December 9, 2013
It’s fun to plan and ponder about the topic of gift -giving with our kids. I encourage you to have some good table time conversation about gifts and what it means to give. It’s important for our kids to understand that when we truly give, it costs us something – although that cost may not always be in monetary terms. We can give someone the gift of time or of helping around the house. It’s fun to think of gifts that don’t cost money, but are done in love and demand a bit of sacrifice. Together as a family, make a list of five things you can give during the holidays that bless other people yet don’t cost a dime. Here’s the list I came up with:
1. A Smile – Everyone carries around too many frowns of their own to be bothered by yours.
2. Forgiveness – Give your family and friends the gift of ending all bitterness and resentment.
3. Encouragement – Offer sincere and specific words that lift up others. Everyone needs a good word.
4. Helping Hand – Lighten someone else’s load and your spirits will be lifted as well.
5. Listening ear – Put away the distractions and truly listen to the people around you. Listen to their hearts, look into their eyes and let them know you care.
December 4, 2013
Welcome to December! How did the holidays come upon us so quickly? I hope you are enjoying this time of the year. I want to share a few of our family Christmas traditions which created delightful memories for us during the Holidays. I’d love for you to email me and share your favorite ideas at Karol@karolladd.com. Remember to make every memory with love. Allow Christ’s love to flow through you and bless your family and friends. Consider adding the following to your Holiday traditions:
Caroling – Whether it’s in your neighborhood or at a local nursing home, you can give the gift of Christmas joy to others by organizing a group of carolers. Consider inviting neighborhood or church kids over for a Caroling party. Serve hot chocolate and cookies while you practice a few carols together, then venture out and bless others with your singing. In our neighborhood, we gathered kids together with one mom who could play the guitar. We journeyed to each house on our street. The joy that we brought our neighbors gave us each a blessing as well. Not to mention the fact that we all grew closer to one another as we sang together.
Gingerbread House – Graham crackers, cake icing, candy canes and gum drops is all you need to create an afternoon full of fun and a memorable activity. We buy the kits that have all of the essentials in one box. Making a gingerbread house offers you a blessed family time together and the opportunity to use your creative energy. You may even consider having a contest with another family or within yours. Be sure to take a picture so you can look back over the years of houses and memories.
Theme Trees – Each year we decorate a small tree in our kitchen with a new and unique theme. As a family we begin thinking about the theme in early November and collecting items here and there for the tree. One year during the Beanie Baby craze we had a Beanie Baby tree filled with the beanie toys of all sizes and colored lights. One year we did an American Tree, another year a Cowboy Christmas. There was a New York tree (after a Thanksgiving trip to New York) and a candy cane tree and an angel theme one year. We have fun preparing and decorating, and our guests always enjoy seeing what we do each year.
Christmas Eve Chili and Tamales – Every Christmas eve we open our doors to family and friends after the Christmas Eve church service. We serve tamales and chili and enjoy warm fellowship. It’s easy to do and we never know who we will have. I’m not sure why this has become a tradition except that it is nice to have a southwest meal before the traditional turkey dinner. We always serve Chili Con Carne (chili with meat). Once I heard a pastor say that Chili Con Carne on Christmas Eve reminds us of God Con Carne (God with flesh), Jesus.
You can find these ideas and more in my book, A Positive Plan for Creating More Fun Less Whining (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
November 26, 2013
As moms, we have the opportunity to encourage intentional thankfulness with our kids. How can we help them to be grateful and not grumblers? One important aspect to being grateful is making thankfulness a habit in our lives, whether we are going through good times or difficult ones. Start the habit of counting your blessings each day this week. Encourage your kids to think of at least three things they are grateful for each day. Put a journal in a central place in the house for your kids to record their blessings, or make a sign or poster for the kitchen and have everyone write down at least one blessing every day.
Teach your kids that they can even be grateful for challenges because God uses the difficulties to help us grow stronger and more mature in our faith (James 1:2-5). We can always thank God that He will never leave us and that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:34-39). Most importantly we can thank God every day for Christ, who paid the penalty for our sins. There are so many daily blessings that we experience, but we have to take the time to observe them and give thanks to God.
Decide on a time each day when you will take a moment with your kids to offer thanks for your blessings. It may be at breakfast, it could be as you put them to bed or over the dinner table. The point is to make thankfulness become an intentional habit in your daily routine. It takes so little time, but it changes your perspective on life. Let’s be honest, a grateful child is a lot easier to be around than a grumbling, ungrateful, always-gotta-have-more child.
Teach gratitude. Plant the seeds of thankfulness and watch them grow in your kid’s hearts. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.
November 18, 2013
As we encourage the “attitude of gratitude” during this month, let’s celebrate time together as a family. Here are some activities for you to do with your kids this week as you prepare for the Thanksgiving table. Laughing and enjoying each other’s company is a way to build happy memories. Talk often about the things you are thankful for as you spend time cooking and doing crafts together. Here are a few of my simple favorites:
Wax Paper leaves – On a family walk or nature scavenger hunt, collect beautifully-colored fallen leaves and acorns. You may want to take several walks through out the week to build a wonderful collection. Use some of the leaves and acorns to decorate your kitchen table. Place your favorite leaves in between large squares of wax paper. Place the wax paper between two hand towels and iron (med to hot temp) them so the wax melts together and encloses the leaves. Cut out construction paper frames to surround the pictures. Decorate a kitchen window with your new creations.
Roasted Pumpkin seeds – Pumpkins are certainly plentiful around the end of October. I usually purchase a few for fall decorations around our house, then at some point we gut out the goop. This is a fun goopy, messy activity to do together outside with the pumpkins on newspapers. Once you have carefully cut open the pumpkin (and put the knife safely away) allow your kids to help you scoop out the seeds with their hands and place the seeds and gunk in a colander. Rinse and dry the pumpkin seeds. Sauté in butter. Add seasonings to taste. Place the seeds on a cookie sheet with sides and roast on low broil for several minutes on each side.
Orange Turkeys: You will need an orange for each child, plus toothpicks, gum drops and construction paper. Create the beautiful fan of a turkey’s tail by skewering a variety of colors of gum drops on five or six tooth picks. Stick the tooth picks in a row on the orange and this becomes the turkey’s tail. You can make a head with a beard using construction paper. Glue the head to a toothpick and insert it at the opposite end from the tail. Finally, use three toothpicks in the bottom of the orange to make the turkey stand on its own. Decorate your Thanksgiving table with your creations.
Cinnamon Pumpkin Cake
4 eggs 1tsp. cinnamon
1 cup oil 1 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups sugar ½ tsp. baking powder
1 cup Water 2 tsp. soda
31/2 cups flour 16 oz. can of pumpkin pie filling
Mix eggs, oil, sugar and water. Mix dry ingredients and gradually add to the egg mixture. After mixing well, add pumpkin and continue mixing. Spray a bundt pan or tube pane with non-stick spray. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Allow to completely cool and remove from pan.
Corn Spoon Bread (Ladd family favorite)
1 stick butter (or margarine)
1 pkg Jiffy Cornbread
8 oz. sour cream
1 16 oz can kernel corn, drained.
Melt butter. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Pour into 8 by 8 baking dish. Bake at 350 30 – 40 minutes until set and lightly browned on top.
Pecan Crusted Chicken
4 chicken breasts halves, skinned and boned
½ cup honey Dijon salad dressing
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Flatten each piece of chicken by placing it between wax paper and beating it or rolling it to about ¼ inch thickness. Spread dressing on both sides of chicken, and dredge chicken in chopped pecans. Place chicken in lightly greased shallow baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until tender. 4 servings.
November 11, 2013
Grateful Moms – Grateful Kids
Who wouldn’t want a grateful child as opposed to a grumbler? As we consider building gratitude into the lives of our kids, we must first examine our own lives. Are we demonstrating the attitude of gratitude in our daily routines? As moms, we certainly have enough reasons to grumble! Kids fighting, not doing their chores or picking up after themselves can really get on our nerves. Our own responsibilities can wear us down as well, between errands and laundry and cooking and cleaning – yes, there is no shortage of opportunities to complain.
Gratitude is a choice, just as much as complaining is a choice. It takes a hard deliberate effort to choose to focus on the good rather than revel and whine about the bad. Our kids pick up on our example, so let’s begin with our own hearts. If we want grateful kids, we must first be grateful moms. Let us guard our mouths, but more importantly, guard our hearts. Do not let the root of bitterness or anger spring up in your heart causing you to be a grumbler.
One active way you can combat complaining is to intentionally give thanks to the Lord every single day. Start a little notebook and write down five things you are thankful for and make it a daily habit. You will soon find that you have far more than five things to write down. Begin thanking the Lord for some of the frustrations or difficulties in your life too. It’s a little more difficult, but trust me, you can always find something to be thankful for even in the midst of challenges. Thank the Lord every day for something about your husband, as well. Live with gratitude, and you will begin to see it spread within your home.
It begins with you! Grateful moms produce grateful kids.