Archives for September 2013

Friday Links

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Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Cooking With Kids: Stovetop Popcorn

source: rilmara

The art of homemade popcorn is one that has fled with the simplicity of microwave popcorn. I remember fondly my mom popping kernels on the stovetop, then turning them into wonderful caramel corn in the oven. But from about middle school onward (and that was, oh, 20 years ago now), I don’t remember even having popcorn that wasn’t from a microwaved bag or the movie theater.

When I started being a little more aware of what we were putting into our bodies, however, I decided to bring stovetop popcorn back into my life. (Did you know there are PFCs in the lining of a microwaved popcorn bag, and one of the chemicals in the butter flavoring has been linked to Alzheimer’s?) This way you can control your own ingredients, not to mention change the toppings to your liking! And it’s a great snack to make with kids. Popcorn is a whole grain and has a lot of fiber, making it a healthy snack that seems indulgent.

Here’s the recipe and then we’ll talk about how your kids can help!

Stovetop Popcorn

  • 1/2 c. popcorn kernels
  • 1 T oil (I like to use coconut oil)
  • optional toppings: salt, melted butter, Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, etc.
  • equipment: a large stockpot, aluminum foil
  1. Put oil in stockpot and heat over medium on the stove. When the oil is melted (if it’s a solid like coconut oil) or warm, add popcorn kernels.
  2. Cover stockpot with a layer of aluminum foil. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the foil to let steam escape.
  3. Shake the pot every few minutes until kernels start to pop. While it’s popping, shake continuously. When pops are 4-5 seconds apart, remove from heat.
  4. Season to taste and enjoy.

We like to sprinkle our popcorn with salt and then drizzle with a couple tablespoons of melted butter. For an even healthier snack, try a pinch of salt and a good sprinkle of nutritional yeast, which is full of B vitamins. (If you’re nursing, it’s also a galactagogue, increasing milk production!) Parmesan cheese is also tasty and is salty enough by itself usually.

My 4-year-old daughter will pour kernels into the pot and then help with toppings once the popcorn is cooked. An older child can do pretty much all of this by him or herself depending on his skill with the stove.

So pop some corn, pop in a movie, and your kids will think you’re pretty much the best parent ever.

(Psst: you can also make chemical-free popcorn in the microwave with just a brown paper lunchbag, too!)

Do you make popcorn at home?

Something About Apples by Ellen Stumbo

My daughter had a rough time at the beginning of the school year. On the first day of school, once we were in the car ready to come home, she broke down and sobbed. “It was the worse day ever!” She said.
Sometimes, it’s not easy being a kid with a disability. My daughter has a new class this year, and her classmates are naturally curious about why she has a wheelchair, why she uses a walker, why she has braces on her legs, and why she walks different.

It’s not easy to be a first grader that has to answer such personal questions about the things that make you different from everyone else. We have rehearsed how to answer those questions, but they came at her often and unexpectedly, crumbling her courage to speak up.

Kids are learning, growing, it is natural for them to wonder why someone is different, and why they might need special equipment to do the very things that come so naturally to them – like walking. So my husband and I visited the first grade class.

We brought apples, because there is something about apples. Apples can be green, red, or speckled; they look different but they are still apples. You can eat an apple, or an apple pie, or apple sauce. You can drink apple juice, or apple cider, or even apple soda. And it goes without saying that you can eat apple pie, but you cannot drink it. And you can drink apple soda, but not eat it.

We are like apples. We might look different on the outside, but we are more alike than different, we are still people, we have the same essence. And we all have different abilities. While my daughter might not be able to walk well, she is very creative, which makes her a great artist.

Yes, we are like apples. We all look a little different on that outside. We all have different gifts and talents. We are all perfectly unique.

ellenstumboEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

Q: My sister tells me I am too uptight about getting my toddler to sleep every night. She allows her three-year-old to stay up late, sleep in the next day and take naps if he is tired. She does not have him on any sleep routine. What do you think of this?

A: When you talk to sleep experts, they will tell you that a consistent sleep routine is important for a toddler. Sleep actually helps a baby’s brain grow! A study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that inconsistent sleep may contribute to obesity later in life. The study also noted that napping does not replace the benefits of nighttime sleep. According to the CDC, three to five-year-olds need 11-13 hours of nighttime sleep. So, yes, a toddler needs a regular bedtime. Since a lack of sleep can create problems opt for the regular bedtime routine and be patience. A toddler may need help to wind down by reading a book, taking a warm bath or doing something quiet before bedtime. Of course, parents need to avoid chocolate, sodas and even juices before bedtime. A warm cup of milk is calming. Then, make sure there is a consistent wake up time as well, as oversleeping and prolonged napping can create sleep problems. The atmosphere should be quiet and peaceful. Some toddlers like a little music to relax them as well. Even small things like keeping the room temperature comfortable and the house quiet can aid a good night’s sleep. And you are setting habits for the future. Most of us do best with a regular sleep routine as well.

Resource: Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens by Owens and Midell (Marlowe & Company, 2005.

Friday Links

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Get Behind Me, Satan.

I just started leading a Bible study, a very small group, last Wednesday morning. It’s the first time I’ve led a study since before my daughter was born, and she’ll be 5 next month! In the last 5 years, however, we’ve had three children, been in four homes, I made a jump from working outside the home to very-part-time-at-home, and we foreclosed on a property. Ay yi YI.

Last Tuesday night, I found myself in bed, almost unable to move. I have a bulging disc in my back that acts up from time to time (or, you know, herniates and give me sciatica for three months). Well, on Tuesday it was fighting back and I could only writhe in pain, even with a muscle relaxer. I was unsure whether I’d be able to make it to the first session of my own Bible study! On top of that, my 4-year-old daughter was basically being a maniac, the 2-year-old was screaming, and the baby wanted to nurse. I had several writing assignments due. Let’s just say it was a Woozy of a Day.

I texted my mom to ask her to pray, and she reminded me to pray – OUT LOUD – and tell Satan to get out of our home. She could see so clearly how he was trying to attack me, make me not only feel inadequate for the role ahead of me and the role I already have as mother, but also feel physically bad.

And you bet that I did. And Wednesday morning my pain was significantly less, and I made it to the study, kids in tow and all. After my 6-month-old baby, Joshua, had a blowout up to his neck. I can only shake my head.

Well this Wednesday was not shaking up to be much different. My back was hurting again yesterday, although not nearly as bad. This morning my daughter was throwing tantrums about putting on shoes, my 2-year-old was screaming (ALWAYS), and the teething baby was unhappy. Meanwhile I tried to cook a meal for a friend, pack Libbie’s lunch, and make sure I was prepared for study.

And as someone cried about something-or-other in the car, I realized I was letting fear and anger get a grip. Aloud, again, I prayed, ordering Satan to leave our space. I claimed blessings on our day and the study. My kids may have been confused, but I think it will help them to hear Mommy pray at all times!

Three minutes later, we had a Praise Baby CD going and the kids were singing “Open the Eyes of My Heart.” The ones who can talk, that is. And with tears dripping, I drove with a calm heart.


It’s certainly debatable whether Christians can “bind Satan,” but we CAN inform him and his demons of the Truth: we know our God is bigger and better than they are. We can claim the promises of Scripture: the peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7), the spirit of power and love and sound judgment we are given (2 Tim. 1:7), the knowledge that God is going to win His battles. Satan and demons cannot hear us when we pray silently, which is why I think it’s important to pray out loud from time to time. There is power in saying Scriptures aloud and praising God that His ways are true and right.

Teach that to your kids! Show it to them in your lifestyle. The world will tell your children that Satan is not real but we know differently. You have to be the ones to guide them to the narrow path (Matt. 7:13).


Jessie Weaver Jessie Weaver is the resident ParentLife blogger. She is a freelance writer who lives in Chattanooga with her husband and three kids (4, 2, and 6 months).

Giveaway: The One Year My Princess Devotions by Karen Whiting


Whiting believes that children are capable of being both listeners and doers of God’s Word (James 1:22). Appealing to various learning styles, Whiting challenges girls to know God and build character through reading Royal Words (a Bible verse), Princess Thoughts (a short devotion), Prayer, and becoming a Princess-in-Action (an activity related to the devotion).

Following Whiting’s devotions, girls will develop the following Princess skills:
Praise God and Pray
Remember God’s Word
Improve Her Mind
Nourish her spirit
Cultivate a healthy body image (and character)
Experience God’s love
Share her faith
Serve God and others

And 5 lucky ParentLife readers will win a copy of The One Year My Princess Devotions by Karen Whiting (open only to residents of the US). Enter through the form below.

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Embrace Children With Differences

Here are a few tips foreEmbracing a child with a physical difference and her family during everyday life.

1. Invite the child on play dates.
Don’t be concerned about how other children may respond to the child’s physical difference. When children see adults treat a child with a difference just like any other child, they, too, will quickly look past the physical difference and focus on the child herself.

2. Visit the child at the hospital.
If the child must have surgery, make a point to visit the child and her family at the hospital. A smiling, familiar face can bring such a sense of calmness and ease during these stressful times. This is also a wonderful opportunity to teach your own children about caring for others.

3. Let the child’s family decide her limitations.
Even if the outing is at a bounce house, playground, or skating rink, don’t be timid asking a child with a physical difference to attend. Allow her parents to decide whether or not she can handle the outing. You’ll be simply amazed at what these children can do!

Friday Links


Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

25 Great Slow Cooker Recipes


original photo source: Breville via Flickr

It was obvious from the enthusiasm about our 25 Make-Ahead Breakfasts post that we all need some easy, go-to recipes! For busy families on-the-go, prepping beforehand is crucial. So I thought today I’d share 25 great slow cooker meals.

You can toss these in the slow cooker in the morning and have dinner waiting when you are ready for it. Better yet, prep as much as you can on a Saturday and freeze your meals in gallon-sized plastic zipper bags. Then you can just dump one in the slow cooker (defrosting it the night before is best, but usually not a deal-breaker) on your way out the door.

Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe? Please share it in the comments!

  1. Chicken Tikka Masala
  2. Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew (vegan)
  3. Cream Cheese Chicken
  4. Stuffed Pepper Soup
  5. Pasta Fagioli Soup (vegetarian if you sub vegetable broth for chicken broth)
  6. French Dips
  7. Sesame Chicken
  8. Greek Chicken Pitas
  9. Balsamic Onion Pot Roast
  10. Bolognese Sauce
  11. Curried Pork Chops
  12. BBQ Chicken
  13. Cajun Stew
  14. Chicken and Cornmeal Dumplings
  15. Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Lasagna Soup
  16. Korean Ribs
  17. Country Style Pork and White Beans
  18. Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
  19. Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers
  20. Texas Two-Step Stew
  21. Shrimp and Corn Chowder
  22. Cheesy Cowboy Casserole
  23. Paella
  24. Cranberry Chicken
  25. Chili