Chase Fireflies

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Getting Our Kids to Eat Veggies (Kids in the Kitchen)

I’m all for sneaking veggies into our kids just so they get the nutrients they need.  However, I am wanting our kids to grow up to make wise food choices themselves – just because it’s good for them!  And so far, just about all we’re choosing is mac and cheese.

The Pittsburgh Kids of Steel Taste Program (or any program like it)  has been a good place to start for us.  Our kiddos LOVE a good challenge, especially if incentives are involved!  In addition, I’ve found that playing with our food has been beneficial. 

The best thing about it?  It seems to be working!  It totally beats the inevitable dinner table war that ensues over eating vegetables.  Our resident artist loves to create pictures out of her food (flowers, sunshine, hearts). 

And the guy –  when he participates in the vegetable playing – pretty much just plays sports and then eats the bat/hockey stick/basketball/whatever.  But he ate a bell pepper the other night – so I couldn’t be more thrilled! 

How do you get your kids to eat veggies?


Chewy Energy Bars (Kids in the Kitchen)

We eat stockpiles of granola bars around this house.  If it looks remotely healthy, I pick up a box to keep on hand.  But it always kinda gives me the creeps that those bars last forever.  Plus, it’s so much cheaper to just make your own.

Now I’m not giving up on store bought granola bars for good.  But, it is so easy to whip up a homemade batch of bars.  This recipe took us 10 minutes.  Plus, it cost us nothing with ingredients on hand.  These energy bars make a great breakfast or snack.  And if your kids don’t need the energy, then maybe you will:)! 

Chewy Energy Bars

2 1/2 cups crisp rice cereal
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the cereal, oats, and wheat germ.  In a small saucepan, combine the corn syrup, peanut butter, and brown sugar.  Cook over medium heat until peanut butter is melted, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour over cereal and mix well.  Transfer to a greased 9 inch square pan.  Press mix into pan, cool completely, and cut into bars. 

recipe source:  Taste of Home Quick Cooking Annual Recipes 2011

***  By the way, this is another favorite recipe of ours – easily adaptable and delicious!  ***


Girl’s Inexpensive Lamp Revamp (DIY)


I’m working on pulling together Selah’s room so that it looks more cohesive.  I love her Butterfly Art on the wall and am working on some roman shades and another piece of art.  When I saw this lime green checkered lampshade at Goodwill, I snatched it up for $2 change. 

I knew I had an old lamp in the basement and some green spray paint from an earlier project.  So a little spray paint later and ta-daaa!!!!!  A beautiful lamp for my beautiful girl. 

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Sweet Snowflake Tortilla Snack! (Kids in the Kitchen)

With the final arrival of snow here in Pittsburgh, we decided to celebrate both indoors and outdoors.  This snack was perfect!  What could be better than making a snowflake that you can eat and then pouring massive quantities of sugar on top? 

Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas

whole wheat tortillas (fajita size)
kitchen shears
waxed paper
butter-flavored cooking spray
powdered sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Fold a tortilla in half, creating a half circle. Fold in half again to create a wedge.  Cut shapes out.
3.  Unfold the tortilla and lay it flat on waxed paper on a cookie sheet.
4.  Spray tortilla with cooking spray and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar.
6.  Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.  Allow tortilla to cool and enjoy!
adapted from January 2007 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. magazine.

Let me know if you make these!  Enjoy! 


Hodgepodge Love

A Letter to my Teenage Daughter.  And our students now.   

You Never Marry the Right Person.  (Though I did:)

I Believe in Tim Tebow.  My Pats crushed him, but that’s never what mattered in the least. 

It’s True.  They’re moving and we’re running – to support this beautiful work & these beautiful friends. 

The Answer to Anxiety.   A song of thanks steadies everything.

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Margin: My Word for 2012

Are you someone who selects a word for the year to live by? 

This year, my word is margin.   I am a scamperer, you know, often running from one thing to the next;  hyper and distracted.  It is an often mined failure that affects my most prized relationships.  This year, I intend to leave room for playing, with pant legs rolled up, in the sand.

I will leave margin for myself to take care of that which God has given me.  Making space for long runs and spinach salads and observing changes in my skin and painting my toenails and breathing in and breathing out and God’s Spirit to move as He wills.

I will leave margin for family.  For laughing and upside down nights and pick up basketball games and long chapter books and dates.  For swimming with my girl and tossing a touchdown pass to my boy.  For time spent together and love letters written.  For not being in a rush. 

And I will leave margin for my Jesus, the only restorer of my broken soul.  Who walks with me in beauty.  Who speaks in my silence.  Who shows me what true riches is. 

Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace.
If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God,
nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace.
In that stillness you will know what His will is.
Amy Carmichael

(Praying and hoping and leaving margin towards this very end.) 

Much Love,

PS  Do you have a word for this year? 


Pittsburgh Kids of Steel Exercise Program

I’m not sure what I love most about this program:

the goal setting
the exercise
the healthy food challenge
the chance to cross a finish line
The Kids of Steel Program encourages children to run a full marathon in the course of 18 weeks.  Every time the child goes running, the distance is logged on a chart.  The last mile of the 26 takes place at a Kids Fun Run on Marathon weekend. 

Participating children receive a t-shirt, a medal upon crossing the finish line, a certificate, a bag of goodies, and most of all – the confidence that they can attain what seems like an unreachable goal. 

In conjunction with the Kids of Steel Program is the Steel Taste Program.  For this, children taste 60 of 100 healthy foods and mark it off on a checklist.  It’s perfect for picky eaters!  (My kids will do anything for a check on a chart.)  Selah had her first salad tonight with delight!  She was so proud.  (As was her momma.)

If you are local and end up doing this, let me know.  Would love to go on training runs together!

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Boston Cream Eclair: Kids in the Kitchen

This recipe is a perfect winter recipe for kids.  It’s simple.  You can’t really mess it up.  And it actually tastes REALLY GOOD!  Adden loved the building required.  And Selah – well, she just loved being in the kitchen with sugar.  It was an instant family hit! 

Boston Creme Eclair

1 pkg cream cheese, softened
2 cups cold milk
1 pkg vanilla instant pudding
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tub Cool Whip Topping, thawed and divided
Nilla Wafers
chocolate to melt

1.  Beat cream cheese with a mixer until creamy. 
2.  Gradually beat in milk. 
3.  Add dry pudding mix, extract, and nutmeg.  Beat 2 min. 
4.  Stir in 1 -1/2 cups Cool Whip
5.  Line 9×5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. 

6.  Arrange Nilla Wafers, top side down on bottom of pan.  Cover with 1/4 pudding mix.
7.  Repeat layers 3 times.  Top with remaining wafers.
8.  Refrigerate for 3 hours. 
9.  Invert dessert onto plate.  Remove plastic wrap. 
10.  Melt chocolate and 1 cup of remaining Cool Whip.  Cool and pour ever dessert. 
11.  Garnish with cool whip and wafers. 

adapted from the Nilla Wafer box:)


Valentine’s Day (or any day) Small and Inexpensive Gift Idea

Selah is a gift giver like her dad.  You never really know what she’ll come up with to give away – handmade picture frames, mosaics, bars of soap, necklaces.  When she saw this idea in an American Girl Magazine, she was all over it. 

It’s a toilet paper roll stuffed with little treats and packaged with tissue, scrapbook paper, and ribbons.  She wanted to stuff them with chocolate for Valentine’s Day.  But we came up with all kinds of ideas for:

Birthdays – balloons to blow up, confetti, a card, a candle, and candy
Snowy Days –  marshmallows and a hot chocolate packet, warm socks, paper for paper snowflakes
Random I Love You Gifts – little notes of love and Hershey’s kisses
Get Well Packages – bandaids, tea packets, Bible verses of encouragement, dried soup package, tissues
Friend Get Togethers – stickers, a necklace, lip gloss

We spent a great afternoon making these packages together.  They cost nothing with what we had on hand, they will be super cute little gifts for others, and they were simple ways to encourage her heart of giving.  It’s a win win all around!