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Mama’s question of the week: Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving week!  This Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for in your life?  Do you have any special family traditions?  How do you encourage your children to be grateful?

My son is four this Thanksgiving and slowly understanding a bit more about the holiday.  He knows it centers around our family, who will all be coming here for dinner on Thursday.  At preschool he learned from the folks at the Briar Bush Nature Center a bit about the Lenape Indians who once lived in our region.  He also learned a bit about the Pilgrims and their first Thanksgiving foods.  I did find it amusing that instead of hearing the term “pilgrim” he heard the word “criminal.”  He kept insisting to me that the criminals ate corn and dried out pumpkins!  We will continue to read books at bedtime about Thanksgiving and turkeys and discuss what we are thankful for this year.  Some books that we’ve been enjoying are 10 Fat Turkeys, A Plump and Perky Turkey, and T is for Turkey.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year!

Mama Diane

Mama’s Question of the Week: What do you do with all that Halloween candy?

This week Mama is wondering about what to do with all that Halloween candy that was collected on Monday night.  My four year old counted his loot and in less than three blocks he managed to bring home 75 pieces of candy, many full sized bars!  One person even gave him a double full sized Three Musketeers bar: two full sized bars in one package!  He is so excited about that one!  For some reason, he hasn’t figured out that he could probably open the candy packages himself, so he asks me every time he wants to eat some.  I figure after a few days, with the candy bowl out of eye sight, he might forget about it.  Last year, he ate some for a few days and I tossed the rest.  This year I’m trying to decide what to do.  I saw a sign at the church where my son goes to preschool about collecting it, so I think I may take some of it there.

Bounce U has a program where this week (until November 4th)  you can bring in 2 pounds of your kid’s Halloween candy in exchange for a bounce session.  This is a great deal!  I have heard of some area dentists collect candy too.

What do you do with all of your kid’s candy?  Share your ideas and knowledge of any area donation programs here!

Mama’s Question of the Week: What are your favorite kids’ Halloween costume ideas?

Halloween is just a few weeks away!  Have your kids picked out costumes yet or come up with any clever ideas?  Do you buy costumes or make them?  My son has changed his mind at least a half dozen times about what he wants to be.  He is four this year and is finally understanding more about getting dressed up, although he keeps asking if he can wear the same costume he wore last year, a mail carrier.  Then he wants to be a fire fighter, or an Imagination Mover!  We have an assortment of costumes at this point, so he will be able to choose what he wants to wear from what is available when Halloween finally arrives.  A tip I learned was to buy Melissa and Doug brand dress up clothing for costumes, because then the costumes can be used all year long as dress up and they come with all the accessories needed.  Using a coupon at A.C. Moore made the fire fighter costume I bought a great deal!

There are several costume swaps going on this month, so check with your schools, churches and moms clubs to see if they are hosting one.  A costume swap is a great way to get new to your kids costumes without spending a dime.  Usually you are able to bring in as many gently used costumes as you want and bring home the same number of “new” costumes from the event.  (There was a Philadelphia Costume Swap held last weekend, did you go??)  Another great way to go is to swap costumes with a bunch of your mom friends to see if there is another way to recycle last years costume.  Local consignment shops and Goodwill/Thrift stores often have great choices at low costs too.

So what are your favorite kids’ Halloween costume ideas?

Mama’s question of the week: What are your fall family traditions?

It’s officially fall in Bucks County, Montgomery County, and surrounding region, which means Halloween will be here soon.  Everywhere I travel I see pumpkin signs advertising area pumpkin patches.  Our family likes to visit Solly Farm each fall to go apple picking and to visit their pumpkin patch.  They have a hay ride to the apple orchard on the weekends that gives a little tour of the farm.  There is a HUGE pumpkin on the side of the farm market at Solly Farm that I like to photograph my son next to each year to see how much he has grown.   Last year we also went to None Such Farms on the weekend to their Pumpkin Festival where we were able to enjoy a hayride and tour of the farm, some fun music and get some light lunch before checking out the pumpkin patch.  There are many area fall festivals and pumpkin festivals listed on Mama’s calendar, so if you are looking for some ideas, start there!  What are some fall traditions you have with your family or ones you are thinking of starting?


Solly Farms huge pumpkin!

Mama’s question of the week: do you use a slow cooker or crock-pot?

Question of the week:  Do you use a slow cooker and have a favorite recipe to share?

With September almost over and school schedules, after school activities, and sports schedules keeping parents and their kids busy, planning healthy family meals can be a challenge.  It seems more popular than ever to rely upon the good old crock-pot or slow cooker for easy to prepare meals.  There is a surge of Facebook pages about sharing slow cooker recipes, along with many blogs on the subject as well.  Do you use a slow cooker and if so, can you share your favorite recipe with Mama’s Little Helper readers?

Personally, this mama tries to use her crock pot at least once a week and I would like to  use it even more.  I search weekly for new recipes for it that will appeal to my family while also being healthy.  A great blog for slow cooker recipes is A year of slow cooking by Stephanie O’Dea.  She started her blog as a New Years resolution a few years ago and has since published cookbooks of her collected recipes.  It’s a great way to start if you are new to using a slow cooker to find a large variety of recipes.  The Crock-Pot website lists many recipes for their famous brand of slow cookers and is another great resource for home chefs.  A family favorite in our house is a recipe for chicken cacciatore, a meal that a good friend brought us after our son was born.  I’ve made it many times since then!  The recipe that I make almost weekly in my slow cooker is called sticky chicken. It is so simple and cooks a whole chicken that can be used for multiple meals.  I often use the chicken for enchiladas or quesadillas, chicken salad, or as a green salad topper.  The spice mixture used can be adjusted to your personal taste, or to whatever you have on hand even.

Please share your favorite slow cooker recipe or link to a recipe!  Maybe it will help out another reader in discovering something new to make for their family!


Mama Diane

Mama’s Question of the Week: What do you think of the end of the Kate plus 8 series?

This week mama had the rare chance to catch the finale episode of the TLC show Kate plus 8. I only knew that the show still existed and was ending because I was stuck waiting in the checkout line at Walmart earlier and “forced” to read tabloids to pass the time!  When I was pregnant in 2007, I was obsessed with Jon and Kate plus 8.  The kids were so cute, it was a novelty to see so many siblings at the same age together, they were a local family, and I was just amazed at how the parents managed such a large household.  I watched the show fairly regularly until the couple split up, and then I thought it was over.  I discovered that the show still existed, minus Jon, and was coming to an end, so when I found a repeat of the show on tv late at night I couldn’t resist watching.  It’s like a train wreck for me…just can’t turn away.  The kids were mostly still cute, albeit with some attitude!  The mom was beyond obnoxious, in my opinion.  I can’t say I’m surprised that the show was cancelled.  My wish for those kids is that they find out what normal life is and are happy as they mature.  Their parents seem to love them to pieces, despite all the distractions they incorporated in their lives.

Did you follow this family or watch the show?  What did you think of the whole Jon and Kate plus 8?  Please share your thoughts!

Question of the week: how did you spend Hurricane Irene?

Earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes…how did you survive?

So now that Hurricane Irene is in the history books, how did you make out during and after it?  Thankfully, it was not quite as severe as anticipated, yet it still caused a lot of damage.  In one week we experienced an earthquake, a hurricane and tornado warnings.  It was a bit much for this Mama!  For this week’s question of the week, how did you and your family handle the hurricane?

To prepare in our house, I made sure that we had some working flashlights, lots of ice packs and baggies filled with frozen water to keep the freezer cold, and peanut butter!  My son insisted we buy more peanut butter at BJs, where we went to find D sized batteries, but were unsuccessful.  Our basement tends to flood, so I moved some stuff around so that it would be safe, just in case.  We had been planning to leave for a vacation at the beach, but since the hurricane threat caused the evacuation of the New Jersey beaches, we stayed home and waited for the rain.  The first tornado warning for our area definitely was scary for me, which is when I scooped my son out of bed to hide in our basement, which had started to flood.  He was a trooper, and was too sleepy to even question why we were in the basement!  After the tornado warning was cancelled and my son was back in bed sleeping, my husband and I spent the next few hours using the wet vac and our portable sump pump to get rid of the water.  By the morning, it was just wet, not standing water.  We were exhausted, but relieved the rain didn’t cause more damage.

Now that the hurricane is past, I feel very lucky that it wasn’t quite as bad as expected.  I had been in Florida for hurricanes Andrew and Francis and saw how destructive they were.  I hope that your home is okay!  Please share how you survived the crazy weather and how you explained it to your kids! Registered & Protectedcopyright for video