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Archive for the ‘How To Do Things With Your Kids’ Category

Today is the second day that I’m inviting you to participate in a family tradition of ours.  I’d like to extend a warm welcome to you to take a journey with our family this Advent to discover why Jesus came at Christmas and how that relates to well-known Bible characters like Abraham and Moses.  Specifically, our focus is on the covenants or special promises (sometimes called testaments) that God made with various people and how that was a set-up for what we have the privilege of enjoying THIS Christmas!

If you would like the background to our family tradition, you may view it here.  I’m including Pinterest images of our Advent calendar so you will see it grow, day-by-day, until it is completed and full of Biblical characters and symbols that track a chronological progression from Creation to Heaven.  Today’s Calendar looks like this:

December 2nd | Day Two: Let Us Make Man in Our Image

Please read these Bible Verses first.

Bible Background: We are made in God’s image. The ancient Hebrew word for image is “Tselem” and it means a copy or replication: in other words, God made people to be copies of Himself. Copies are never as good as the original, but they are very similar. The reason for Adam and Eve’s lack of embarrassment is in the Hebrew word for ‘naked’ in Genesis 2:25: Arowm. Arowm means “partially naked”…in other words, Adam and Eve were covered with something…if it wasn’t clothes, what were they covered with? We learn from King David in Psalm 104 that God is clothed with things like honor, majesty, and light. Since Adam and Eve were made as copies of God, they were likely covered with something similar! Of course, things like honor, while personally perceptible, are invisible to others so Adam and Eve certainly looked naked! But they didn’t feel naked, and that’s why they weren’t ashamed. (Reuben, Dick.  The Garments of the Priesthood. [DVD]. 1995.)

Bible Study Question: Compare Isaiah 61:10 to Revelation 3:17-18. Who do we get our spiritual clothes from?

Today’s Devotional: People used to be clothed in honor, majesty, and light.  Today we are not born with the lovely spiritual covering that Adam and Eve were made with. This due to Sin (we will talk about that tomorrow). Many of us today feel guilty, ashamed, and self-conscious even though we might act over-confident, indifferent, or just plain “tough”; some of us feel like something is missing in our lives–this is a spiritual nakedness that makes our lives miserable (even at joyful times like Christmas). Jesus came to clothe us with His righteousness and salvation; this is God’s solution to our feelings of guilt and shame. Remember what Isaiah said when God gave him spiritual clothes: “ I am overwhelmed with joy!”  That’s God’s plan for you and me.  Let’s allow Him to wrap us up in His “rightness” this Christmas!  Then we cannot be injured by “wrongness” whether it is attributed to us by others or even by ourselves!

Application: Don’t get into the habit of criticizing yourself and others based on appearance (very important to keep in mind with the glittering appeal of commercialism this Christmas; it’s OK if your house doesn’t have the most lights on, your table didn’t jump out of a magazine, or if you don’t have festive clothing.  You are more than where you live and what you look like!) Remember that we are all made in God’s image: that’s pretty special!  Remember that if you believe in Jesus, you have His robes (righteousness and salvation) on every day; be a confident Christian knowing that God has your vulnerabilities covered!

Prayer: “Father God, thank you for making me in Your image. Please clothe me with Jesus’ spiritual garments of righteousness and salvation and help me to “see” them at work in my life every day; cover up my spiritual nakedness so I can live a joyful life in the truth of what You see me “wearing”. In Jesus’ Name; Amen.”

Family Activity: [If you’ve got guts!] Pretend you are wearing the most beautiful clothes imaginable; you are covered with God’s honor and majesty. Show them off, dance around the house, and march proudly! Or, if you aren’t comfortable pretending, draw a picture of what you think God’s garments would look like on you (or on Adam and Eve) if you had “spiritual goggles”.  (It is fun to see what children get out of this concept!)

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Get a Helping of Hope through your TV!

First of all, I’d like to say that this post is probably not going to make the point you think it will!  I could drum up the statistics on obesity, attention deficits, etc. to berate the use of Television in the home; however, the purpose of this post is not to criticize how long we let our kids watch TV, it is to give hope and help so we can make right choices (wherever we’re at) to a bright future.

Exempli gratia, if I told you to buy nothing but organic products (which would be a good thing: who wants to eat anything with 15 different pesticides on it?), you wouldn’t do it.  Neither would I: I can’t afford it.  Or more accurately, I haven’t rearranged my budget to make that a priority.  What I CAN do is buy the organic versions of  the 12 most pesticide-ridden vegetables and fruits and buy regular produce that has few pesticides.  It’s a step in the right direction; now I have significantly reduced my risk for developing Cancer and other bodily ailments.  Once I get used to buying some organic products I can buy more as my grocery budget increases…or maybe even contemplate growing my own as an investment stratagem!

It’s the same thing with TV, I think.  Ideally, none of us would use a TV except for Family Movie Night and documentaries.  We should be frolicking out in the fields, playing board games, reading stimulating books, and ACTUALLY talking with each other about our day.  Yes, we should.  I am sure in the long run the costs of NOT doing those things are pretty high, just as the cost of eating pesticide-ridden food is very high.  Few of us are in a position, however, to LEAP from where we are at now to where we ought to be.  There is little environmental support to do so; our lifestyles are systemically busy, we forget how to do things with our kids, and at the end of a busy day it is less emotionally and intellectually demanding to entertain ourselves to drowsiness than it is to engage in meaningful conversation with our loved ones.

For some of us, the situation is a little different.  Perhaps depression has set in and you just don’t know how to engage your kids; you feel worthless as a parent.  Your feelings aren’t motivating you to interact with your children and your self-condemning thoughts are preventing you from emotionally connecting to them.  You have “zero” physical energy to do anything other than sit on the couch.  The more you sit and criticize yourself for using the TV, the worse you feel and the depression deepens.  If that’s you, I want you to stop feeling badly about yourself and your kids’ situation; letting your kids watch a lot of TV may not be an entirely good thing, but it need not be a terrible thing if you know how to direct it (more on that below).  If these feelings describe you I have the following advice **from experience**:

  • Make sure you are getting the nutrition you need to physically recover (see my Transformation Tuesdays posts for positive steps you can take to start feeling better).  My brain completely crashed after eating a Standard American Diet through college; it took me over a year to write my undergraduate thesis, I forgot to pay the wedding videographer before he moved (I still don’t have my Wedding DVD after seven years of trying to get in contact with Hafer Video…), I was unemployed for six months and when I finally did get a job, I was not even close to being “myself”.  Working and suddenly pregnant, I ate out every day and the depression only worsened.  Only when I started eating eggs everyday did I start to feel better, and only when I got rid of corn syrup did I get rid of my Seasonal Anxiety Disorder.
  • Make sure you are getting a dose of healthy “thoughts” that will change your outlook (see my Faith Fridays posts for encouragement from the Bible).  I recommend listening to or watching Joyce Meyer’s Enjoying Everyday Life show (yes, on TV!); The Lord used her in my life to help me get over a nasty, three-year-long depression.
  • Please make sure you are talking about your struggle with someone who can love you into wholeness.  Not just someone who gives you advice, but someone who listens.  At my church we have Celebrate Recovery; if there isn’t a CR group near you, you may be able to find local support groups through your child’s school or you can speak to a professional counselor or pastor.  Stephen’s Ministry is another organization available at many churches; you will have to check out your local churches’ websites or call to find out if they have that or a similar option.  Make that your goal for this week, even if you don’t feel able to do the previous two recommendations.

Perhaps like me you have a special needs child who was (and may still be) unresponsive to your attempts to make a structured, educationally rigorous, and visually engaging work….um, home…environment.  You read the books (or blogs), created your homeschooling plans to have your child graduate from high school at age 14, and envisioned them memorizing the first five books of the Bible by age 13 like the Jewish children in Jesus’ time 😉 !  But the child you received as a gift from God did not roll, sit up, crawl, or even walk on time.  He did not speak, had difficulty eating, and refused to play with toys.  He did not pester you with questions as you imagined he would, did not ask for help, and didn’t want to do…anything.  Even touching, hugging, and smiling became difficult for him.

That’s what happened in our family; the only solution that seemed to make our Fragile X Syndrome Child (with Autism and Attention Deficits) engage in ANYTHING was TV.  It started with Veggie Tales, moved on to include the Gaither Gospel/Homecoming shows (how much music transformed our FXS child’s face!  The tube wasn’t the only thing glowing 😀 !), and then we progressed to preschool TV shows.  We read books and tried different toys but the majority of learning came from our TV.  When our FXS child became overwhelmed by all the sensory inputs in our home, TV was the only solution to the resulting outbursts and fits; it soothed and numbed a brain clawing for an input it could safely hold on to.

As I suggested at the beginning of this post, I am not going to say what you think I might say.  I’m not going to say TV is bad; through bouts of depression and coming to terms with special needs parenting, we have relied on it quite a bit.  I have no idea what is too much TV and for whom, but I have found the following RIGHT CHOICES very helpful:

  1. AVOID COMMERCIALS LIKE THE PLAGUE.  Bright future: children with a higher attention span who are less demanding or materialistic than many other children and whose self-esteem remains relatively untouched by the subliminal “sex, money & power” messages that come through advertizing.  There are several ways to do this:
    • DVR: whether you have a standard TV signal or cable/satellite, a Digital Video Recorder can help you to be more selective with the shows you watch, give you flexibility to watch recorded shows at a time convenient to you (so you aren’t forced to “watch what’s on”), and most importantly allows you to fast-forward through those dratted commercials and pause for real-life interruptions.  It is worth the additional $5/month or whatever promotion is available to you.
    • Cable/Satellite: only allow your children to watch commercial-free children’s channels.  With most providers, you can set locks for ratings and times you don’t want your children to watch.
    • Internet TV (Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime): If you have a PS3 (as we do), you can easily access internet TV companies and play BRDs.  I recommend Netflix on the PS3 because it has a child-interface that blocks scary grown-up icons and is easy to use.  You can select from many educational and age-appropriate children’s shows, including family movies, 24-7, for only $8/month.  (This way you can save your cable/satellite bill and spend it on organic veggies…right?)
    • VHS/DVDs/BRDs: make sure you skip past beginning advertisements to get straight to the main content, but this is the surest way to avoid commercials and control the content.
  2. USE THE ENGLISH DESCRIPTIVE VIDEO SERVICE.  Bright future: increased vocabulary and attention to descriptive language, including prepositions and adjectives.  On some DVDs and BRDs, there’s an extra audio track under languages (on the PS3, you can access it using the triangle button and selecting “audio” until you get the right track) that includes a complete verbal description of everything that is going on.  It is like turning on a radio story broadcast!  What a wonderful way to provide our children with descriptive words that are otherwise difficult to teach (prepositions, adjectives, etc.) FYI, we would never have known that Tangled’s Flynn Rider (Disney) had a “smarmy grin” if it wasn’t for this feature…
  3. STICK WITH EDUCATIONAL SHOWS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.  Bright future: your child should have a great visual repertoire of complex ideas that are best taught through repetitive demonstration.  There are five main types of educational shows we focus on:
    • Faith-based.  Teaching children about the Bible and God’s Love helps to keep them from succumbing to the negative ideas prevalent in out peer-pressured world.  Our favorites are Veggie Tales (Lord of the Beans is hilarious), the Animated Passion Series from Nest entertainment, and the King of Dreams (Dreamworks).
    • Kinesthetic.  Anything that gets our kids moving (Yo Gabba Gabba, Go Diego Go) or teaches them about physical interactions with objects (The Upside Down Show, Wallace and Gromit, Sean the Sheep, Pingu) is a plus when you have a child with limited mobility.
    • Reading & Comprehension.  Anything that reinforces the written word gets an A+, since reading is the gateway to all learning.  We have watched Your Baby Can Read, Word World, Super Why, Pinky Dinky Doo and now… the Electric Company!
    • Mathematics & Science.  Abstract concepts like mathematics are typically a struggle for people with FXS.  We have used Dora the Explorer, Team Umi Zoomi, and Sid the Science Kid to introduce our children to counting and measuring.
    • Social.  Yo Gabba Gabba does a great job of encouraging children to interact with others; we also like Nickelodeon’s Avatar for its character development and focus on forgiveness (it employs a lot of Eastern ideology that many Christian parents would find unpalatable; we point out these ideological differences to our children and use them to reinforce how and why we believe as we do.  As with all TV watching, please go with your conscience and be as interactive as possible).

In the end, TV is so endemic to our homes that the only way to get rid of it is to have something else to do.  Scheduling times to go to the library, go to church, go to the park, etc. are great ways to keep TV-free.  Doing chores and cooking together as a family is another way.  Incorporating reading and play times may be difficult at first, but are very rewarding if you can take the pressure off yourself to perform at a certain level.  If you feel in any way guilty about watching too much TV, slowly add one activity at a time to your family routine until it becomes permanent; you’ll watch TV less and less.  Most importantly, the best choice you can make is to pray and ask God to show you what is right for your family and to give you the Grace to get to that “place”; The more time you spend with Him, the more likely all your other activities (like watching TV) will fall into place as you step into the bright future He reveals to you.

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Check out how I made this magnetized, dry-erase calendar to help organize our family chores better. Don’t have family chores? Read below to see how to set them up!

After listening to the GNOWFGLINS lesson on cooking with kids in the kitchen, it got me thinking…how can I develop a routine for doing chores in general?

I’ve already discussed doing laundry with your kids in my first blog post, including the many sensory-tasks that are involved; this time I wanted to take a step back at the big picture and see how doing chores with my kids can also encourage ME to be less sporadic with my housework!

Helping of Hope: Involving the kids in housework is a RIGHT CHOICE for the whole family and will help lead to a BRIGHT FUTURE of owning a cleaner home and nurturing independent kids.

 

How to Plan

I thought hard about which tasks I typically struggle to get done and needed to be done at least once a week. I choose chores that the kids could do alongside me whilst I did the hardest parts.

Here are the days/chores I picked:

  • SUNDAY: no chores. Funday!
  • MONDAY: Gardening. We’ve had incredibly warm weather this Summer in Michigan; Mama’s garden looks more like a jungle.
  • TUESDAY: Laundry. I am perpetually catching up on laundry and have no idea why…
  • WEDNESDAY: Furniture. I am ashamed to say this was an entirely new concept and very easy to do with the kids. We used damp microfiber cloths to clean headboards, drawers, table legs, bookshelves, you name it.
  • THURSDAY: Bathrooms.
  • FRIDAY: Floors. This is a bit of a fudge-day because by this time we are usually behind a chore. We take our microfiber cloths from cleaning the bathroom with vinegar and use them to scrub the vinyl floors in our house. If we are on schedule, this is a light chore and Mama goes around cleaning the baseboards.
  • SATURDAY: Shopping. I have to take the kids with me anyway 🙂 We go to Busch’s to get Amish chickens and cash, the Farmer’s Market, the health food store, ALDI, and Meijer. When we get home from the store the kids help me put things away and wash the produce.

 

So far it has been a huge success: our house is cleaner than ever and Mama gets to spend more time with her kids doing everyday tasks that build life-skills and confidence. We give our 4 and soon-to-be 6 year old a dime for each chore done; when they have one dollar earned, they give the first dime to Church, four dimes to the piggy bank (savings), and five dimes to a coin purse (spending). We are not a very commercial family: getting a dollar to spend every couple weeks or so is a big deal for our kids and they can’t wait to find a toy at the dollar store 🙂 Avoid TV and magazine commercials like the plague, folks!

CAUTION: if you are going to clean with your children, please do not expose them to harmful cleaning agents and chemical sprays. Try using 50/50 water and vinegar in a spray bottle for most surface cleaning. Sanitizing can be done with neat vinegar. The smell goes away when it dries. Microfiber cloths are an essential investment for chemical-free cleaning. Also stay away from artificially scented products; they attack the nervous system. Use a couple drops of essential oil on a cloth (keep the oil out of reach of children; only you should handle it as it can be fatal if swallowed) or in a spray bottle of water and amend your environment “thusly”.

 

How to Make A Visual Chore Schedule

I created a simple week-long calendar in a spreadsheet, using clip art for visual cues. I used the “print screen” option and pasted the image into Microsoft Paint. There is a “flip vertical” option in one of the menu options: I used it to create a reverse image that I printed on a transparency. I glued the transparency onto a piece of white card and glued magnet strips from old business magnets to the back. It sits on our fridge in plain view so everyone knows what to expect that day.

 

How to Use

With a dry-erase marker, place a check next to each child’s name if he completed his part of the chore that day. Make sure to show each child how to do his part of the chore the first few weeks–until he has the hang of it–before attempting to do your part alongside him. At first, keep the chore light by limiting it to 5 to 15 minutes of involvement. Increase the time spent as the child’s skill level increases. Give a reward for each day’s work and don’t forget to incorporate the principles of giving, saving, and conservative spending 🙂

 

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We cook our breakfast overnight!

This Mama Mondays post is barely squeezing in before midnight…I am still trying to work in a blogging routine… speaking of routines, I just finished watching the second lesson in the Real Foods Kids class on GNOWFGLINS which is all about developing a routine for involving kids in the kitchen.

I don’t want to repeat everything in the lesson here; I recommend that you sign up for GNOWFGLINS membership so you can see it firsthand (I always think of the verse, “thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn,” but that seems hardly complimentary when referring to lovely blogging ladies!  No woman wants to be referred to as an ox… 🙂 Basically, I think Wardeh deserves the small membership fee for all her hard work!)  You can also try a membership for just one month when the course is finished–so you can watch all the videos at once–if you’d like to get the most bang for your buck ($10 or so for 19 lessons and lots of downloadable, printable files to help with organizing and planning, plus access to the forums with valuable Q & A )

Advertisement overwith, I thought I’d share my application of this past weeks’ lesson.  The biggest KEY I got from Lesson 2: PLAN GRADUALLY.  Apparently, we all have routines (it’s the way we do things every day) so all we need to do is tweak them and keep on tweaking until we get to where we’d like to be.  My goals this week are to (1) get my small children involved in making breakfast and (2) since she isn’t up at breakfast time, to get my stepchild to do her chore in a way that complements the breakfast routine.

A little explanation is in order: We make steel-cut oats for breakfast in a crockpot so it can soak overnight to reduce phytic acid (remind me to post the recipe for Recipe thuRsday!) and slow-cook to be ready at breakfast time.  We also eat hard-boiled, free-range eggs instead of taking multivitamins (the higher cholesterol should help our FXS child with her autism symptoms).  My stepdaughter’s chore is to empty the dishwasher after she eats breakfast so we can load dirty dishes into it the rest of the day (for which she gets $1/day).  According to the GNOWFGLINS eCourse, there are four “levels” of kid-cook, Swing, Line, Sous, and Head.  Right now I’m designating my preschooler and FXS kindergartener as “Swing” cooks, and my stepdaughter as a “Line” cook.  They can graduate once I figure out what those cooks are supposed to be able to do…

Here is our new breakfast routine:

Breakfast Routine: Add flavoring to oats, Boil & Peel eggs, pour drinks, pray, eat, clean.

OATS:

    • [Line +] Pre-measure spices and honey;
    • [Swing] Add spices and honey to oats;
    • [Swing] Stir
    • [Swing] Serve into bowls
    • [Line +] Pour milk onto oatmeal
    • [Swing] Place on table with spoon

EGGS:

    • [Line +] Get filtered water from the ‘fridge
    • [Swing] Add 16 eggs gently to the pot
    • [Swing] Pour water over eggs
    • [Line +] Turn stove on
    • [Line +] Watch for boil
    • [Line +] Turn on Timer
    • [Line +] Reset Timer and turn off stove
    • [Line +] Scoop out eggs into bowl
    • [Swing] Peel eggs
    • [Line +] Chop eggs in half; sprinkle salt
    • [Swing] Distribute eggs (4-D, 4-M, 3-A, 3-C, 2-E)
    • [Swing] Place on table

DRINKS:

    • [Swing] Shake yogurt milk
    • [Line +] Pour yogurt milk into cups for everyone
    • [Swing] Place on the table

CLEANUP:

    • [Swing] Scoop portions for D and A.
    • [Swing] Scoop any leftover oatmeal into a glass jar with lid
    • [Line +] Wash and dry oatmeal crock
    • [Line +] Wash egg pot and return to stovetop
    • [Swing] Wipe down table
    • [Swing] Rinse dishes
    • [Line +] Place bowls/plates/spoons in dishwasher or sink
    • [Line +] Wipe counters and stove
    • [Line +] Sweep floor

It seems like the trick is to break everything down that you already do into smaller, age-… sorry, cook-appropriate tasks and add clean-up in there.  My goal is to teach and encourage the girls in these steps this week!

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My youngest child stirring the pizza sauce from a safe distance!  Check out her trendy clothing combo

This Mama Mondays post is about encouraging your kids to help you in the kitchen.  I’ll keep it short because I still have a lot to learn (!) but I have some resources that will help you get started and a couple tips for helping to introduce special needs children to cooking.  (In the future, I plan to develop a “How To Do Stuff With Your Kids” series on cooking with special needs in mind–right now it’s just laundry–under the “Family” menu tab above and instructions in EACH recipe how to include your children in meal prep).  I hope this post will whet your appetite for FAMILY FOOD FUN in the kitchen (throw in a little FAITH and you’ll have all the ingredients for a major Helping of Hope!)

When I got started with this “all-natural cooking” thing back in September ’11, I couldn’t believe how much time I was spending in the kitchen.  I was used to opening cans and jars, mixing, and baking on high heat in toxic, non-stick pans.  There was a huge learning curve for me, mostly because I was trying to learn EVERYTHING at once: how to throw bad ingredients out, learning which ingredients were most nutritious, learning the best ways to cook, how to make yogurt, how to cook beans, how to cook breads, how to find healthy recipes to replace the food my family was missing…it was nutrition boot-camp, self-imposed.  Of course now, it’s easy…or easiER.  I know how to cut corners in prep without cutting corners in nutrition.  I know where to invest my time and where not to. The fact remains it still takes more time and effort to cook food from scratch than to microwave a freezer dinner (but it is soooo worth it, please trust me on that!).  I couldn’t help feeling conflicted; I wanted to make healthy food in the kitchen, but it was seriously cutting into time with my children.  They would watch TV shows or a Disney movie while I scurried in the kitchen, nervously poking my head into the living room every five minutes to make sure my then three- and five-year old weren’t getting into anything they shouldn’t, or that my FXS child hadn’t fallen asleep on (and wet) the sofa.  Sigh.

To be honest, the thought of including my children in meal prep DID occur to me…but so did the mess they might make, the fits they might throw, and the unwillingness (or inability) to follow directions.  I wasn’t sure how to give them tasks that were age- and ability-appropriate.  For me, learning this new-fangled… I mean, old-fangled cooking thing was stressful enough that I didn’t want to add child-wrangling to the situation.  Helping of Hope: you CAN cook with your children, spending valuable time with them, encouraging them to be independent, and instilling a love for healthy choices that will lead them to their own bright future!

I’m learning from GNOWFGLINS (a blog created by Wardeh Harmon) HOW to encourage my children in the kitchen and how to instill in them a love for healthy food.  I think I’m succeeding with my 15-year-old stepchild; she’s already excited about our coming up with 4, seasonal week-long menus of made-from scratch “comfort” (real) foods for college.  It’s another three years away, but it gives her an end-goal to encourage her to learn to cook independently in the kitchen.  My four year-old is always eager to help, but my five year old FXS child…well, lets say she’s “apprehensive” (as any FXS child might be when doing something out of routine).

Here are some tips I learned after attending GNOWFGLINSReal Food Kids Webinar (link expires in two weeks):

  • Don’t just use children as “helpers” in the kitchen: encourage them to do tasks and eventually entire meals independently.
  • Special needs kids:  If your child has attention deficits, set a timer and give him a simple task to do.  Many real foods require short preparation steps (with long periods of waiting in between): sprouting and preparing yogurt, for example, require very little interaction and it is something he can learn to be entirely responsible for.
  • Special needs kids: If a special needs child has limited mobility, set up a workspace for him that makes it more comfortable to work independently; give him activities so he can contribute something to the meal along with his siblings and assist him as necessary.

I do my best not to let information “sit”; I know if I don’t get my foot in the door of my heart (talk about a mixed metaphor…and an unpleasant one at that!), I won’t get anything done.  IMMEDIATELY after the Webinar, I thought I would “give it a go” and have my children help me make mini-pizzas using toasted sourdough hamburger-buns and our Fresh & Fast Pizza Sauce.  It worked really well!  Daddy loved coming home and eating the yummy food the kids had made him; they were as pleased as punch to make something (mostly) healthy and grown-up, with a little supervision and assistance.

The girls spread the pizza sauce on some sourdough hamburger buns I toasted under the broiler (with some oil on top to prevent sogginess)

Next we sprinkled on some cheese. The girls watched as I grated some block cheese using our old-but-faithful food processor. The sound of the motor was difficult for our FXS child, but she stayed on her safe chair through it all. (It’s best to AVOID BAGGED, SHREDDED CHEESE because they add too many ingredients. You only need one ingredient: cheese! Avoid anything with colors added too. How can cheese be made any more appealing than it already is?)

Our kids did a great job distributing pepperonis. OK, so pepperoni is NOT a healthy option. I’m still on the lookout for a healthy option that contains NO additives, NO preservatives, and NO corn syrup. Alternatives could include roast chicken, Hormel all-natural Deli Ham with organic pineapple, or homemade Italian sausage.

The finished product! Our children set the table, made the salad (lettuce!) and Mama dished out the hot pizzas. Our youngest is pointing to the pizza, “I made this!” They tasted great!

Here is the biggest lesson I have learned so far when encouraging an FXS / Autistic child with Auditory Sensory Processing issues:

INTRODUCE a sensitive child to kitchen equipment GRADUALLY (please use your best judgment whether or not the child is capable of using or interacting with a gadget safely.  See my disclaimer –>).

  1. Have him look at and identify the kitchen gadget. Explain to him what it does and how it helps you.
  2. Have him touch or inspect the equipment when it is off (don’t let him touch anything dangerous and make sure the item is unplugged).
  3. Have him sit in the kitchen on a “safe chair” while someone else uses the gadget (if you can keep him in the room: I used a Yummy Earth sucker to keep mine sitting on a chair in the kitchen.  She was very upset by the sound but a firm Mama and reassuring sibling helped her to cope).
  4. If he is able, ask him to touch a safe part of the equipment (or stand near it) while it is in use. This will help him learn there is nothing to fear even though the sound is overwhelming.  Do not let him run out of the room; he may return to his safe chair for a reward and continue watching.
  5. Finally, if he is able to do the above steps and if it is age- and ability-appropriate for him to do so, ask him to interact with the equipment for a reward.  Don’t give him a reward unless he interacts with the equipment as specified.  If he refuses, keep giving him opportunities.  As he watches you or his siblings interact with the equipment from his safe chair or spot, he may reach a point where he is willing or neurologically mature enough to assist as specified.

We are still working on staying in the kitchen while the mini-blender is operating 🙂

If you want to learn how to incorporate your child in the kitchen (special needs or not) so they can have a bright future, I encourage you to take part in GNOWFGLINS‘ eCourse Real Food Kids: In The Kitchen.  It starts tomorrow (first video in a weekly series: all videos are available all the time to members once they are posted) so make sure to sign up for GNOWFGLINS membership today!

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I usually have a difficult time incorporating children into my daily chores.  Maybe it is because they were too little and I got used to doing it by myself.  Maybe it was because I am naturally introverted and prefer to do things by myself.  Either way, doing chores together is a great way to encourage the mental, physical, and social development of our children.  Check out my new segment “How To Do Things With Your Kids” and my first how-to (and why) post on LAUNDRY.  You’ll be glad you did!

One of our kids helps Mama with some laundry!

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