Tag Archives: Training Kids

Summer for the Smiths 2018- Teenagers in the house


Summer officially starts tomorrow if you follow that on the calendar BUT the change of schedule happened for us at the first of June—no more school until August!  When our girls were little I would make schedules and plan our days- Make it Monday, Reading Wednesdays and so on.  But our girls are now both teenagers (eekkk!) and our schedules are all over the place.  Even my schedule was crazy these last two weeks as I was presenting at conferences, leading professional development (pd) and getting my own credits for pd.

I still was trying to figure out how to get our girls doing some things that don’t come naturally to them when they make their own to-do lists each day.  My goal was to get them doing the things that I would usually harp on them about doing but without the harping!  Then it hit me…

Duh Becki—you share with teachers the importance of voice and choice in the classroom, how is that not different at home?  One easy way to do this in the classroom is to use choice boards that I always say are “teacher directed and kid approved”.  The teacher sets up the tasks but the students get to choose what they do on the board. So I sat down and created a choice board for our girls.  I used the Tic-Tac-Toe grid but it is four in a row rather than 3.  I set the board up working to make sure in each row and diagonal there were a variety of tasks: reading, creating, intrapersonal, active and yes…some math practice too!

I rolled it out tonight and it was received as well as anything with teenagers can be received 🙂 There were a few moans about some of the tasks and I expected that.  My response was “you don’t have to do that one—it is up to you.”  That is the beauty, the tasks are there and if they want some extra spending money is is theirs for the taking.

I will have to come back and update at the end of the summer to let you know the reality of the plan.

I posted a template below—try it at your house if you would like!

Smith Family Tic-Tac-Toe Template


Enjoy your family—hope your summer is made in the shade,



Making time for Family time


The school year is well underway (finally after start two brought to us by Hurricane Harvey) and life is at that crazy-busy level.  It is our “normal” and I am thankful for the clubs, classes, Bible studies, and parties my girls are able to be involved in, yet finding time to reconnect as a family can be T-O-U-G-H.

Sundays set the tone for the week.  Sundays are a special day—that is how God intended it.  We all need a Sabbath, a day set aside for rest and worship.  Our Sundays can still be crazy though.  How can we carve out Sabbath time as a family on our Sundays when…

  • we have church in the morning,
  • a quick lunch all together before Brad heads off to his second job—thanks Babe!
  • the girls finish up the last of homework not completed on Saturday and then run off to Bible Studies at different locations
  • No one is home at dinner time and one child has dinner at Bible Study, the other snacks herself silly and Mom and Dad are running the roads to pick up everyone

I reflected on this and realized that in December our family makes time to have an Advent devotional and prayer time each Sunday night so why not do the same EVERY Sunday.  We love our time in December so let’s make it work for year-round.

I have decided that if we can’t have dinner together on Sunday night that at least we can have dessert.  I make sure we have something to snack on while we meet to reflect on our week ahead, discuss our time at church earlier in the day and then have prayer time as a family.  It has been a sweet time of fellowship.  It gives us time as a family to share concerns, laugh together and plan the week so the week can run more smoothly.

Sometimes I make an “involved” recipe dessert like the one Heather and I made a few week’s ago, salted caramel brownies, and then other times I pick up a box of “just add water” scones from Trader Joe’s and throw together the easy and well-loved “Fall Munchie Mix” (A box of golden grahams, mini-marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, and chocolate chips all combined in a bowl!).

Easy desserts for our family time- Trader Joe Scones and Fall Munchie Mix


How do you connect as a family when life is crazy-busy?  Leave a comment and let’s share our collective genius!!!

Must Haves! A Book No Parent Should be Without


Have you ever found yourself saying the same things over and over to your kids?

Do you stand stupefied by something you see or hear in your kids and realize you need a change of direction….quick!

I have.

In the last few years, I have found some resources from an excellent team that are all home runs!  Each time I read something written by this dynamic duo, I am empowered with easy to read and quickly applicable discipline to raise my children.

Guess what! This duo has just finished their most recent book and I want you to know it is a “must have” .  The Christian Parenting Handbook by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller will give you 50 heart-based discipline strategies that you can use for kids from ages 2 to 18.  It is what I call a “nightstand book” as it will be one that you will want to keep close by to refer to over and over again as different things come up with your kids.  They give you practical strategies to use with your children rather than just telling you how your kids should behave—-love that!  They emphasize the relational aspect of parenting and how to separate firmness from harshness.  You will read solutions for sibling conflict and how to teach kids to be solvers rather than whiners.

Turansky and Miller are founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.  They have written several books and this one pulls many of the strategies discussed in various books all into one excellent resource.

If you purchase the book this week, April 29th -May 5th, you can also get $400 worth of parenting resources FREE…yep….you read that right—Free.  Too good to be true?  Check it out for yourself!

CPH Banner of 400 dollar resources copy

I read an advance copy of the book and couldn’t stop highlighting, underlining and placing stars…it has so much you will want to place in your parenting toolbox.

I encourage you to get a hard copy of the book from a major book distributor this week so you can also get the $400 worth of Free resources which includes an electronic copy of the book and many other excellent items.

My only regret about getting this book now is that it wasn’t available 10 years ago when I was beginning this discipline process with my toddler.  But I have it now and it is never too late to make changes for the good.  Don’t wait- add this book to your parenting resources today!

As a member of The Christian Parenting Handbook Launch Team, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and the opportunity to promote related giveaways and activities to my readers.

All opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.

Must Haves!


Each family has to find their own rhythm and beat but there are some tools that every family should have as a part of that process. As I discover a “must have” item, I’m going to share it with you because this blog is about Recipes for the Table and for Life.  So when I find an ingredient to help the recipe for family life, I want to share it with you as a good family life is even more important than a good meal on the table!

This first tool I want to share with you is perfect for teaching the Bible in a creative and innovative new way.  Phil Vischer and his team at Jellyfish Labs created the What’s in the Bible? DVD series and it is exceptional!  My girls enjoy the storytelling, the songs and the characters that explain all kinds of Bible history, explain what different words mean, and just do an all around top-notch job of explaining God’s story.

The series now includes all of the Old Testament and two DVDs in the New Testament (as of April 23, 2013).  Each DVD has two 25-minute episodes.  The focus audience is Kindergarten through 5th grade but I can guarantee that if you watch with your kids you are going to learn some new things too!  We don’t have every single volume yet in our family library but I’m sure we will one day.  The volumes we do own we have watched over and over again.  We even purchased a CD of the songs to take with us on our long drive last summer from Pennsylvania to Texas.

You will not be disappointed in this series.  It is fun, engaging and educational.  I’ve included a video from the creator, Phil Vischer, from the very beginning of the project.  He shares why he created this series.

Stuffing Cups- Easy one for Kids in the Kitchen


Want to help your kids learn to cook?  (AKA….do you hope in the near future to be able to say “child of mine, I’m running late today.  Will you please make dinner and have it ready when I get home.”?)  Then, like other parenting tasks we need to train them so they can know what is expected of them.  This recipe was an easy one for my 7 year old to help me with this week.  We ate it as our main dish but you could use it as a side to a roasted chicken too or rip up some of that roasted chicken and mix some into the stuffing prior to baking the stuffing cups in the oven.

If you are training your child to cook, remember to stay close by and offer assistance and guide them….nothing ruins dinner more than a trip to the ER.

Stuffing Cups

Heat oven to 350º

Melt in a large skillet on medium heat:

  • 1/4 cup butter

Add to melted butter and saute until crisp-tender (about 5 minutes):

  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • pepper and salt to taste

Stir in and bring to boil:

  • 1 1/2 cups water

Remove from heat and stir in

  • 1 6 oz package of stuffing mix for chicken (like Stove Top)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten

Mix lightly

Spoon into 8 greased muffin cups.  (I was able to get 9 good sized muffins out of it actually)

Bake 10 minutes or until the stuffing cups are heated through.

Note: We did not have any leftovers and there are just four of us.  So you may want to double the recipe if you have any boys over the age of 9 in your family or more than 4 people.  You could also put in some shredded, cooked chicken in the stuffing mix prior to spooning into the muffin cups.  This would make it go further and be a more hearty meal in itself.  These are also easy to wrap up and send to school in lunches—good portion control.


Perfectly Imperfect


I was chatting with one of my daughters last week and she said maybe I should get another daughter as there were many others that were perfect and she was not.

Well, we had to stop right there and talk about that!

I shared with her that no one was perfect.  That others around might seem like they have it all together but often we hide things from people and don’t take the mask off.  I told her that I loved her just the way she was and reminded her that sometimes I didn’t like what she did but I always loved her and will continue to.

It got me thinking though about perfection and then….God in his humor allowed several things to go not so perfect for me over the weekend.

So in the interest of full disclosure I have to admit—I only post the recipes that work or tell you the hints and tips that lead me to be successful….I leave out those things that aren’t as pretty!

Here is an example of some imperfect things happening in my kitchen:

This last weekend was Brad’s birthday.  It was a crazy weekend with all day auditions for him, a concert on Sunday (his birthday) and then the girls had dance dress rehearsal during the concert time–fun birthday.

I wanted to try to have dinner for him when he got home from the concert and also a birthday dessert.  For Mother’s Day he got me a chocolate cake from one of our favorite bakeries.  I put me in emphasis as those that know me well know that chocolate isn’t my first love, but I do enjoy this cake an it was fun to have on a special day.  But we were tired of cake and he told me not to get him a cake for his birthday.  So now I needed to come up with something else to prepare.

He had written down a Amish Peanut Butter Cream Pie recipe years ago and I had never made them.  I wanted to surprise him so I didn’t make the pies until Sunday afternoon while he was still at the concert.  Well, the pudding mixture began to thicken so I put it in the pie shell and let it firm up, as the recipe said they would.  Now I had time to make the sauce for my enchiladas (which I had prepared on Saturday night) and get them in the oven.

The enchiladas were wonderful and then it was time for dessert.

The pies were still runny—hardly thick at all. (Imperfect!)

Fortunately the youth orchestra had celebrated Brad’s birthday with playing Happy Birthday for him and having three huge birthday cakes (wish we could have been there).  Brad brought home the remainder of one cake so we had that instead.

Later that night I checked the pies again….still not firm.  Brad had a late snack of more enchiladas and I made some nachos—then off to bed.

The next morning- there are the enchiladas sitting right beside where I had also been preparing my nachos.  No more leftovers for us.  (Imperfect!)

The pies were still not firm but we turned that frown upside down and had some wonderful peanut butter milkshakes!  (perfect!)

So there you have it—The only thing I’m perfect at is being imperfect!

Our Morning Routine


A few weeks ago I posted about a webinar I attended where I learned some tips and tricks for getting the mornings off to a better start.  It was spring break and not a great time to start a school-morning routine.  The next few weeks I eased Child #1 into a routine without talking to her about it.  It went kind of like this:

  1. Feet on the floor by 7:30
  2. Dressed, Bed Made, PJs put away and upstairs by 7:50 (report in and let me know you are done).
  3. Breakfast, Brush teeth, Brush Hair, Backpack, Teeth, Devotional reading by 8:10
  4. Out the door for the bus at 8:15

It was going well.  Then this week, I saw a light on in her room during the school day so I made my way into her room to turn it off.  The bed was not made and her PJs were not up.  I chose not to talk to her about it until bedtime.  At that point I applied something else I learned in the webinar…a way to approach it, rather than scolding I asked how to help…it sounded something like this:

“So today I came in your room to turn a light off and guess what I noticed…yep, your bed was not made and your PJs were still out….whoops!  What can I do to help you remember the things you need to accomplish in the morning? (Silence and a shrug) What about a list? (to which her face lit up and she quickly jotted down a list)

Her list?  She totally knew everything she needed to do.  So already, I know she can remember it and now we just need to make it a routine.

I did add something to her list–a wildcard and a prayer/blessing.

The wildcard is something that I will ask her to do at 8:10 or before is she is ready.  It might be to help me empty the dishwasher, or practice a song on the piano.  It could be to go over her spelling words—anything!  I just wanted her to know to be expecting something else.

The prayer/blessing is a time for us to just read a scripture and set the tone for the day.  She liked this when we did it last week and wanted to make sure we had it on her list.

I am trying to make sure I build in margin to my morning so I can help her be successful.

We have good days and not so good days but I’m happy to say that our mornings have gotten a LOT better.  I’m not harping and saying things over and over and that helps everyone be in a better mood to start the day.  I’m already mulling over what the summer morning routine will need to be.