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The Most Important Book in Our Home

We read to our kids out of books like Berenstain Bears, Dr. Seuss and Thomas the Tank Engine, but do we regularly open God’s Word to our children?

This common, all-time best seller—the Bible—isn’t just a book; it is a powerful tool for parents and children. Hebrews 4:12 declares this truth, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” 

We may have multiple Bibles in our homes, but are we using them?

A well-known Christian psychologist and author was vulnerably sharing how he used to set up an overhead projector at home to do lengthy Bible studies with his young children. He stopped when he realized he was on the devil’s side! His academic approach was turning his boys off to God.

I think the best way to equip our families spiritually is to make the Bible and prayer a way of life. Be consistent, but don’t try so hard that it becomes mechanical and binding, bringing death instead of life.

 

 

Model a lifestyle of living the Biblical principles you’re reading about, and loving God above all else. Realize there are seasons in life. Every season brings change. The methods that have worked for me are many and varied and have been practiced in the appropriate season. They include:

  1. Bible time around the breakfast table with Mom reading Proverbs aloud from The Living Bible and inviting input and practical application from two, three, and four-year olds.
  2. Bible time using the One-Year Bible for Kids or the adult One-Year Bible, keeping sticker charts and celebrating the year’s grand achievement with a dinner party and special friends.
  3. Bible time reading mountains of colorful and exciting Bible stories for children. Day after day after day of cozy time, snuggling with Mommy or Daddy before naptime, bedtime, or anytime.
  4. Private Bible time one-on-one with Mom when one child just seemed to be in a season when he needed more personal direction and attention.

Find what fits your brood, your mood, and your season. Formal Bible studies with accompanying manuals weren’t my style, but they may be yours. Morning or after lunch have been our chunky Bible reading times, but you might be nocturnal. The vital ingredient is consistency.

Over the years our boys also enjoyed lots of supplemental Bible stuff at bedtime. I’ve found a variety of different, fun, and humorous tapes of Bible stories to play after tucking them in. I’ve added to this audios with the Word being read aloud, as well as sung in worship. Those minutes before your children drift into sleep are a great time for capturing their attention with God’s Word.

In every form and fashion, I have attempted to get the Word into my kids. Some methods have been seamless and alive; while others have been very dry. We can be confident that whether our Bible and prayer times have been “heavenly,” or “not-so-heavenly,” they are never wasted according to Isaiah 55:11 in which we are reminded, “My Word that goes out from my mouth . . . will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” 

Your Two-Minute Takeaway 

  1. Ponder this: we can love and feed and clothe and nurture our children; we can do a lot, but we can’t humanely give them everything they need. The Message version of Matthew 4:4 reminds us that It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth. 
  2. The seeds we plant and nurture in our gardens this spring will surely sprout and emerge as the mature plants the DNA in that seed determine. The exact same goes for the spiritual seeds we plant in our children! All the Bible reading and sharing and living builds strength of fiber in our children’s souls that will bear fruit for a lifetime. The scriptures that have been implanted will revisit them throughout their lifetimes, encouraging, warning, strengthening them.
  3. You may feel ‘unqualified’ but there is no such thing in this department! Just humble yourself and begin! Reading children’s Bible books to your kids and grands is no different than reading a Mother Goose story book except that with the Bible, you get lasting dividends. I’ve been deeply impacted by the simple stories from these books and my faith has been strengthened as I’ve read to my own kids.

Want MORE? I’d love to be a voice of encouragement on your parenting journey! Grab my FREE gift: 7 Simple Steps to Raising Happy Kids Who Persevere (while building team spirit in YOUR home) by clicking HERE.

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Memorial Day in the United States of America

Memorial Day is perpetually in my heart. I’m sobered by the realization that my incredible freedoms have been purchased by the blood of my fellow Americans, and I grieve for those who have been lost defending my glorious liberty. May God comfort those who have lost their beloved ones in the service of this great nation. Thank you forever for your unimaginable sacrifices.

I appreciated this article on the history of Memorial Day and wanted to share it with you (click below).

Memorial Day: Holiday history; what’s the difference in Memorial Day, Veterans Day?

 

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Is FEVER phobia a part of YOUR Mom life?

A guest post by Heather Michelle*

F E V E R

That dirty little 5-letter word indicating our normal 98.6ish body temp is climbing, spikes our anxiety level as well. Particularly mothers of young children sense fear’s grip as they touch their child’s warm forehead, imagining what’s to come. Visions of crying, sleepless nights, puke, dehydration and potential doctor’s visits back us into a scary corner of panic..we’d do anything to make it go away, disappear – POOF! 

We head to the cupboard and dig out the dreaded thermometer. We eye it with uneasy suspicion, trying to get the most accurate reading.

It hovers at 100 degrees. 

BOOM. 

We sigh deeply.

Our first thought is, ‘make that number drop STAT, or chaos will ensue.’

But as the mother of a toddler myself, I would invite you to S T O P for a second and ask yourself “W H Y?”

Why is there a fever? 

Why are we so afraid? 

Why do we feel that number MUST go down immediately? 

What is triggering this reaction in our minds? 

Where did we learn our beliefs about fever?

I attribute much of this consternation to what I call, ‘fever phobia.’ I think parents tend to overreact and over-treat due to this phobia which, according to my informal but diligent studies, took root around the time anti-fever drugs like Motrin and Tylenol were released. I believe God created our bodies wonderfully* and maybe, just maybe, that fever is there for a beneficial reason.

Mom-Life. Keeping it Real.

The simplest analogy I can think of is our kid’s dirty, germy hands and belongings after time spent at the park, the zoo, the grocery store touching communal surfaces, picking their little noses, licking the shopping cart, dragging blankie across filthy floors of public places – you get me – if these scenarios don’t scream ‘mom-life’ right there LOL! How do we then proceed to erase the diabolical dirt and germs threatening? 

With heat. 

We wash our hands with the hottest water we can endure, draw a warm bath for Junior, march straight to the laundry room and toss blankie, teddy bear, and every stitch of clothing into the machine, selecting ‘hottest’ on the Maytag console to sterilize and obliterate the looming infectious microorganisms.

Heat disinfects, and this is what our bodies are trying to accomplish with a fever, yet we sabotage it from minute one by dropping that Tylenol/Motrin ‘ice cube’ into ‘the boiling water pot’ because we are afraid of the inconveniences that come with that word. 

Dr.Kathi J. Kemper, Director of the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness and a Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University weighs in with, 

“Fever is often a good sign of a robust immune system,” and “a fever in and of itself is not dangerous.” She reminds us to, “treat the child, not the thermometer.”

Our Miraculous Physical Bodies

The human body is a self-regulating organism, which means it’s programmed to heal and correct itself when given the tools necessary. Due to our compromised diets and other lifestyle factors, sometimes we need to give it a boost toward healing and restoring; but let’s be careful not to sabotage it just to reduce a symptom. 

Fever is just one tangible indicator of a problem going on within. Removing the fever doesn’t remove the bacteria or the infection, its just removes the engine from the train on the track to healing. Not addressing the root issue just means it continues to live on or grow into something greater like an ear infection, or pneumonia, or a myriad of possibilities.

Dr. Suzanne Humphries says this about fevers,

“trying to smack down a fever when a child is sick, is like shooting your attack dog when someone is breaking into your house!” 

Here are some practical solutions I turn to first, rather than grabbing the Tylenol or calling the doctor when someone in our home comes down with a fever:

Ginger Bath & Detox Bath

The first thing we do is a detox or ginger bath.These natural ingredient baths actually help the body reach maximum temperature quickly, so it’s able to accomplish its duty – destroying bacteria – then the fever breaks and the body releases pent-up toxins through sweating. When ginger is added to a bath it turns up the heat, encouraging this process. Some people will sweat a lot in the bath and after. These baths also encourage sleep, a benefit toward healing.

Dr. Donna D’Alessandro from Pediatrics at Iowa University says, regarding fever,

“the body is basically trying to do the right thing. Bugs like to live at body temperature. So if you raise the temperature, you kill them off.”

She also points out that the body can function very effectively at temperatures as high as 100.5 degrees. 

Ginger baths can be used on children and adults. If using on littles just know that water temp needs to be more moderate and they can rest on your chest or lap in bath at all times. If you have sensitive skin, wearing bottoms in bath may be helpful. 

Ginger Bath:

Fill tub with hottest water tolerable

Add 2 TBS to ¼ C Organic ground ginger powder

Submerge in tub and stay at least 20 minutes

After bath, dress warmly, drink lots of water, avoid sugar, and rest.

Temperature may continue to rise, but fever should break shortly. May need an additional bath next day if fever persists.

Detox bath:

Fill tub with hottest water tolerable

Add ¼ C Baking Soda to water and let sit 5 minutes

(when detoxing you are opening pores to allow impurities out and you will absorb what’s in the water, so by adding the baking soda, the water is ‘shocked’ and will turn your local water alkaline) 

After 5 min, add:

½ C Epsom Salts

1 TBSP Coconut oil

2 TBSP Bentonite Clay

2 drops Orange Essential oil (optional)

Soak at least 20 minutes

After bath, dress warmly, drink lots of water, avoid sugar, and rest.

Temperature may continue to rise, but fever should break shortly. May need an additional bath the next day if fever persists.

These detox baths can be used for fevers, headaches, muscle aches, and any general ‘under the weather’ feelings. When detoxing, symptoms can increase before leaving just as fevers spike before breaking.

Stats tell us that only 43% of parents know that a fever below 100.4 can be beneficial in a child.

 

Pharmaceutical companies have masterfully used advertising to promote their products using ‘fever phobia’ as a brilliant marketing scheme to keep parents in the dark about what is actually best for children. Before you allow fear and doubt to creep in, running to the doctor for a prescription, trust your body’s ability to heal itself. Help it along by detoxing, hydration, a clean diet and taking quality vitamins/supplements and then if necessary, seek medical attention. 

When our little ones are learning a new skill, it’s so easy to swoop in to do it for them so they don’t have to struggle, but that doesn’t build confidence or muscle for their future success. The same is true with our immune systems! Rushing to erase symptoms with that ‘magical’ liquid will not allow the body to build it’s own defenses in the end. It actually keeps it weak, and dependent on the ‘help.’ 

It’s hard to stand back and watch the struggle of an immune system growing, but if you trust your body and are willing to let it build its muscle, the next time sickness comes calling you’ll be happy you did!

*Psalm 139:14 I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

 

Heather Michelle Mira is a wholehearted wife, mommy, daughter and friend. A lifelong learner with a passion for homeopathics and all types of natural remedies, she loves sharing her victories to empower others in their pursuit of greater health. I’m blessed to call her mine! {Disclaimer: Heather is not a medical doctor and encourages readers to do their own research, seek expert advice and find what works for them.}

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Surprised Myself

Hello friend,

This coming Wednesday, November 11th is a federal holiday here in the U.S. when we pause to thank our military veterans; those who have served or are serving in our armed forces in peace and in war.

In light of all we’re seeing play out before us regarding our recent bizarre, unprecedented election process, it’s a moment to reflect, talk to our children, and remind ourselves of our great Republic and the miracle of its ‘birth,’ our responsibility to protect it, and the necessity to demand truth in this pivotal moment in history.

Our privilege to vote legally in the greatest free nation on planet earth is a grace gift from God that’s been purchased and upheld by the service and sacrifice of generations of these awesome patriots.

This is our moment to stand up and speak up.

Don’t leave your responsibility to someone else.

Yes, shocking. I actually went to a theater this weekend!

I literally cannot remember the last movie I’ve seen in a theater, as much as I love a good flick.

I’ve had a Fandango credit since last summer when hubby and I planned to take our grandkids to see a new movie. We chose a different activity, and banked the credit.

Yesterday was rainy and cold and a reminder popped up to use my credit, so I randomly checked to see what was playing. There were some oldies sprinkled into the lineup and this one caught my eye.

Watching American Sniper from my cozy recliner in a first-rate, heated theater was odd, as you can imagine. The movie was brutal and heartwarming at the same time. Hats off to its production team – I think it’s worth your time.

I thought the lead characters did an outstanding job, but I didn’t leave the theater filled with lighthearted joy, to say the least. But it was a solid, healthy reminder of the price paid (and continuing to be paid) by so many men and women in our military.

Christopher Scott Kyle, the subject of the movie, was a U.S. Navy SEAL sniper who served 4 tours in the Iraq War, and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat.

May God bless our honorable vets and their families who sacrifice so much for our freedoms and the preservation of our legal, precious vote.

"We sleep soundly in our beds,
because rough men stand ready in the night
to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

Quick, healthy chick food girls love…

Switching gears here, but I promised to share a little time-saving, healthy tip (and a story about hubby’s food preferences lol)

We raised 5 sons – eating machines. Wasting food wasn’t an option so I always found a way to stretch and repurpose pretty much any ingredients. ‘Goulash’ was a fallback for me. OK I’m laughing out loud right now.

My dear husband will eat just about anything and never complains, but goulash crossed a line for him. Still laughing. I would typically begin with ground beef, onion, garlic, seasonings, diced tomatoes…and throw in everything but the kitchen sink. He registered his critique asking if I could limit the parade of items I tossed into it. (leftover veggies, black olives, garbanzo beans, peas, macaroni – you get the picture…)

One day I switched it up and decided to use ground turkey, diced onion, seasonings and just one or two vegetables like diced zucchini and summer squash. Instead of calling it goulash, when he asked what we were having, I said…er, uh, turkey tumble! Now I am really laughing. He eyed it suspiciously and ate it, but it’s not his fav.

I literally crave it. Use the dark meat ground turkey for optimum flavor.

I make a pile of it, keep it in the fridge and eat it until it’s gone (4 days in fridge maximum for food safety) on top of prepared, bagged, washed and ready salad mixes, baby arugula, romaine lettuce leaves, grated carrot – whatever is prepped so I just have to open the bag and dump it on a plate.

Sometimes I drizzle dressing on top; yesterday I went all out and added diced avocado and cherry tomatoes. Here’s how it looked:

Sounds so simple, but it’s delish ?

I’d love to know if you give it a try!

Enjoying the blog? I’m so glad! Have you subscribed for my weekly inspirations, helpful resources and MORE? Just do it, I hate spam too! Find the link HERE

May we summon courage and wisdom and be guided and guarded by our loving Lord in the critical days ahead.

With so much love and constant prayers,

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Entertaining with Children: Build a team, not a hierarchy!

I know it sounds cliche, but it’s like someone pressed FF on the remote and the holidays are here againBefore you get lost in the overwhelm, keep reading because this season is a fabulous opportunity to work a priceless principle into your brood, while at the same time, lightening your load.

If you’re like me, there’s always a checklist or 22 on your iPhone or notepad. (Paper is risky. Lose my list and lose my mind. Right?)

Holidays create more lists within lists…food, decor, gifts, cards, cash, concerts, cleaning, invites, wrapping, houseguests, charities…

But everything truly is figure-outable and if you’ve got kids around your feet, don’t look over their heads and do it all yourself.

Gather those elves and build your power team!

I’ve always included our kids when I entertained; often this has included hosting overnight guests – dear lawwwd we almost ran a constant B and B everywhere we lived.

This has built such active compassion in them; it’s their default now as they are the most hospitable, helpful, capable, servant-hearted men and fathers as adults.

How can your children change the game for you, while you build priceless character traits into them?

Here’s a page from my playbook.

  1. My children participated at every level when we hosted. Don’t underestimate their capability or their enthusiasm to be in the game. (And don’t discount the boys – they can crush it without drama!)
  2. Welcome cards. Markers, crayons, stickers, paper…and HEART! Which adult (except for Uncle Scrooge) wouldn’t melt to see a perfectly, imperfect handmade ‘welcome’ at their plate or next to the bed in their guest room??
  3. House cleaning from toilets to vacuuming, changing sheets and mopping floors – anything needing done. Mom, Dad, you’ve got a labor force around you if you patiently train and confidently delegate.
  4. Food Prep with clean hands and hair nets LOL truth – one of our sons always made the homemade caesar dressing (I’m married to an Italian so it’s usually an Italian Christmas 🙂 and here we are decades later, and he’s still the man for the job.
  5. Greeting warmly. Remember, we aren’t ‘entertaining’ but we’re opening our homes and hearts to others in the spirit of Christ’s extravagant love, humbly offering our best to others. Who better to express this than our sweet spirited children? No one gets to be shy – it’s time to teach your bunch confidence, eye contact, “yes, sirs,” and handshakes!
  6. Teach your team the power of serving others first. Buffet style? Then guests go first, from main dish to desserts. And kids don’t touch, cough on and grub what they don’t take. That’s gross. Be tough on this one.
  7. Decorations – unless you insist on a Martha Stewart standard, kids can create home made decor like placemats, name cards, centerpieces; they can trim the tree, set  out the stuff from the attic where they like it and arrange the Nativity set. (our Nativity set always had G.I. Joes hanging from the rafters 🙂
  8. We Included our kids at the adult table – I tried never to relegate them to ‘kids should be seen and not heard.’ They were seated with the adults when there was room, sharing respectfully in the conversation and experiencing the wisdom and input of seasoned men and women. Of course this can be risky. Children aren’t adults and you may, on occasion, be embarrassed by their unexpected antics; but if we demand perfect and sterile conditions, we will never create an atmosphere in which to raise mature men and women.
  9. Our boys helped care for the youngsters who were our guests, entertaining toddlers, pacifying babies, sharing their toys, etc.
  10. Clean up. Clearing plates, scrubbing pots, sweeping, taking out the trash, folding chairs and tables wiped and stashed, ad infinitum.

If you can forget about perfect, overlook faux pauxs in conversations, spills and breaks when they occur – and they will – and simply delight in your child’s perfectly imperfect assistance, this practice is a major win for everyone.

Our children won’t magically at some mysterious age, suddenly take responsibility.

That is a fantasy.

But as we endeavor to include our kids, making sure each has a task to complete with excellence, they learn their contribution matters and they begin to take ownership for the success of our ‘team’s’ progress. 

This holiday season, think ‘team’ on the home front, not segregation. Society constantly segregates and labels the masses, big people, little people, important, unimportant, creating a hierarchical mindset, paralyzing many from taking action.

You’re building men and women for tomorrow – moms and dads, uncles and aunts, neighbors and friends who will take what you’ve given them and change the whole world.

If you enjoyed the read, there’s more! I’d love to be a voice of encouragement along your journey.

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When the Test Comes

I opened my Merriam-Webster Dictionary app and the word of the day, CRUCIBLE, flashed at me in psychedelic neon. (I made that last part up.)

OK, it may well be in black and white print, but the effect on my brain was the same. Its definition, ‘A severe test‘ enhanced my reactionary impulse. OMG.

Such a cruel word, it seemed out of place, like WT____?!?  Couldn’t you have chosen more carefully, Merriam or Webster?! Which of you made such a blunder, causing such discomfort and creating a foreboding on the masses looking to you for fresh vocabulary insights today?

You could have gone with, say, SERENE? (tranquil) or perhaps, EUPHORIC? (elated) or maybe, TRIUMPH? (victory), but no, you had to go there??

To the place we all have to live and dwell for extended periods of time throughout our lives, tapping our fingers waiting, wondering, crying “UNCLE!” begging out, bleeding, commiserating, asking “why?” and wondering, what if…when, how??!

And so, as our eyes light upon this word of the day we are reminded of our severe tests and their outcomes.

Perhaps it was a diagnosis. A marriage #fail? A financial crisis? A child gone astray? A career mishap? A church disaster?

None of us participating in this insane marathon called the human race is exempt. It’s universal, right? We’ve all tasted of intense trials, been encapsulated in our extended-play ‘crucibles;’ those lonely, isolated, panic rooms of pain, torture even, awaiting the end of the story, looking to see a better view from the other side.

And how did we react?

Did we, with our life choices, attitudes and investments, ramp up the intensity of our suffering, or, with self-control, wisdom and patience, grow and abound with a bittersweet sense of destiny wrapped around our circumstances?

Are we proud of our responses? Did we make it out unscathed? What did fate decide?

Did we learn, did we change and grow, did we come out better for the ugly trial?? We may indeed limp from the battle, but do we taste of the bitterness of vitriol as we reflect? We’ve lived in the fiery furnace, but do we still smell like smoke?

Merriam, Webster, whichever one of you chose today’s text, you will have touched many a tender nerve and doused some cold water in surprised faces this fine day. You didn’t choose neutrality; you won’t be ignored, skimmed over or easily forgotten.

 

Well done.

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Thank you for reading! Want more?? Here you go…

Denise Mira KNOWS that parents are the superheroes of our culture and she can’t shut up about it! If you’re hungry for MORE in your parenting, grand parenting, midlife parenting and all things LIFE, sign up here and grab your free gift – Denise is always brewing up something good to give away to her VIP subscribers to not only inspire but lift you higher!

 

 

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Listen to Your Mother. You Just Might Win an Oscar.


With all the Hoopla of the Academy Awards buzzing on social media over the weekend, I was reminded of my favorite year’s telecast so far, the 2011 Oscar presentations, and the film that dominated that year. I think you might enjoy the back story…


Tom Hooper’s mother had been invited to attend the reading of a play with some friends. She really didn’t want to go, as it didn’t sound like a very exciting way to spend an evening. However, it turned out to be a date with destiny.

Once she got home from the event, she phoned her director-son, Tom.

“Tom, I think I’ve found your next film.”

The title of the reading she attended? The King’s Speech.

The 83rd Academy Awards, February 27, 2011 belonged to The King’s Speech, which won four Oscars from its 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Director (Tom Hooper), and Original Screenplay (David Seidler).

This poignant account of the friendship between a distressed king and his loyal advisor, brought to life on the big screen by ‘Hooper and Co.’ has impacted and will continue to impact an inestimable number of individuals across the globe, bringing accolades and financial increase to its vast team of collaborators.

And all because a Momma picked up the phone to call her boy.

Kodak Theater-BigStockPhotos

Upon accepting his award, as an audience of 37.6 million looked on, Tom Hooper shared the story of his mother’s providential evening out with friends. And as she sat in the audience at the Kodak Theater that Sunday night, beaming proudly, he directed these comments to her:

“With this tonight I honor you, and the moral of the story is: Listen to your mother.”

The Power of a Mother’s Voice.

A mother. The unsuspecting catalyst whose years of investment, loving thoughts, and initiative precipitated an unimaginable chain of events.

Wow. More fuel on my fire of conviction that a child’s potential has no bounds if we DARE to believe for them and with them!

I always sort of thought that kids wouldn’t need their parents much after around age 18 – but now I know that’s not true; intentional parenting never loses its value whatever the season, and the benefits of such an engaged Dad or Mom just continue to multiply for everyone involved. Never lose sight of the importance of YOU, Mom, Dad, Step-parent, foster parent, adoptive parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent….

I think it’s time to pull The King’s Speech out again for movie night. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it, not only for its entertaining value, but for the rich historical insight it unwraps. If you love it, check out the new Netflix mini-series called, The Crown. It’s really well done and well-casted, brings to life so much history, and is terribly engaging as well.


citation: Oscars 2011 winners: ‘King’s Speech’ rules the night By Mike Bruno on Feb 27, 2011 at 8:45PM Entertainment Weekly

Oscars 2011: ABC’s audience down by nearly 10% Jason Deans theguardian.com, Tuesday 1 March 2011 12.39 EST

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It’s a Merry Mira Italian Christmas!

What’s on YOUR family’s dinner table this holiday week?? I’d LOVE to know! Leave a comment and dish on your menu…

By September, my crew is already reminding me of the essential components of the Mira Christmas feast. Seriously! We love a good turkey-ham dinner, but by Christmas, we’ve seen enough of the ole’ roasted bird and pig with all the fixin’s.

Seeing that my hubby is of Italian descent, pasta of any kind is his favorite thing to eat. I grew up on Ragu, so I didn’t have a clue. I’ve spent years perfecting my from-scratch secret savory spaghetti sauce recipe, with plump, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs, and luscious cheese-and-meat-stuffed manicotti. It’s ‘little Italy’ at the Mira home on Christmas.

The spicy-sweet aroma of simmering garlic has filled the house during the past 3-day cooking event. My daughter-in-law surprised me and popped in with Russian Tea Cakes for us to nibble and gave me three precious hours of her time helping with prep; chopping enough onions to choke the neighborhood, cracking eggs, forming meatballs and just being a friend while I measured spices, carefully filled each manicotti shell with the bulging pastry bag of yummy filling, and fried Italian sausages. The sausages are no small thing. They simmer in the sauce and flavor the entire meal, so I spare no expense, buying the best, least processed that money can buy. I confess I’m a perfectionist. One year while living in a new city, I conducted a blind taste test of 8 different brands of Italian sausage to find the winner for Christmas dinner. Truth.

While the spaghetti noodles boil, my fourth born will prepare his homemade Caesar salad dressing to toss with grated parmesan, and icy-crisp romaine. (Recipe below) Italian loaves will come out of the oven at the last moment, completing the meal with soft and chewy insides and a crunchy crust to slather in butter or dip into the sauce, aka ‘gravy’ as Italians call it. Mmm.

This isn’t just a meal, it’s a week-long event beginning with The Shopping List and ending with bright red placemats, and lots of smiling faces as steaming-hot, overflowing plates of pasta are served.

And one more thing…an Italian Christmas is a loud Christmas! The clamor of jovial banter and laughter is a part of the ambience. When the eating starts, though, you can almost hear a pin drop…

Amidst the hustle and bustle and merrymaking, I’m reminded of something etched on a Christmas card I received one year, ‘Things don’t make Christmas, people do.’ Christmas can’t be bought. It comes to life when we share it all with others, creating experiences and building happy memories.

That’s my wish for you. Make every moment count because we’ll blink and the calendar will turn to January 1st!

May the Christ of Christmas be your joy, your source, your substance and your solace in this season, and may you be refreshed by the relationships you hold dear, rather than drained by the demands of our culture.

I’ll close with a scripture I often reflect upon, and it’s especially appropriate at Christmas time with all the chatter about gifts and stuff.

“…one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

Ain’t it the truth.

Now, for that recipe I promised you!

Levi’s homemade caesar dressing

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp anchovy paste

2-3 cloves garlic pressed

1 tsp worcestershire

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dry mustard

juice of 1 whole lemon

1/2 – 3/4 cup grated parmesan

1 Head Romaine lettuce chopped

cracked pepper and croutons

Whir first 8 ingredients in a bullet or blender, toss as much dressing as you like with prepared lettuce and croutons, top with fresh cracked pepper and serve!

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this, there’s more…

 

 

For an IMMEDIATE upgrade amongst your brood all year ’round, grab my FREE Holiday Gift, ’12 Secrets to Taking the Angst Out of Your Family Holiday Gathering!’ Pure GOLD from my experience as a mom of adult kids. You’ll get it, too,when you sign up HERE ….

 

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My Thanksgiving Dinner Plan (pretty much)!

We hosted dinner guests from India tonight. Jordan and Nicole. Missionaries’ kids who met and married in India and are relocating to New Zealand. Early 20s and so precious. Jordan is a gifted musician/artist and Nicole is a photographer. It’s so cool to see your friends’ kids grow up and ‘adult.’ Kind of weird really, when all you remember is the little ‘rugrats’ they used to be and now – voila! They’re carrying the torch far and away! So this is what I made for dinner tonight. Comfort food, the kind of meal I’d serve my own kids if they were on the road and wanted home cooking. Chicken Schnitzel is a dish I learned while living in Australia – boneless chicken breasts pounded and dipped in egg/unsweetened coconut milk and breadcrumbs with spices then fried in butter and olive oil, mashed potatoes with sour cream and coconut milk (unsweetened), steamed carrots and corn and a green salad with Asian dressing. All organic. YUM. Here’s a pic of the schnitzel. So easy. Highly recommend! And…made the mashed potatoes in the instant pot – ohemgee I saved so much time and labor!

Below is the note I scrawled quickly when I was planning for our meal. It was a whirlwind day and I didn’t want to forget anything at the last minute so I made a list in the morning to revisit throughout the day – that’s how I roll. I always try to make a detailed list when I’m not stressed out because by the time guests are about to arrive, I’m sure to forget a detail. (One time we all finished dinner and a major dish I wanted to serve was still in the fridge ;(( that’s a drag. This never happens with a list.

So….drumroll please…here’s my Thanksgiving Checklist. Not a fake but the real deal I use every year to refer to for delegating, shopping and preparing. I tweak it along the way as needed.

Thanksgiving Checklist

Menu

Turkey

Cornbread Dressing (celery, onion, broth) 

Gravy (cornstarch/bouillion)

Mashed Potatoes (butter/milk)

Corn (frozen corn)

Whole berry cranberry sauce

Sweet Potatoes (marshmallows/brn sugar/butter)

Ambrosia Salad (mandarins, pineapple, coconut, sour cream, marshmallows)

Cranberry Jello Salad w whip cream

Rolls (frozen dough balls)

Ham (Costco spiral sliced)

Pies and whip cream (Costco)

Wine (Costco)

Sparkling cider, sparkling water, water, ice (Costco)

Egg nog

Decaf coffee/cream

Shopping List (helps to jog my memory so I don’t get ready to cook and find I’ve forgotten the celery, etc.)

Turkey

Boxed Cornbread Stuffing mix/or homemade cornbread stuffing

Onion for stuffing-Costco

Celery for stuffing-Costco

Turkey cooking bag/tin pan

Chicken bouillion-Costco

Cornstarch

Potatoes-Costco

Sweet potatoes-Costco

Brown sugar

Canned whole berry cranberry sauce

Mini marshmallows for ambrosia and sweet taters

Frozen corn-Costco 

Crushed pineapple for jello salad

Canned Mandarins for jello/ambrosia salads

Canned pineapple tidbits for ambrosia

Coconut for ambrosia

Mini marshmallows-ambrosia/sweet potatoes

Sour cream for ambrosia-Costco

Raspberry and lemon jello

Fresh cranberries for jello salad

Walnuts

Sugar for jello salad

Butter for both potatoes, stuffing, and rolls

Frozen rolls

Egg Nog

Ready Gravy

Decide on seating-nametags

Placemats/tablecloth/plates, utensils, napkins, wine cups, water cups

Food buffet arrangement

Music

I don’t just ‘wing it’ on where people will sit or where the buffet will be or what they’ll drink out of etc. etc. Planning ahead brings peace to the entire event. If I need to borrow tables, chairs or TV trays, I have time to consider that. We always serve buffet style to facilitate feeding a crowd – I honestly love buffet style for most meals when there are more than 4 people eating.

Here’s how I broke it down this year and how I delegated the bits and pieces:

Thanksgiving Checklist

Menu to feed 20 adults-planning enough food for second rounds and hang out time!

If there’s something missing, please bring it! xoxo

Young couple-Costco ham and 2 bottles white wine/ground coffee and creamer for large coffee tureen

Seasoned cook and family-one turkey/dressing/gravy (please bring coffee tureen and paper coffee cups)appetizer plate

Bachelors-ambrosia salad for a crowd

Gregory and Denise-One turkey, dressing and gravy, 2 bottles red wine, butter, hefty red cups, clear cups, dessert plates and EGG NOG

Young couple seasoned cook-5#mashed potatoes (Pioneer woman recipe can be prepared the day before and baked day of), Costco organic 5# sweet potatoes, 2 bags ice in cooler

Single busy businesswoman-2- 5# bags costco frozen corn and 6 bottles sparkling cider and 3 cans whip cream (all costco)

Young couple and family-2 bags of 36 Rhodes rolls baked and 6 cans whole cranberry sauce, 4 gallons water jugs, 3-2 litre bottles of flavored sparkling water 

Couple who don’t enjoy cooking-Costco 3 pumpkin and 2 fruit pies and 1 cheesecake and hefty  dinner plates, eating utensils for dinner and dessert, napkins for 40 people

Young couple and fam-5# mashed potatoes (Pioneer Woman recipe can be prepared a day ahead and baked day of) and 2 bottles rose wine and appetizer tray 

A couple days before I begin preparing I will make a list of to-dos complete with times of execution and ingredients involved. Something like this:

Sunday: begin thawing turkey in fridge. double check list to be sure I have all necessary food items and paper goods handled.

Tuesday: bake cornbread and set out with white stuffing bread to dry. Clean bathroom, dust and vacuum.

Wednesday: make Pioneer woman mashed potato recipe/dice onion and celery for stuffing. Make ambrosia. Pick out clothes to wear for tomorrow. Check to be sure turkey is completely thawed and if not, fill sink with water and begin emergency thaw process. LOL. #truth

Thursday: wake and simmer giblets, prepare stuffing by 10. Turkey stuffed and in oven by noon. Ice in cooler with wine and sparkling water to chill. Dress, makeup and hair done by 2. Music, essential oil diffuser and candles on by 3:45 (set alarm)

I truly hope these planning and preparation details help you to experience more peace and joy during the holidays, spilling over into all your relationships. May God bless you and yours this holiday season! For those of you who haven’t yet subscribed for my exclusive content, here’s the link to my video you missed on 4 Nuggets of Gold for Making Your Home Irresistible to Your Adult Kids (and everyone!) on Thanksgiving)

(PS you can subscribe on the link below so you don’t miss next weeks great stuff!)

So much love,

Denise

Thank you for reading, I’m truly honored. If you’d like to read more, subscribe for my exclusive content and grab my TRANSFORMATIVE freebie, 7 Steps to Cure an Unhappy Kid and Revolutionize Your Home Life by clicking HERE. 

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Summer of Love

It’s summer here in the Pacific Northwest, and as I predicted HERE in May, my blog has taken on a new twist and schedule due to my priorities of making every moment count.

I’m committed to seizing the day – it’s a life principle that’s served me well and is especially needful this summer as the traditional season of sunshine is often painfully short-lived here in the Pacific Northwest, and folks are taking their vacation days, popping in for spontaneous get-togethers, meeting up for walks in the park, and even flying in to sleep on our air mattress. 🙂 I’ve been hosting a myriad of well-attended events in my smallish old apartment building; birthdays, brunches, happy hours, and barbecues, proving to me that people really could care less how fancy the setting or food is, they just want to connect. (One sudden birthday meal was Annies Mac n Cheese and peas!)

My happy place is facilitating a comfortable, joyful and accepting atmosphere for strangers, friends and family to enjoy something yum to eat and drink while they meet up and find relationship in this crazy, ofttimes lonely world of ours.

I’ll keep this short as I’ve had a busy weekend of barbecues, a wedding and as I type this I’m preparing our abode for a precious couple to arrive from out of state. They recently lost their son to heart disease and I long for them to find a place to rest and enjoy friendship. I’m determined to do everything I can to make that happen for them.

I don’t always take photos as I’m usually occupied with engaging in all that’s going on when we host, but I’ve included a few pics here.

I want to encourage you to open your home – it may be a mansion or a trailer but it’s not about that – it boils down to heart…and some food and drink, of course. (We like music, too, so you’ll usually walk into our place with tunes playing  on the Bose.)

Grace and peace to you and yours this summer; I truly hope you make a plan to invite a good mix of people into your home, however humble you think it is. When we get our eyes off of ourselves and what we don’t have to offer, and simply give what we do have to give, God multiplies the fishes and the loaves of our lives and feeds the multitudes some pretty miraculous food.

Until next time I’ll be signing off; I’ve got a bathroom to clean and sheets to change.

Hugs,

Denise

P.S. Click HERE for another post-with-a-twist I think you’ll enjoy, pertaining to hosting houseguests!

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