Family Things to Do when Your Husband is Gone in the Evenings

Picture that iconic family meal together. Although research proves that families who eat together on a regular basis don’t have as many domestic issues, this may not be the most practical ideal for your family. See article.

Perhaps your husband has an evening job or is attending night school. When my husband went back to college, I wanted more than four kids and I staring at each other and missing Dad three nights a week for eighteen months. With a little planning this can be a great time for your family. At the beginning of “Dad’s school”, I made a “no moping rule.” The children could say “I miss Dad,” but only one time each day. Any more than once was complaining.

Here are some ways we made it special.

1. Food-If there is a meal the children love but your husband doesn’t, this is the opportunity to make it. (You should still have something available for your husband, even if it is leftovers from yesterday). Since spaghetti is a favorite meal for me and the children, but not the husband, we planned to have “Spaghetti night” on the night Dad went from work to class. We loved “spaghetti night”. Of course, once dinner is done and cleaned up, you still may have an hour or two to fill until bedtime.

2. Activities-We try to fill one of our “Dad’s school” nights with a going away activity. I signed the kids up for 9 week swimming lessons at the YMCA on Tuesday nights. The kids learned to swim. I relaxed in the hot tub. All four kids were showered and pajama-ed before we left the Y. When we returned home, it was “snack, brush teeth, and bedtime”. Those kids fell asleep quickly after all that swimming. You also may find a Wednesday night church program for all ages during the school year. Remind yourself that you can’t do everything, and do not plan to be gone three nights a week. It will most likely exhaust you and your family.

3. Books-(Yes, really). Pick a chapter book that will appeal to all the ages of your kids. I like the Chronicles of Narnia series or the Boxcar Children. Pick a book you cannot finish reading in an evening so they have something to look forward to next week. Have them get you a nice glass of water, cuddle up on the couch, and read until bedtime. Stop dramatically at the end of each chapter or at an especially exciting part so they can say “Please keep reading!” Thursday night is book night.

4. Movie night-While we do try to limit “movie nights” to weekends only, it is an occasional treat. (Actually, it is more appreciated because it happens rarely). Make popcorn and fill travel mugs with root beer or chocolate milk. We use travel mugs to avoid spills in the living room. Make “movie night” an occasion.

5. Games-One of our favorite things was to get out those battery-powered guns that shoot foam discs. We used the whole house and the “team approach” to dodge and shoot and surprise each other. We also used a “family team approach” for cleaning up all those foam discs. If you have a gaming system, you could use the evening for games. We also had racing tournaments on the Wii.

6. Special Privileges-Since it was “Dad’s school night,” the young twins were excited to sleep in their brother’s bed on the top bunk. The older two children shared the bottom bunk. Yes, it took a little longer to fall asleep but it was only one

One Family’s New Beginning

How I get more reading in

Being forced for economic reasons to use my noisy exercise bike along with my noisy elliptical glider got me thinking of ways to keep from being bored during indoor workouts. When I have the option I would rather be outdoors but when it is too hot or too cold, I am forced to exercise indoors.

My dilemma was, “How do I keep from getting bored while working out indoors?” Well, the first thing that came to my mind was watch TV during my workout. Unfortunately, that only works if you have enough volume on your TV to override the loud noise of old and I might add cheep exercise equipment. Now is definitely not the time for us to invest in expensive equipment so I did the next best thing, I decided to supply myself with books and magazines to read. I find that when I read, I can not only ignore the noise, but, I also loose myself in what I am reading. I get so engrossed in reading that a half hour workout turns into an hour workout before I can put the book down.

Treasured Books from my Mother in Law

Today, I picked another blessing in disguise! I received several books from my Father in Law that belonged to his wife, who currently is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. What a blessing it is to be able to read the books that she once read. This gives me the opportunity to get to know her better. She is a lovely spirit filled Christian who although she has Alzheimer’s, continues to be a blessing to everyone around here. She is filled with so much love for everyone in the nursing facility that they just can’t wait to see her every day when she does her daily walking throughout the Facility.

Today’s Reading

from the book entitled, “Those who came forward,” was about a man named Heintz and his family. Heintz managed to escape to West Germany after the war. He almost didn’t make it though because the dogs and the police were on his trail. He managed to go unnoticed when the police with machine guns were busy concentrating on a group of refugees trying to escape. Heintz just made it across the border at dawn.

Once he reached West Germany he married his childhood sweet heart, Gertrude, who had escaped to West Germany before he did. In their quest for success, Gertrude and Heinz studied thick books reading all the philosophies that flourished after post war Germany. They enrolled in evening courses in character building, positive thinking and even in astrology. When these failed to satisfy Heintz looked up other evening courses, so many that they merged and blurred, and still he came no closer to his goal. Next he turned to reading hour after hour, living in fear that someone would ask a question which he could not answer. With Gertrude he studied archeology, astronomy, art, evolution, physics — .

During this quest for knowledge they had two beautiful baby boys. Heintz’s dream was to become a famous wealthy chef but he had a language barrier which made it difficult for him to get recognized. At this time West Germany was becoming overly crowded.

An opportunity to move to Canada

One morning Gertrude’s sister appeared with rare good news. “Canada has opened the gates to German immigrants!” she said. “Who wants to go?” Their minds lightened with thought of escape from their gloomy, crowded city life. Canada was limitless with bright faced people, oil wells, cattle and land.

Family Get-Together Menu

In my house, dinner ideas are tough. This is especially true when I am preparing meals for members of our extended family. I have a few go-to favorites, but they certainly do not fill a menu. After hours of internet searches and one test meal, I settled on the menu for Easter this year. Here is what I made (with some commentary), and I hope it is helpful the next time you find yourself planning a big family meal–holiday or otherwise.

Pineapple, Orange, and Honey Glazed Ham

When I decided to make ham as my main dish for Easter, I had only ever baked one ham in my life. Finally settling on this one, I felt my lack of experience with baking a ham required that I follow the recipe exactly. I decided to have a “test run” of my menu the weekend before Easter. The recipe says the ham needs to spend two and a half hours in the oven at 325 degrees. The practice ham burned after only an hour and forty-five minutes. My husband’s grandmother suggested baking the next one at 225 degrees for five hours. I followed her temperature advice, and the ham only needed four hours in the oven. Of course, exact baking times vary from oven to oven. The glaze, unlike the ham, was easy to make by simply following the recipe. Over all, the ham was a success.

Deviled Eggs

I love deviled eggs, and I never turn down an excuse to make them. Still, I have only made them a handful of times, and I decided to try out a different recipe this time around. I skipped the garnish. The eggs were good, and I definitely recommend using a recipe with pickle relish over one without–or at least adding diced pickles to a recipe.

Green Bean Casserole

I have made green bean casserole several times, and it is so easy that I feel I do not need a recipe anymore. I love this dish, and it tends to be a hit at my family gatherings. Some of my family members dislike mushrooms, so I skipped them. I also added some shredded cheese and fried onions before baking it initially, and I still added some to the top at the end.

Sweet Potatoes

This is another dish I have made before. However, for the first time, I used a recipe that called for fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned. This make the sweet potatoes take longer to make, but it is a healthier option. Of course, any dish topped with marshmallows is not going to be remarkably healthy no matter what recipe a person follows. The most important thing to remember when using fresh sweet potatoes for this casserole is to boil them until they are soft and easy to mash. I used very large sweet potatoes, and they took closer to half an hour to boil (compared to the recipe’s fifteen minute suggestion).

Twice Baked Potatoes

I am confident in my twice-baked-potato-making skills, so I did not use a recipe at all. In fact, I did not even measure my ingredients. However, I have found a recipe to share. Personally, I just use sour cream, shredded cheese, and bacon. As my husband says, it is pretty difficult to mess up a twice baked potato.

Roasted Asparagus

This barely qualifies as a recipe at all. It is so simple that I am embarrassed to admit I needed it, but I had never made asparagus before. It is very easy, and I think anyone who likes asparagus would approve.

Dinner Rolls

The dinner rolls 

Outdoor Game Ideas for Picnics, Family Reunions and Parties

Getting together with family and friends is always fun, but why not make it even more memorable by adding some active outdoor games to play. These games are not only fun but the perfect entertainment to go along with all the great food and conversation.

Mix up the outdoor games at your next family gathering by adding one of these fun games along with the traditional tug of war, kickball, and softball games to create something new.

Outdoor Game Ideas

For large picnics or family gatherings, the All Up Relay outdoor game is a fun game for people of all ages.

To play this fun outdoor game, the following materials are required: Long jump rope or piece of rope, two hula hoops, 3 plastic toy bowling pins or empty 2-Liter plastic soda bottles and whistle.

For starters, it is easy to turn your park or backyard into a relay zone for this fun game. Use a jump rope or spray paint to indicate the starting line. At the opposite end of the relay running space which should be twenty to fifty feet long, place the two hula hoops side by side. Place three of bowling pins in one of the circles.

To play, divide players into two groups of equal numbers behind the starting line. Blow the whistle to indicate the start of the relay. The first person in each line runs forward and with one hand only, moves the bowling pin from one circle to the other. Each club must stand and none can touch the outline of the circle. Once finished, the relay participant runs bag and touches off to the next person in line by touching them on the hand. The second player runs forward to the circles and changes the pin back to the other hula hoop ring. The relay continues and the winning team is the one that has their last player cross over the finish line first.

Another fun game for your next family reunion or company picnic is the Arrow Chase. Materials needed for the game are just sidewalk chalk and a stop watch.

Ideal for a park or large outdoor setting, this fun game combines hide and seek and tag.

The group is divided into two equal groups, one will be the running group and the other the hunting group. Each member of the running group should have a piece of chalk. The object is to lead the hunting group on a wild path with twist and turns so they can make it back to the starting line without out being caught by the hunting group.

At every ten feet, the running group draws an arrow at some point along their path. The hunting group begins at the at the starting place and waits two minutes prior to starting to give the running group time to get a head start.

The running group should use all possible finesse in making it difficult to find their arrows, although the arrow must be in plain sight, though not necessarily from the point of view of the course taken. It may be marked on the farther side of a post, stone, etc., or at a considerable height, or near the ground, but never under a ledge or where it might not be seen plainly by any one standing in front of it.

The running group will naturally take a course that leads them back to the starting point, the hunting group, however, trying to overtake them before they can accomplish this.

Other fun outdoor games to bring along to your next family gathering or company

Outdoor Safety Tips for Children

Are you the parent of children who love to play outside? If you are, there is a good chance that your children, no matter what their ages, will spend a good portion of their summer outdoors.

As you likely already know, regularly playing outdoors is great for children, as it is fun, exciting, and helps to keep them active. With that in mind, however, you need to remember that playing outside can also be dangerous. That is why you will want to make sure that you take steps to ensure the safety of your children when they are playing outside, no matter what their age. Just a few of the many safety steps that you should take are outlined below.

One of the best ways for you to help keep your children safe when playing outdoors is by staying with them at all times. In all honesty, a large number of parents leave their children to play outside unattended. Of course, the decision as to whether or not you want your children supervised outside is yours to make, but there are a number of factors that you will want to take into consideration. For instance, how old are your children, where will they be playing, and how safe is your neighborhood?

Although it is advised that you always supervise your children, when outdoors, as you can never be too safe, there are steps that you can take to still keep them safe if you need to run inside for a few minutes. For instance, you could set up a baby monitor. This works great if you need to run inside and your children are old enough to be left alone for a few moments. Although older children may feel a little bit “silly,” being kept an eye on by a baby monitor, it is important to remind them that it is for their own safety.

Regardless of whether you are outside with your children or not, you will want to establish boundaries with them. This is very important, especially if you live in town or an area that is know for high speeding vehicles. For instance, if your children are allowed to play on your property let them know so. However, if you would like your children to stay only in the backyard, you will want to inform them of that request, as well as the consequences for not doing so.

Another way that you can keep your children safe when they play outside is one that you may not necessarily think of. What you will want to is make sure that your children toys are all picked up, each and every night. If you would prefer to leave your children’s toys out at night, you will want to make sure that you quickly examine them before they start playing with them. This is important if you rent an apartment or have neighbors who can’t seem to stay in their own yard. Personally, we have awoken to find my daughter outdoor toys missing, as well as ruined. In fact, her sandbox was even run over by a car late one night.

The above mentioned outdoor safety tips are just a few of the many that you can use to help keep your children safe, while they play outside. As a reminder, it is best if you use your best judgment. With that in that in mind, however, it is important to remember that you can never be too safe nowadays.

On when to Spank, Violence Against Children, and How to Prepare for Camp

Stop here every day for a new question and answer, practical help for busy parents.


I’m just curious. I’m a nanny who is also trying to conceive, and I find the idea of violence toward children abhorrent. But I would like to know at what age parents who do spank consider it appropriate to start. Would you spank your 9-month-old for trying to pull down the DVD player? Your 15-month-old for running off the porch after you told him to wait? Also, at what age do you stop?


Spanking is an incredibly polarizing topic, but your question is a good one.

The answer depends on how you define “spanking.” If you wish to punish a 2-year-old such that you can deter future bad conduct, you might consider a moderate slap on the back of the hand. For a young toddler, that constitutes a spanking.

Spanking children much younger than, say, 18 months is probably of little benefit. Children that young may have trouble connecting punishments to their own conduct. Other types of punishments, such as timeouts, often work equally poorly with very young children.

Once a child reaches 13 or 14, spanking becomes more difficult, and probably less effective than it was at earlier ages. However, by that time, parents can generally draw on a larger selection of potential punishments to establish discipline in the house. Grounding won’t generally faze a 3-year-old. But it could mean a lot to a teen.

I feel compelled to supplement my answer with a comment about your question. You said you find violence toward children “abhorrent.” To that I say, join the club.

All of us oppose violence against children. In my dictionary, the lead definition for violence is “Exertion of any physical force so as to injure or abuse.” I have yet to hear anyone of sound mind suggest that purposely injuring children is a good idea.

But corporal punishment, when administered correctly, is focused and controlled. The purpose is not to injure or to abuse, but instead to deter bad behavior. Parents punish children in an attempt to make the consequences of their action uncomfortable enough so that they will change their ways. For many children, corporal punishment works better than other types of punishment.

Unfortunately, some parents go overboard with punishments of all types. I recent weeks, I’ve read about parents who have starved their children, locked them in dark rooms for long periods of time, and beat them severely. All of these actions represent abuse. But the core punishments – going to bed without supper, serving a timeout, and receiving a spanking – are not abusive in and of themselves.

Child abuse isn’t a spanking problem, any more than it’s a timeout problem. Put the blame for abuse of any kind where it belongs – on the shoulders of the abuser. Because an adult who shows a lack of compassion or judgment can turn any punishment into abuse.


What kind of bedding do you take to a sleep-away camp? We know we have to bring a sleeping bag for her night out, but sheets or blankets? If so, do we pack her comforter?


The answer depends on the camp’s accommodations. If she will spend most nights sleeping in a bed, sheets and a blanket are probably fine. However, a sleeping bag can do the same job as traditional linens, and it provides more flexibility for camping or gathering to sleep in small groups.

I suggest sending her to camp with a sleeping bag, a pillow, and an extra blanket in case she gets cold. Keep the




Itsy Bitsy



Rugrats that


Nag you enough to grow on you

Best Children’s Classic Movies for Family Movie Night

Enjoy a classic movie with your children. Watching classics can open their eyes to a new world of imagination. Don’t be tempted to introduce these in the car DVD player. Watch these movies with them. Movies you saw as a child will seem different from an adult and parent perspective. And you’ll enjoy being there when your child tells you which parts they liked the best.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Charlie wanted more than anything to visit the great chocolate factory. All he needed was to buy a Wonka Bar with one of the five golden tickets hidden inside. We are so disappointed when the fifth ticket is found; we wonder what Charlie will do.

Mary Poppins: Jane and Michael Banks want a new nanny. They promise they won’t put toads in her bed or pepper in her tea if she is sweet and witty. When Mary Poppins shows up they get an adventure way beyond their imagination.

Cinderella: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is the ultimate fairy tale. Cinderella must get to the ball if she wants to meet the prince. Her stepmother will not let her go. Then her fairy godmother comes to help.

Wizard of Oz: Dorothy meets a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion on the yellow brick road. The travel to find the Wizard of Oz so Dorothy can return to her home in Kansas but they must elude the Wicked Witch of the West.

Sound of Music: A young nun cannot conform to the rules of the convent and is sent to care for Captain Von Trapp’s children. She teaches them to sing and how to play. The Captain, who hasn’t heard music since his wife died, does not like the change.

Old Yeller: A coming of age story about a boy and his dog. While he first rejects the dog, he comes to love it. Then he must make a difficult choice. This choice will determine the boy’s character.

Anne of Green Gables: A red-headed orphan is a spirited change for a brother and sister who live on a farm on Prince Edward Island.

Chitty Bang Bang: Take an exciting and musical ride in the magical but clunker jalopy. One close call after another, the car barely makes it.

Dr. Dolittle: Do you wish you could talk to the animals? You’ll love this delightful story of Dr. Dolittle and his talking animals.

Swiss Family Robinson: Shipwrecked on a deserted island. Watch the family adapt to a new life on this island.

These are wonderful movies the whole family will enjoy. Plan a special time to watch these.

Create a Family-journal and Give Your Children Something Unique!

We all want to leave something in this world. So, when we’re sitting on our pink cloud in the sky one day,we have the good feeling we have not been there for no reason. Because that would be a poor thought, that you have done absolutely nothing worthwhile with your life! Not everybody is creative; so leaving a lot of beautiful paintings or sculptures or even a book is not given to everyone, unfortunately. But here is something everybody who can hold a pen can do: write a Family-journal.

By that I don’t mean a dairy with all your inner-most thoughts in it. I mean something else entirely.

In every family there are stories, memories, of all the people who make up your family now and in the past. Part of these are probably stored in your mind now, on a sub-conscious level. You remember uncle so and so, he who always had jokes to tell. Or your grandmother who was good at baking and had beautiful hair. You remember how they lived, where they lived, how they spoke, how they were to you.

The idea came for me in winter. It was cold, rain slashing, and nothing on TV. I took out the photo-books and snuggled up on the couch for a cozy afternoon. A couple of memories came back and I smiled. My son, who is an adult now would never believe me how I had lived when I was growing up. What would he have done without his I-Pod, computer and cell-phone? My mind went back a bit further to my parents’ generation. World War II raged through Europe then……..and so I ended with my grand-parents . How did these people live? I could remember their house and what they had looked like, but what kind of life had they lived?

First I made a Family-tree, on white card-board. I was surprised to see that it went a lot further in the past than I thought. I added photo’s of everybody,starting at the oldest ancestor, going right down to my son. I added the dates when they were born and when they died.When I showed son this he was impressed. All these people had come together in order for him to exist. And looking at his photo you can see a bit of this long line of ancestors in his face.

I decided I wanted to know more about these long dead ancestors of mine and asked aunts, uncles and parents. What I wanted was stories, about real people! The strange thing is, I ‘d always thought that these people were poor and unhappy. No outings, no parties, a miserable life with nothing to look forward to. Well, poor they were but to my big surprise they had not been unhappy at all! And although they might not have had the Internet, they knew exactly what was going on in the world. I heard so many interesting family-stories that I decided to write it all down for future generations.

My journal is written for a small audience:the future generation of my family. It also has a part of world-history in it that young people don’t know about. A fine example is WWII: a 15-year old (future History-student) asked me the other day if the people in Europe had fought at all! Your “history” might be vastly different of course; I can imagine African-American people have a lot of history to tell their next generation. Or it could be that your family has lived in wealthy circumstances in the past. How did that go with servants tripping over

Family Fun in the Great Outdoors Without Ever Leaving Your Backyard

We, as a society spend so much time running here and running there to do things we consider fun we sometimes take for granted all the fun and wonder there is to be had in our own back yard.

Go camping

Is there an old tent taking up space in the garage? Bring it out, dust it off and get ready for a night sleeping under the stars. During the day plan a backyard scavenger hunt. Write a list of flowers, insects, rocks, leaves etc and send your family in search of nature. If a scavenger hunt isn’t your families cup of tea, set up a crafts table and make some faux fossils. This requires a small investment because you will need to purchase a box of Plaster of Paris as well as balls of clay. For each item you want to “fossilize” set one ball of clay on waxed paper. Use items with depth such as acorns, rocks, twigs or pine cones. Using an old rolling pin that you don’t need for food anymore roll the clay into a circle. If no rolling pin is available roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, that’s the point of camping right? When you have your circle of clay, impress your object into the clay and then remove. Follow the instructions on the box of Plaster of Paris keeping the consistency thick but make sure it is smooth. Pour you plaster mixture into the imprint of your item and let it harden for 30-60 minutes. Peel the clay mold away from the plaster and you have your “faux fossil”. You and the kids can paint them if you like or simply leave natural. You have just created a memory that will last a lifetime.

BBQ an easy dinner for the family with your own grill in your own backyard. No need to make it complicated but make certain to make it fun! Simple hamburgers and hot dogs are always great with the kids but if you are feeling adventurous BBQ a pizza on your grill. Buy a premade pizza crust next to the rolls of refrigerator biscuits at the grocery store. Make your own favorite pizza sauce or buy a can. You don’t even need to chop vegetables and meat. Most large supermarkets now have a salad bar where you can find exactly what you need cleaned and chopped, all yours for the taking. Oil the grill with a spritzer bottle or a simple basting brush will do the trick as well. Place the fully built pizza on the hot oiled grill but just remember to keep the toppings somewhat light. In order to heat up 2 pounds of meat per pizza your grill may need more time to cooking time resulting in a tough and burned crust. Serve with raw vegetables and the veggie dip of your choice. Lemonade is always a favorite on campsites but add some color to your drink. Before your camping trip make a some pink lemonade and place in an ice cube tray. Freeze until they are ice cubes and then bring them to the camp site and pour regular lemonade over them. As the ice melts it will create a new flavor sensation and change the lemonade to a pretty pink color, much to the delight of the kids. For the adults, add a splash of white wine to the lemonade for a lemony wine cooler that is out of this word. Of course no camping trip is complete without s’mores. The quintessential camping dessert is simply graham crackers, a bar of chocolate