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Meaningful Questions to Ask at the Dinnertable

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I don’t know how things go in your family, but in ours between homework, ministries, meetings, guitar lessons, coffee dates, soccer games and just plain old everyday commitments, it can be stinkin’ hard to connect as a family. When Sam and I were first married we lived on his family farm which meant our lives and meal schedule revolved around the milking schedule. This meant that often times we weren’t eating dinner until nine o’clock and beyond. During this time we got into the nasty habit of eating in front of the TV before crawing into bed. This habit carried into the early years of raising our girls as well when it sounded so much nicer to eat and veg out once my two hooligans were tucked safely into bed and I could just relax. As they have gotten older, though, we realized we were missing valuable time to connect with our kids, sometimes the only time we actually got. We still some weeks only eat together as a family four or five nights out of seven, but that time is still vital for us to be connected in each other’s worlds. When we first started eating as a family I found myself often scolding the girls for fooling around or interrupting while their dad and I were trying to have a conversation, one that often excluded them and was above their comprehension. This was no good.

I searched Pinterest (ever the helpful resource) and find this idea of just adding each other questions during dinner.  I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try.  Two years ago I jotted down some questions and threw them in a jar. They ranged from “if you could be a dog for a day, what would you do?” To “if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?” These questions are great because they help us to dream together and be imaginative. As they have gotten older, though, every once in awhile I will throw in a new one that is more meaningful. I’ve been amazed to hear the answers the girls can come up with. These questions help them think and grow, but they’ve also challenged me as well! So here are a few examples:

1.Who is someone you can encourage tomorrow and how can you do that?

2. Name three things you are thankful for.

3. Name something you love about the person on your left.

4. What is something God has been teaching you.

5. Who is someone we can be praying for?

6. Who is someone you can talk to about Jesus this week?

7. What is something you can rejoice in today?

Then, of course, there are the sillier ones like this:

1. If you could be a zookeeper for the day, what would that look like?

2. Tell us about an embarrassing moment.

3. If you could have anything to eat right now, what would it be?

4. If you could be a polar bear for the day, what would you do?

5. If you could be anything, what would you be and why? (Nora told us one time she’d like to be a unicorn in a uniform, my favorite answer ever!).

Those are just a few of ours. What about you? What questions would you ask? What do you do to connect as a family?? I’d love to know on the comments!:)

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Mini Quiches and Monkey Bread

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It’s another snow day! With sub zero temperatures and three girls with serious cabin fever, we are huddled inside and declared a pajama day. Baking just felt like the right thing to do.

I’ve been trying to teach the girls how to bake and cook a little bit and days like today are the perfect opportunity for teaching and bonding….. And eating.:)

I will never forget my first home ec class in seventh grade. We made monkey bread. To this day, I remember how to make it without cracking a recipe book. So yummy and perfect for a day like today. I altered it a bit because nothing I make every tastes the same way twice because I don’t use measurements.

The mini quiches were also just thrown together, but super easy and delicious. With both recipes, the girls were able to help a lot. They whipped eggs, cut butter, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar and ripped up spinach. And they taste tested, of course.

Without further ado:

Mini quiches

3 eggs

1/4 cup milk

Chopped spinach and tomatoes

Shredded cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375f. Spray mini muffin pan with oil. In small bowl whip together ingredients and then pour evenly into pans. Bake in oven for ten to twelve minutes until they are poofy and cooked through.

Monkey bread

1 can biscuits

1 cup sugar

Cinnamon

1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350f. Grease the bottom of a round baking pan. Rip up biscuits into small round balls and place in bottom of pan. Cut butter and place on top of biscuits. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and no longer doughy.

Finally, eat and keep warm!

I’d love to hear your snow day activities!

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DIY Recipe Book

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I cook much like my mom.  She was always an awesome cook. She had the magical way of opening her cupboards, seeing what she had, and throwing together something delicious with nothing more than a can of vegetables, a hot dog and a potato. It was amazing. I somehow inherited her knack for cooking this way. The downside to this, is many times we have sat down and oohed and awed over something divinely delicious (more when my mom is cooking than me) and have no idea how it turned out. I have asked her for recipes  before but she can’t really duplicate it more than saying, “You know…it’s a little bit of this, a dash of that….”

I don’t know how impressed my kids are really with my cooking, but I hope someday they will want to duplicate something I make  because it tastes like home and comfort to them. My girls are always eager to help in the kitchen (which, as any mom or dad knows isn’t always the most helpful thing) but instead of shooing them out, I decided to start giving them “cooking lessons”. We strap on our aprons, put on our imagination caps, sometimes we talk with an accent, and pretend that the girls are in my cooking class at some fine culinary institute and I teach them. I let them help me measure things out and stir things up.  It doesn’t really ever go as smoothly as all that and we are being candid here, but more often than not it’s fun and a good way to connect with them and teach them something valuable at the same time. 

During this little experiment, it has also helped me to realize the value of measurements. I usually just throw a dash of this and a spot of that into the pot, but when they are helping, I rely on measurements so they aren’t dumping six cups of baking soda into something when only a half a teaspoon is necessary. Hence this idea came to me!

When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me this recipe book for kids and I still treasure it as one of my favorite gifts ever. I still use it for the yummy coffee cake recipe in it.  I figured my girls, too, might appreciate one of their own but with family recipes in it that are of my own variation or ones that my mother or grandmother or aunt would concoct.

So, we went to the Dollar Tree and got these little journals that I used for this father’s day project.

The girls asked me to draw pictures of them on the front as chefs, which I did with Sharpies then let them color them in and decorate as they preferred. 

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Then, we wrote our first recipe in the book, homemade spaghetti sauce. They drew a picture of spaghetti on the opposite page. And we cooked.

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I’m all about starting new traditions with my kids! Hopefully this will be one that sticks. What are some fond traditions you have with your mom?