Nifty vs. Thrifty

Friday, July 30, 2010

Focus Fridays! Having Fun with Veggies!

Check out this great game- Having fun with veggies!

Make healthy eating fun and your kids will love it! Have a SALAD PARTY with your little ones and have them make their own salad. Use small bowls for the toppings and create your own salad bar. Use your creativity and have them make signs to hang on the wall saying "salad party" (or whatever they want it to say!) Make it fun and your kids will catch the enthusiasm. PS. I don't think "I don't like any veggies" is an excuse! Everyone can find a veggie that they like! Try not to argue about it (it's not a discussion)

Also, ask your children to talk about their favorite veggie and how it's grown!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fostering Learning through the Summer Months

1. Comb yard sales, bookstores, or libraries to find fun reading material or activities. Although you would like your children to study hard over the summer months, let them have some freedom and choose some fun reading materials or activities of their own for their summer break. Remember, children do work very hard during the year and deserve a little independence.
2. Encouragement If a child says, "I don't like anything", don't accept this as an excuse. Everyone has interests, it's a matter of discovering them. Find some books that are about some of your child's interests such as baseball, legos, or dogs. Make sure they are on the child's reading level (ask a librarian if you need help).
3. Avoid a power struggle. Children usually argue about having to read. Often, it helps to distract your child from the power struggle and instead focus on something that they can control such as where they can read. I like to ask children to look for the perfect reading spot and then ask, "who wants to set the timer?"
Also, try to avoid an argument. If it's something you feel strongly about than there shouldn't be anything to discuss. Think ahead and be realistic about your expectations. Asking a child to read all day long is asking for trouble!!
4. Use incentives. No, I am not saying you should bribe your children. But I will say that it helps to use something else to motivate such as t.v time. You could say, "OK, you can have 1 hour of t.v time today if you read for 45 minutes."
5. Find a Pen Pal. Remember the days when you were a child and had a pen pal? Well, believe it or not, you can still find a pen pal. Google 'Pen Pal' for sites that will connect kids with other kids around the fun!?
6. Visit museums and take trips that inspire creative thinking. There are so many places that encourage children to think outside the box. Continue to check out my site for many more ideas for summer road trips and activities!
7. Read to your kids. Children of any age can still have books read to them! Have your child pick a book for bedtime for you to read to them or ask them if they would read a book to a sibling. Older children generally love to be a leader and read to little ones. Of course, these can be great family moments to cherish!
8. Check out educational websites such as,,, or

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Which Activity is Best for my Child?

We spend so much time guiding our children to find THEIR passion and figure out what they LOVE to do. Perhaps the answer isn't as hard as we think.
What do YOU love to do? I know, how selfish to think of yourself, right? LOL! You are reading this article to find out how to guide your child to something THEY enjoy? Well, stay with me here!
I love dancing. When I was a child I took many, many dance classes growing up and truly loved it. I spent so much time dancing in my kitchen while my mom was cooking and I remember making up countless routines with my friends in their basements. I danced in a college dance troupe and then after I graduated I somehow stopped dancing all together (except for the dancing I did at area bars to local cover bands but I won't get into that!!!!)
Anyway, I was always scared to sign up for a dance class as an adult because I felt old or I was afraid it wouldn't be challenging enough if it was all adults (Excuses! Excuses!) Finally, I signed up for an advanced jazz class at a dance studio down the street from me. It is SOOO awesome to be dancing again! But let me tell you, I am the ONLY person not wearing silly bands (or something sassy written on my butt) but I have fun anyway! At 33 years old, I certainly stand out like a sore thumb but who cares?! There are definetly times when I have to swallow my pride and force myself to go to class but after I go I feel so good when I leave!
Ok, I WILL GET TO THE POINT! My daughter may not be a dancer. She may not like dancing at all. She has lots of time to figure out what she loves (and what she doesn't love!) But if she sees her mom enjoying something, perhaps it will inspire her to try dancing (or try something else that she will enjoy!) If she doesn't like dancing, maybe she will enjoy watching her Dad play softball at the ball fields and it will motivate her to try softball?
Parents often think about wheather our child is talented in a certain area (my child is artistic or my child seems kind of uncoordinated) Often, the things that we like so much about certain activities isn't about how talented we are at them at all. It is the things that surround the activities (such as the smell of the ball field, the music we dance to, or even sharing memories with our family).
Moral of the story....Keep it SIMPLE, enjoy your passions and it will help your child find her passions!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Teaching Children Humility (and practicing it ourselves!)

Of course you think your child is the best on the soccor field and the cutest one in their class, right? Sure, you and every other parent! You want your child to feel good about themselves and be confident but not to have an overinflated ego. So, how do we teach our children to be humble and not be arrogant?
First, lead by example. Child learn best by what we do not what we say. Be proud of your accomplishments but also realistic about your weaknesses. Also, point out another persons achievements and talents and make a joke out of the things you don't do well. Take caution when judging others.
Second, play a fun game where you do something nice for others without ANYONE knowing. This exercise is great for adults and children as well! The point of this exercise is to do something nice for another person without getting ANY recognition in return. Carry a smile with you all day knowing that you did something special without anything in return. Have fun keeping your special secret and get a giggle out of making someone else's day! Feel proud of your altruistic deed. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Pay for the stranger's coffee behind you in line and leave without telling anyone what you did.
2. Take a neighbors trash cans up to their house after the trash people come and collect it.
3. Pay someone else's tab in a restaurant and leave before they have the chance to say thank you. It can be fun to sit in a dinner and pick out the person (or people) who you think look deserving of your special treat.
4. Volunteer. There are so many opportunities to volunteer. Check out for opportunities that match your talents in your area. I have worked in the social work or chilcare field for many years but helping others [without getting paid] provides a completely different feeling at the end of the day.
5. Treat others with respect. Value another person's opinion even if you don't agree with it. Point out another person's qualities often.

What are your ideas for staying humble? How do you teach your children to be humble? Add your comment to the simply siena facebook page!! Can't wait to hear your ideas!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Simply Yummy Dinner

Crab and Avocado Quesadilla

Makes: 4 servingsPrep time: 20 minutesCook time: 4 minutes
Ingredients1/4 cup diced onions1 teaspoon olive oil1 cup peeled and diced avocado1/4 cup diced tomatoesPinch of ground cuminPinch of saltPinch of black pepper4 medium flour tortillas, about 9 inches in diameter4 teaspoons diced green chilies1/2 cup chopped crabmeat (canned is fine) 4 tablespoons shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese1/2 cup salsa4 tablespoons nonfat sour cream
1. In a small pan, saute onions in olive oil until translucent.
2. In a large bowl, combine cooked onions with avocado, tomatoes, cumin, salt, and pepper.
3. Lay tortillas flat. Spread 1/3 cup of the avocado mixture, 1 teaspoon green chilies, 2 tablespoons crabmeat, and 1 tablespoon cheese on each. Fold tortillas in half; place in a pan coated with nonstick spray. Cook over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa and sour cream.
Nutrition facts per serving: 395 calories, 16g protein, 61g carbohydrate, 10g fat (2.5g saturated), 5g fiber

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Teddy Bear Picnic

Teddy bear picnics can be great fun for kids of any age! Help your children plan the party and create items to go along with this fun theme. Plan at least a few days ahead to get the most out of the fun and build anticipation for your little ones. Here are some ideas to help you along!

1. Make bear foot prints out of brown construction paper and put them on the floor. You can use this for decoration or turn it into a musical chairs game by taking one away at a time.
2. Make a pretend (or real) birthday cake for the bear and sing happy birthday.
3. Make creative snacks with honey or teddy grahams.
4. Play a BEARY fun game! See who can make the scariest "roar". For some reason, babies LOVE this!
5. Read a bear book such a Bernstein bears.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Our Adventure to the Beach

Sienna and I took a trip this weekend to visit one of my friends and her son at the beach. We had such a great time! My friend Nicole and I used to have a shore house together and spent many days on the beach chatting and looking a magazines. Those were the days. I loved those moments we shared and often miss those times! Well, as you can imagine, being at the beach with the kids is a whole different ballgame but wonderful none-the-less. I love getting to know my friend's son and seeing her in the mom role!
It was such a gorgeous day so we walked down to the beach to play with the kids in the surf. Sienna was so fun in the ocean this time around! It made me think about how the ocean is so SIMPLE and fun. Every time a wave came in, Sienna would light up and get so excited to jump the wave! (I'm pretty sure she could have done it for hours if I would have let her!) How cool is it that everyone in the world has access to this amazing free form of entertainment called the ocean!? Also, the very first humans probably jumped the same waves as we do! Pretty cool!
We played for hours and the weather was perfect! Sienna and I had a blast without spending a dime. These are the times that remind me that the best things in life really are free. The truth is, spending time with Nicole and her son is so precious and one of the moments I will treasure forever.
On our way home from the beach, we stopped at a convenient store to pick up a few things. I was trying to decide which kind of ice cream I wanted when I hear Sienna say, "uh oh!". I turned around and saw her standing there in the middle of the store with her diaper around her ankles! OH MY GOD!!! I quickly ran over and pulled the diaper up and picked her up (looking around to see if anyone saw this madness!) Luckily, I don't think anyone saw this debacle, but as I got in the car, I really had to laugh and thought about how I appreciate the fun adventures of being a mom!
Well, my life sure has changed since the days of partying with the girls and sitting on the beach all day relaxing but I wouldn't trade it for the world! Having my daughter, Sienna, reminds me how precious life really is and helps me to appreciate the moments whenever I can.

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's party time!!

Looking for some new ideas to turn a boring day into a fun one? Kids love why not have one? All you need is two or more people, some food (you can make any food fun!), and your imagination! Here are some ideas to get you started!
1. Prep your kids by building anticipation for the "fun party" or "fiesta" early. They will have fun thinking about the party and planning for it. Have your child make signs and decorations to hang on the walls.
2. Make food fun. Look through your cupboards and present snack foods in a fun way. Jello jigglers, sandwiches cut into shapes, and yogurts with sprinkles are all fun party foods your kids will love.
3. Take pictures. Kids love pictures so why not get out the camera and capture some memories? If you're using a digital camera, let your kids look at the pictures after you take them. (This is a great way start a scrapbook later on in the week!)
4. Dress up. Depending on the theme of your party, make getting dressed fun by picking an appropriate outfit for you and your child.
5. Have fun! Get down on the floor and play! Chase your child or watch a fun movie. Give your child some activity options then when the time comes for the party, give them your undivided attention. No cell phones, no cleaning, no interruptions!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Cooooolest Activities for Those Hot days!

Are you worried about how to keep the kids entertained during this heat wave? Have no fear! Simply Siena is here for all you need to keep the kids entertained! Be prepared to beat the heat and you won't 'Loose your cool!'

If you think you're going to be inside (in the air conditioning) a lot this week, plan your outings accordingly. Plan walks or playing outside for early in the morning or later in the evening. If you want to get the kids out in the middle of day, here are some things to keep you cool. Remember, the most important thing you can do is to present things in a fun way! Build anticipation and excitement by talking about something fun you will do later in the day. Here are some ideas for you!

1. Have a water balloon fight

2. Spray the hose

3. Run in the sprinkler or spray the hose and jump over the stream.

4. Jump in the lake, stream. or any body of water nearby.

5. Play in the shade near a tree. While sitting under a tree, read a book or play a game that doesn't require a lot of running around.

Can't stand being outside because it's just TOO hot? Try these inside ideas!

1. Go to the movies

2. Play inside: Have a party (Remember, a party can be with only 2 people!) make crafts, have a treasure hunt, watch a movie, or read a book.

3. Dollars stores are great for buying things like coloring books, sidewalk chalk, hoola hoops, and craft items.

*For even more indoor activities ideas, see "6 Ideas for Rainy Day Fun" under my archive articles section!

Lovin' my little patriot!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Enjoy the Payment for a Job Well Done

In our society, it's somewhat standard that the harder you work (or the better your ideas are) the better you get paid for what you do in your career. Well, not so in the 'stay at home mom' field. If you are a stay at home mom, you still need payment for what you do ,but don't expect large amounts of cash or balloons that say, "thank you" after a trying day.

We all know how much work it takes to be a mom...especially a good mom! There are some days when you work so hard and everything seems to be taken for granted. At times, I feel like a robot, like I do the same routine, make the same corrections, and play the same games every single day. I work my tail off and sometimes I wonder, where's the payoff??

Until I remember that children thank their parents with love. Come to think of it, this is the best form of payment any job could offer, right? The sparkle in my daughter's eye, the smile she gives me, the way she says "uppy" when she wants me to hold her are all priceless rewards in my life. These are all the wonderful things I sometimes take for granted in my daily routine until I stop and remember to enjoy the payment for a job well done.

Somedays it would be really nice to hear, "Gee mom, thanks so much for having patience with me when I'm being really difficult." or "Hey Mom, thanks for going to the grocery store and cooking us these wonderful meals." The truth is, I may never hear these words. But today I will appreciate the love that my daughter gives me and remember that all my hard work is reflected in her joy and well being.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hosting an Easy and Fun 4th of July Picnic

Fourth of July is one of the fun holidays in the summer that we can get together with friends and family and have some fun. But it can be expensive and exhausting if you are hosting! Here are some ways that you can have a great party and actually enjoy the fun (without overextending yourself!)

Shop the dollar stores. Dollar stores are great for fun toys for kids and also plates to display your food. Instead of spending tons of money and time on making your food perfect, SIMPLY use a throwaway dish with two sides and put fruits in one side with whipped cream on the other! It will look nice and taste yummy!

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Most likely your guests will be so thankful that you are willing to host a party that they will be more than willing to bring something along (games or food) Just ask in advance so they have time to think about it or go to the store!

Prepare entertainment. If you are having kids over, have some options for them to do (don't go crazy, a little table with crayons or a bin of toys from the dollar store will do just fine!!) If you don't want to go out and buy anything, just ask your friends to bring some things along for their children to play with. Remember, having some things to keep the kids busy will make your guests (their parents) much more relaxed!
No kids? Having an adult party? Buy a cheap lawn game (or ask your friends if they wouldn't mind bringing one with them!)

Keep food simple. If you want to spend any time with your guests, don't go overboard with food. People love hot dogs and hamburgers at picnics so keep it simple. If you are a foodie, try to pick food that you can prepare ahead of time.
Call me lazy, but I often find Rachel Ray's recipes to be more than I want to take on or more ingredients than I want to buy. However, her show today had some great recipes that REALLY were fun, easy, and cheap for a bbq. Check them out at

For me, hosting a party is much easier than going to one (since my daughter is a toddler and our house is already child proofed). I am having some relatives over on Saturday and can't wait to have some quality time with them! I am going to make the hot dog rollups on the grill off the Rachel Ray website! I will let you all know how we make out (and share some pics too!!)

Have a great Fourth of July my wonderful mommies!!!