How to Avoid Sibling Rivalry

I am the mother of three great kids. It amazes me how when I am with each one individually they are so different than when the other children are with us. Sometimes it seems that I am dealing with three little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s. The problem is they are all wanting my attention and my attention gets stretched out as much as possible, but at times it still isn’t enough to go around.

I began to try to figure out ways to help fight back against sibling rivalry in our house. Here are a few tips that I have found extremely helpful!

Comparisons
Let me start off by saying that “never” is not a word that I use lightly. So when I tell you this tip, please realize how serious it is. Never compare your children to one another. This is so easy to do and not realize that you are even comparing them. Think back to the last time you told your kids to clean their rooms. One child got the job done quickly, and the other child took much longer. When you check in on the slower child, what did you say? Did you say something along the lines of, “I am so glad that you are taking your time and getting the job done the right way.” Or did your statement sound more like this, “Why is this not finished yet? Your sister/brother finished her/his room over an hour ago!” If you said something similar to the second statement, then you were comparing your kids. Even if you are the perfect parent, your children are going to compete against one another. That is inevitable, however, the better we can get at not comparing our children to one another, the less the children will feel the need to be better than the other. The best thing to remember is that each child is different and one child may be better at one task than the other, but that other child is going to be great at another task. Recognize these differences, and acknowledge that your child is doing their best at each task, or push them to strive for their best no matter what the task is! All you want is that child’s personal best, which may not necessarily be the same as your other child.

Falling into this same category, is playing favorites. This can not help any sibling rivalry situation. The only thing that playing favorites will do is make things much worse! Beware of favoring a certain child over another. Your children do notice it no matter what age they are, ad chances are they will not forget it.

Cooperate, don’t compete
Let’s use dinner as an example for this tip. I know I have children who like to dawdle at the dinner table. Instead of having the children try to beat each other to finish first, set a timer. The children can each try to beat the clock and finish eating their dinner before the time is up. This way they are not competing against each other. This works the same for picking up toys, books or clearing the table. Whatever the chore or task, this timer trick will work. Not only does it keep the children from competing, but it also helps them to cooperate with each other on many occasions. An added bonus with the timer trick, it turns just about anything into a fun activity. Cooperation works when it comes to fun projects too, not just the difficult stuff. If you are having the children make something for a holiday gift, have them all cooperate to make one gift instead of having each of them make their own gift. This way each child can use his or her own strengths and not feel like someone else did a better job.

Routine
If you find that your children are arguing at the same time each day, then it may be a time to change your daily routine. Something as simple as moving dinner up by half an hour can make a huge difference in the way your children react to one another. Making sure that you have a set schedule for your day makes children feel secure because they know when to expect meals, bath, bed, and any other activities that your family does on a daily basis.

Attention
The main reason that siblings bicker is because they want the attention of the parents. It does not matter what kind of attention they get, as long as they are getting attention. To a child, any attention is better than no attention. So a child will get attention any way that they can. Sometimes children will achieve the attention they crave in positive ways, other times in negative ways. You need to teach your children that negative attention is not the appropriate way to gain time with you as a parent. Negative actions will have negative consequences. The same must happen for positive actions, reward those with a positive reenforcement. There are always going to be circumstances when negative actions will happen. No child is perfect, and they will do bad things. This is one of the many ways that a child learns. It is our job as parents to help guide them toward making more positive choices rather than negative choices.

Family Time
An easy way to fight back against sibling rivalry is to show your children how much fun you can all have together as a family. Family time is a blast for everyone. Decide on a weekly or monthly activity that you all can enjoy as a family. It could be a ball game, a day at the park, a trip to the zoo or museum, a movie, or even a game night. See my other articles to find great ways to enjoy family time together.

Time & Space
Children need to have individual time to themselves or with a parent. Having time alone to do what they want without a sibling joining in or tagging along can change a child’s attitude around completely. I know that I need time to myself on occasion and this can be important for children as well. Each child should have their own time in their own space and not be interrupted during this time. Also, time just you and each child on an individual basis is just as important. Sometimes children are more willing to open up and discuss situations that are troubling them or even things that they are proud of if it is only you and your child. They need to have solo time with each parent so they have time to connect with each of you and feel important to each of you.

Even if you follow each of these tips, arguments will happen between siblings. The best thing to do in this situation is to sit and talk with your children about the best ways to handle conflict. This varies from one family to the next. Some families prefer children to work things out on their own, other parents want to be involved in the solutions. It all depends on which way works best for your family.

Even with sibling rivalry, my life would not be the same if I didn’t have my sister, and your children’s lives would not be without their siblings. I can’t imagine growing up all alone, without my sister. Life just would have been missing something! Arguments or not, siblings are something to be treasured and loved. Remind your kids of that when conflicts do arise. One day they will appreciate these life lessons that they were able to learn early on thanks to their siblings!

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4th of July Sweets

The 4th of July is just around the corner! You will surely want to have a patriotic dessert at your table! Here are a few options that are sure to be favorites at any patriotic gathering!

Flag Cake
This is a simple yet beautiful addition to the dessert table! All you have to do is make your favorite cake recipe in a sheet pan. Then use a white icing to frost the cake. After this is done, you are ready to decorate the cake. All you need is strawberries that have been cleaned and sliced in half and blueberries. Take the blueberries and place them in the top left corner of the cake. Put them in the shape of the ‘star’ section of the American Flag. Then use the strawberries to make the red stripes. This is an absolutely spectacular looking cake, plus it is delicious!

Berry Topped Cupcakes and other Berry Topped Desserts
This recipe works similar to the cake above, however, you can’t really make flags on top of cup cakes. However, you can make a pretty design using the same fruits. It gives a similar effect to the flag cake, and is just as delicious! You can also make a dessert pizza using sugar cookies as the crust, icing for your ‘sauce’ and red and blue berries for your toppings. You could even top a pie in this way. I like to make a blue colored white cake mix and frost it with white icing then top with strawberries. Delish!

All American
This dessert may not look patriotic, but it is the undisputed all American dessert! Apple Pie is not red, white, or blue but it is a perfect choice for any American themed party! There are tons of wonderful apple pie recipes out there. Check your cook books, or your favorite recipe site to find whichever one looks the best to you!

Another all American dessert is the banana split! We have a wonderful recipe in our family called a banana split cake! You simply make a layered sheet cake using a graham cracker crust, a cream filling made from butter, egg, and powdered sugar, sliced bananas, drained crushed pineapple, cool whip for the icing, and top with pecans and cherries. This ends up tasting just like a banana split and is always a big hit!

Stripes
Stripes are a large part of any American decor. Therefore striped desserts make a big impact at your 4th of July party! You can make striped cakes by coloring white cake mix with food coloring and then stacking as normal. You can turn a pie into a striped sensation using jello, pudding, or fruits. You can even buy rocket pops, or if you are even more adventurous you could make your own striped Popsicles!

Stars
Just like stripes make an impact, stars have the same effect! My favorite thing to make that is star shaped are sugar cookies. However, don’t just make plain star shaped cookies, dazzle your guests with sandwich star cookies. I make two different star shaped cookies: one with a star shaped hole in the center of the star, and one without a hole in the center. After I bake the cookies, I stack the cookies and put strawberry jam and blueberry jam in between the layers. This creates red and blue filled stars! They are beautiful and delicious! They do not take that long to make, but it will look like you purchased them at a fancy bakery!

Fireworks
What is a 4th of July party without fireworks? It is just a summer gathering, that’s what! So why not bring fireworks to your dessert table with desserts that resemble the bright and beautiful light show! An easy way to achieve this look is to dye coconut and top your cake or cupcakes with the colored coconut. Dying coconut is a simple procedure. Place the coconut into a zip lock bag with a few drops of food coloring, then shake the coconut around until the desired color is reached. You can add additional drops of food coloring if needed. Then top your frosted cake or cupcakes with the beautiful colors and you have a gorgeous and yummy firework dessert ready for everyone to eat!

No matter which dessert you choose for your patriotic party stick with the American theme and it is sure to be a winner! Enjoy your delicious desserts and have a Happy 4th of July!

10 Great Games for Family Game Night

For the past few years, my family of 5 have had a weekly family night. I am sure we had family nights before this, but it was not necessarily a weekly occasion. This family night has become something that our children look forward to each week. We chose Friday as our night for family night. It seemed to work best for us and our schedules.

Since starting our family night, we have done a variety of things to enjoy this family time. Our favorite thing to do by far is play games! Playing games together is such a wonderful experience. It is a great time to teach your children about life, and a great time for you to learn from them as well. Here are some of our favorites.

Yahtzee
The game of Yahtzee has been around since 1956. It is a classic dice game. The object of the game is to get as many points as possible by rolling 5 dice into certain combinations. Some of these combinations are 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, full house, straights, and Yahtzee (also known as 5 of a kind). There is also another way to earn points with the dice, by rolling as many of each number at a time as possible. If you were to roll four ones, you would choose whether or not to count that as 4 of a kind, or as your score for your ones. The game is over once all of the score boxes are filled. If you do not roll a certain combination then you take a 0 for that score box. This game is by far our families favorite game to play on family night. The kids learn about numbers, counting, and winning and losing. They have a blast rolling the dice. Even our youngest enjoys the game! Amazingly, she wins most times that we play. It must be beginners luck!

Uno
This card game was introduced in 1971. You must have a special deck of cards in order to play. The deck has 4 different colors and special cards. The object of the game is simple, be the first one to use all of your cards! Just don’t forget to say “uno” when you only have one card left, or else you will have to draw two cards. This game is a great game for all ages. My almost 4 year old can play with only a little bit of help. This game can be long, so make sure you are prepared for that. last time we played I was hoping for an early night and we played Uno for several hours. It was a blast the whole time though!

Life
That is the game, of course! This game was first on the market in 1860, however was revamped to the version we all know today in 1960. This was one of my favorites when I was a child. You get in your car and literally move your way through life. You go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, the whole nine yards! It is so much fun to play with your children even when they are small. They giggle and laugh about all of the different things that The Game of Life throws their way.

Pictionary
This team play game is a blast for those families out there with artistic ability, or even families without it! Your team has to guess what you are drawing. This can be much more difficult than you would think!

Scattergories
This game is best for families with older children. The rules say it is for ages 12 and up. This is a fast paced game where you must think of items in certain categories that all start with the same letter. It seems easy, but it is actually rather difficult at times. It is so funny to hear what each team comes up with each round. I have played this game and laughed so hard I was crying. It truly is a blast for any family to play!

Charades
To play this game, you do not need to buy a special deck of cards, or even a board or dice. It is all about your own creative imagination and how well you can act out your thoughts. This is also a better game for older children. I have tried to play it with my younger ones and it seems to just frustrate them more than they enjoy it. This is another game that will have you all laughing until your sides hurt.

Battleship
I know, this seems like it is not a family game. It is originally meant for only two people. However, my family of 5 loves playing this together. We will get into teams and play against each other. The teams decide together where to place the ships and where to hit next. It really is a great game to play as a team. the game doesn’t take that long to play either so you could even play more than one round if you wanted!

Twister
This is one for everyone to get up and get moving with! It is a mat with different colors and you have to contort your body in order to put your hands and feet on the right colors without falling. The last one standing wins. Of course, many times this winds up in a big pile up which is just as much fun as winning! This also should be played with players that are all about the same size. If there is an adult falling onto a smaller child, someone could be hurt.

Sorry
The game is called “The game of sweet revenge”, it is family night need I say more? What family member won’t enjoy sabotaging another family member’s game? It is just a blast to play this tricky board game!

Jenga
A tower of toppling blocks make for a very tense time! Each player takes turns pulling out a block from the tower. as long as the tower doesn’t fall the game is still on. You make the tower fall and you lose. This game is great, because each time you play there is only one loser, so everyone else wins. Plus the game does not take a long time to play, so several rounds can be played in the same night.

No matter what game you play, whether it is one of the games I mentioned above, or some other game that your family enjoys, Family Game Night is the perfect way to spend time together as a family!

Product Review: Play Wonder Play Kitchen

My daughter loves to help out in the kitchen. It is one of her favorite things to do. It doesn’t matter if I am making breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack she wants to be in the kitchen helping me. Since she has so much fun helping me in the real kitchen, we felt like a toy kitchen would be a great choice for her birthday gift.

I began my search on-line. I looked at several different toy store websites to see what I would find. Many of the toy kitchens that I found were made from plastic and looked somewhat like a real kitchen. I wanted a kitchen that would be more durable and that my children would be able to play with for a long time. For some reason a plastic kitchen just did not seem to be that toy to me. I began searching for wooden kitchens. I found several of these, however they all were so expensive. Plus many of them came in several pieces that had to be purchased individually, and each individual piece came with a large price on the tag. As with many families, we don’t have a money tree in our back yard waiting for us. We wanted to buy a kitchen, but we also had to be mindful of our wallet.

Then one day on a trip to Target I saw it. An adorable wooden blue kitchen set. My daughter happened to be with me and she immediately ran over to the display toy and started playing. I was afraid to look at the cost of the set, but I looked anyways. $59.99. What? Could this be too good to be true? My daughter wanted to take the kitchen home right then, but i told her that she would have to ask for it for her birthday and wait to see if she got it or not. I decided to do some more research on-line. I looked at the reviews on the Target website and the only complaint seemed to be that it was a bit difficult to assemble. I figured my husband and I could figure that out and that it would be well worth the extra effort to assemble the kitchen.

We bought the kitchen for her birthday and put it together ourselves. It took us a few hours to get the kitchen together, our 5 year old son even helped. Before we could get the kitchen put together our daughter was already playing with the accessories that came along with it. The following accessories are all included with this set: kitchen sink, frying pan, cookie sheet, rubber scraper, wooden spoon, spatula, whisk, cutting board, and hanging rack. The set is a combination of a stove, oven, refrigerator, sink, and cutting board area. The stove has two burners. The refrigerator has a door with a handle and two shelves to store all of your play food. The oven has a see through door and two shelves for baking.

We have now had this toy for almost a year and it has held up perfectly. We have never had to put anything back together or worry about any pieces being broken. The only issue that we have had to deal with has been the rubber end coming off of the spatula. We just put it back on and the kids continue to play. There are also tons of accessories to go along with this kitchen. All are sold at Target in stores and on the stores web site.

All in all for the amount of money you pay for this set you are getting amazing quality. My family members were floored that I only had to spend $60 on this kitchen set. It looks like it is a much more expensive kitchen set. This toy will spark your child’s imagination over and over again. You will never know what he or she is cooking up next. My kids are always playing restaurant and family with the kitchen. The set really allows their imaginations to take them away to their own little world. That world sure is a fun place!

5 Must Do Tips For a Pirate Birthday Party

I have written several articles with tips for children’s birthday parties. With this article instead of doing a step by step guide, I decided to take a different approach. If you are looking for a step by step guide, please see my other birthday party articles.

This article will have several tips for making your pirate birthday party a huge success. My son’s pirate birthday party was a blast for all in attendance, not just the children.

Tip #1 – Give everyone at the party Pirate names! This is just too much fun! You can do a search for Pirate Name Generator and come up with several sites that have this silly feature. All you need to make this work is a list of everyone coming to your party, and a box of name tags. We got our name tags ready the night before the party. As soon as guests arrive give them their new pirate name tag and watch the fun begin! We all were having a blast checking out each other’s pirate names and laughing at how funny they were. If you don’t like the names generated by the first site that you go to, then try another one. They all come up with different ones, so try a few out until you find the one you like the best!

Tip #2 – Get creative with the cake! As popular as Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies have become you are sure to find a pirate cake at your local bakery. However, I suggest getting more creative with your cake choice. You can go to a cake decorator store and purchase a pirate shape cake pan. You could make a sheet cake and decorate it like a pirates flag with a skull and cross bones. you could also decorate a sheet cake like a beach with treasure on it, or like a treasure map! You could also use a loaf pan to make a cake and turn it into a treasure chest! Plus one of the coolest cakes I have seen is shaped like a pirate ship. Amazingly, it is very simple to pull off too. Just make 2 standard round cakes, cut them in half to form 4 half circles. Then put the circles on their sides, round side down. You will have to trim the bottom of the curve to keep the cakes from rolling around. Hold the pieces together with icing, then decorate like a pirate ship! What a huge hit that would be!

Tip #3 – Have a treasure hunt! Scavenger hunts are always fun party games. With a Pirate party, the scavenger hunt becomes even more fun! Use the party favor bags as the treasure and have the kids hunt for treasure towards the end of the party!

Tip #4 – Have other fun pirate activities planned. A scavenger hunt at the end of the party will be fun, but other activities need to be planned as well. You could have everyone make their own pirate flags, or some other pirate craft. You could also have them color pirate themed pictures. You can give them a blank canvas and let them use their imagination, or you could print out or purchase pirate coloring pages.

Tip #5 – Watch the movie! If the children at the party are old enough, you could turn the party into a movie viewing pirate party. Everyone can watch the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and pretend to be pirates on Captain Jack Sparrow’s crew! You can purchase pirate hats, and other pirate related costume pieces for everyone at a party supplier.

Follow these fool proof pirate party tips and your pirate party will surely be a treasure in your child’s memory forever!

Easy Homemade Lemon Curd

I am in the process of figuring out the perfect cupcake recipes for my daughter’s upcoming birthday. She decided on mint chocolate and lemon blueberry for her cupcake flavors this year. Then it’s up to me to figure out how to make those flavors into the perfect cupcakes for her big day.

Today I tried something new out. I made lemon curd. I figured a lemon curd would be a great filling for a cupcake. However, I had never made a lemon curd before, or any other curd for that matter! Ha! I was a bit nervous because it was something new and I didn’t want to mess it up.

Here are the ingredients that you will need to make this lemon curd.

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup butter

Now, how to put it all together.

Many of the lemon curd recipes I found called for a double boiler. I don’t have one so I took a small pot and a stainless steel mixing bowl and made a makeshift double boiler. I put some water into the pot and put it on medium heat, then put the stainless steel bowl on top of the pot or water. Voila! A double boiler!

Add the eggs and sugar to the bowl. Whisk them together. Then add the juice, zest, and butter to the bowl. Stir the ingredients continuously for 15 minutes. I stood there stirring and stirring and stirring for what felt like an eternity. My arm felt like it was going to fall off, but I just kept plugging along. Then all of a sudden, close to the 15 minute mark, it was no longer liquidy. It started to thicken up and coat the spoon. I continued stirring til the 15 minute mark and then took the bowl off of the pot and set it aside to cool.

Once it was cooled completely we tasted it and it was literally divine! My husband was trying to decide what all he could dip in it or put it on because it was so good. It is going to be perfect in the cupcakes in a few weeks!

Crock Pot Breakfast Wrap Up

I just want to say how much fun it was waking up to breakfast already made each morning. However, four nights in a row of cooking again after dinner really tired me out! I do plan to make crock pot breakfasts again, but I will limit it to once a week or possibly every other week, or once a month even. Depending on how my kids did on their standardized tests … I may do the whole week again on testing weeks. But I’m not certain on that just yet.

Here’s a wrap up of the menu from the week of crock pot breakfasts,

Tuesday – Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole
Wednesday – Crock Pot Cinnamon French Toast
Thursday – Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler
Friday – Crock Pot Breakfast Potatoes

The only recipe that was not liked by my entire family was Tuesday morning’s breakfast casserole. However, with some tweaking I think I could fix it to make it liked by all of us. I have asked everyone in the family and the votes turned out to be almost unanimous.

Grace – Cinnamon French Toast
Cameron – Cinnamon French Toast
Melody – Cinnamon French Toast
Larry – Cinnamon French Toast
Me – Breakfast Cobbler

The Cinnamon French Toast came in a VERY close second for me though. Larry said he can’t make a good vote because he didn’t get any of the Breakfast Cobbler.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this week, was having a theme to blog about for several days in a row. I am still contemplating on what my next theme will be. If you have any suggestions on topics that you may want to hear about, please comment and let me know your thoughts.

Crock Pot Breakfast: Day 4

The Crock Pot Cobbler was a BIG hit! It was super delicious and I wish I had more of it ready so I could eat it again tomorrow. Definitely try that recipe!!!!!

Tonight we made Crock Pot Breakfast Potatoes. Here is the recipe.

Crockpot Breakfast Potatoes Recipe

What You Need
• 4 potatoes, sliced
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• 4 ounces American or cheddar cheese, grated
• 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
• 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

What To Do
1. Prepare inside of crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Layer potatoes, butter, onion, bacon, cheese in crockpot. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with a layer of cheese.

3. Cover crockpot and cook on low, 8-10 hours.

My hubby is incredibly excited about this one. He loves bacon and he loves potatoes. I’m pretty sure that this one will be his favorite of the whole week. We shall see what the verdict is tomorrow though! Thanks to http://www.allcrockpotrecipes.com/breakfast/crockpot-breakfast-potatoes.shtml for this recipe.

tune in to tomorrow night’s post for everyone’s opinions of their favorite recipe for the week.

Rio Samba Rose

Larry and I did a lot of gardening this past weekend. Most of what we planted was vegetables, however, we planted a few herbs and a gorgeous Rio Samba Rose. The rose was heavily budded up when we planted it so we knew it wouldn’t be long before it began to bloom. Tuesday night, I took this picture. It is so gorgeous, I can’t wait to take more pictures as it opens up fully and as the other buds open up as well.

rio samba

I couldn’t help but share this pic. I will post more about our gardening journey soon. 🙂

Crock Pot Breakfast: Day 3

Yesterday’s recipe for Crock Pot Cinnamon French Toast was a HUGE success! It was delicious and got rave reviews from my entire family. All 3 kids loved it, and the hubby and I loved it too! We will definitely be making this one again sometime soon.

Tonight I will be putting together a Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler. We are pretty pumped about this one. The kids are thrilled because cobbler sounds like dessert to them and they think dessert for breakfast sounds like a wonderful idea. Ha ha! The flavors in this dish sound so comforting and delicious to me and it also has lots of healthy stay with you food in it and that makes me happy! After they eat this breakfast, I know their beautiful brains won’t starting wandering off during the big test thinking about food because they are hungry.

Here is the recipe:

Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler

What You Need
• 4 medium apples, peeled and sliced
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 2 cups Granola cereal

What To Do
1. Prepare inside of crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Add apples to crockpot.

3. Mix in remaining ingredients.

4. Cover; set crockpot to low and cook overnight, 7-9 hours. (Note: Cooks in 2-3 hours on high.)

Serving suggestion: Serve with milk.

Thanks to http://www.allcrockpotrecipes.com/breakfast/crockpot-breakfast-cobbler.shtml for this recipe. I will post a review of this recipe tomorrow night. Last night’s recipe was kid tested, mom approved, and dad approved too!

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