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Friday, December 23, 2016

Making Meal Time Great Part 2—Conversation Starters by Trisha Roberts

Make Dinner Time Relationship Time!

Meal time is one of the most important times for families to gather and grow together.  From the birth of your child to age 18, there are 6,570 dinner times!  If you spend 30 minutes on dinner together each day, you would have 3,285 hours of relationship building time! Carving out that precious 30 minutes and making it sacred is difficult, but can reap a mountain of rewards.  Start when your children are young and make it a consistent habit!

children grow quickly--make the most of your time with them!

I found that having a set time for dinner helped everyone plan.  When asked, “Can you go here at this time?” my children and spouse already knew the answer—“No, it’s dinner time!”  There will be exceptions, for sure, but having a set time is important.

Set a standard hour for supper
Make a Fixed Time for Dinner and Plan Activities Around that Hour!

A great tool that many have shared is to circle around the table letting each person tell about the worst and best thing that happened that day.  This gives great insight and perspective as to what is important in each person’s life. If there are concerns and issues, it might be a great time to pray for that!

Encourage sharing the best and worst part of the day
Share Best and Worst

When we were young my mother had a set of scripture verses on cards that was kept on the dining room table.  We would take turns reading the verse each day and then discussing what it meant.

My husband and I initiated a great new idea called, “Conversation starters” when we became a Host Family to two foreign exchange students from China.  To help them learn English and to foster an atmosphere of conversation, I made a list of questions, printed them, cut them apart, folded each paper and put it in a jar. We rotated who started each day, but they had to select a paper, read it out loud, and be the first to answer the question. Feel free to use some of my favorites or make up your own!

Meal Time Conversation Starters

  • ·         Describe one of your current or former pets.
  • ·         Describe a family vacation you took: where did you go, what did you do, was it fun, who went, etc.
  • ·         Tell us about your earliest memory.
  • ·         Tell us about a time you spent with your grandparents.
  • ·         What do you think is your best physical feature?
  • ·         What do you think is your worst physical feature?
  • ·         If you were a great photographer, what would you like to photograph?
  • ·         What is the best Birthday you ever had?  Describe it.
  • ·         There are reportedly 10,425 species of birds.  What is your favorite? Why do you think there are so many?
  • ·         Describe your family.
  • ·         Describe your home town.
  • ·         Describe your home.
  • ·         What is your favorite past time?
  • ·         Sing us a song from your childhood.
  • ·         What is your favorite movie that you could watch a 100 times?
  • ·         What is the best food your mother makes?
  • ·         Where do you think you will be in 20 years?  What will you be doing?
  • ·         What are you looking forward to this school year?
  • ·         What is your best subject?  Why?
  • ·         What is your worst subject?  Why?
  • ·         What is your favorite sport to play? 
  • ·         What is your favorite sport to watch live or on TV?
Make Meal Time Great with good conversation

  • ·         If could play any musical instrument, what would it be?
  • ·         What is your favorite song?  Favorite artist?
  • ·         If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • ·         What is your favorite dessert?
  • ·         Who was your favorite/first teacher?  Describe them.
  • ·         Have you been to a Circus?  What was your favorite act/show?
  • ·         Tell us a time when you needed to learn a new skill (bike riding, a new game, an instrument, etc.)
  • ·         Describe a “first”—subway ride, Day of school, time at a concert, first time away from home.
  • ·         Tell us a joke.
  • ·         What do you think happens when we die?
  • ·         Who do you most admire?
  • ·         Can you dance?  Show us one of your moves!
  • ·         Would you rather lose your vision/sight (be blind) or lose your ability to hear (become deaf)?
  • ·         If you could go back to any period of time in history, when would it be?  Why?
  • ·         If you were asked to be the first astronaut to travel to Mars, would you do it?  What would you take to keep yourself entertained on the journey?
  • ·         If you worked at the zoo, what animal (s) would you like to care for?
  • ·         What would be your first act if you were elected President?
  • ·         What would your “Ideal Wife/Husband” look like?  Physical characteristics, character, skills, etc.
  • ·         Do you remember a time you were really sad?  Can you tell us why?
  • ·         Do you remember a time when you were really glad?  Why?
  • ·         Do you dream often?  Can you recall a dream that you have had recently?  Would you tell us about it?
  • ·         What character trait would you like more of?  How do you think that you could develop this trait in yourself? 
  • ·         Have you ever been really sick?  What happened?  How did you recover?
  • ·         What would you do if someone gave you 200 million dollars today?
  • ·         If you could travel anywhere, regardless of cost, where would you go?  Why? Who would you take?
  • ·         Do you have a favorite quote or saying?  What is it?

Meal time is a wonderful time to develop relationships—make the most of it!

Dinner Time Conversation

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Making Meal Time Great—Part 1 by Trisha Roberts

Weekly Menu Plans

As the New Year approaches, I thought I would share some tips that have helped family life run more smoothly, promote a healthy lifestyle, and stimulate conversation in our home.  Perhaps you can benefit from the solution to my fumbling over the years.

What to serve for dinner

Have you ever stood at the refrigerator door 10 minutes before meal time and thought, “WHAT am I going to serve tonight?” I have, and it does not lead to complete, wholesome meals.
I hit upon an idea years ago that eliminates that problem.  It takes a bit of planning, but overall saves time and encourages healthy eating.  Meals start with good food!

I made a simple table in a document with columns for breakfast, lunch and dinner for each day of the week.  At the beginning of the week I sit down at the computer and spend 15 minutes filling in the menu sheet. (If you don’t have a computer, make multiple copies of a menu table and fill out one each week).  When my children were young, each person in the family could choose a food item to be included in that week’s menu. Everyone knew that they would be having a favorite food that week.  I placed simple dinners on nights that I knew I would be short on time and placed more involved meals on days where I would have more time to prepare.








Frequently I based my meals on what I had in the freezer, pantry or refrigerator.  Sometimes I would plan the menu first and make a shopping list from the programmed meals.  If you get advertisements for local grocery stores, you can plan your meals and shopping list around items that are on sale.

Sale items help you save money on your weekly menu

After I had been using my menu for a while, I added a list at the bottom of my document of Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner meals that our family liked and that I knew how to make.  This simplified my planning day; if I had difficulty coming up with a meal idea, I looked at my recipe list and selected something that would work.

For Example: 


French Toast
Biscuits & Gravy
Scrambled Eggs
Coffee Cake

Grilled Cheese
Hot Dogs
Monte Christos
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Clam Chowder
Cream of Cauliflower
French Onion Soup
Tuna Fish Sandwiches
Egg Salad Sandwich
Chef Salad
Macaroni and Cheese
Rueben Sandwich

Lemon Chicken
Chicken Kiev
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Pork Chops
Veal Parmesan
Sweet & Sour Chicken
Baked Fish
Tuna Casserole
Fettuccine Alfredo
Pot Stickers
Honey Pineapple Chicken
Fried Rice
Meatballs and Noodles
Chicken Pot Pie
Pulled Pork
Pot Roast
Fried Chicken
Teriyaki Steak
Stir Fried Chicken/Steak

Programming my menu for the week allowed me to provide more variety in our diet and took the worry and stress out of what to fix.  I made sure that main dishes were accompanied by lots of vegetables, fruits, and salads. I knew that I had the ingredients for each meal and did not have to make a last-minute run to the grocery store.  My kids loved that they had a part in what was served and complained less about their least favorite foods because they knew that their favorite was coming soon.

Family eating meals together

Don’t miss next week’s Making Meal Time Great—Part 2 

Conversation Starters!

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Rubber Ducky, You’re the One—Bath Time Fun! by Trisha Roberts

Rubbery Ducky for Bathtime

Most children love the water and bath time is one of their favorite times; it can also be a great time for learning and fun!  Put on some children's music and make it a party!

Bathtub fun allows children to experience full body play.  Water can be refreshing and stimulating, buoyant and resistant.  Measuring and pouring are early times of mathematical discovery, so assign a set of measuring cups to the bathroom.  Use your beach toys, floating foam letters/puzzles/blocks, plastic animals for additional fun.  

  Use floating toys to make bath more funBath time with plastic animals

Soap foam and soap crayons are a great way of using bath time to promote fine motor skills and provide tactile stimulation.  Children can also work on balance and gross motor skills. With very close supervision, I let children stand on a bath mat in the tub before the water is drawn and color on the bathtub walls with shaving cream, soap foam, or soap crayons. Standing and reaching up is a good activity to develop “core control”—trunk strength that gives our bodies stability for other activities.   When the play is done, bath time starts and all the mess goes down the drain.

Make Bath Time a Gross Motor Time

Bath time is a great one-on-one time with an adult. Social interaction, singing, imaginative play and relationship building can occur.  Language skills develop.  Young children can learn the names of body parts.  A song that I created is set to the tune of, “Skip to My Lou”.  I sing, “Nose, nose, where is your nose? Nose, nose, where is your nose? Nose, nose where is your nose? Where is _________’s nose?” Then, “Nose, nose, here is your nose….. Here is _________’s nose!”

Bath Time Builds Social Skills and Relationships

Bath time is part of a great bedtime routine (see our article, “Beat the Bedtime Battles”)  It is one of the ways to let children (and parents!) unwind before heading to bed.

Children need to be bathed.  Don’t make it a chore, make it a delight! 

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Let Your Nay be Nay by Trisha Roberts

I firmly believe in setting well-defined parameters for children. I am going to make a statement that could easily be misconstrued, but I will explain. “Children function best in a box", meaning that boundaries need to be set so that children know what is acceptable and what is not.  There is great freedom when acting and functioning within the box but there should be consistent consequences when those borders are breached.  It should be very easy for children to see whether they are “in the box” or are stepping “out of the box”! If the boundaries are blurred and not clearly defined, children and parents will be frustrated!  There are lots of things to which we can say "yes".  You won't need to say "no" so frequently if children know the limits! Let your children know what is acceptable and let them know what the consequences will be if they cross the line.

Parents, grandparents,
and care providers need to be in agreement about what behaviors will be tolerated and what actions will not, as well as the consequences for misbehaving.  Children often test the limits—it is a natural part of growing and learning.  Whatever discipline method you choose to use needs to be consistently executed.  If mom disciplines one way, babysitter another, father another, or grandparents not at all, then the child becomes extremely confused and quickly learns to manipulate the situation to get what they want.  They have difficulty developing respect for authority or the need to follow the rules. More and more in our society today we are seeing a disregard for authority and a flaunting of the social norms that help society function smoothly. Some parents and grandparents don't want to say, "No", or feel that "no" is a negative, unloving word. But I think that "No" is a very important word to learn and shows that we love our children and want what is best for them!

Saying no means you love your child
"No" is not a bad word.  "No" means you love your child and want what is best for them!

Let’s use an analogy of a dog (but not at all implying that our children are dogs!) If you want your dog to stay off furniture, you need to consistently keep him off the furniture and discipline him when he attempts to climb onto the furniture.  If today it’s OK to be on the couch, and then tomorrow it is not, your dog will be very confused.  If mom says no to the couch and dad lets the dog on the couch, you wind up with chaos. Think about what your house would look like if your dog did not have a good understanding of what "no" means!! This, unfortunately, is similar to what I see in parenting today.

Let your Nay be Nay

In my Pediatric Physical Therapy practice I see this occur over and over, frequently starting in infancy. Too often to count, I have seen parents give children mixed signals about what is acceptable behavior and what is not.  A common scenario:  Mom tells baby, “No, you can’t play with my cell phone” (keys/purse/whatever). Then, when Mom wants to show the therapist (or grandma/dad/whoever) something the baby can do, they dangle the cell phone in front of the child and say, “Do you want the cell phone?  Crawl over here/say “X”/do this/ etc. to get it.”  This is extremely confusing to a child and muddles the boundaries of what is acceptable--the baby doesn’t know if the cell phone is OK or not.  Or mom says that the baby can’t play with the cell phone and then grandma offers the baby her cell phone.

Cell phone for baby

If you have told your child that a something is a “no-no”, then it needs to be a “no-no” all the time. Let your Nay be NAY!  Even when you are tired and frustrated you need to follow through with what you have decreed. You send a mixed-message to your child if you are not consistent.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart!  You can’t choose to be a parent one day and then not the next. In homes that are split by divorce or parental separation, there should be a concerted effort to establish rules and discipline that are consistently followed and reinforced for the overall health and well-being of the child you both created and love.

Divorced parents need to agree on discipline

Your child depends on you to teach them about the world they live in.  They should learn early on that there are consequences to every action.  Imagine for a moment what our morning commute would be like if drivers did not consistently obey stop signs…or only took traffic lights as suggestions! There may be drivers who drive like this, but there are laws and penalties for those breaking those laws.

Driving when no one obeys the rules

Bottom Line?  Be Consistent.  Everyone be Consistent! Clearly define what the rules are.  Let your children know what the consequences are for breaking those rules. Follow through with the discipline of your child when they choose to disobey.  You will be happier and your child will be happier and better prepared for life.

Nay needs to be nay, and leads to happy families

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.