Category: Encouraging Children

Teach Your Children To Cook: Fish Tacos & A Gorton’s Fish Giveaway

Teach Your Children To Cook Fish Tacos + Enter A Gorton's Fish Giveaway.
Teach Your Children To Cook Fish Tacos + Enter A Gorton’s Fish Giveaway.

Getting your children too cook can be as simple as 1) selecting a meal that they like 2) selecting a meal that is simple to make. When we got a some free fish coupons from Gorton’s Smart & Crunchy, along with some aprons and a fish stick stuffy, we knew that Fish Tacos was the meal to make! Read on to see how we made the tacos and then how you can get some free stuff from ASimpleLifeToo.com and Gorton’s Seafood.

First, here are some other recipes, available from Gorton’s, using their fish sticks. Most of these recipes have short prep times and would be good candidates to get in the kitchen and cook with your children!

Let’s Make Tacos: 

I set up my oldest, S – 8, and my middle, T – 6, with the two aprons and then asked them to gather the ingredients.

Sarah and Talitha in their new Gorton's apron with the ingredients for fish tacos.
S and T in their new Gorton’s apron with the ingredients for fish tacos.

1 bag of 24 pieces of smart and crunchy fish sticks

1 container of mixed lettuce

1 tomato

1 pack of lard free tortillas

condiments such as ketchup and ranch dressing

Then I instructed each of them as follows:

1) S has been trained to cut with a knife, so I set her to cut the tomato and place the tomato bits and the lettuce on a tray.

2) T got out a baking sheet and set out all of the sticks in nice, neat rows.

Talitha's nice, neat rows of fish sticks.
T’s nice, neat rows of fish sticks.

3) Mom turned on the oven per the instructions on the bag of fish sticks, put them in the oven, and set the timer.

4) We let the sticks cool a bit, then we wrapped them up two at a time in a tortilla with the tomatoes, lettuce, and favorite condiment. I prefer ranch dressing, but the girls like ketchup!

Talitha putting together her first taco.
T putting together her first taco.

Yes, this is what I call a simple, healthy, cheap meal. If you would like to learn more about cooking with your children, the Simple, Healthy, Cheap Way, check out my eBook. 

If you would like more information about Gorton’s new Smart & Crunchy fish sticks, check out their product info. These fit in with our eat healthy philosophy because they have 50% less fat than their other fish sticks and are made with 100% wild caught Alaska Pollock. We all enjoyed the meal and were were happy to repeat it the next night.

Now Onto Some Free Goodies:

1) Get a coupon from Gorton’s for $1.00 off of a bag of Smart and Crunchy fish sticks.

2) Enter their sweepstakes to win a trip to one of 4 locations, including Orlando, FL. Hmm, I think this belongs on my list of Disney Sweepstakes!

3) Enter my giveaway for a prize package from Gorton’s for: two free bags of fish sticks, a set of Mommy and Me aprons (or Daddy and me), and 1 Smarty Crunchman Plush Stuffy! No obligation here – just leave your name in the comments below that you would like to be entered into the drawing. However, if you feel like it, please share this giveaway and post with others and/or share the Gorton’s coupons and sweepstakes from their site. The giveaway ends April 9th and I will do the drawing by April 11th.

Chloe - 4, helped by setting the table and showing off Smarty Crunchman Plush Stuffy.
C – 4, helped by setting the table and showing off Smarty Crunchman Plush Stuffy.

 

Seven Great Pregnant Mom Hacks

Seven_Great_Pregnancy_Hacks.jpg

I am pregnant. It isn’t the first time, but after this, it might be my last! The Midwives are labeling this a “difficult pregnancy,” and it has left me not so patiently counting the days until our new baby girl arrives. Until then, I have to get through a weak core (abdominal muscles), continual pain, extreme nausea (well, at least that part is done), threatened preterm labor, and more.

Here are a few things that helped me and/or are still helping to keep my sanity and made this journey a little easier.


1) The “grabber” – We aren’t supposed to bend over when we are pregnant, but if you have another child or children around the house, then you will know that finding stuff on the floor everyday is part of life. As much as I want my children to clean it all up, all the time, it isn’t quite a reality.

To help pick up some items, my husband got me the “Grabber.” It is awesome and it works for most stuff. My husband got one at the dollar store, but if you can’t find one there (and mine did break after awhile), here is a link to a highly rated, lost cost one on Amazon. There are a few others to choose from.

To use, just position it over the item on the floor, squeeze the handle, and you have got it! Just remember to have the grabber standing or hanging somewhere – otherwise you defeat the purpose of it by having to bend over and pick it up.

2) Body pillow – For my first baby, sleeping was pretty good until the last trimester. But with number four, it seems that I have been uncomfortable since the second trimester and needing some help while I sleep.

I have been blessed by the women who have gone before me in pregnancy. I don’t remember who this specific kind lady was, but she told me about body pillows with my first baby and now I am sharing with you. I can not sleep without it! It takes pressure off of the back and just helps get a much more comfortable side position while sleeping.

There are lots of fancy variations out there, but I use a simple long pillow like the one in the picture above and have had it through all four pregnancies. You can get a cover or two for it, but be sure to get a pillow that is washable.


3) Maternity belt – I am thinking back and now I wish I had, had a belt for my last pregnancy. I remember the last month or two feeling like my tummy just wanted to drop to the floor and my back was telling me how it really felt about all this pregnancy stuff. For this pregnancy, a belt really isn’t an option. I simply can not stand up for more than a couple of minutes w/o it. My core muscles, for various reasons, simply aren’t holding things up.

My Midwives were the ones to recommend a belt. They didn’t give me a specific brand, but I did the research on Amazon, said a little prayer, and stayed within our budget. The belt works great and I would recommend it to anyone struggling with back pain, core muscle issues, carrying twins, or just wants a little help in the end months holding that tummy up.


4) Unisom – There is morning sickness, and then there is all day long, gets worse as the day progresses, can’t stand to eat anything sickness. I was to the point at night where I couldn’t sleep because I felt so sick.

Again, thank you to my Midwives, they told me about Unisom. Now, please understand that I am a total, natural childbirth person. It was really hard for me to accept that all the natural stuff wasn’t helping me and that my next option was over the counter medication. I had never taken such a thing during my previous pregnancies. But, I needed sleep and the Midwives assured me that there were no known risks or side effects with the Unisom. It had been a pregnancy hack for decades.

The key is to only use the littlest dosage possible, so I was breaking the tablet in half and only taking the half. This isn’t about knocking oneself out to “get away” from the nausea, there is actually something in the medication that relieves the nausea and it only takes a little. I ended up using it for about 40 days (or I should say nights) before I did not need it anymore. Check with your OB or Midwife before using.

NSP_Peppermint_Oil_2

 

 

 

 

5) Ginger and Peppermint – Since the Unisom did make me drowsy, it wasn’t useful during the day. I still had to try something for a little relief during the day. Although it wasn’t as useful as it had been in previous pregnancies, I was able to at least function with the help of some ginger tea, peppermint tea, and/or placing a drop of peppermint oil (REPID:  3383365) on my wrists and smelling it on occasion when I got really woozy. For many pregnancies, these should be all you need to get through “morning sickness.” Check with your Midwife or OB before using.

PreNatal_120

 

 

 

 

6) Prenatal Vitamins – I would love to talk about how wonderful we eat and how we get all of our nutrition from food, but that just isn’t the truth. I do believe that we try to eat well and I know we eat better than we used to, but I also know that we still aren’t getting all the nutrition we need from food, especially during pregnancy.

Therefore, we need to supplement. In this case, just a simple, quality prenatal vitamin (REPID:  3383365) is all I seem to need. I can tell the difference when I don’t take it.

I will confess that I also purchased some DHA / Fish Oil, but I have only taken them a few times. I guess I don’t see them as essential and they usually result in “fish burps” for the next two hours that I don’t really appreciate.

7) Community – This last and most important pregnancy hack can not be bought or sold. It is also the biggest and best of them all. Without my community, both family and church, I could not have made it this far. Their prayers, their practical help like meals and housekeeping, and their care is what keeps me going through this trying time. I am so grateful and I hope whatever challenges you may face, you have some sort of wonderful community to support you through it.

Blessings!

Disclosure: Some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and some are April’s Sunshine (Nature’s Sunshine) links. For the April’s Sunshine links, please use my REPID:  3383365 when you order. 

Baby On A Budget: How To Spend Less Than $100 On Your Basic Baby Needs

Baby On A Budget: How To Spend Less Than $100 On Your Basic Baby Needs
Baby On A Budget: How To Spend Less Than $100 On Your Basic Baby Needs

I know that many people save for their first baby. Unfortunately, many other folks do not. Maybe the baby is a surprise, earlier than planned, or they simply don’t have the income coming in to save.

We were both taken a bit by surprise by our first pregnancy and we still weren’t very good budgeters, so even when we found out we were pregnant and I was still working part time, we were living at our means and didn’t make the sacrifices we could have to save, other than the $100 a month payment to the mid-wife.

With all the money going out in bills, food, etc… how did we provide a crib, infant seat, baby bathtub, clothing, and more that a new baby needs? The following is how we still managed to have it all w/o spending more than $100 out of our own pocket:

  1. We let our family, friends and church community know our needs. We were humble enough to be grateful for all the hand-me down stuff that we were given. Lots of clothing, blankets, burp-rags, a baby bath, a high chair, a diaper bag, and more came in from other families and friends. We also ended up with a dresser and a stroller this way.
  2. A friend of mine hosted a baby shower for me. We were given beautiful, handmade blankets, cute as can be dresses (we were having a girl), and lots of practical stuff like diaper rash cream, diapers and pacifiers.
  3. Each of our parents contributed one major purchase with my mom-in-law getting us a crib (which ended up lasting through 3 babies) and mattress and my parents got us the infant seat.
  4. We picked up a few additional clothes from thrift / resale stores.

Although we had all we needed for baby one through these means, since then we have received / purchased a few additional items through the following means:

  1. Craigslist / want ads – always a great source of toys, clothing and more. Many people practically give stuff away. Others are trying to make some of their money back, but most people will deal, so try talking them down a little.
  2. Giveaways – lots of blogs out there are hosting giveaways of baby stuff. Try a few, you never know what you might end up with. There are also blogs that give away samples and such or find deals. If you have a little time, it is worth a search.

If you have saved a little money and want to get some items new, make the most of your funds by searching Ebates for coupons and cash back deals for 100’s of stores selling baby and children’s goods.

How I Get My Children To Start Cooking With Me: Train Them While They Are Young

Your children want to cook with you!

Yes, that is one of my own children, by age 4, in the kitchen with me helping me cook. Before you think it is a crime that I have a four year old near a burner, let me assure you that mom is, except for this quick photo snap, right there next to her, literally holding her hand as we stir and boil.

So, how do I get them so comfortable in the kitchen, so young? Well, by the time they are two, they are usually curious about what mom is doing in the kitchen, so I let them start watching on a stool or chair, and teach them some basic kitchen rules:

1) They must not touch anything!

2) Mom points to hazards and says: sharp! or hot!

3) If they don’t obey, they have to leave. If they obey, they might get a taste test, especially if we are making baked goods:-)

Once the children have demonstrated obedience, I usually give them the chance to help stir foods not on a stove / not hot. I hold their hand at first, until I see their confidence, then give them a chance to try it own their own. I always remind them to hold the bowl / container they are stirring with one hand while stirring with the other.

By the time they are 3 or so, I find they are ready and wanting to put in ingredients and may also be curious about watching mom at the stove. As for the ingredients, I usually help them pour / scoop until I see their confidence, then let them try on their own. One of my weaknesses is tolerating spills. I am still working on that so I don’t discourage them.

As for having them at the stove, the rules are clear:

1) No touch anything! Unless I let them stir with me (both of us holding the spoon / spatula).

2) If I have to walk away from the stove for any reason, the little one has to leave the stove with me. I never leave them there w/o me until I feel they are an age that is safe (about 7 or 8).

I have had a few phases where I haven’t felt “up to” having them in the kitchen with me. They will stop trying to help after a while and lose interest in the process, so I have to remember to come and ask for their help again and get them interested again (cookies almost always work).

If you have been wanting to get your children in your kitchen with you, but still feel a little daunted or unsure after reading these tips, contact me or order my eBook – Teach Your Children To Cook – The Simple, Healthy, Cheap Way!  The book starts off with some rules and tips, then has a lesson on pouring, measuring and stirring. Finally, it contains 14 recipes, starting very simple and gradually growing in complexity to do in the kitchen with your children.

eBook_Teach_Children_To_Cook

 

Sign up for Ebates and search for coupons from your favorite retailers for $20 – $1000 off of products and 12% cash back on all purchases.

Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links.

10 Things For Children To Do This Summer Under $10: #3 – Arts and Crafts With What You’ve Got

10 Things Kids Summer Under $10 Art
A great idea for a rainy summer day!

Last week, we played at the park – a great, simple, and usually free activity. However, as much as we would like to be outside every day in the summer, the reality for most of us is that we just can’t. Sometimes it rains (thank God), sometimes someone doesn’t feel good, sometimes we all just get burnt out, or like many moms, sometimes we just have work to do.

Update 2017: Although we do still do some simple crafts for fun and learning, we have upped our game a bit and we opened an Etsy shop with our handmade items: LoveBySarah Etsy Shop.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Rain, Rain, It Is OK You Are Here

Two of these things happened this June – it rained, which is a real shock here in Idaho – and mom needed a couple of quiet hours to write. With no money in the budget to purchase something, I looked around at our supplies and found:

And there you have the makings of a classic collage project! I remember doing these in school many years ago.

Basically, you give the children a pile of pictures (mostly magazines), they pick out things that are interesting to them, then they cut out the pictures and paste them onto construction paper.

My children spent nearly two hours looking through the pile of pictures and cutting and gluing. Even the 3 ½ year old was able to do most of the project on her own and was occupied nearly that two hours.

A Little Psychological Insight

One side benefit of this project is that you learn something about your child after doing the project – what they like, what interests them, and why. My girls love pretty girly stuff, like pink bedding and kitties. But I also found that my oldest was becoming interested in weapons. I may want to give her archery lessons in a year or two, but I also realize that a few of the shows they were watching (Star Wars, for one) was more violent than they need to be seeing and so we will wait until they are older to watch such things.

The end result of the project was a great success – two hours of purposeful, useful time and some insight gained into the thoughts and likes of my children.

10 Things For Children To Do This Summer Under $10: #2 – Play At The Park

10 Things To Do This Summer - Park
What is your favorite park like?

Last post, we talked about the free summer reading program. Item number 2 on our top 10 list – playing at a local, public park.

Update 2017: Oh! They were so little! But now we have a new little one and even though the others are older, they still love park days!

I sincerely thank whomever first created the concept of the public park – bless them!!! The park is this frugal families’ saving grace each spring, summer and fall. We make a bi-weekly trip during the summer, especially since we currently have a park within walking distance.

We also try to visit a larger park a few miles away – it is huge and has water features open between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This park was mostly paid for by the city’s recycling program.

I always spend the first part of the park visit with the girls on the swings. This is not only their favorite activity, but this is my time to spend directly with them. After 10 minutes or so, depending if people are waiting, the girls are then sent off to the rest of the playground, and mom rests while keeping an eye on them.

Sometimes I chat with other moms and sometimes I just enjoy a few minutes of quiet pondering. The children are all pretty outgoing, so we usually make a new friend or two each visit. If anyone ever wanted to know how homeschooled children could possibly have social skills, just watch my girls in action at the park!

Please share your favorite park and why your family likes it.

10 Things For Children To Do This Summer Under $10: #1 – Summer Reading Program

10 Things Under $10
10 Things Under $10
What is your favorite free or frugal summer activity?

Update for 2017: Our girls STILL love the summer reading program and we are doing it again this year!

The first item on our 10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10 list is not only free (or nearly if you are like me and have the occasional late fee), but most summer reading programs also give the children stuff – just for reading!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Our local library’s summer reading program lasts from June 1st – July 31st. There are 3 levels of prizes, which usually include free meals @ local restaurants for the children and free skating, bowling and/or other activities. At the end of the program, the children get a shiny new book. Last year, my children picked out Boxcar Children books.

As you can see in the photo, the girls are excited for the program again this year! As a bonus, my older girls sometimes read the required 20 minutes to the younger one. More reading, less TV, real quiet time, and prizes – this is our families #1 thing to do this summer under $10.

Now go ahead and read the rest (yes, I know there is only 5. I promise someday to get to 10):

10 Things To Do This Summer #2

10 Things To Do This Summer #3

10 Things To Do This Summer #4

10 Things To Do This Summer #5