Saturday, November 27, 2010

day 326: decorating family night traditions part ii of ii--photo journal

                       REISH FAMILY DECORATING NIGHT 2010

In the last post, I described our family's Christmas decorating family night that we have each year. Today I would like to share our photos--the first time that we have documented most of the evening with pictures! Thanks for joining us!

We started this year's family decorating night with a family photo shoot...yeah, the pics above show just how difficult it is to get eleven "adults" cooperating all at the same time! We have this tiny problem with all the married couples (Mom and Dad included!) kissing more than smiling for the camera! Added to this was the fact that it was supposed to be an outdoor photo shoot, but it was sleeting, so we had to move inside. Our downstairs areas (excluding two bedrooms upstairs) total around 900 square feet--not enough space to photograph eleven just creating a blank wall was a challenge in itself.

And...we have a good one! Well, pretty good ... everybody's eyes are open and nobody is kissing...we can't ask for much more than that!

Next came family story reading. Watch future posts for suggestions--but the one we started with this year is a family favorite--"If You're Missing Baby Jesus." (The girls had prepared the appetizers (store bought, mostly) and the guys carried in the boxes prior to this, so everyone was eating as I was reading.)

Next, we all chip in to clean, move the furniture around, find coins under the sofa, etc. etc. One year we found somebody's missing i-pod. It's sort of like a treasure hunt! LOL! Dad always leads the way in family work--we learned a long time ago that the best way to teach kids anything is by example.

Some of us set up the tree while others cleaned up the meal, baked cookies, carried out empty boxes, etc. "Many hands make light the work"!

The moment the kids all wait for--passing out of the ornaments. For nearly twenty years, we have only decorated our tree with ornaments made by the children through the years. Talk about memories: "Remember when Mom threw the cinnamon sticks across the room on this one?" "Remember this one--the box said '5 minutes an ornament' Ha!" "Remember how many times Mom tried to starch those angels--but they never stood up like the 'sample' one did!" On and on and on...we laugh until we cry. We are not very artsy (except for our artist daughter-in-law), so the ornaments are not "Better Homes and Garden" style--but we love them anyway.

Our ornaments are not too fragile--thankfully, since they are in three boxes all mixed up. But that makes for some of the fun--when Dad and I pull an ornament out, nobody knows what it's going to be! :)

These are a few of our favorite homemade ornaments--notice the "wilty angels" and "stressing cinnamon sticks" are not here! Some years we have used kits (like the first pic--a simple, place-the-pieces on a plastic, color-coded frame, then iron them to melt them together) and other years we have modeled after other home made ornaments we have seen (like this latter one).

We didn't get a shot of the entire tree (or the dozen-plus nativities we collect) for some reason. Here's a partial shot of the nearly-finished tree.

And ready for the benefit of being the youngest--you get the put the star on practically forever! :) Jacob is here asking everybody to lift him up to the top of the tree--notice the puppy dog eyes! Works for him though! :)

Then came the "sibling exchange drawing" time. I could write an entire blog on the fun of this--each person draws a name and gets that person gifts for Christmas (as opposed to buying for all, which we had to end a few years ago when the kids started in college and had too many expenses to buy for everybody). Everybody loves it--and the antics and extremes they go to try to trick each other concerning who has whose name adds to the fun!


Then comes our singing time. I love it more than ever now because I get to hear Kara or Cami on piano--something I don't get to do that often anymore! This year we used our "Sing Through the Christmas Story" songsheet that Cami made for our family a few years ago. (I will post it in its entirety in another blog.)

Several years ago when the three "little boys" were truly "little boys," Kayla made them all wise men costumes, and they each learned a different verse from "We Three Kings" and sang it (dressed in their costumes) whenever we could talk them into it. Anyway, Kara (our drama queen) decided to help the boys resurrect their verses--complete with her own dramatic interpretation. She keeps us all laughing, that's for sure!

Next came cookies and conversations. Kayla made her infamous homemade chocolate chip cookie dough earlier in the week, so we baked a bunch up for our party night.

Finally, more snacks, games, talking, and fun to end the evening. Some of us stayed up late playing table games. The marrieds went home. And I praised God for the incredible, wonderful family he has given me and the grace and strength to raise them in His ways.

day 325: decorating family night traditions part i of ii

“Traditions are the key to everything. These are the recurring activities that can be anticipated and enjoyed throughout the year. The great value of traditions comes as they give a family a sense of identity, a belongingness. All of us desperately need to feel that we’re not just a cluster of people living together in a house, but we’re a family that’s conscious of its uniqueness, its personality, character, and heritage, and that our special relationships of love and companionship make us a unity with identify and personality.”
                               James and Shirley Dobson

Two years ago our oldest daughter moved from Indiana to Texas to get her biblical studies degree (to complement the nursing degree she had already gotten while living at home and attending college locally). Our Christmas decorating family night came around, and Kayla was across the country going to school five days a week and working twelve hour shifts as a nurse at Baylor Hospital on the weekends. I planned the family night as usual—but struggled to get excited about it knowing that we would be one child short that year.

Everyone arrived and we all gathered in the living room when Cami and Joseph (newly married) said they had an early Christmas present for Mom and that I should close my eyes while they bring it in. I was sure they were bringing in a poinsettia plant—something to cheer me up with Kayla away. When they had me open my eyes, I screamed, cried, and laughed all at the same time as Kayla stood before me—home for the family decorating night. Kayla had spent an entire weekend of work’s income to give me one of the best Christmas presents I could ever ask for—a Christmas decorating family night with all of my children at home. She flew in for thirty-six hours, a frivolity, some might say. But it was no frivolity. It confirmed that we had placed within our kids a light of family unity—a warmth that says that the Reish family is a great family to be in—and if you can help it, you don’t want to miss any of the special times we share.

Of course, now with our five oldest kids ages 28, 24, 22, 20, and 18, our traditions are lessening—and we are holding onto the most important ones. (And encouraging our olders to develop their own traditions.) But the memories remain—nothing, not even time, can erase family memories.

We recently had another decorating family night—an evening filled with appetizers, homemade cookies, tree decorating, nativity set up, siblings name drawing, caroling, story read alouds, reminiscing, lively discussions, and games. Christmas decorating night is a special one for our entire family. It makes us, as the Dobsons share in the quote above, feel that we are not just a cluster of people living together in a house, but a family that’s conscious of our special relationships of love and companionship.

Start your Christmas traditions today. Make a list of three, five, or ten things that will be your family’s “things” during the holiday season. Traditions that make your family unique. And the Christmas holiday even more special.

Next blog post: A picture journal of our family decorating night! This year we got photographs!

day 324: turkey leftover ideas part ii of ii

More turkey recipes! Gobble..Gobble!


Turkey carcass and all bones from leftover turkey

2 coarsely chopped carrots

1 celery rib with leaves, chopped

1 onion chopped

1 clove of minced garlic

1/4 cup chopped parsley with stems

1 teaspoon peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Water or canned chicken broth (if you are short on bones)

Break up turkey bones and place in a large pot. Add remaining ingredients and cover with 2 quarts water or canned chicken or combination of the two. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook, skimming for 2 hours. Strain and boil down to one quart.


• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

• 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

• 1 stalk celery, sliced

• 1/2 cup water

• 1/2 teaspoon chicken-flavored bouillon granules

• 1/4 cup soy sauce

• 3 cups cooked rice

• 2 large eggs

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

• 3 cups cooked turkey, cut bite-size

• 1 (10-ounce) box frozen green peas, thawed

• 3 green onions, sliced, including green tops

Preparation time: 5 to 10 minutes. Cooking time: 10 to 15 minutes. Yields six servings.

1. Measure oil into large skillet and heat. Use long-handled spoon to stir-fry cut carrot and celery until crisp-tender.

2. Add water, bouillon granules and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more, while stirring occasionally.

3. Add cooked rice, and continue cooking until mixture is thoroughly heated.

4. Crack eggs into small mixing bowl.

5. Measure and add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, minced garlic and ginger. Beat mixture with fork.

6. Use long-handled spoon to push rice mixture to sides of skillet.

7. Pour egg mixture into middle and cook until eggs are set, stirring often.

8. Stir rice mixture into cooked eggs.

9. Add turkey, peas, green onions and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

10. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until ingredients are heated through.


• 3/4 cup bottled creamy reduced-fat Caesar dressing

• Four 12-inch flour tortillas or lavash breads

• 12 leaves romaine lettuce

• 2 cups cooked, chopped turkey

• 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained

• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Spread a generous 2 to 3 tablespoons Caesar dressing over entire surface of each flour tortilla or lavash bread.

2. Place 3 romaine leaves on each tortilla, pressing them gently into the dressing.

3. Place turkey and roasted red peppers equally on one half side of each tortilla.

4. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over the top of everything on the tortillas.

5. Roll up each sandwich tightly like a jelly roll, starting with the turkey side.

6. Wrap individually and refrigerate for 1 hour.

7. Before serving, cut each wrap in halves, quarters or 11/2-inch bite-size rounds.

Makes four wraps.


• 3 tablespoons lime juice

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1 teaspoon garlic powder

• 2 cups coarsely chopped, cooked turkey

• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

• 10-ounce bag large-size white, yellow or blue tortilla chips

• 16-ounce can refried beans

• 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

• 16-ounce jar prepared salsa

• Sour cream and fresh cilantro sprigs, to garnish (optional)

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin and garlic powder; toss with turkey in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

2. Make a layer of tortilla chips to cover the bottom of a large 12-inch to 14-inch round or oval baking dish.

3. Evenly spoon refried beans over chips (use entire can of beans).

4. Top with turkey and sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheese.

5. Make another layer of tortilla chips.

6. Spoon half the salsa evenly over the chips.

7. Top with remaining cheese.

8. Bake nachos until heated through and cheese melts and begins to bubble, 15 to 20 minutes.

9. Serve hot with remaining salsa, sour cream and cilantro, if desired. Makes nine servings.


• Carcass from a 14 to 16-pound turkey

• About 4 cups of diced cooked turkey meat

• 1 very large shallot

• 1 to 2 bay leaves

• 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

• Water and/or chicken stock to cover

• 12 to 16 ounces dried lima beans

• 1 large onion (about 12 ounces) chopped

• 1 tablespoon butter

• 4 cups (about one pound) carrots, sliced 1-inch thick

• 4 cups (about one pound) fresh green beans, diagonally cut 3/4 inches

• 3 cups celery (about 4-5 stalks), sliced 1/2-inch thick

***Cook’s notes:

~This soup is even more flavorful when prepared with smoked turkey parts. If you’re using roasted fresh turkey and wish to enhance the flavor, add browned and drained bacon or a piece of smoked pork hock.

~In addition to the carcass, you may wish to use the tips of the wings, the drumstick or other bony-meaty pieces, but do advise diners that stray bones may be present in the finished soup. Reserve the four cups of turkey chunks to add shortly before serving; for subtler flavor, do not boil them with the soup as it cooks.

~If you prefer, substitute a small onion and a clove of garlic for the shallot.

~If you prefer a more stew-like mixture, remove and set aside some of the stock for later use in other recipes. On the other hand, you may wish to add additional liquid — chicken, vegetable or turkey stock, or plain water — for a soupier approach.

~Presentation: This is delicious served piping hot and as is, or spooned over thick slices of stale peasant bread (brushed with a little extra-virgin olive oil, if desired).

~Yield: Makes about 12 hearty servings.

1. Prepare the stock: Before you begin cooking, remove any significant pieces of edible meat from the carcass and set them aside to add just before serving. Do not recook the meat.

2. Place the broken pieces of carcass and other bones in a large, non-reactive pan and cover with water, and-or chicken or other stock. Place pan over high heat; bring to a full boil then stir, reduce heat to low and cover. Continue simmering 1 to 11/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

3. Strain the stock and discard any solids. The resulting stock can either be skimmed and used immediately or chilled, defatted and refrigerated or frozen for later use.

4. Precook the beans: While stock is simmering, presoak the beans by the following method. After you’ve sorted the beans and eliminated any soil or stones, rinse them and place in a large sauce pan. Cover with cold water (do not add salt) and bring to a full boil. Boil hard for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Drain and discard the water.

5. Assemble, cook soup: Sauté chopped onion with the butter over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until onion is tender.

6. Bring strained stock to boiling. Stir in the sautéed onion along with the drained, precooked beans. When boiling resumes, cover and reduce heat to low; simmer about 20 minutes. Stir in sliced carrots; simmer an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the green beans and celery. Continue simmering until limas are tender, then salt to taste only if desired.

7. Stir in the reserved turkey meat. Add or remove liquid as desired.

8. Continue cooking only long enough to heat the meat through.


• 1 medium onion, chopped

• 1/2 cup chopped celery

• 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

• 1/4 cup butter or margarine

• 1 (7-ounce) package seasoned bread stuffing mix (about 4 cups)

• 4 cups diced cooked turkey

• 1/3 cup frozen peas

• 1 (103/4 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

• 1 cup milk

• 2 tablespoons dry sherry

• 2 eggs

• 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

• Paprika

Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes. Cooking time: 15 to 22 minutes (plus 10 minutes standing time).

Microwave oven setting: HIGH (100 percent power)l Yields four to six servings.

1. Combine onion, celery, mushrooms and butter or margarine in a 1-quart microwave-safe casserole. Cover and microwave 4 to 6 minutes, or until vegetables are soft, stirring after 3 minutes.

2. Arrange stuffing over bottom of a 12×8-inch glass baking dish, reserving about 1/3 cup for garnish. Top with turkey, sprinkle with frozen peas, then spoon cooked vegetable mixture over top.

3. In a small mixing bowl combine soup, milk, sherry, eggs, and parsley flakes. Pour over casserole.

4. Crush reserved stuffing mix and sprinkle over top; dust with paprika. Cover dish with paper towel and microwave 8 to 11 minutes, turning dish half-turn halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes.

5. Microwave 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until heated through. Serve immediately.


4 cups turkey or chicken stock, canned or fresh

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch, diced pieces

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound white mushrooms, chopped (optional)

1 pound ****ake mushrooms, stems removed and chopped (optional)

Freshly ground pepper

1 large onion, chopped

1/3 cup all-purpose flour blended with 1/3 cup water

2 cups leftover cooked turkey, cut into pieces

1 cup frozen green peas

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1 large thawed puff pastry (about 14 ounces)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Spray a large 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish with vegetable cooking spray.

2. In a saucepan, combine turkey stock, potatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.

3. While the potatoes are cooking, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet and sauté white mushrooms and ****ake mushrooms until golden brown. Transfer to a separate bowl.

4. Sauté onions in remaining tablespoon of oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add mushrooms.

5. Strain the turkey broth into the skillet. Discard bay leaf and reserve potatoes.

6. Add the flour mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat, taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

7. Add turkey, potatoes, peas and parsley. Spread mixture in prepared dish and let cool slightly. Preheat oven to 400°F.

8. Roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface to a 14 x 10 inch rectangle. Moisten the edge of the dish with water and cover the filling with the dough, pressing firmly against the baking rim. Make a few slits for steam to escape.

9. Brush the dough with beaten egg. Bake 45 minutes to one hour or until crust is golden brown. Allow pot pie to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chopped, leftover turkey

2 green bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch diced (about 2 cups)

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 10-ounce can tomatoes with green chiles

1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon chili powder

12 flour tortillas

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add bell peppers, garlic, oregano and cumin; cook, stirring, until pepper softens, about 5 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, beans and vinegar; cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet; add turkey and sprinkle with chili powder. Heat and stir for about 5 minutes. Cover and set aside.

4. With back of spoon, coarsely mash some of the beans. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

5. Heat tortillas in a dry skillet or microwave. Spoon bean filing onto tortillas and layer with seasoned turkey. Wrap and serve.

Makes 6 servings.


• 2-3 cups chopped cooked turkey

• 2 (3 7/8 ounce) boxes Chicken & Herb Classico Rice-A-Roni, savory whole grain blend

• 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can chicken broth

• 1 (10 1/2 ounce) can cream of chicken soup, condenced

• 1-1 1/2 cup frozen corn (any variety)

• 1 cup milk, depending on consistency you like

• 1-2 teaspoon dried parsley

day 323: turkey leftover ideas part i of ii

I have been collecting recipes and ideas through the years for using holiday leftovers. Unfortunately, the file is missing, so I am trying to duplicate some of it using some websites, old recipes, etc. Ideas below; our favorite recipe beneath that; and more recipes to come in tomorrow's post.

                                             Turkey Leftovers

Tips for Turkey Leftovers:

1. Plan for leftovers by calculating one pound of turkey for every three cups of diced meat (which yields four to six servings of meat).

2. Keep turkey moist when reheating b covering it with broth.

3. Divide it up and freeze it with broth immediately for later use.

4. If freezing it, divide it into recipe-sized portions, so you only need to defrost what you need for a recipe (i.e. 3 cup portions if you will use it in three cup increments for turkey soup and turkey tetrazinni, for instance).

5. Quick leftover turkey ideas:

a. Turkey and cheese sandwiches

b. Turkey in salads

c. Turkey roll ups (wraps)

d. Turkey noodle or turkey rice soup

e. Turkey casseroles—white turkey lasagna, turkey enchiladas, turkey noodle casserole, etc.

f. Turkey taco salad


Hot Turkey Sandwiches

2 lbs shredded chicken or turkey meat, fully cooked

4 pieces of toast, broken into bite-sized pieces

2 eggs

1 ½ to 2 cups of concentrated broth (make it stronger by adding base)

2 tsp poultry seasoning

¾ tsp pepper

1 tsp parsley flakes

1. Whisk eggs until well whisked.

2. Stir all ingredients together.

3. Put in hot oven, uncovered, at 300’ for one hour or more, stirring every fifteen to thirty minutes until liquid is all evaporated and mixture is sandwich ready (flavorful, but not too wet and liquidy).

4. Use as sandwich filling.

5. Makes at least 15 large sandwiches.

6. Recipe may be reduced as needed or leftovers may be stored in fridge and reheated in micro.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

day 322: thanksgiving fun site

When I had a lot of “littles,” I loved to have coloring pages and activities for them around the holidays. We made Christmas ornaments, gingerbread houses, Christmas cards, turkey cards, and more. Such good times!

Now with the internet at our finger tips, there are thousands of places to find audio books, downloadable books, coloring and activity pages, craft ideas, recipes, and more. A person could literally spend hours just searching.

One site that I would have loved to have had when my kids were little is the one I am recommending today. It is chock full of holiday ideas—downloadable coloring pages, stories, crafts, recipes, and more. And not just holidays—but specific Thanksgiving sections!

Take a look at it and see if it will help your celebrations or down time this weekend. And then bookmark it for Christmas!

day 321: audio thanksgiving book still available—story of the pilgrims

If you have read PP 365 very long, you probably know that we are big audio book and radio drama fans. One of the best things we have ever done for our children’s academics and love for learning is to NOT have television stations available for nearly all of our family’s life. (And we still do not today, which is why, along with no game systems, our teenage boys read and listen to audios extensively—and, I might add—love school.)

It’s not too late to get in on Jim Hodge’s audio book, “Story of the Pilgrims,” if you are still looking for an audio to teach your children about the first Thanksgiving. We have a lot of Hodge’s GA Henty audio books, among many others—and you will not be disappointed!

This one (along with many others) is available as a down load from his site—so you can still get it and use it this weekend (or on Monday for school). It is $15 and comes with a written transcript of the book as well.

You can get it at the link below

day 321: cranberry jell-o salad

I don’t do a lot of Thanksgiving cooking because we go to at least two different Thanksgiving dinners at grandparents’ every year; however, if I did make a cranberry, I would definitely make it “desserty”!  Recipe below is one like that!

Cranberry Jell-O Salad

1 6-oz. package (2/3 cup) black raspberry or cherry jell-o)

1 ¾ cup boiling water

1 can whole cranberry sauce

1 can crushed pineapple, undrained

1 cup sour cream

1. Combine jell-o and water; stir until dissolved.

2. Add cranberry sauce and pineapple and mix well.

3. Spoon half of mixture into mold and refrigerate until firm.

4. Leave remaining jello on countertop.

5. When refrigerated jello is set, spoon sour cream over the top.

6. Spoon remaining jello on top and refrigerate.

day 320: book review—“a turkey for thanksgiving”

Another favorite Thanksgiving book! While we listen to and read audios about the first Thanksgiving (an Odyssey one is playing right now as I write this!), I am one who loves whimsical, funny, clever stories, including Thanksgiving ones. That is why I love the book described below. It is incredibly creative and clever—and catches kids (and adults) off guard when Mrs. Moose simply wants to invite Turkey to lunch—not eat him for lunch!

You can get this beloved book, written by Eve Bunting, at Amazon, among other places (including the library):

From Publishers Weekly: “Although a paper turkey decorates Mrs. Moose's Thanksgiving table, she longs for the real thing--so her obliging husband sets out to find her one. He is joined by his soon-to-be dinner guests: Rabbit, in his quilted down vest; poky Porcupine, in his furry earmuffs; and ravenous Mr. Goat, who devours everything in sight, including Sheep's plaid hat. They find Turkey hiding in his nest, surrounded by signs that discourage visitors. Trying to console the terrified bird, Mr. Moose explains: "We just want you for Thanksgiving dinner," which only confirms Turkey's fears. Young readers will be as thrilled as Turkey to hear that Mrs. Moose wants him at her table, not on it. Together, Bunting's ( In the Haunted House ; The Wednesday Surprise ) good-natured tale and de Groat's ( Hi Bears, Bye Bears ) autumn-hued, richly detailed watercolors convey the animals' warm friendship and the humor resulting from the misunderstanding. This ideal family read-aloud will awaken the holiday spirit in all.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

day 319: book reviews—liberty b. mouse

One of my favorite Thanksgiving picture books is a simple little paperback book called “Liberty B. Mouse Goes to a Party.” It is one of a few about Liberty B. Mouse. Young children love this re-telling of the first Thanksgiving—since it’s through the eyes of a mischievous mouse!

I have such fond memories of reading this story to all of my children—especially the part where Liberty sneezes a mouth full of corn and butter he is eating right into the campfire only to have some of the kernels “pop”—the first popcorn!

Can’t promise that either of the titles is available—but I found some used ones online, and many libraries have them.

“Liberty B. Mouse Goes to a Party” by Pauline C. Peck is available used at

The second one, which is also very cute, "Liberty B. Mouse Comes To America," is a classic retelling of the traditional Thanksgiving story through the eyes of a Mayflower Mouse. It tells the whole story of the Mayflower journey, the long winter, and the first Thanksgiving in simple terms that the young children can understand while still being interesting enough to the attention of older kids. It’s no longer in print, but is available at Amazon

day 318: preparing kids for thanksgiving get togethers—manners, selflessness, and more part iv

Last installment…honest! Will follow with more recipes and a couple of book reviews. Happy parenting!

6. Remind kids about situations in which deference should be exhibited. (Note: Deference is the act of deferring or putting off what we want for ourselves—like when you “defer” payments for a whole year—you are putting them off. Deferring (or “yielding,” as we also commonly call it here) is desperately needed. Giving up what we want for the good of someone else will get noticed far quicker than quoting Bible verses or praying before our meal (though, again, there is nothing wrong with those things—but when someone gets treated well, he or she takes note!). We have a saying in our family that “Reish children pick up some floor!” This means that when you are in a situation in which there are not enough seats, you should take a seat on the floor. This is especially true with small children, but it’s not at all uncommon for our big teenage boys to be on the floor in many situations. This is one way that we have taught our kids to defer to others in social situations. Other things to consider are allowing others to go first in the food line, taking small portions or none at all of a dish that is almost out or seems to be in short supply, giving up your chair or place at the table, and many more. These are common courtesies that Christians, of all people, should display. When you talk about deference over and over again with your children—pointing out situations in which they can potentially yield their rights to other people, they will begin seeing these situations for themselves eventually.

7. Teach children to be helpful. You have probably heard the saying that 80% of the work in the church is done by 20% of the people—well, the same is often true in families. The same people often host gatherings, and if you have done much hostessing, you know that it is a lot of work. We continued the theme “if you see a need, try to meet it,” in family gatherings. If children can put chairs away, pick up trash, run the vacuum, or dry dishes, they are ready to be helpers! Note that some hosts truly do not like to have children helping/working with them, so we tried to be sensitive to that as well. Again, if children are taught to be helpful at home, they will be more likely to be helpful in other situations.

8. Bring the fun! We like to bring games, holiday videos, yummy carry in dishes (now is not the time to try to get the extended family members to start eating their green veggies!), and more.

As Christians, we should strive to treat others in such a way that people want to have us around—that we are energy givers, not energy zappers. And we should teach our children to do the same.

Grateful for all of our Positive Parenting readers who have made my year of daily writing such a blessing by your encouragement and kind words. God bless your family this Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

day 317: preparing kids for thanksgiving get togethers—manners, selflessness, and more part iii

My “tips” are becoming “sermonettes”! Sorry….will continue them below and in next post. Thanks for joining us!

4. Manners begin at home…okay, everything begins at home and must be in us first. There, I said it. I spelled it out. LOL! Manners lessons were definitely something we taught. (Ray just listened to an audio about teaching manners a few months ago and was giving lessons to the boys while we traveled. As we sat in the “thrown rolls restaurant,” and Ray tried to teach the boys about silverware use (yes, you need to teach boys that!), one of the kids piped up with: “Dad, I don’t think a restaurant where they throw the rolls at you and they serve various things on brown paper toweling that they FRIED is a place that cares about manners!”) Need I say it again? If our kids talk with their mouths full, are not made to sit still during the meal, do not pass food (but keep it in front of them for later!), eat with their fingers, etc. at home, guess what? They will do at family get togethers too! Manners are common courtesies that we as Christian parents need to focus on.

5. Focus on respecting our elders. Respecting our elders is truly a lost art in our society—and it is so sad that it is that way. For one thing, the Bible states over and over that they should be respected. Secondly, it is such an obvious extension of the Golden Rule—let’s face it, we all want to be treated with kindness and respect in our old age. Start with the bear minimum—not doing anything that could harm or endanger an elder. For example, we always told our children what we expected of them in every scenario that we went into. “Now you need to talk quietly and not run at Grandma and Grandpa Rager’s because they are not used to having rowdiness—and you wouldn’t want to run into them or have them trip over you.” Then move into the way they speak to elders. We trained our kids to speak to those who speak to them—preferably looking the person in the eye and warmly shaking his or her hand. Moreover, as they learned to not be too shy in that scenario, we taught them to converse with the person and ask about him or her. (We often gave the children “assignments” at church to shake hands and ask about one new person each week to help them learn to do this!) Grandparents, especially, should be greeted warmly and sincerely. I know this sounds trite—but these are their grandparents! They are our fathers and mothers. They deserve kindness, warmth, respect, love, and assistance. Finally, our children learned to look for needs that their grandparents might have and try to meet them. (We taught our children that if Grandma is going in the kitchen to clean up, the Reish family should too!)

day 316: preparing kids for thanksgiving get togethers—manners, selflessness, and more part ii

Today I will share some tips that we have found helpful in teaching children to be a blessing when we go to holiday get-togethers. I would never say that our children were perfect at gatherings (or at home!). However, I believe that we have met our goal of not having people dreading our arrival! LOL! And many times, I believe, they even look forward to it!

1. Everything starts with you. I know, I know…I sound like a broken record. But the fact is, if you go anywhere to be served, thinking of yourself and what you will get out of a situation, your children will too—only moreso. (We are firm believers in the saying, “What you allow in your life in moderation, your children will allow theirs in excess.”) When we had many small children, we first of all, tried to be sure that we took care of their needs—that people did not feel that we came with all these kids for others to tend to. Secondly, we tried to divide up and help as much as we could. Oftentimes, we had our hands full changing babies, nursing, fixing kids’ plates, wiping up messes, etc. However, anytime we could, we tried to help others—we wanted our kids to see that we are not here just for ourselves.

2. We tried to do things ahead of time that would bless others—staying up late the night before to make special dessert or getting up early and peeling twenty pounds of potatoes were things that we could do at home to bless others there—even if our hands were full at the get together. We always told our children that if you can do something to help others or serve others, try to do it. (Obviously, you can’t always help everybody all the time—but we tried to teach them to always be on the lookout for ways to help others—and God has used that mightily in preparing our now-adult children for their current areas of ministry.)

3. Gratefulness begins at home…okay, everything begins at home. Whatever we want our children to learn and do, we must train them in that in our homes—not hope they get it at church, youth group, Sunday school, or by osmosis. If our children are taught from early ages that everything we have comes from the hand of God—and that without him, we are nothing—they are more apt to be grateful for little things. How is this done? “Slow and steady; steady and slow; that’s the way we always go.” In other words, it’s not a “character lesson” for Thanksgiving week (though it can’t hurt to emphasize that quality this week!) or a book that you can read (though we are reading about gratefulness right now in Character Sketches). It is something that is cultivated as we pray, worship together, remind our children that others are investing in our lives and that God uses them to bless us. Discussion, discussion, discussion. “Did you notice how hard Grandma worked to prepare today for us?” Every little detail of living for God (including gratefulness) can be taught at home through living and talking.

Monday, November 22, 2010

day 315: preparing kids for thanksgiving get togethers—manners, selflessness, and more part i

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what

you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

Many years ago when we had seven children fourteen and under, we decided that we wanted our children and our family to be blessings to others—not burdens. We knew that bringing seven kids into situations can seem overwhelming to hosts. We wanted people to look forward to our family coming—not dread seeing our big thirteen passenger van pull in the drive-way! We decided that when we went to a get-together, as Christians, we should be energy-givers, not energy-zappers!

We knew that going to a family get together of any kind, but especially any with non-Christians, and trying to “show” people our Christianity by our standards wouldn’t work. Non-Christians do not care about your standards—they do not worry about what you are wearing, what you are not watching, and other outward signs that we often think are important (and they might be, but they seldom show our faith as much as we think they do). What non-Christians care about is how they are treated (which is what everybody cares about, really!).

We have taught our children since they were very young that other people matter—a lot. We have taught them biblical truths along these lines—do unto others as you want others to do unto you; put others first; when you see an opportunity to do good to others, do it; prefer others before yourselves (our first born’s first memory verse when he was two—“‘fer others a’for self!”). We taught them to always think of those around them.

We taught them to think of those beside you (your friends and siblings); those ahead of you (grandparents and others who have gone before you); and those behind you (those who are watching you). And we taught them that we are here to serve God and others—not ourselves. And this begins in our home with our immediate family—and then extends to other relatives, friends, church, the community, then the world.

What does this have to do with Thanksgiving get togethers? Everything! We can prepare our children to think of others and serve whenever they can every time they leave the house (including family get togethers) or we can just assume they are kids and should just be kids—and do what kids do. Yes, kids can be selfish—but not just because they are kids. Kids are selfish because they are humans. As parents, we are entrusted with these children in order to train them in the ways of the Lord—which includes training them in selflessness rather than selfishness.

Some might feel that putting expectations on children to have certain behavior, exhibit selflessness, serve others, etc. for grandparents and others is too heavy of a burden—but if our children cannot learn to serve those closest to them (including siblings and parents), how will they ever be able to serve others (especially spouses and their children in the future)?

Tomorrow I will give you a list of ways that we taught our children to serve others, put others before themselves, exhibit good manners and character, and more—at holiday get togethers—and at home! 

day 314: holiday snack mix—caramel corn snack mix

A few entries ago, I introduced goody gifts that families can make (or at least assemble) together (  ).

Then I started out with our first “sweet” snack mix (  )--which was a sweet, simple one.

Then onto a spicy, more time consuming one  )

And then, our favorite—Muddy Buddies at

Today, our final installment of snack mixes for gifts (or anytime!)--another salty/sweet combo--caramel corn snack mix.

Again, in 2 cup servings for gift giving—32 total “gifts.”

Caramel Corn Snack Mix serv=2 cups/bag serves 32


32 Cup Popped popc Unsalted

16 Cup Crisp Rice Cereal Square

8 Cup Pretzel Twists

4 Cup Pecan halves

4 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Cup Butter 1 stick=1/2 cup

1 Cup Corn Syrup light

4 Teaspoon Vanilla

2 Teaspoon Baking Soda



1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine the popcorn, cereal, pretzels, and pecans.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, butter, and corn


4. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil.

5. Reduce heat to medium low; cook without stirring for five minutes.

6. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda.

7. Pour over popcorn mixture and toss evenly to coat.

8. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 mins, stirring after 15 mins regular; 300

degrees for 20 mins, stir after ten for convection. (Note: Adjust for larger

amounts; stir twice instead of once for large quantities.)

9. Transfer to large piece of foil or parchment; cool completely then break

into chunks.

Recipe Category .. Snacks and Desserts

Printed by Advantage Cooking! 30 Day Gourmet Edition www.30DayGourmet.Com

Sunday, November 21, 2010

day 313: holiday snack mix—muddy buddies snack mix

A couple of entries ago, I introduced goody gifts that families can make (or at least assemble) together ( ).

Then I started out with our first “sweet” snack mix ( )--which was a sweet, simple one.

Then onto a spicy, more time consuming one  )

And now, our favorite—Muddy Buddies, which might actually be one of the world’s greatest foods! Chocolate, peanut butter, and crispy…Smile…

Again, in 2 cup servings for gift giving—45 total “gifts.”

Muddy Buddies serv=2 cups/bag -- X 4 serves 45


32 Cup Corn Chex Cereal

32 Cup Rice Chex Cereal

2 Cup Butter

8 Cup Peanut Butter, smooth

12 Cup Chocolate Chips

6 Cup Powdered Sugar



1. Melt together the butter, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. (If in

micro, use large glass measure, 50% power; stir every thirty seconds; do not

overheat and do not get wet.)

2. Pour over the cereal and stir.

3. Add powdered sugar to coat while mixture is still wet.

4. Store in air tight container.

Printed by Advantage Cooking! 30 Day Gourmet Edition www.30DayGourmet.Com

day 312: holiday snack mix—reindeer spicy snack mix

A couple of entries ago, I introduced goody gifts that families can make (or at least assemble) together (  ). Then yesterday I started out with our first “sweet” snack mix (   )--which was a sweet, simple one.

Today I would like to introduce a spicy one that takes a little more work (stove top sauce and then baking mix)—but is still not too difficult. It is different (and a little spicier) than your typical Chex mix. Give it a try!

(Again, I based the servings on 2 cup servings, the amount we put in individual bags for gifts.)

Reindeer Spicy Snack Mix serv=2 cups/b serves 24


8 Cup Bugles If unavail, may use


8 Cup Cheez it

8 Cup Pretzel Twists

4 Cup Corn Chex Cereal

4 Cup Bite Sized Shredded Wheat

4 Cup Pecan halves

3 Cup Butter Melted

8 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

10 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

5 Teaspoon Cajun seasoning

 2-4 Tablespoons Cayenne Pepper



1. In large bowl, combine all but butter, syrup, worc sauce, cajun, and


2. In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients.

3. Pour wet ingredients over dry mixture and toss to coat.

4. Transfer to an ungreased 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan (more than one for

multiple batches).

5. Bake, uncovered, at 250' regular for 1 hr, stirring evry 15 mins (45-50

mins convection; stirring every ten; adjust for multiple batches and stir

more frequently).

Printed by Advantage Cooking! 30 Day Gourmet Edition www.30DayGourmet.Com