon into a paper lunch sack.
Little hands LOVE to put the dough in the sack and shake it all up! Watch out! This could get messy!!
If you have ever had a beignet you will know these are not exactly the same. But, they will do with a cup of sweet coffee on a white washed wintry day in NY.
Cheers! (My other favorite vacation memory includes martini’s in the oldest cigar bar in NOLA).
The girls have the entire Thanksgiving week off from school. We have been busy decorating, baking and making the house a giant mess. I am actually thankful for the toys scattered about the house. It means I have two amazingly creative kids who get lost in their imaginations. It’s not fun cleaning it all up again, but one day those little messes won’t be there to organize. Before I know it both my kids will be off to college and ready to start life on their own. Every now and then it hits me that having twins means they both leave at the same time. Such a scary thought. Until then I’ll try to remain thankful for the messes, the chaos and the perfectly imperfect days we share.
Here’s a round up of our week:
We started off by making a Thankful Tree. I used brown craft paper for our tree, but you can easily use a brown paper grocery bag. I traced and cut out leaves to write our thankful things on. Then we it all taped to the wall. The girls decided to pick out pictures of things they are thankful for. We pulled out some family pics I had taken through out the year, but you can easily use pictures cut from a magazine. Both of the girls kept calling it the Giving Tree. That would be a great story to read along with this project if you have it! If not you can get animated versions on Youtube. I found a copy of the original 1973 movie version narrated by Shell Silverstein!
I rolled out brown craft paper the entire length of the table so the girls could create their own pictures. We traced our hands to look like turkeys. The girls enjoyed making mama turkeys and baby turkeys. Again, you can easily recycle brown grocery bags for this project. Let the kids get creative!
I made these counting turkeys a few weeks ago which the girls really enjoy using. I just used materials we have on hand. Yes, I always have clothes pins and googly eyes on hand! Find instructions HERE.
Thanksgiving Eve packets!! I set these activities out the night before to surprise the girls with in the morning. This will keep us busy for a while! If you are following The Whatever Mom on Facebook you already know where to find these turkey printables!
We had our first winter storm yesterday. The snowy morning really put me in the mood for some good, warm comfort food. I made us some coconut, carrot french toast. It is inspired by the french toast I am in love with at one of my favorite restaurants (Love Bites). Not as good as theirs, but still a good way for me to sneak in some veggies and protein!
4 slices of favorite bread
1 small carrot (finely grated)
3 Tablespoons coconut flakes
1/3 cup milk (any kind)
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter
Melt butter in skillet on medium heat. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Then add in rest of ingredients and whisk until combined. Dip bread into mixture and be sure to cover both sides. Place in heated pan. Cook both sides until golden brown.
We didn’t have maple syrup so I sprinkled with powdered sugar. A snow breakfast for a snowy day!
Whatever you do today enjoy your time with family and friends. If you plan to celebrate the day alone, I hope you still have plenty to be thankful for!
So… after a rough week with the kiddos I took my Whatever philosophy to heart and gave myself the night off. Which meant I didn’t get my Friday Facebook Roundup to you. At least you’ll have fun reading this morning!
Put the kids in front of the cartoons and check out these links!
Have I shared with all of you how much I love my crock pot? My love affair with slow cooking began a few months after my twins were born. It takes a lot of work to put a hot dinner on the table while adjusting to life with kids! Once I got over the fear of burning down the house and gave my crock pot a try there was just no turning back! In less than one hour a week I prep 5 week night meals and put in the freezer, then I let the crock pot do all the heavy lifting. Now, I’m not juggling the evening dinner rush with prime time tantrums, phone calls and my own end of day melt down.
I am often asked to share some of my favorite recipes. I have collected a bunch over time and have no idea where I picked them up from (somewhere on the great world wide web), and I have my go-to sites to check out new ones. Here are seven “pop and drop” freezer meals I make most often. Pop and drop means there’s no chopping or dicing. You simply add your chicken and pop open a few cans/jars and dump all into one freezer bag. Your prep is complete. I’m guessing you may not want to eat a full week of chicken dinners, but maybe you’ll find one or more to liven up your freezer meal rotation.
NOTE: My kids are picky eaters so I usually make them mac and cheese on the side, but even when they do share our meals there are still plenty of left overs for hubby and I to enjoy for lunch. Even if you do not have kids this is still a pretty awesome system! Imagine not worrying about spending 30 minutes to prepare one meal, or wondering what’s for dinner? I wish I knew about freezer cooking before I even had kids.
A few of my favorite sites to find dinner inspiration:
Every week for nearly the last four years I have proclaimed, “THIS is the week I get organized!” I really mean it when I say this. But, the reality of taking care of the other humans in my home leaves me little time to organize like Martha (as in Stewart). I admit it is disappointing to open the closet to find things spilling out, or open the dresser drawers and see all the mangled clothes. I always feel pressed for time as we race through our mornings before to leaving for school, or getting to a play date. But, Martha doesn’t live here so it’s up to me to make things orderly and accessible.
So, how does a busy twin mom without a moment to spare get organized? Well, first I had to throw away my vision of what organized looks like and really think about what it feels like. Being organized feels less rushed and less like I am behind on tasks. It feels less stressed. So, what stresses me out the most? Snacks, mealtimes and getting my kids dressed. I often forget to give myself a snack, or suddenly a child is melting down because I forgot to feed them. It is stressful pulling out one shirt after another until my kid finds THE ONE she likes. Suddenly it’s 4:30 in the afternoon and I forgot I have to make dinner! Ack!
Here is my “Master plan” to feeling organized:
SNACK TIME PREP
I divided our snacks into kid friendly portions by using Ziploc snack bags. I measured according to serving size, filled bags then I piled them into a clear plastic box and left on a shelf in a cupboard the girls can reach.
Next, I set up a shelf in the fridge with squeezable yogurts, carrot sticks, apple slices and drinks they can just grab and go. This alleviates my stress of preparing snacks on demand and gives my girls a bit more independence.
Don’t forget snacks for the car! This is my back up in case I forget to grab the snack bag!
Total prep time = 20 minutes (maybe 30 if you let the kids help). Time saved = 1.5 hours of prepping or chopping snacks on demand while the kids complain they didn’t want “thaaaat snack.”
DINNER TIME PREP
I have collected over a months worth of freezer crock pot meals my family will actually eat. I make my menu for the week, buy all my groceries and return home to assemble into Ziploc bags and freeze.
Total prep time = 1 hour. Total time saved = 6 hours.
My kids will not pick out their clothes the night before and stick to wearing that outfit by morning. By simply adding one more fold line to our shirts and pants I save a whole lot of space AND my kids can see all their options at once. For shirts I use a modified ‘Gap fold’ (it’s a real thing Google it!) and then I fold in half one more time. THAT’S IT!
This saves me the time (and torture) of watching my kids pull out one shirt at a time to get to the one they want.
Total prep time = mere seconds added to folding time. Total time saved = 40 minutes a week!
So, if you like math here are the numbers: Total Prep Time = 1 hour 20 minutes Total Time Saved = 8 hours 30 minutes
Feeling organized and saving hours of stress = PRICELESS!
What are your time saving secrets to keeping your family organized?