Potato Candy

My step-grandma used to make this for us kids, when we were growing up. After I moved away, I tried many, many times to recreate the recipe, with no luck. I was thrilled to find it by chance in a book called “Company’s Coming – Most Loved Treats” by Jean Pare. Most-loved indeed! Now I make them every Christmas. Well, every Christmas except the one Christmas immediately after the twins were born! If you look them up in the book, they are actually called Pinwheels.

 

2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

1/3 cup mashed potatoes

½ teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Turn out onto a work surface dusted with confectioner’s (powdered) sugar. Knead until smooth, adding more powdered sugar as needed, until a pliable but not sticky dough forms. Divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out 1 portion on the surface dusted with powdered sugar, to 5×8 inch rectangle, 1/8 inch thick.

Spread about 1 ½ tablespoons peanut butter evenly over the top. Roll up, jelly-roll style, from long side. Wrap with plastic wrap. Chill. Repeat with remaining portions. Cut each roll in to ¼ inch slices. Makes about 6 dozen pinwheels.

(photo taken from shockinglydelicious.com)

A Nifty Little Tip for Your Kids’ Toys

I tried posting this on my Face Book page, but it really didn’t work.  I wonder if the post was too long?  So I apologize, this post will be too short on Making Mommas.  It probably really belongs on Face Book.  But I think it is a good tip, and worth posting, regardless.  🙂

So, A nifty little tip regarding your kids’ toys:  Rotate them!!

My kids have a lot of toys.  The twins have inherited a lot of their older brothers’ toys – some of them are dang near 17 years old now!  And, they continue to get their own, new toys as well.  So what is a mom to do with all of these toys?

Well, we naturally purged them when we moved.  We cleaned out all of the toys, and got rid of a lot.  Trashed them.  I didn’t have time to bring them anywhere or to put on a garage sale.  We don’t miss them.

But for those we kept, I rotate them.  I have some of them stashed under the stairs, to pull out occasionally when we need some new inspiration.  I have a closet and toy box downstairs full of toys.  I have a basket in the living room upstairs, full of toys.  And the twins have a basket in their bedroom full of toys.  The three year old has only a select few in his bedroom simply because he shares a bedroom with his 11-year-old brother, who really doesn’t appreciate having that many toys hanging around.

I often will bring some selected toys from the toy box downstairs to the basket in the living room upstairs. I then will move some of the toys in the basket in the living room in to the basket in the twins’ bedroom. And then I will move some of those toys out of the bedroom and back down to the toy box. I do this for big items as well, such as the kitchen and the Lego table. It’s amazing what a new setting, i.e., new room in the house, can do to an old toy!

How do I know when it’s time to rotate? When I get tired of cleaning up the same toys again and again! I was sick and tired of cleaning up the Duplex Blocks for the umpteenth time today. So rotate we did! It’s also a good time to rotate when you need something to capture your kids’ interest for a bit longer than usual. Some “new” toys can do the trick. Maybe rotate when you need to get some Christmas preparation finished up! 😉

And with Christmas around the corner, it’s a good time to go through all of the toys as well. Clean them out! Tuck them away, chuck them away, or haul them away. Give them to the Salvation Army or The Boys’ Ranch, or bring them to a second-hand store.

Happy Cleaning!

 

(photo from accesscal.org)

Shannon’s Holiday Traditions

Need some inspiration for Holiday Traditions?  Here’s a list of my family traditions.  Have fun!

 

  1. Potato Club Day – every fall, my mom, sister, brothers and I get together to make potato club. It is a Norwegian/Scandinavian dish and it is actually spelled “klubb”, but I never knew that until recently. 😉 I have been told you either absolutely love it or absolutely hate it. I LOVE it!! It is simply flour, potatoes, onions, salt and pepper, ground together and boiled. (LOL! I realize how awful it sounds!) Sometimes we would add ham, side pork or hot dogs.
  2. Lefse – every fall my mom, sister, aunts and cousins used to get together to make Lefse, also another Scandinavian dish. The Lefse would then be frozen and used during the holidays. I was never a part of this tradition because I always had little kids around, and there are too many hot grills to have children present. Now life has gotten so busy that they don’t do it anymore.  🙁  And I do not know how to make it.
  3. Christmas Tree Decorating – see the article Holiday Traditions for more on this. However, we used to go to the Wild Life Refuge and cut down our own tree. My boys loved that. But when I was offered a good deal on a fake one, I killed that tradition.
  4. Christmas Movies – we have to roll through the list! The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, A Christmas Story, Elf, to name a few.
  5. Christmas Shopping – my husband I very rarely do anything just the two of us. So one weekend in December or November we go away for the weekend. We rent a hotel and we power shop. It sounds horrible but it really is fun. We get all of our shopping done, kid-free. We get meals out together, just the two of us. And when it is all done, we go back to the hotel room, have a few drinks, watch a movie together and wrap up the presents. It’s great!
  6. Christmas Light Sight-Seeing – this one has gone away for us.  🙁  I just don’t know how we’d fit everyone in the vehicle. But we used to grab some yummy snacks (or McDonald’s), load the kids up and let them roam around the vehicle unrestrained (oh the horror!). We often would put the back seat down and they’d “camp” out in the back and eat their snack. And we’d drive from town to town and look at the Christmas lights people would put up. We usually knew where all the good ones were. 😉 We’d listen to Christmas music and talk. It was great fun!
  7. Christmas Cookie Decorating – My mom, sister, and I, along with all the kids, get together and decorate sugar cookies. It gets quite competitive.
  8. Christmas Eve Day – This is always spent at my mother-in-law’s, and if there is snow (there usually is) then we would start the festivities off with sledding at the “big hill”. (We live in a very flat area – the “big hill” is a landfill/dump from ‘back in the day’ that is buried and no longer used!) We’d hit Midnight Mass, if they had it, but some years it has been earlier in the day. And of course, the day is filled with gifts, food and games.
  9. Christmas Day at Home – my Husband and I have claimed Christmas Day for ourselves. We have a large family, so it is fun to do so. I make a marvelous Christmas meal and we play all day. This year’s menu: Ham, Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes, Broccoli Salad, Stuffing, Garlic Monkey Bread, Green Bean Casserole, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie and Pecan Pie. My boys created the menu. (I added the Garlic Monkey Bread.) We have Christmas goodies out on the table all day. And we literally just play. The day is dedicated to playing with our kids and all of their new toys. It is so much fun!
  10. The Dice Game – pretty much everyone has some version of this game. But, on my side of the family, we all buy a gift for the exchange. We put them in the middle of a circle and we pass around some dice; three, five, I’m not sure if it matters. If you roll doubles, you pick a gift and open it. If you don’t roll doubles then you don’t open anything. Play continues until everyone has picked a gift and opened it. Then you set the timer and continue play. This time if you roll doubles you have to exchange your gift with someone else. It is quite fun and very competitive! I can’t tell you how many blankets my 11-year-old has stolen from me over the years playing this game!
  11. 20 Questions – Another game we play on my side of the family. One person buys a gift and wraps it (the person who won the game last year). Then play goes around the circle with everyone asking a question about the gift. They can hold the gift, feel it, shake it, whatever. The questions have to be yes/no answers. If they choose to guess, and they guess wrong, they are out of the game. If they guess right, they get to unwrap it, keep it, and bring a new gift next year.
  12. White Elephant Gift – this is a new tradition, established on my husband’s side of the family. It is a version of the dice game (above) but you have a few options.  You can purchase a gift or bring something from home.  The only “rule” is that it can’t be useless, broken or a food item.  My husband’s family has an amazing sense of humor, however, and the presents are often hilarious!
  13. Cheese Cake – every Christmas, my mom makes two new cheesecakes. We spend the day playing board games, eating, having a delicious meal, and opening gifts. After all the gifts are opened, she brings out two new cheesecakes. We love this tradition, although my husband often wishes she’d bring back some of the old ones she has already made, because they are oh, so good!
  14. Weekend Get-Away – My mom started a new tradition. Rather than give us gifts, every 18 months she takes us somewhere. It ends up being every-other season, meaning it is during the winter one time, then the summer the next, then the winter again. We get together for three, four days, and all stay in a cabin or fancy hotel and just play. It is great!
  15. Hide the Pickle – my boss knows our love of traditions, so she started us on this one.  She gave us a Pickle Christmas Ornament.  On Christmas Morning, we hide it somewhere in the tree.  Whichever child finds it first gets to be the first one to open a present.

Holiday Traditions

Family traditions are important.  And fun.  But it’s hard, when you are newly married, to meld your family traditions with your husband’s.  My husband and I have been doing this for twenty years now, so we’ve got it down!

Not only did we have to find a way to meld our traditions together, but we had to do away with some 🙁 and add new ones.  It’s been trial and error over the years, but I think we have our Christmas traditions established now!

Why are traditions so important?  The same reason why everything else is so important – because it builds a relationship with your child.  It is a way to spend time together.

I get told so very many times, and so does my husband, that we are amazing parents.  That our boys are so very awesome.  (They are!) And that they wish there were more kids like our kids in this world.  That kids now-a-days……well, I’m sure you can complete that sentence for me.  It’s one reason why folks have told me I should write a blog.

My husband and I always laugh.  And we have spent some time musing over this.  Why are our kids so amazing?  Most of it, honestly, is their own doing.  It is their own personalities and character that makes them so wonderful.

And we have nothing to do with that – no control over that. Who knows how the youngest three will turn out?!? Will my husband and I still be such good parents if we have one wild child? One little renegade coming up to throw the whole thing off? Because, I think we do! And oddly enough, he is the youngest of all the boys, the youngest twin.

We did, in all of our musings, though, decide that we do stand out from other parents in one simple way. There is one thing we do that we don’t see very many other parents doing.

We make our children the center of our world.

Sound daunting? Well, it’s not. It’s very easy to do. We simply make sure we have their best interest in mind with every decision we make. Jobs, careers, vacations, where we live, weekend get-a-ways, which vehicle we drive, right down to what TV show (if any) is on during the evening and whether or not we are heading out to the bar with a friend. It’s not hard to do. If it’s not going to be good for the kids, we don’t do it.

But the biggest way we make sure our children is the center of our world is we spend time with them. And we spend time together as a family. We do chores together. And of course, we play together. Playing together is our biggest “chore”. It is the most important thing we can do. You have a gynormous to-do list today? Good. Put “play with the kids” at the top. They are number one.

And one way we play with, or spend time with, our children, is through Family Traditions. And we have a lot of them! But one of my favorite is decorating our Christmas Tree. Here is how it is done in our house:

The tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving. If dad has to work, only lights and tinsel go on it. The rest of the house is decorated, but the tree is left bare until he gets home. Then, cheese, crackers, meat and egg nog are served. Christmas music is played. And the kids all have their very first present to open up – a Hallmark Keepsake Ornament.

I’ve been buying them for twenty years now. It started out I bought one for my husband and I each Christmas. When we moved out of our parents’ houses, we didn’t have ornaments of our own. So I bought a new one, commerating our year, each year. After the kids were born, I stopped doing it for us and started doing it for them. They get a new ornament every year, and that ornament somehow symbolizes that past year for them. When they are 18, it will end. Then, when they set up their first tree, they will have at least 18 ornaments to put on that tree. And each ornament will have meaning.

So we have Blues Clues, Thomas the Tank Engine, Scooby Doo, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Vikings, kitties, puppies, sports, and just plain silly ones, like the leg lamp from A Christmas Story. The kids all each have their own tote, and as they decorate the tree, they go through their memories. You hear a lot of “Oh I remember this one! This is when…..” And I love it. It has gotten to the point, now, where I don’t do the decorating. They handle it all. It has also gotten to the point that our tree is so overloaded I’m surprised it stays standing! Six new ornaments every year…… plus, family members know our tradition, so we often get new ornaments from them as well. My kids will have the best trees ever when they get married! 🙂

I wrap their ornament in “their” wrapping paper for the season. Each year, they each have their own wrapping paper. For example, one twin has kitty wrapping paper this year, and the other has penguin. This is because one twin has a love for kitties. My oldest has Star Wars. (We have had a lot of Star Wars over the years.) This started when they couldn’t read. It was how they knew each present was theirs. They had their own paper. (I quit when they all could read, and we had a coupe at our house that year!)

So they each have their own paper, and they have to guess which paper is theirs. Of course, I try to buy paper that also represents their personalities. That makes it a little easier for them. If they guess wrong, the next kid goes. If they guess right, they get to open their ornament. It is the first ornament they put on the tree. And of course, we take a picture.

And that is how we decorate the tree at our house! The ornament at the top of my website is my three-year-old’s Baby’s First Christmas Ornament.  🙂

 

26 Ways to Spend Quality Time with Your Child This Holiday Season

 

 

  1. Involve them in as many preparations as you can – gift wrapping, shopping, baking, etc.
  2. Eat at least one meal together every day.
  3. Pray together every night.
  4. Play outside! And be active – don’t just watch them. Run with them, swing with them, build a snowman with them, etc.
  5. Read together.
  6. Go sledding, skiing, snowmobiling or ice skating!
  7. Do household chores together, such as the dishes.
  8. Play a board game together.
  9. Engage your child in free or imaginative play, and then follow his/her lead – play what they want to play.
  10. Go for walks together.
  11. Go to the Library together.
  12. Spend time playing with and talking to your child while he/she is taking a bath.
  13. Watch a movie together – the Christmas classics are great!
  14. Sing together – or better yet, go Christmas Caroling!
  15. Go to church together.
  16. Volunteer together or do something nice for someone else together.
  17. Play with your cat/dog together.
  18. Make something for someone together. Pinterest has wonderful ideas!
  19. Visit a family member together.
  20. Take a class together, such as quilting or woodworking.
  21. Go out to eat, just you and your child.
  22. Go to his/her athletic event (basketball, hockey, etc.), concert or program.
  23. Watch Sunday or Monday Night Football together.
  24. Cook dinner together.
  25. Go for a drive – especially if you have a teenager – it’s the best place to have a good conversation. 🙂
  26. And finally, build Christmas Traditions together.

 

Any more ideas? Leave them in the comments!

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Child

‘Tis the Season…..

You can fill the end of that sentence in any way you want to right now. ‘Tis the season for absolute chaos! That might work. 😉 It’s hard, though, preparing for Christmas. Such a huge celebration. There are parties all month long, sometimes extending in to January. It’s one big celebration, starting with Thanksgiving and ending, for most, with New Years’. Some larger families really do celebrate well in to January though.

So there is gift buying, gift wrapping, possibly last minute gift making, tree decorating, goodies baking, Christmas Card making/buying/addressing/mailing. Presents that need to be shipped. Traveling. Meals to cook, parties to plan. Concerts and programs to go to, play in or sing in. Things get busy at church. People volunteer to help others in need more during this time of the year. And for some, there is extra work shifts, or moonlighting/temporary jobs, just to afford it all.

So how, as a working mom, or in my case, just a plain busy mom, does one fit it all in? How does one accomplish all of that on top of the everyday chaos? There’s still every day meals to prepare, laundry to do, diapers to change, toilets to clean, bills to pay, kids to chauffer, basketball/hockey/wrestling games/matches to attend, doctor appointments to make, baths to give, stories to read, prayers to say, etc. etc. etc. How do you do it all?

Well, if you are like me, you stay up late and do as much as you can in the middle of the night. (Your butt drags the whole holiday season!) And your kids are sorely neglected.

It’s the truth. Instead of playing outside, in this unusually warm December we are having here up North, the kids run around the house, willy-nilly, entertaining themselves, as I wrap presents, shop on line, or address Christmas Cards. It often leads to fights, owies, and a total disaster that I pay for later (in clean-up and in a bad case of the crabbie patties!). Their naps also get extended – just a bit – just long enough that they don’t notice the difference, buying me a few extra minutes. And everything gets done.

How else do you do it?

It doesn’t feel right at all. But in the end, the kids all get wonderful fun presents that make them forget all about how boring and (sometimes) mean mom has been in the last six to eight weeks. Right?

Wrong. That’s not what Christmas is all about!
Aside from the obvious (Celebrating Jesus), Christmas is about spending time with those we love. Shouldn’t our children be at the top of that list? And shouldn’t we make it a priority to spend time with them each and every day during the hustle and bustle of the holidays? Aren’t they the main reason we do it all to begin with? Let’s face it – we aren’t eating all those cookies. Or unwrapping all those presents. It’s for them. Let’s make them a part of the celebrating and preparing; a part of our everyday lives. Let’s give them the best of us. This Christmas, let’s give them our time. It is, after all, the best gift we could ever give them.