Cooking and Food Home Schooling

Recipe For Pretzel ABC’s

This is an especially fun activity for preschoolers, but kids of all ages get in the spirit when it comes to making homemade pretzels! I clipped this recipe from a Family Fun magazine years ago, and made it with the kids in our homeschool co-op while teaching a food pyramid unit on grains. It was a hit! Also, it’s a no-rise dough, so kids don’t have to wait long to taste their handiwork!

I made them again today for my niece’s 18th birthday party–she loves pretzels and her mom threw a birthday party complete with many appetizers and our family’s favorite cake, the sensational Chocolate Cream Roll.

Homemade Pretzels

Heat oven to 425*F, and line two cookie sheets with foil. I prefer airbake cookie sheets for this recipe, because the bottoms darken fast on any other kind.

  • 1 envelope (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 5 TB sugar (divided)
  • 4 1/4 cups flour
  • 4 TB butter, melted
  • 1 TB cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water. Add the salt, honey, and 1 TB of the sugar and stir well. With an electric mixer, thoroughly blend in the flour at low, then medium speed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth for about 5 minutes (I just switch out the beater for the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid). Divide the dough into 16 roughly equal pieces, then roll each into a 10-12 inch-long rope. On the foil-lined baking sheets, shape each rope into a letter, number or other design (when making your patterns, remember that the dough will expand a little when it’s cooked). It’s fun to let the kids spell their names, or whatever letters/phonograms they’re learning in school.

Bake the dough shapes for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned. In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon and remaining 4 TB sugar. Now, leaving the pretzels on the foil, brush them with the melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top, or you can brush with butter and sprinkle with coarse salt instead. Store any leftovers in an airtight container and reheat them before eating. Makes 16 pretzels.


Thoughts on Infant Training

Child training, for our family, always began in the hospital.

Before even starting our family, I participated in a Growing Kids God’s Way class at my church titled Preparation for Parenting by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo. I sat in the pew, excitement filling me, thinking, This makes sense! So I ordered my own book and tape set and studied up for our children’s future.

Our three girls could be poster children for the success of their first years. I scheduled, not rigidly, just making sure that:

  • No less than 2 hrs passed from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next. I aimed for 3 hours, but didn’t sweat it at two. My firstborn was in the 90th percentile, and I figured the child needed extra nourishment!
  • At night, I let them sleep as long as they would, not waking them to nurse, but nursing them if needed those first 8-10 weeks.
  • I kept to a strict cycle of: feedtime/waketime/naptime

According to the Ezzo’s, and I found this true with all three of my girls, if you switch up the “feed/wake/sleep cycle” you mess with the infant’s ability to sleep through the night by 8-10 weeks of age. So if you subscribe to this theory, your infant never requires sleep props, because you keep them awake after feeding. Even if you just tickle their feet or change their diaper, minutes of awake time with a newborn, are sometimes all you’ll get! They’ll develop the habit, with no hardship, of falling asleep on their own. (w/o rocking, bouncing, shushing, swaddling, nursing…)

My first child slept through the night at exactly 8 weeks of age. To the night. And we’re talking 10-12 hrs each night, consistently, except when teething!

My second child made me sweat it, wondering if firstborn had been a fluke. She didn’t start her 10 hours a night till she was 9 weeks old. But from then on, she too, remained a consistent sleeper.

Third daughter…same scenario. Worked like a charm.

I know you all think I’m spoiled with all that great sleep, but this was trained into them from the hospital by the scheduling.

I always stress that, because I think so often moms wait till they’ve got problems to try to figure out how to solve them…and then you’re in for a lot of fussing and “crying it out” if you go that route, and some have to if they want to break the habit and ever get their 2 or 3 or 4 year old to sleep through the night!

By starting out with my little routine from day 1, my infants fell right into line and I had the blessing of several things:

  1. Knowing that if they cried, its cause was either a dirty diaper or pain or needing cuddled. Btw, so often nursing becomes an overfeeding problem which can lead to upset tummies, fussing, etc, when maybe baby just needed more mommy-time…
  2. Knowing that I had a two or three hour block of time before the next feeding came in pretty handy when planning grocery expeditions, etc!
  3. Having a happy, well-adjusted infant and toddler who knew what to expect and had her expectations satisfied.

Another fun aside is that all our girls loved bedtime! People would be so amazed when visiting us at night and our crawling eight month old would grab her blankie and say, “Night-night!” (with no prompting from us) and head for her crib. Not a one ever gave us any bedtime trials. Kisses and hugs and special-lovin’ tucking in’s and they were practically counting Z’s before we had the door shut…

We’re all different, and I have nothing against breastfeeding on demand and co-sleeping…

I just can’t beat 10-12 hours of sleep at eight weeks post-partum! That, my dears, really rocks!


Pro-Life Post You Won’t Want to Miss

My friend Andrea gave birth to a baby girl today! Congratulations, Mama! We’re thrilled for you…


MInTheGap happened to write an awesome pro-life post today: Children, Pregnant Mothers and Doctor’s Know. He argues that everyone, from abortionists to young children realize that an unborn baby is not simply a blob of tissue. A snippet for you:

Feminist Jean Garton tells the moving story of her three-year-old, who wandered into her room late at night and inadvertently saw a photo of a ten-week abortion. his mother describes his reaction:

His small voice was filled with great sadness as he asked, “Who broke the baby?”

How could this small, innocent child see what so many adults cannot see? How could he know instinctively that this which many people carelessly dismiss as tissue or a blob was one in being with him, was like him? In the words of his question he gave humanity to what adults call “fetal matter”; in the tone of his question he mourned what we exalt as a sign of liberation and freedom. With a wisdom which often escapes the learned, he asked in the presence of evidence before his eyes, “Who broke the baby?”1

Go read the rest!

MInTheGap credited the following source: Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments


The Television Psalm

I came across this eyebrow raising “Psalm” the other day, and thought it might provoke an interesting conversation!

My Shepherd

The TV is my Shepherd, I shall not want anything else.

It maketh me to lie down on the sofa. It leadeth me away from the Scripture.

It destroyeth my soul. It leadeth me in the paths of sex and violence for the sponsor’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will enjoy the evil, for the blood and sex, they excite me.

It prepares a filthy commercial before me in the presence of my children.

It anoints my head with humanism.

My coveting runneth over.

Surely laziness and ignorance shall follow my family all the days of our lives and we shall dwell in the house watching TV forever.

Ouch! I certainly don’t think of myself as enjoying the evil, sex and blood of TV, but if one can read this objectively, it still bites.

By the way, we’re on day 5 of no TV/movies and toddler has been doing a ton of coloring…


My Thoughts on Child Training Part 1

Jessica asked me to sometime post on my methods and beliefs regarding discipline.

First I’ll be up front and tell you I’m having to correct a lot of lazy parenting in my youngest. That said, I know what’s worked for us, and that’s what I’ll share here.

Realize the difference between punishment and training.

  • Do we want children that have been forced into obedience (whether by threats or other fear tactics)?
  • Or do we want children that have been trained to cheerfully obey?

Training is reinforcing good behavior positively. As much as possible, we need to encourage our children to do the right thing.

Punishment should involve several things, here are two for you to consider:

  1. Spanking is only part of child training, it’s not the end all cure all. (It is an important part though, especially when training a young child!)
  2. If you spank for bad behavior and then give your child what they want anyway, you’ve punished, but you’ve mis-trained. Better to not spank at all, imho.


One way I encourage cheerful compliance, is by never giving them what they want when they’re whining/crying/pouting/screaming for it. That’s rewarding the negative behavior. You miss the boat on this one even once and your child’s memory won’t soon forget it. Consistency is key here.

This means, even if you spank for the whining (or whatever) don’t give in to the immediate gratification of whatever it was they were whining for in the first place. Or they’ll think the spanking was worth it: they still outsmarted mom and dad and got what they wanted.

So often you don’t even need to spank.

The following scenario happened here two nights ago: My toddler was crying with resentment that I wouldn’t let her have watermelon before her hot dog was finished.

I asked, “What’s wrong, did you bite your tongue?”

She frowned at me, and if she were old enough to employ sarcasm, I’m sure she would have.

“No. I don’t want hot dog. I want watermelon!”

“Oh.” I nodded and thoughtfully took a bite of my supper. “That would have been nice. Too bad you whined when I said ‘not yet’. That watermelon is really yummy. Better finish your hot dog and maybe tomorrow you can remember to obey and then you can have some watermelon.”

Of course the lower lip came out. She’s been perfecting “the pout”.

“Smile at Mama and eat.

You know, she wasn’t thrilled but she didn’t explode because she knew what would happen. (Spanking)

Then last night, watermelon was again on the menu, this time with cheese burgers. She didn’t demand watermelon, she asked nicely, scarfing her hamburger down in the process.

Maybe she prefers hamburgers to hot dogs, or maybe she’s a fast learner.

More of my thoughts on this subject later! Meanwhile, add yours!

Family Ties Parenting

The No TV/Movies Challenge

Friday night’s “last movie bash” was fun. We rented the Mickey-Donald-Goofy version of Three Musketeers (b/c 9 yo just read the classic and loved it!), and to our surprise, we stumbled upon our favorite Little Rascal’s episode, A Lad and His Lamp. We girls made homemade pizza–each daughter made her own individual pan pizzas, and then we sliced up a big watermelon and pulled out the sleeper sofa. For dessert: root beer floats.

At 9 P.M., with the children tucked in bed, dh and I unplugged the TV/VCR and the DVD player and moved the whole set-up to our bedroom where it’s now residing atop hubby’s chest of drawers. This keeps it out of sight and mind (less tempting) and made for a fun “hotel-like” movie time for us! (Yes, we had one last fling ourselves with Sandra Bullock and the movie Premonition)

Saturday morning began dh’s labor day weekend, and while he and I slept in (thanks to all the bonus features on our DVD keeping us up past midnight!) our nine year old daughter fixed scrambled eggs and set the table with donuts and milk…

She also put together a “fun box” for toddler, complete with Leap Pad, books, and games.

Pretty cool to have everyone on board like that!

Also a nice side to having absconded with the TV is that my living room furniture doesn’t have to be centered around the black box. I moved all the furniture into a more cozy setting…a recliner at each corner of our limestone fireplace with our couch facing both and coffee table in between. And most exciting, my friend Deborah recently brought the rest of her furniture and belongings from New York and gave me a 9’x12′ rectangular area rug…perfect for this conversational seating arrangement! Our living room is around 15’x23′, with the fireplace on a long north-facing wall.

Out with the old…

Normally on Saturday mornings, we tape CBS’s Madeline and Horseland shows and watch them during lunchtime. Here’s where making the old habit unavailable really opens life up to more fulfilling options. We took our lawn chairs out to a shady spot in the yard (deck is in full sun at noon) and had leftovers. One thing led to another and the girls started a running contest. Over and over they ran around the house with daddy timing them on his stopwatch. They progressed to making obstacle courses in and around the yard and outbuildings, and again raced them according to dad’s stopwatch. For at least an hour they were vigorously exercising…and enjoying themselves way more than if they’d been inside watching silly cartoons!

Sunday and we’re still going strong except that 3 year old is in the middle of a full-blown cold. Dh stayed home from church with her…and they kept the TV off, doing puzzles and reading instead. Deep down, I’m wondering if the whole crowd gets this feverish-head cold junk, will I have the fortitude to resist the comfort-glaze of movieland?

At least I can honestly say not a one of us has missed the flashing lights. Toddler hasn’t even questioned the absent TV!

We’ll see how we’re doing this time tomorrow!

Weekend Kindness

How Did You Get Engaged?

MInTheGap over at Weekend Kindness has started a “What’s Your Story?” meme. Time to share our engagement stories…here’s mine!

I met my future dh when I was a junior in high school. We quickly became best friends, and his interest turned early on to one of a more serious nature! I wasn’t ready to think about marriage…so I broke things off with him.

Fast forward to the summer before my senior year. I’d been missing my best friend and committed to praying about getting in touch with him again. God showed me in a series of affirmations that we were, indeed, meant to reconnect. Meanwhile, dh had been letting me “sow my wild oats”–he’d graduated three years before–and was waiting in the sidelines with a pretty much broken heart.

God got us together, and the night of the Christmas dance–December 18, 1992–after asking my dad for my hand in marriage, the love of my life presented me with the most beautiful diamond engagement ring.
I had a blast showing it off to all my friends, and we got married a month after graduation! That was fourteen years ago…and we’re still best friends.

I’d like to hear the engagement stories of the following bloggers:

  1. Amy at Knight’s Acre
  2. Gina at Portrait of a Writer
  3. Jessica at Farm Fresh

Here’s How it Works:

  • Copy the link to this image (hot – linking is fine by me!)
  • Write your story of how you got engaged.
  • Select 3 bloggers that are married or have gotten engaged and let them know that you want to know their story.
  • Make sure you link back to this How Did You Get Engaged post.