Meatless Monday Carnival - Kids in the Kitchen

Welcome to Meatless Monday!
I have been looking for a carnival to fit this theme, and I just have not found one that lets everybody link up with their own posts. So if you want something done right.... So here is my first carnival set up. Just link up a Meatless recipe or tip. It can be fun, cheap, easy, for kids, not for kids, expensive, difficult, whatever you want, as long as it can be made with out meat. Vegetarian is a must (dairy products & eggs are okay), vegan is optional.

We happen to vegetarian all the time, not just on Mondays, so you would think that getting my kids to eat their vegetables would be like second nature. It's not. Hubby doesn't even like to eat vegetables, how ma I going to get my kids to eat them?
Well, we have discovered a meal that had hubby exclaiming, "Mmmm... This is my favorite way to eat broccoli!"
This, of course, was followed by a chorus of "Me, toos." The Magic recipe: Cheese Fondue.
And you don't need any fancy pots or forks to eat it with either.
Here is our recipe, adapted from the Family Fun Recipe Site:
Cheese Fondue
  • 12 oz. Cheese (we use the cheddar / Jack Mexi melt - we use that for everything)
  • 4 T flour (divided)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 C milk
  • lemon juice (to taste)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  1. Grate the cheese into a bowl and toss with 1 T flour
  2. Melt the butter in a small pot over medium-low heat, stir in the remaining flour, paprika, nutmeg, and garlic until smooth.
  3. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the milk slowly, and stir constantly
  5. Add the grated cheese mix by the handful, stirring well. Once the cheese is melted and sauce is thoroughly combined, stir in lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

We like to dip apples, bread chunks, carrot sticks, pretzels, and, of course, broccoli (best when cooked in semi covered dish for 2 min with 1/2' water). We keep the pot in the middle of the table, and then each person gets their own small bowl and fork.

With supervision, this is a great recipe for teaching kids how to use the stove. It requires constant stirring so they don't get bored and forget. And besides the cheese grating, most of the ingredients just require a dump in the pot at the right time.

But the base for this recipe: the melted butter and flour is a common base used in many sauces and cream soups. If your kids can learn basics like these, then they can begin to experiment with their own combinations in making soups/sauces from scratch, rather than having to buy a can or mix.

Now it is your turn. Share some of your favorites, or even something old that you have on hand.


The Swords of Sharing

Our Soldier Boy got foam swords for Christmas.
When I tell people that, they get this knowing look that says, "I bet it was from a crazy uncle. I'm so sorry." What really shocks them is when I tell them that I was the one that put it on his Christmas list.
"What?! Why would you let a three year old have swords?"
"Well, everything from my kitchen spatula to his sister's markers were swords any way. I figure that foam swords would be safer for everybody."
"But aren't you worried that it will teach him to be violent?"
"Um.... I think we have already crossed that bridge. He already knows about swords."
"But what about teaching your kids not to fight?"

Actually, this has been teaching him to share. You see, he got 2 swords and the main rule was this You may only 'Get' someone if they have a sword, too. So, its fun to run around with a foam sword in your hand. But, it is even more fun to have someone to play with.

So now, instead of hearing, "He hit me with a car track/sword" we hear "You wanna play swords with me?"

Who would have thought that swords would teach my kids how to share?

This works for me. Check out more at We Are That Family.


I Don't Like to Share

I know that some women, at delivery, gave up all their selfish desires. The moment that they saw those precious fingers and toes, they never put themselves first again.

That didn't happen to me.
I won't give away my last bite of ice cream, just because you are cute.
The box of stuff on my dresser is MINE.
Whatever it is can wait until I am done taking my shower.
Yes, mommy and daddy are going to do something special without you tonight.

Sometimes I share.
You can have as much of my corn as you want.
Sure, I think we have some canned stuff in the BACK of our cupboard you can have.
You can sleep in my bed for a few minutes, if you let me go back to sleep.

But my sharing still tends to be pretty selfish.
Did I not learn how to share when I was a kid? I know how to take turns. I know how to wait in line. I know how to borrow and lend. I even know how to volunteer, and give.
When it is convenient anyway.
How am I ever going to teach my kids how to share?
Apparently God knew this about me and had the foresight to get it into His book some 2000 years before I was even born.
"Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else?" Romans 8:32
Luckily, we have an even better example of how to freely give. So that not only will my kids learn, but just maybe, I will too.


Some Reasons For Not Sharing

Yesterday I was dealing with a question from a reader about sharing. Click here if you want to know how I feel about sharing.

Some kids don't like to share. Maybe being selfish is natural, and they have to unlearn it. I don't know. But I do know that there are many reasons why kids may not want to share.

  1. It is a special toy. It doesn't have to actually be a special toy, for it to feel like a special toy to a kid. Big G got a set of cars for Christmas that came in a divided cardboard package. he carried his cars around in that for days. I wanted to throw it away, the other kids wanted to play with it, but the answer was always "No."

  2. They want to take care of it. I remember my older brother was always very careful with his books, he would let me read them, but not our younger brother. My mom thought he was just being mean, until BigBro explained that he didn't like that Little Bro folded down the corners of his books, instead of using a book mark.

  3. They don't want to. Yes, this can be personal. I don't think I would share anything with someone who was mean to me either.

  4. They are defensive. If they are always being forced to give up things when they don't want to, some kids may become more resistant to sharing in the future.

  5. They just remembered they had it. Sometimes when they are asked about it, it reminds them that they had it, which may make them want it. Even if they were playing with something else before.

  6. They don't know how. Some kids may worry that they won't get it back, or that they aren't allowed to play anymore. Showing them by example may be a great way to ease their worries about their toys.

To me, these are perfectly good reasons for not wanting to share. The trick then, as a Mom (or Dad) is to teach our kids to want to share, despite all of these reasons.


Do You Share?

I had a question yesterday about sharing, and then coincidentally we watched the Veggie Tales movie King George and the Ducky, which is about selfishness. Which got me to thinking about where I (we) stand on sharing.

Here's something to think about. As adults, what do you share? Do you share your car? Your toothbrush? Your pillow? While the answer may be no to those questions, the answer is likely yes to these: Do you share the park? The road? or what about a meal? or your home?

With the exception of the road, they do seem to have some pretty strict rules about sharing, nobody MAKES me share. I do it because I want to. My motivations might be selfish, maybe I want something; or maybe I am just generous.

In our home, I think it works the same way. There are "public" things: books, legos, bathrooms, and the sandbox. It would be silly for each kid to have their own. So kids do learn to share these things. But even then, it is not a free for all. They still have to learn to ask, "May I play with you? May I come in? Are you done with those blocks or books."

Now, as a mom, of course I want my kids to share. But I am more concerned about what is going on in their hearts. If my kid is only sharing because he doesn't want to go to time out, well, frankly, I would rather have a selfish kid who ends up playing by himself. Because even though I may be able to force him to give up something of his, he hasn't learned to love, and to give from the heart. When he is thirty-something and making his own money, I want him to share his money with the needy, not because of the tax deduction, but because he has a burning desire in HIS heart to help them.

So this feels like it is getting long, and I have more to say, so stay tuned next time for more on sharing.


Kids in the Kitchen - An Attitude of Grattitude

This is a new series about teaching kids about money, by letting them help in the kitchen.

"Thank You Miss Love, for helping to make dinner tonight."

"Miss Love, Did you help make our dinner tonight? Well, Thank You."

"Your Welcome. And Mommy helped, too. Thank you Mommy for Dinner."

"Thank You Mommy and Miss Love."

"Your Welcome."

Doesn't that just make you want to smile? My favorite part is that nobody had to tell anybody to say "thank you."

But now Miss Love knows how good it feels to be appreciated and may be more likely to be thankful in the future. And the other kids had a great example of what it means to say thank you for the food.

And an attitude of gratitude is the whole point.

Here's the recipe and how Miss Love was able to help:

Auntie Sarah's Potato Cheese Chowder

5 med. Potatoes

3 cups boiling water

2 1/2 t. salt

6 T butter

6T flour

1/2 t. salt

1/4 black pepper

2 c. milk

2 c. grated cheddar cheese

2 t. mustard

  1. place potatoes, water and salt in big pot. Simmer covered about 20 min.

  2. melt butter in sauce pan

  3. blend in seasonings

  4. cook over low heat till mixture is smooth and bubbly

  5. stir in milk, boil 1 min.

  6. remove from heat and add cheese and mustard

  7. mix potatoes and cheese mix into one big happy pot.

I am standing right next to her, by the stove, to supervise that she is doing this safely. We have an electric stove, so I don't worry about an open flame.

Miss Love does the measuring and dumping, while Mommy does the chopping and the stirring.

This post is linked in to Meatless Monday, and Tasty Tuesday, and Works for me Wednesday


Do Your Kids Need Money? 3. Buying Stuff That They Want

This is probably the number one reason why kids think they need money. 'Cause who doesn't want stuff? Especially if you've got cheap parents like our kids, your best chance of getting what you want may be to just buy it your self.

But just because your kid may be industrious enough to have earned his money, does not mean that you relinquish your controls as parents. Your role is still the same: you are their teacher, and this has become a teachable moment. Here are some guidelines to help you point your kids in the right money spending direction:

  1. Spending Comes Last. After taking out a percentage for giving, and saving, then you can spend the spending money

  2. Encourage goal setting. Let your kids window shop before they even earn their money. Not only does this help them prioritize their wants, but it can also motivate their work.

  3. Discourage spontaneous spending. Buying little things will eat away at the money that has been earned. Reminding kids about their goal can minimize those junk purchases.

  4. Shop Around. Teach your kids how to compare prices, look for coupons, or wait for sales.

  5. Resist the urge to buy it for them. Regardless of how proud you may be of how hard your kid is working, let them have the satisfaction of buying it with their own money.

  6. Have a borrowing plan. Your plan may simply be NO BORROWING. Or you can work out terms for repayment, if you decide that borrowing is a good option. However, this does teach your kid that credit is a viable option, and you may not want to go there. Be sure the pay out terms are short.

  7. Figure out a Cash system. It may not be advisable for kids to carry around their own money. You may decide to carry it for them, or to purchase it, and then have them reimburse you the price.

  8. It is okay to say NO. You are still the parent. If what your kid wants to buy does not fit in with the values of the family, then it should not be purchased. It does not matter whose money it is.

  9. It is now theirs. That means anyone else in the house has to ask permission to use It. That also means that when the time comes to get rid of It, your kid should get the money, or the decision power of what to do with It.

  10. With It comes responsibility. Now that they own It, they are responsible for Its up keep. this may mean batteries, clean up, repair, etc. However buying accessories for them is usually a great gift idea for relatives, since you know that your kid liked It enough to buy It themselves.

Usually I just tell my kids to put whatever they want on their Christmas or Birthday list, but when you have a birthday in January it can be a long wait until the next gift giving season. Some kids, like mine, don't shop much, and don't see many commercials. Their wants may be fulfilled by gifts that they get. Don't talk them into wanting something just for the sake of having something to earn their money for. Wait until they are ready. The time of wanting will come.

Buying Gifts for Others

This is actually part of a series called "Do Your Kids Need Money?" I know it is a bit late, having just passed the biggest gift giving holiday of the year. But now you have a whole year to prepare your kids to buy gifts for others.

Miss Love will be Five in a couple weeks, and this is the first year that she has expressed interest in giving gifts to other people. But since she did not have any disposable income this year (see taking care of other peoples things, and a future post) we had to be creative in the gift giving department.

I like to encourage her to make gifts. I make many of the gifts that I give away each year, so it is a habit I think will be useful to her forever. This year she made a book, The Fish Who Escaped, dictated by Daddy and illustrated by Miss Love herself. It was quite an impressive story for one not quite five, and, of course, Nana cried. Everyone else got felt star car fresheners. Since we used leftover craft supplies, there was no need for her to earn extra money for those gifts.

She really wanted to get Grandma and Grandpa clothes (I have no idea why). But since she didn't have any money, I let her "help" me pick out a turtle neck and a sweatshirt from the whole family.

I like that she wants to be generous in her gift giving. And I know that it can be frustrating to not be able to earn enough money to buy the big gifts. But if she can learn now to only buy what she can afford, she will be one step above those adults that are swimming in credit card debt.


Roth IRAs for Kids - a link

I found this great information about opening up Roth IRAs for kids. Jeff Rose at Good Financial Cents lays out a simple scenario to help a reader decide the best path for giving money to his grand kid.

A Roth IRA is a great way to earn tax free money, but there are some specific things that you need to know before you sign your kids up for one. Check this site out to find out more.

Job vs. Chore - In the Living Room/ Family Room

Because the living room is usually a shared space with the whole family, much of the daily or weekly cleaning will fall in to the chore category instead of a job that you would pay for. If you are looking for more information on the difference between a job and chore click here.


  • vacuuming

  • dusting

  • picking up toys/books/clothes

  • straighten books/magazines


  • washing windows

  • cleaning spider webs

  • washing the floor (we have wood floors)

  • vacuuming couch

  • wiping fingerprints off walls/switches/pictures/stereos

  • vacuuming under furniture

  • cleaning bugs out of lights

Most of these jobs would only require attention once a month or less. Different rooms and different houses may have more to clean than ours does. But this should give you a place to start.

Tell me about who does these chores or jobs at your house.

The Going Rate - The Changing of the Sheets

We have only been paying for work around here for less than a year. It is hard to figure out the going rate for many jobs. Frankly, we don't have a line item in our budget to pay for someone to clean our house. But since we are only paying Miss Love so far, things haven't gotten out of hand.
One thing that I am trying to be careful about is not overpaying for jobs. For instance, changing the sheets on the bed. Right now, taking the sheets off the bed takes a bit of energy, because she is not so big, but the bed is. However, as she gets older the job will get easier and faster. I don't want to pay less then, just because she is better at it. So I tried to pick a wage that may seem small now while the job is tough, but may be about right later. Also, there is room for a raise if need be.
So this is what we have done so far:
  • taking accessories off the bed (blankets, animals, pillows) ...........$.05
  • taking the sheets off the bed (and pillowcases) ..............................$.05
  • taking accessories out of the crib (involves climbing in) ...............$.10
  • taking sheets off the crib ...................................................................$.10
  • taking accessories of Queen bed (guest or master bedroom) ......$.10
  • taking sheets off Queen bed .............................................................$.10

Nobody gets paid to do their own beds. When My Soldier Boy gets old enough, he can do his own bed, and Miss Love will have to find a different source of income. If Soldier Boy decides to pay her out of his own money, then that is his choice.

I cannot wait until Miss Love ( or any of them for that matter) are able to put sheets back on their beds. Especially the crib. I am inclined to pay double for this, just because I don't like it that much. Which is how our economy works. People get paid more to do the jobs nobody else wants.

  • putting sheets on the bed (twin) ....................................................$.25
  • putting accessories back (neatly) ...................................................$.05
  • doing the whole job(twin) ................................................................$.50
  • putting sheets on the crib ................................................................$.50
  • putting accessories back ..................................................................$.10
  • doing the whole job (crib) ................................................................$1.00
  • putting sheets on the Queen ...........................................................$.50
  • putting accessories back ..................................................................$.10
  • doing the whole job (Queen) ...........................................................$1.00

Now, I still stand by the belief that everyone needs to make their own bed daily, but I am happy to pay some one else to change my sheets. And according to her allergist, we should be doing this at least once a week due to the dust mites.

It seems like a lot of work to have the jobs broken down this way, but these kids aren't physically able to do the complete job, yet they are still willing to do work. I want to be able to encourage their industriousness while still being fair. This way they can still get paid for partial jobs, but then they can earn a bonus when the whole job is complete.

So do these seem like fair wages? or am I taking advantage of poor innocent children?


Mary Poppins

My kids love Mary Poppins. They can sing you every song and quote you nearly every line. But there is this one part that is their favorite. Everybody is up on the roof top with the chimney sweeps covered in soot. Then the chimney sweeps start singing and dancing and doing these balancing tricks on the edges of the roofs. It doesn’t matter how many times they see this movie, these kids are still sitting on the edge of their seats, worried that one of them might fall.

I want to laugh at them for being so silly. They know how it ends, why would they still be worried? But then I think of some of the things that I worry about: where are we going to put another kid? How can we afford to send them all to school? The list could go on and on and on.

Looking at the beginning of the year it would be easy for me to sit at the edge of my seat too. But instead of thinking what is this year going to bring, I have to remind myself to look forward to whatever wonderful things God has planned for this year, and keep worshipping him with my tithes and offerings. When I trust in the one who knows how it ends, it is easier to sit back and enjoy the show.