Friday, September 28, 2012

INCREDIBLE Whole Wheat Pizza Dough!

You've got to try this pizza dough.  I know you're thinking - whole wheat pizza?!  I've tried it and it's gross.  But I was amazed at this recipe from my sister-in-law Chelise ... so yummy and really fast, which I've got to have if I'm actually going to make dinner :).  HERE'S her blog post if you want to make her toppings for BBQ Chicken and Spinach & Peppers.  Thanks C!!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
  (For 1 pound of dough- about the size of a 12 inch pizza)

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 package quick-rising yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup hot water (120-130 F)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.
  1. Combine the whole-wheat and all-purpose flour, yeast, salt, and sugar.  Mix (using either food processor or hands) until homogeneous.  Combine the hot water and oil in a measuring cup, and slowly add to the dry mixture while kneading.  The dough should be soft and sticky.  Depending on altitude/moisture content of the surrounding air, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of either flour or water to obtain the proper consistency. 
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, coat with a sheet of plastic backed with cooking spray, and let the dough rise for 10 to 20 minutes before rolling.
  3. Roll dough (12-13 inch circle).  Place on pizza stone or baking sheet, and insert into a pre-heated oven at 450 F for 10-14 minutes.  Serve immediately.
This stores in the refrigerator for up to two days- simply allow the dough mixture to rise before putting it into the fridge.  Allow the dough to come to room temperature before rolling. 

Steve's sisters Lizzy & Chelise & his mom

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Preschool Ideas: Letter of the Week

I just enrolled Brayden in a two-day preschool ... because I desperately need more time and I know it will be good for him too!  But, I am doing a little "preschool" for the kids at home just for fun, so I'll be posting some ideas.  The last week or two we've been learning about the letter "B" and the Body.  With my personality and the demanding life with 3 littles under 3 - our "preschool" moments are mostly spontaneous and I'm often winging it.  But maybe this will get your mind going of all the fun things you could do!!

You could do a "Letter Bag" where you quickly walk around the house finding items that start with the letter... so for us the letter B.  Have your children pick items out one by one.

Always Enjoy Food that begins with that letter.  I let Brayden first draw on the banana peal.  Then I gave him a paper plate and plastic knife and let him "dissect" and squish it :).

Sing Songs:  We sang the finger play song (with actions):  "First we pick bananas, pick, pick bananas.  Then we peal bananas, peal, peal bananas.  Then we .... chop, mash, eat, GO bananas (that's where you dance around and act totally silly).  CLICK HERE to watch a video of me doing tons of finger plays.

Magnifying Glass:  my new favorite "toy" I got at a teacher supply store.  They make everything so much more exciting!  We ran outside to look at Bugs under the glass.

CREATE each Letter:  Use whatever you have... pipe cleaners, cooked spaghetti pieces, some glue/paper/and dry beans, paint and alphabet sponges ... to let them "create" the letter.

Library Books:  In the past, we've checked out library books with that letter in the titles.  I currently have a pretty generous fine for having returned books late and for lost items never returned haha!  So I keep putting off going to the library, but whatever, it's a fun idea :)

Maybe even "wear" the letter for part of the day... Bandana or Boots for B, superhero Cape for C, Googles for G, Hat for H, arm Floaties for F :)...

Bulletin Board fun:  I love having a place to post the things we're doing and learning.  Like I had these body posters we "studied."  I have a 3-year-old and 18-month old, so we kept it super simple :).  I said the "esophagus" looks like a pink go-gurt so we then all ate go-gurts and felt it run down out throats with each gulp!  After pointing out the winding intestines, we built a marble run!  We all flexed our muscles and we touched each other's elbows and collar bones to understand bones.... stuff like that.

Fun Activities:
We colored on a giant family picture that I no longer needed to talk about parts of the body.  It would have been better to let them color on it instead of me.  Kids LOVE to see pictures of themselves and Brayden thought his mustache and beard was hilarious.

Do your kids adore lotion like my kids do?  They could go through an entire bottle in one sitting if I let them.  So you could put lotion on various body parts.

I saw this cute idea on where she would hide the magnetic letter each day in a new spot (the fridge, front door, dishwasher, white board, etc).  The game was her little boy got to find it, and then they would review the letter and sound.  Isn't that fun?!

I laid out a roll of paper on the floor (got at teacher supply store) and traced each of their bodies.  They were giggling the whole time and loved that part more than even coloring it!  Ok I just have to say how much I totally love the do-a-dot art markers!  Here's a link to amazon to check it out.

That's all for now!

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Son & The Python

Here we are at our a neighborhood party which was a blast.  And here's Brayden - our fearless little man.  And isn't Hailey the cutest little red head you've ever seen?!   


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Awesome Parenting Podcasts

Oh man.  I need some help.
My great friend Michelle told me about these free parenting podcasts by Sarah Radcliffe called "Raise your kids, not your voice."  I've been super impressed so far and really grateful for her ideas!  CLICK HERE for the link and you can listen to all of them with itunes.  Here's some of her topics:
*Good Feeling Discipline: The CLeaR Method
*Emotions in Parenting: Understanding and Managing Anger
*Good Nights: Resolving Bedtime and Sleep Issues
*Parenting Your Teenager
*Picky Eaters
*Helping Your Child Make Friends
*Helping Your Child Succeed in School
*Building Emotional intelligence
*What You Can and CANNOT Do in Parenting
*From Heart to Heart: Making Sure Your Kids KNOW You Love Them
Helping Your Child's Mood Issues
*Handling Parenting Stress
*Can Marriage Survive Parenting?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

IDEAS for General Conference with Kids

Since General Conference is coming up I wanted to re-post some ideas I shared 6 months ago about making it fun and memorable for kids!  I know many of you aren't members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (General Conference is where our prophets and apostles speak to us), but for those of you who are - I hope this is helpful...

OPEN GIFTS WITH EACH APOSTLE:  Last General Conference, I just cut out pictures of each apostle/prophet from the previous General Conference Ensign issue and attached them each to a gift.  Some were treats, others were fun activities, and many were things we already had around the house.  I bought just a few new fun things.  So, everytime an apostle went up to the pulpit, Brayden got to find the present to open!  It turned out to be really fun!!

ACTIVITY PACKET: Bingo cards, Ties to color and messages to write down according to each apostle, word search, matching, coloring pages.   CLICK HERE for pdf.

MORE BINGO & COLORING PAGES:  I love these!  CLICK HERE to view.

CONFERENCE PANCAKES:  Isn't this a cute idea to make tie pancakes?!  CLICK HERE for my absolute favorite, healthy pancake mix.  I love when Conference weekend is full of family and lots of YUMMY FOOD!  Maybe you could start a family tradition of having some of the same foods each time.

KING BENJAMIN TENT:  We love the tradition of "camping", in backyard or inside the front room :), on the Friday or Saturday night.  You can talk about the story of King Benjamin and how the people listened to the prophet's message in their tents!  ... you could also also make tin foil dinners in the oven, smores in the broiler, have flashlights and stories...

CONFERENCE PENNIES: One mom put together a jar of pennies and a "Conference Store" full of little prizes.  Her daughter got a penny for each key word she heard... like temple, prayer, Christ, love... At the end of each session she got to buy stuff.  Maybe you could have a page with pictures and words so they would know what to listen for!

APOSTLE CARDS WITH FUN FACTS:  CLICK HERE for pictures.  Some moms print and laminate pictures of each of the prophets/apostles with interesting facts on the back.  Here are some sources for the "fun facts": leader biographies (from LDS Newsroom), Personal Stories (from the Friend magazine), or Apostle Cards (from Sugardoodle).

YUMMY WORDS:  Another Mom has bowls of goodies each with a different gospel word.  When the kids hear the word, they get a treat. You could even put a picture of the word too! 

CONFERENCE CINNAMON ROLLS: One mom makes yummy cinnamon rolls as a tradition each Conference weekend.  I got this recipe and idea off 71toes.  CLICK HERE to see her post... I know I've said it before, but I totally love her :)
Here is the recipe:  
2 cubes of butter (1 cup)
2 c. milk
1/2 c. tap-hot water
2 heaping tbs. yeast
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
7 c. flour
1 egg, beaten
brown sugar (for sprinkling on the dough before rolling...I use between 1/4 and a 1/2 cup)
cinnamon (about 2 tsp.)
Dissolve yeast and the warm water, set aside. Melt butter in microwave. Warm milk in microwave. Combine butter and milk. Add the yeast to the milk mixture until well mixed. Add the beaten egg.
Slowly add the remaining ingredients and mix until dough separates from the bowl. Knead the dough for two minutes on low speed. Let the dough rise. Roll out into two rectangles. Butter dough and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins (optional...I don't do raisins).
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Frost with butter-cream frosting:
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar
3-4 tbs. half and half (I just use milk)
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Slowly add half and half (or milk), while beating until you get a smooth, spreadable consistency.

SET UP the "CONFERENCE ROOM": Another mom makes her front room special by moving the couches and coffee table to better point to the T.V. (so this idea is only for those who can access it from home).  She gets it all ready the night before with a big sign, quiet crafts/activities set out, a yummy breakfast planned, and maybe even some decorations.  She says, "They look forward to General Conference almost as much as Christmas. They love waking up Saturday morning to see our family room transformed into a 'Conference Room.'"


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Q & A: How to Show Love to the Hubby

As I receive questions from readers, I'm going to post my answers on the blog.  And the BEST part is you can comment too!  

Q:  Me and my soon to be husband have been together for a year.  He is always asking me if I love him and he says that I have got tired of him, I'm to used to him.... I'm wondering how to show him I love him and to make him believe it and that I'm not tired of him or falling out of love with him. I just want him to feel that I love him. 

A:  This is such an important question!  I've learned so much by thinking about it so thank you for asking.  I think it's 2 things... REDISCOVERING your FRIENDSHIP and SHOWING LOVE in THEIR WAY.  As for the first one, we all have lots of times when we feel the need to re-connect over and over again.  I recently went to one of my best friend's wedding.  You could just see the excitement and twinkle in her eye as she was finally married to her man!  

Going to weddings can bring back a flood of memories from you being newly married/together, or even just from your incredibly fun and exciting dating days.  
As couples begin to experience real life and its struggles, it can be easy to get into a rut.  In one of Dr. John Gottman's marriage books, he says that a "happy couple's secret weapon" is "rediscovering or reinvigorating friendship."  So finding ways to re-connect.  Think about what it was that helped grow you friendship in the beginning... was it great chats, going on walks together, dancing, playing games, serving each other, going on fun dates, laughing together...?  Whatever it was - try to bring it back!

Another thing I've been learning lately is how crucial it is to better understand how your spouse/partner sees love and then to focus on showing love in those ways.  I'm reading a great book called "His Needs, Her Needs" by Dr. Willard Harley.  Harley is a marriage therapist and professor who revolutionized the success of marriage therapy through his book.  He explains that typically spouses waste lots of time and energy trying to show love according to their own personal needs. Through all of his clinical experience, he learned that the bottom line is "marital breakups occur when one or both partners lack the skills or awareness to meet each other's needs."  And after a ton of research, he discovered the 10 top needs of married people and interestingly, the things that women rate as most important, men commonly rate as least important, and vice versa.  The typical top 5 for men and the top 5 for women are completely different - with not one the same!  So you see how it can be easy for husbands and wives to misunderstand each other's needs and ways they see love.  Here's Dr. Harley's list... and he emphasizes that although these are the typical responses of men and women, each person is unique and may rate their needs differently.  So the KEY is to understand what is most important to your spouse and then to focus on meeting those needs.  Ideally he would be doing the same for you :).

If you want to understand these concepts more, check out the book.  I don't agree or feel comfortable with everything he says, but I think he has some interesting and important points!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Family Pictures!!

Catch Up

My mom ... that is...  my saving grace just left this morning from a 10-day visit and oh how I'm mourning the absence of her help and company!  We have had so much fun so that's why I haven't been blogging lately... well having 3 kids 3 and under is a good enough excuse for not having time to blog... but alas, here's a "catch up" post of all we've been up to.

Yes my mom and I got to see the Broadway "Wicked" in Salt Lake and it was absolutely A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!

 My mother-in-law took Brayden to swim lessons!  Thank you Mom!  And Brayden felt really proud of himself - see picture below.

Steve got to repel down Mystery Canyon and Pinecreek in Zion National Park with his brother and sis!

My mom and I went to lots of kids' MUSEUMS which were fantastic.  But other than that, keeping up with these two kept us pretty busy :)...

Brayden and Hailey are at a stage right now where they can be super cute together but they also can be a total handful!  But I ADORE how continually sweet they are to little Penny...

We also had Penny's baby blessing this Sunday!  Here's my mom with the little girl.  For those of you who aren't Mormon - that's where fathers place their hands on their new baby's head and give a beautiful blessing announcing their name and pronouncing blessings for their life.  More pictures of that day to come.  Miss you Momma!!