Baking School – A Children’s Cookbook Review

As you know from my many posts on teaching my children to cook and bake, we love spending time in the kitchen learning and eating! Therefore, I was delighted when I was asked to review a brand new cookbook Kid Chef Bakes: The Kid’s Cookbook for Aspiring Bakers. As you know from my review of their other children’s cookbook, I love the style the book is written in for teaching young people in the kitchen, so I was looking forward to the potential offered in this new book.

Book Layout

Upon receiving the cookbook I saw that it was indeed in the same layout as the Kid Chef bookI love that the book starts with general rules, tips, and tricks for setting up a baker’s kitchen. The book starts out with an educational overview of the purposes of main ingredients used in baking as well as common baking tools. I also love that the book reviews safety tips and techniques, which are a great review for me and a wonderful lesson for my kids who are just getting started. The book then goes into my favorite part, 7 different lessons, each outlined to read to your child, teaching a different focused skill, followed by a recipe to use the skill. The lessons are 2-4 pages long and are perfect for ages 7+. The book then goes into typical cookbook format with tons of recipes to try out.

Book Highlights

Often times I feel like children’s baking cookbooks can get stuck on cookies, cupcakes, and other sweets. While this book definitely has it’s share of sugary goodness, I love that there is some variety in the recipes. The 7 lessons in the book range from snacks, to sweets, to yeast bread for pizza. The recipes included in the book have main dishes, sides, sweets, snacks, and more. I also love that they do not shy away from more difficult recipes, such as yeast dough for crusts and bread, and pie crusts for pies and quiches. However, there are a few cheats in the book such as using store-bought puff pastry and phyllo dough. I do concur though that some pastry recipes such as puff pastry and phyllo dough, can be quite daunting for a child, they were for me as a grown adult with many years of baking experience under my belt. I remember standing with my friend folding a pound of butter into a pastry wondering if we were doing it right and why on earth we wouldn’t just buy the pastry from the store.

The book also gives several recipes that use the same base recipe (homemade pizza dough and pie crust) allowing your little one to practice their skills over and over with different outcomes. This also teaches versatility with the same recipe — a skill that will last them a lifetime!

While there are a few whole grain recipes in the book, I would really like to see more. I would also love to see a lesson or chapter talking about how to incorporate whole grains into baking, and how the recipe must be changed to accommodate the difference. This may be a little more complex for a very young child, but as our country struggles with obesity, I think it is important that we teach our young children how to eat healthy, which starts in the kitchen.

My children working on this apple pie are ages 6, 5, and 3. The 6 and 5 year old cut up apples, while the 3 year old put them in the bowl and I peeled. All kiddos helped with the crust and seasoning the apples.

Conclusions

I love this book and will differently be planning days to work through all the “lessons”, most likely even a few times. The lessons have a nice layout to teach skills that are used in baking every day across recipes and cookbooks. I also love the variety of baking recipes offered in the book. We will be using this book regularly for fun treats, main dishes, and special days when my little people are cooking. However, I will definitely be incorporating some of my other healthier and whole grain baking recipes and books in the mix. While sugary sweets taste good and are pleasing to the eye, they are not a healthy addiction I would like my children to depend on. They are a special treat for special times. I would love to see a whole grains baking cookbook come out next, maybe pick up the baking lessons where this one left off, delving into the healthier side of baking.

If you are looking for a fun cookbook for your little one this Christmas that can lead to learning, fun, family memories, and some good things to eat, I definitely recommend you check this book out!

Kid Chef Bakes: The Kid’s Cookbook for Aspiring Bakers

If you are looking for a regular cookbook (vs. a baking cookbook), check out these other reviews on other children’s cookbooks I love:

Kid Chef Cookbook

DK Kids Cookbooks

Carving Pumpkins – an Object Lesson

While Halloween is not my favorite holiday for many reasons, I do have fond memories of pumpkin carving as a child. Pumpkin carving is a time to celebrate the season, a time to celebrate the harvest God has given us and can be a time for fun!

Tonight we made an apple pie, drank cider, and carved pumpkins. While my daughter jumped right in, drawing on her face, cutting, and pulling out the insides, my boys were much more hesitant. It was a great opportunity for them to practice their creativity, get dirty, and experience something new. In the end, everyone had so much fun pulling out the “guts”, sorting seeds to roast for later, and watching their pumpkins glow.

An Object Lesson

We had fun looking for differences between the pumpkins and identifying shapes. We also found different shapes and designs shining on the ceiling from the pumpkins. While we sat in the dark looking at our pumpkins we also had a little object lesson from the pumpkins.

Parent: Were your pumpkins yucky and dirty inside?

Child: YES!

Parent: When we are born, we are born in sin, sin makes us yucky and dirty inside. Did you clean out your pumpkin?

Child: Yes, we cleaned it all out.

Parent: When we choose to follow God, he cleans us out, like we cleaned out our pumpkin. He makes us clean by helping us have self-control and be kind to others so that we are not yucky inside anymore. Do you like the light in your pumpkin?

Child: Yes, it is shining.

Parent: After God cleans out our yuckiness he gives us the Holy Spirit. When we follow God by being kind and loving others, the light of Christ shines in our life, like the light shines in your pumpkin. People will be able to see that light shining our life if you choose to follow God.

Called to be Set Apart

There are definitely practices in our secular world and society that we do not want to be part of. God has called us to be set apart for His glory, as a light that points to him. However, if you feel like partaking in an activity can be something that brings memories, grows relationships, and even an opportunity to grow your children spiritually, do not be afraid to take part. If we separate and shelter ourselves entirely from the world, who will be there to see the love and light of Christ shining from our happy pumpkin faces?

Finding a Mentor

I remember standing in my church foyer talking to a woman, I had a 2 year old and an infant at the time. She mentioned training your child to come to you when you call them. I was shocked, “YOU CAN TRAIN YOUR CHILD TO COME TO YOU”? That day I asked this amazing woman to be my mentor. That was the beginning of a long relationship that has changed my parenting for the better.

Up until the time my daughter turned 2 parenting seemed easy… then one challenge after another rolled my way. In addition to my formal mentor, over the past 4 years, I have 3-4 other women who have come alongside me to support me in my many roles. These women have not only provided me with resources and ideas, but they have given me emotional and spiritual support and encouragement. Often after meeting with my mentor or one of these women I would feel inspired and rejuvenated and ready to attack this parenting role and do my best. It has been an amazing blessing from God to have these women in my life, encouraging me every step along the way in my parenting, spiritual leadership, family and household management, marriage, and personal growth.

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“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2: 3-5

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How To Find A Mentor

Every Mentor and every Mentee are different, creating all different relationships. I see a mentor as a cross between a cheerleader, coach, and spiritual guide. They are someone you can turn to with questions, when you need encouragement or prayer, or to just have a good laugh and share life. I chose my mentor because her relationship with her children was strong and good and her family and home management skills were amazing-this was what I wanted. Is there an area of your life you want to improve? Find someone who has those skills, ask them to mentor you in that area. If there is a woman in your church that you feel has an amazing family, she may be a good mentor for you. Your mentor doesn’t have to be “old” or even older than you, think of it like life is a journey, and they are just a little farther down the road you want to be on.

Setting Up The Relationship

Some relationships develop naturally due to commonly interacting, others are more formal. If you have asked someone to formally mentor you, here are some tips:

  • Pick some set dates or times to meet- otherwise you may both get busy and just let it slide, be intentional!
  • Set a date or time period to check in and see if both parties want to continue the mentoring commitment- your personalities may not work out, or time availability may change, give both parties an option out without the awkwardness
  • Discuss your vision for the relationship- what do you as the mentee want to get out of this relationship? How does the mentor envision her part? Do these mesh together? Now is also the time to talk about boundaries and confidentiality
  • Lean on your mentor- be vulnerable, your mentor is hear to support you
  • Show appreciation- Your mentor is giving her time and heart to teach, train, encourage, and support you
  • Be flexible- as both you and your mentor’s schedule, vision, and growth changes, be flexible to trying something new and making changes to your commitment

What Do You Do With Your Mentor?

The activities you do with your mentor are as varied as the mentor and mentee relationship. With my mentors we have exercised together, lived life together, read books together etc. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Read a book on a topic you are interested in learning about (something she is skilled in), discuss the book together
  • Do a study together
  • Cook or bake together
  • Write a list of questions and get her insight
  • Go for a walk together and talk
  • Have her give you a formal lesson in an area you want to learn about
  • Pray together
  • Share a meal together

Memorizing Scripture

I love to pray and learn scripture and say it to myself throughout the day. Doing this makes it hard if I don’t know scripture by heart. While I feel that living out God’s grace and love is far more important than how many verses a person has memorized, I believe there is value in memorizing scripture.

-I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.- Psalm 119-11.png

A couple years ago a bought a laminator, I have used this laminator at times consistently and at other times it has collected dust. All in all, I am glad I bought it. One thing I have LOVED it for is laminating verses for the shower/bath. If you have followed my blog for long, you know I am all about efficiency and multitasking. In the shower is a great time to improve your efficiency in life. Yes, your body is busy washing itself, and your mind could be thinking about your day or de-stressing or prepping for something. However, if you are like me, your mind is just saying, wow, this water is warm and feels great and I just want to go to sleep. While that is all fine and good, I LOVE having scripture to memorize while I wash, that way I can be productive in mind and body.

When we were going through a study on James I laminated James chapter 1 and hung it in my shower. I learned 2 things from this. First, it is so amazing to use this secluded time to read God’s word, to turn it over and over again and again in my mind and imprint it in my heart. It is amazing to listen to God speak to my, about my life, about events, about my, about HIM through the passages. The second thing I learned, my memory is terrible. I am pretty sure I would struggle to tell you what James 1 is about after memorizing it for so long–ironically, it is about struggles.

I also placed Psalm 23 in my children’s shower/bath. I have them repeat the verse  word for word after me so that they too can memorize scripture during this time, their scripture has pictures that correlate to the words to help them remember. This has also taught me 2 things. First that it is wonderful hearing them learn scripture, to talk about the meaning of the scripture, to watch them learn and memorize it by heart. The second thing I learned, is that they have amazing memories–maybe I could benefit from some pictures on my scripture.

Whether you have a laminator or not I want to encourage you to find a time and place to memorize scripture for yourself (or at least to try). We talked before about memorizing scripture with your children, and I also learn these verses with them. However, I love working on learning scriptures that relate to what I am going through, or maybe are just different.

 

Thunderstorms and Fear

When my children were very small, like brand new small, even when my daughter was 3, thunderstorms did not wake them up, they did not even scare them when they were awake. I would be doing whatever I was working on during quiet time and a storm would roll in, I would sit quietly and listen for tears of fear, but they never came. Then one day everything changed. I don’t really remember the day in particular, but I know it is there in our history. My children became scared of storms.

As time progressed we realized our middle child was extremely fearful, not just of thunderstorms, but of life. He would think he saw monsters, a loud motorcycle going by would make him run (faster than I have ever seen him move) for the house, he didn’t like being outside, he didn’t like his closet open etc. We began to pray for him, but other than that did not know what else to do.

Over the next year, the Lord sent a few tools for us to use.

Thunder Cake and Thunderstorms

This last summer my kids began to want thunderstorms, they looked forward to them. A family member had given us the book Thunder Cake. We read that book several times, especially during thunder storm season. I told my children we would make thunder cake one day (recipe in the book), but as the book says, to be REAL thundercake, it had to be made during a thunderstorm.

Finally there was a storm this last summer and we were home and ready to make our cake. While our cake baked in the oven we turned to the storm. We shut off ALL our house lights and sat in a window, bundled up in a warm blanket together and watched the storm whip the trees and the rain beat the windows. We watched the beautiful power of nature, the power of our creator, and then, we enjoyed our cake.

The book not only made my children excited about the storm, it gave us an opening to talk about their fear. We talked about how God is the creator of the wind and the rain, the creator of all nature. We talked about the storms God controlled in the bible. We talk about how God has a plan for us.

Other Steps to Help Your Child with Fear

The Lord sent three more tools our way last year to help our son through his life-controlling fears.

The first was in the form of a devotional at breakfast. The devotional was about an owl that spooks people. The discussion questions guided the children in talking about their fears. This was the first time our son was able to open up and discuss his fears. Our oldest child also shared things she was fearful of. We were able to talk about their fears and pray about them.

Another tool the Lord sent was a book and a handout from his preschool. The book was a “Scaredy Squirrel book“. While I don’t love scaredy squirrel and do not know that I would recommend the book, it was a great conversation starter for us to have with him. We talked about what Scaredy Squirrel was scared of and then discussed fear and his personal fears. The handout tips were from kidshealth.org. Here is a summary:

  • Recognize the fear is real, do not belittle the fear, the fear is real to your child
  • Do not cater to fears, support and prep your child as you approach a fear
  • Teach children how to rate their fear, older children can use a 1-10 scale, younger ones can use their body as a scale (higher is more full of fear)
  • Teach coping strategies
    • have a home base
    • positive self statements
    • relaxation techniques

The third tool the Lord sent our way was through a class called Conscious Discipline. One thing we learned from delving deeper in this theory is how to approach fear from this form of discipline. Here are some highlights:

  • Acknowledge the feeling, identify the fear, validate the fear
  • Talk about how the child feels and use empathy
  • Talk about what they are thinking
  • Reassure them you are here
  • Reassure them they are safe

My son is still fearful, but he is doing much better. He often likes to stay in the safety of his home, but when he does venture out or encounter something he is fearful of we are better at coaching him through it and he is improving at overcoming his fear. And, by the way, he LOVES the Scaredy Squirrel books… we have read many from the library.

Passing on Your Passions

Every person in life has some passion, some hobby, some interest that at one point in life has been something they pursued. My children are interested in what I am interested in, they still young, they watch me and want to be like me. What better way to pass on your passions than to spend time with your children teaching them the very basics of your passion. I find that I often learn a lot myself, improving my skill.

passing-down

Some of my hobbies I have been teaching my children more formally are:

  • Sewing
  • Piano
  • Cooking & Baking
  • Drawing

I want to encourage you to share your passions with your little ones. Start small and easy, make it fun. Use this time to teach and develop a relationship with your child, not as a time to be efficient and get things done. Depending on the age of your child and the task at hand your progress may be slow.

Getting started

My topics I listed above started with finding a beginner children’s book at the library. Depending on your library, there are a lot of resources in the children’s non-fiction section. I checked out several books on each topic and my children and I looked at them together. Once I decided what books I liked I purchased them for us to use and keep at home. A book written for the audience of children are is a great place to start since sometimes it is hard to generate “lessons” for such a young age group. Stop by your library or check out an online resource to see what you can find for the hobby you want to share with your children.

Surviving Without Television

Occasionally it comes up in conversation that we do not have television, I usually get the response, neither do we, we watch netflix. We do not have that either. We do not watch television. The next response I get is, “wow, what do you do in the evenings?”. My husband also tends to correct me, we do have some forms of television. This post is about what we do and do not have in regards to television, how we use it, and why.

Do not Have:

Cable

Netflix

Hulu

Do Have:

Antenna

Amazon Prime (for movies)

Google Play Account (for Movies)

Why We Dropped Cable

When my first child was born, I remember watching a 30 minute show while I nursed her. Then it turned into another show, and another, until before I knew it hours had passed by in oblivion. This issue, along with our desire to cut back in unnecessary spending resulted in us dropping cable when we moved to our new location. We wanted to spend time as a family making memories and after the kids went to bed we wanted to spend time together as friends, growing and working on our marriage.

why-waste-life-on-a-couch-when-you-can-spend-it-making-memories

Getting the Antenna:

For a few years after our move, we went with absolutely no television watching. We did not have anything, but a TV and DVD player. On weekends, when we wanted to watch a movie, we would stop by redbox and rent a movie for the night. This was the extent that our TV was used for.

My husband kept up on his sports updates via the internet. After a few years of his sports withdrawal, he purchased an antenna so that we could at least pull in local stations for an occasional sports game (about once a month). This is why we now have the antenna.

Streaming Movies:

We tend to do most our non-grocery shopping on Amazon. This is partly due to our desire to limit unnecessary spending, but also partly due to our laziness. Due to our devotion to Amazon, we decided to try a free year of Prime. We of course decided to keep it after the year was up. Having Amazon Prime allows us to watch our movies for free since we select slow shipping and get a $1 credit each time. We also stream movies directly through play.google.com (which we also get for free through an app we use).

Having Amazon and Google, now allows us to stream movies directly for the children and ourselves. This being said, we have rented a total of 27 (14 through amazon prime and 13 through play.google) movies in the year 2016, about 1/3 of those being documentaries and one of those being a season of Elementary, which had 24 episodes (run time 40-45 minutes). So all in total we watched 3.24 movie run time/month in 2016. I am however missing the BBC Earth DVDs we own in this calculation, so lets be really liberal and assume we watched 4 movies a month, or 1 a week in 2016.

The 4 movies a month is what daddy and mommy watch after the kids go to bed, we consider this date night. I am not actually sure how much our kids watch, Amazon doesn’t record when I direct play Daniel Tiger. I am guessing 1 episode of Daniel Tiger a month on average, MAYBE 2–yes, that is it. Watching a “movie” (aka a show) is reserved for “sick days” and special family movies nights. Sometimes we will try to watch a longer movie with the kids (longer than 30 minutes) but rarely (once a year?). Sometimes if my husband is gone we will watch 2 episodes of Daniel tiger together with a special popcorn treat.

What Do We do Instead?

We do not watch television because there are other things we prefer to do with our time… and it costs money (but that is the minor side). We would rather our kids be using their imagination to play or spending time as a family. My children have grown up this way (so far, they are still very young) and they are used to it. They know how to entertain themselves (usually).

When I need to work on something like dinner or write a letter or want to read a magazine or my bible I let them know what I am doing and tell them they need to play or, depending on the activity I am doing, they can join me. If I am cooking, they can help or I may have them do their responsibilities. Our children are also excited to play together, since they have all had a 2 hour break from each other during quiet time. If I am reading my bible or a magazine or book, they usually opt to read their own bible, magazine, or book with me. Now don’t get me wrong, this does not always work perfectly, more than once I have had children fighting or pleading for me to hold them or some other emergency necessitating that I drop everything and focus all my energy on them. They are young, they are learning, this is a time of learning and growing for ALL of us.

My husband and I see our evenings as time together, time to grow and learn, time to sleep.We feel that this rarely happens when we watch television, or even a movie. We both love exercising and often get up early or workout after the kids go to bed. We also enjoy reading and often read books together out loud. There have been times we do a bible study together (this comes and goes). We also enjoy strategy games and will often play one in the evenings, or my husband tries to talk me into playing a game of billiards. There have also been times we just visit. There are other times that one of us has a commitment in the evening and I catch up on my responsibilities or he just rests and catches up on emails.

I remember, not too long ago, my husband mentioning it had been a while since we watched a movie. We both agreed how wonderful it was. Often we watch a movie because we are tired, but do not want to go to bed and I find that afterward I feel drained and exhausted, I very rarely end the movie feeling refreshed.

This change in our family over the last 4 years has been amazing. We have built endless memories reading, exploring, camping, playing games, running around, and more. We have saved money towards retirement and feel more positive about life and have been able to focus on what our God’s purpose is for us.

 

Talking About Sex-Start Early

Today children are constantly encountering sex, they may not be aware of what they are seeing or hearing, but one day they will be. It is our job as parents to educate and protect our children when it comes to sex. Starting the conversations now will hopefully help keep the conversations going as they grow and give them a healthy, biblical view of sex. Talking about sex and educating our children about their private parts and how to say “no” will also help protect them.

Birdsand bees.png

 

Start with Toddlers

In order to protect my children from sexual abuse and to make them knowledgeable about their own bodies we have always talked about their private parts in an appropriate, factual way. My children know the correct terms of their body parts and which parts are private. I also have never forced my children to show affection or accept affection, giving and showing love physically is their choice-even with Grandma and Grandpa! Labeling parts factually begins when they are toddlers, they are naturally curious and exploring their bodies, especially when potty training. Nicknaming body parts is not healthy or setting your child up for safety in the future.

A great book to get even the littlest people started is God Made All Of Me by  Justin S. Holcomb and Lindsey A. Holcomb. This book talks about how God made all of us and God made all of our body parts good. This book helps teach a healthy view of our bodies to set the foundation for future conversations. It also introduces that some parts are private and how to respond if the child does not like the touch and what to do if they are touched. Another thing I love about this book is it describes the difference between secrets and surprises.

Go Deeper with Preschoolers

Easter Books

Easter is right around the corner what are you doing to celebrate? Without Easter we would not have Christmas, we would not have hope, we would not have life. Through Christ’s death and resurrection we have the opportunity to receive hope and life abundant, this is a gift worth sharing with your little ones. Last year I published a post with several ideas to teach little ones about the true meaning of Easter while still having fun and enjoying the holiday.

Books are also a great way to share the story of Easter. Here are some books to check out:

Living in the World

We live in a world where people have different spiritual views, many have turned away from God. So how do we prepare our children to be a light in the world, to show love, while still keeping a holy life? Here are some thoughts.

in-the-world-but-not-of-the-world

I believe that since my job is to prepare my children to be adults in the world, shining a light for Christ, I need to show them how to handle the world. This means I do not “hide” them from the “evils” of this world. However, I also do not throw them into it and say “good luck”. If you have read through many of my articles, I am very intentional about the books we read, people we interact with, shows we watch etc.

What I Do

Identifying Sin

I believe a solid foundation starts with a strong spiritual foundation at home. We talk about sin, what sin is, what people might do that is a sin. We focus on age appropriate sins–sins they may encounter.  Much of this comes up organically, but I don’t hold back when the topic comes up, I say what the truth is, I do not try to make “everyone feel happy”, because sin is sin and the result without Christ is death, this is a SERIOUS matter.