How to Tell Your 10-Year-Old Santa Isn’t Bringing the Cell phone He or She Asked For

As soon as I post this, I am off to the mall to finish my holiday shopping.  It will be a leaner Christmas for the Schafer’s, but mostly because I bought myself a $1,000 emergency root canal last week. I can’t blame the economy on that.  I did share my thoughts on how to handle the money crisis and the upcoming holiday with children in yesterday’s Globe and Mail.  You can read it here if you’d like more information on the how to have the “money talk.”  (Gee, and we thought talking about sex was difficult!)

Frankly, I am happy to do some consumer downsizing and spend more of my energies on the other traditions that surround this season.  Here is some of what our family does:

  • I have bought each of my children a goat to give to another family through Free The Children. This is an organization my daughter is involved with, and a goat is a really tangible thing that they were thrilled to “get” for these other children.  (Yeah, I already told them. Couldn’t wait till the 25th!)
  • Last year I asked my daughter to give something to the families in Darfur (South Sudan) as her gift to me. That meant she had to do some research, and she was really moved but what she learned.  It was a gift to us both, really.  She was really proud to have sent her own money to their aid.
  • Every year my husband and I ask our children for something they have made themselves.They are 13 and 14 years old now, but I still keep this tradition going. Last year, I got a wonderful scrapbook that my daughter compiled called, “The 100 things I love about you.”  The year before, I received a tin box with a glass front, and inside the tin was a note that said, “We blew 100 kisses each into this box for you,” so I could have a kiss any time I needed one.

Be creative yourself in your quest to have the best holiday ever with your family.  If you really want those presents under the tree, see if Christmas lasagna could become a new tradition!  I think I spend more at the grocery store than the mall anyway.

However you go about it, remember that all of our stresses are in fact self-inflicted miseries.  I refuse to indulge myself that way. You always have the ability to control your attitude, regardless of how dire the situation.  Enjoy your family. That is all that matters.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

 

Two Key Messages for a Good Start to 2015

I usually write about parenting because I spend a lot of time doing it. With six crazy kids, parenting is a full-time job. But, like most busy moms there are other things going on in my life and I try to keep positive in those areas as well. My perspective is the only thing I can control and it has been my best survival tool.

I thought I’d share a couple of quick “non-parenting” messages that are important to me. If you embrace these simple ideas for 2015, I think you’ll be happy you did.

1)      Be a good friend. On top of sharing great times together and being supportive, I believe the number one thing to practice in your friendships is one of my favourite friendship quotes:

2)      Try not to care what people think. I know it’s hard, but I try to be a lion every day. I put myself out there, and sometimes I cop criticism or get visits from “trolls” about my ideas or opinions. I remind myself that I’m the best qualified to live my life the way I want and raise my family according to what I think is best. People who judge from afar are the sheep. Roar loudly and ignore all the “baa-ing” in the background.

Are you facing the New Year with any key messages you hope to carry with you throughout 2015?

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Holiday Leftovers

When all is said and done, after those big holiday meals you are left with a fridge full of bits and pieces that will either bore you to death or set you up for quick second suppers.  Here are a few ideas of what to do with the leftovers.

Leftover Sweet Potato or Mashed Potatoes

There are many ways to use these starches again. Here are three including one of my relatively healthy recipes for a sweet potato topping that can be used for biscuits or in sweet potato pie.

  1. Thin mashed potatoes with broth and use as a base for soup.  Mix any cooked vegetables in and blend with an immersion blender or in a regular blender once cooled.
  2. Add sweet potatoes to pancake mix and stir in cinnamon. Pan fry and top with cooked apples or applesauce.
  3. Use in biscuits or as a pot pie topping (see recipe below)

Sweet Potato Biscuit Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon honey

2 cup baked, mashed sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen

Combine flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a separate large bowl, mix together milk, honey and mashed sweet potato until evenly combined.

Grate frozen butter through the large holes of a box grater and toss with dry ingredients until butter is coated. Add milk mixture and mix lightly until dough comes together.

Turn out mixture onto a floured surface and knead just until it comes together. (The dough will not be smooth.)

Divide into two circles and use a floured rolling pin to roll dough to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Place dough on top of meat pie mixture and freeze immediately. Once solid, wrap in plastic and a layer of foil.  Stores well in freezer for up to 2 months.

To bake: Place directly from freezer into a 375F oven uncovered for about 1.5- 2 hours depending upon the depth of the pie plate.

Cooked Chicken Recipe Ideas or Turkey Leftovers Tips

Of course you can make sandwiches or turkey soup but here are a couple more ideas for your pantry.

  1. Mash meat in a mini-chopper along with feta cheese, garlic and oregano. Spread on bread and bake to warm through or serve cold.
  2. Gather shredded lettuce, peppers, fresh herbs and pull meat into small pieces. Add boiled water to a large bowl and dip rice paper wraps in to soften. Roll veggies and meat into spring rolls and serve with peanut dipping sauce.

Leftover Greens

Most people throw away cooked broccoli or green beans thinking they will be too mushy to reuse. Here are some tips so those veggies won’t go to waste!

  1. Toss in a small amount of extra olive oil and spread onto a cookie sheet. Roast until crispy and top with sea salt.
  2. Use to top pizza.
  3. Mash or chop into Greek Yogurt with hot mustard and dry dill to serve as a dip.

Never ever throw away leftovers, they really are mother’s little helpers!

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

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