What are your strongest childhood memories?
I lived close enough to the school to be allowed to walk home after school with my friends. We'd pick dandelions and clover flowers along the way, feed horses and find large caterpillars to carefully pop into our lunchboxes to take home to Mum. Mum loved the flowers and would give me an empty jam jar filled with water for them. She would often give me a couple of sugar cubes for the next time I fed the horses. And she didn't seem to make any comment about the caterpillars though they seemed to disappear by teatime.
Life seemed a little more simple, less frenetic in those days. After devouring numerous home-made biscuits still warm from the oven, children usually played outside until teatime. I know I certainly did.
Today is very different
Things have certainly changed. Children rarely walk home. (What a world of exciting little discoveries they miss as they speed past in cars; processional caterpillars crawling head to tail, hissing rhinoceros beetles tumbled onto their backs, a lost turtle or dog, and perhaps even a baby bird that had tumbled from its nest.)
After school time now involves some sort of after-school activity or sports training for each day of the week and dinner is often a rushed affair or possibly a quick and easy takeaway meal.
Forget about the bustle for a moment. Put your feet up, relax and click through this selection of retro recipes from a by-gone era. You'll find a link to these recipes online in case you'd like to cook them. Do you remember salmon patties, beef wellington or lemon meringue pie? What about curried prawns or banana fritters? What comforting memories accompany these meals for you? Maybe, your memories of your dinner recipes differ.
What recipes are an important part of your childhood memories?
If so, what meals do you associate with childhood? Have you cooked them for your family?I've suggested in another article some simple recipes that could become a part of your family memories. You might also discover that your kids or grandkids would really enjoy the simple recipes from yesterday...especially if you also recount some of your memories from growing up. And you just might be making some wonderful memories for them while you cook them.
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We pulled into the darkened driveway and I turned to look at the sleeping children in the back seat. Only Amy was awake, her big eyes shadowed with tiredness.
"Home at last!" I whispered. "Still awake?"
She nodded and I noticed Laura slumped heavily against her shoulder.
"Can you walk or do you need Daddy to carry you?"
I fumbled with the seatbelts and lifted Laura into my arms, surprised at how heavy she felt. I probably wouldn't have managed Ben. They were all growing so fast.
"Watch the step, honey. Here, take my hand."
The scene plays out in my mind, one of the many times I had carried one or other of our children. But, hard as I try, I cannot remember the very last time I held them in my arms and carried them to bed. There must have been a 'last time.' They are all grown now.
The last time
When was that 'last time?' Why didn't trumpets blare and fireworks explode? It should have been a momentous occasion. Why didn't I take note?
Like the last time a sleepy child crept into bed with us.... the last time I searched for missing homework... the last time I checked whether teeth had been brushed... the last time I tucked a small child into bed... so many 'last times' that had slipped by unnoticed.
Time passes so fast and moments are forgotten. And it's often only when they're gone that you realise how much you miss them...even the mess, the wall-to-wall toys.. the fingerprints on the walls.
A small memento
So here's a little something to help you remember those small, but important moments before they vanish forever.
Print the file below- a page ready for your kids' or grandkids' hand-prints, before they're grown and gone. The small poem below is printed on the page with space for the prints at the top. Use some water-based paints on a sponge. Ask your kids to press their hand on the sponge and then on the printed page. Add it to a scrapbook, frame it or take a photo of it and load it into your tablet's photos.
Sometimes you get discouraged because I am so small
And always leave my fingerprints on furniture and walls.
But every day I’m growing up and soon I’ll be so tall
That all those little hand-prints will be hard to recall.
So here’s a special hand-print just so you can say,
“This is how your fingers looked when you placed them here today.”
Let's enjoy these small moments and make them so beautiful that they will be worth remembering.
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I was in the midst of planning some fun activities for the boys when the text arrived: 'The boys are sick. I'll keep them home today.'
It's been said that the only thing a child will readily share is sickness. And little ones seem to come down with something every second week. I know when my kids were young, I felt as if I needed to organise a weekly doctor's appointment. There was always someone who was unwell. And two of my children suffered from asthma so, yes, we visited the doctor regularly.
But sickness is a part of family life and it's these moments that become something that will be remembered with warmth and fondness... yes, despite the unpleasantness of sickness.
So.. how? Here are 5 very simple ways to get you started.
2. A Get Well Video Clip
Imagine how thrilled a child would be to receive a video clip that can be played over and over. Fill it with family photos or pictures of enjoyable activities, animals or fun places. Again, I use Adobe Spark because it's so easy to use and free. (You can upgrade for more features.) Add as many pages and photos as you wish. Then email your video, post it to Facebook, your blog or on the web or save and burn to dvd. I've taken about 5 minutes to create this very simple version just as a sample.
3. A Get Well Pack
A pack of games, books, colouring or puzzles would be a real treasure for any child who has to stay inside and rest for an extended period. Add some music or a few special dvds and package it all up in a bright box. You might even want to include construction activities or science fun from places like National Geographic.
4. Home Pack
Don't forget about the family. When children are sick, everyone is involved. There will be restless nights, unsettled days and little time to devote to meal preparation. You might like to organise some dinners for the family. Even if it's not needed immediately, it's helpful to pop in the freezer ready for those times when no-one can be bothered cooking. Add in a few treats to tempt those with little appetite during these times. Some good old-fashioned comfort foods are good choices and research is now acknowledging the benefit of warming chicken and vegetable broths for those who are unwell.
I really hope and pray that your family and children or grandkids remain well. But if they are sick, take this opportunity to build comforting, even fun, memories of your love and concern.
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Cooking with kids- what could be more fun? Think about the warm, wonderful memories you'll be building. Kids love cooking. But, if you're busy and don't like a lot of messes there still are alternatives that are just as much fun.
Just keep in mind the 5 basic rules to crack the cooking with kids code:
1. Keep it short.
You don't need me to tell you that children have a short attention span. Generally, I calculate it roughly by their age. If they are 3 years old, their focus and attention on anything is very limited... think about 3 minutes, if you're lucky. And then they're up and on to something else. They may come back to the original activity later but again, just for a short time. Five-year-olds can stay interested in a task for a little longer.
2. Keep it simple. Don't give kids a lot of guidance. It's best if you show them what they can do and leave them to it.
3. Keep it safe. Think through any potential hazards and remove them first.
4. Keep it speedy. The complete activity should involve few tasks and little time to finish each one. (See #1)
5. Keep it tasty. There is nothing better than working on something that can also be eaten. Children even want to eat things that shouldn't be eaten....think about playdough. How many times do you wind up saying, 'No, don't eat it!'
So... Mosaic Biscuits tick all the boxes for making fun, easy and tasty cooking memories. Here's how to do it......
1. Pour some sweetened condensed milk into each bowl and add some food colouring. Stir to mix thoroughly.
2. Pop a small paintbrush in each bowl.
3. Show your kids how to paint the biscuits and then place them on the tray covered with baking paper.
4. Bake them for a couple of minutes in the oven (150 deg). Don't forget them; they only need a few minutes.... They will crisp up once they're removed from the oven.
I always forget them and find they're over-cooked! Fortunately, the kids don't seem to mind. You'll find the children will eat them as soon as they're cool enough to touch.
Memory-making moments don't need to take a lot of time. They don't need to be amazing cooking creations. They just need to be fun times with you.
Keep in mind the simple guidelines; keep it short, keep it simple, keep it safe, keep it speedy and keep it tasty!
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This article was updated November 1, 2017
Clowns of the bush
Galahs always make me laugh.
These birds are the clowns of the bush. You might ﬁnd them in cosy couples or large noisy family groups. Unlike their timid cousins, the dainty rosellas or the vivid king parrots, galahs are quite comfortable with people.
A couple of galahs regularly raise their nestlings in a nearby gumtree. And there are a few that systematically work through my 'lawn' looking for grass seeds. I've seen them hanging upside-down in the trees during a rain burst or throwing themselves down on the ground to ﬂap around in the dust. Yes, they're totally uninhibited.
But they love the wind!
When our kids were young, our house was surrounded by wide, open paddocks. At times, the wind would whip across the open area and swirl around the house.
We'd sit outside and watch the galahs.
They'd take turns ﬂying hard and fast around the house until they hit the oncoming gusts of wind. It would send them twisting and spinning back and up into the air.
I don't really know what noise a galah makes when it's laughing. But the raucous noise of those comic galahs must surely have been them doubling up in laughter and egging-on their mates!
It seems to me that my favourite family memories include laughter, maybe because we do it so much. I'm not talking about laughing at someone or using it to embarrass or upset someone else. I mean laughter and fun times that the whole family shares. What about you?
Do you have wonderful memories of your family enjoying a joke, a pun, a funny movie, or the humour of a shared situation or experience?
Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and laughter never ends.
Humour and laughter help us remember, especially those times when we were enjoying ourselves. It also helps us relax and play. But there are other recorded benefits of laughter.
Studies show that laughter contributes to people living longer, being more creative and productive and having more energy. Another big plus is the health benefits: a decreased blood pressure, an increase in heart rate and respiration, a decline in depression and the body releases endorphins. With all of that going for it, who wouldn't want to laugh more?
But other studies show that, on average, a baby laughs nearly 200 times a day while an adult laughs merely 12 times.
So.. how do you include more laughter in your day? Again, start looking for those funny moments, even if it's the antics of galahs and other birds and animals. You can find plenty of video clips about funny dogs and cats on YouTube. Share them with your grandkids and you'll find yourselves rolling around laughing at their antics. The kids will enjoy it so much they'll be looking for funny experiences to share with you.
(I've included one below to start you off.)
And, if you still needing more humour to share with your grandkids, try a joke book. I send my oldest grandson a weekly hit of jokes and riddles. Sure... he generally groans but the next moment he's regaling me with a good joke that he's heard recently or trying my jokes out on his parents.
These small laughter-filled moments may seem insignificant, but they build a legacy of fun and delight in the lives of your family. Have a good laugh and enjoy the moment.
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A busy, pint-sized bird flitted around, peering down at me from the guttering and muttering to herself in soft, high-pitched chirps, while I hung my washing. The little bird brought back her mate later in the morning. They were noisy myna birds and, generally, I discourage myna birds from loitering in my garden. They're noisy and cheeky and very territorial. They'll chase away kookaburras and honey-eaters, even cats and goannas.
The couple was obviously young and looking for a place to build their nest... ﬁrst home buyers, I called them.
And I honestly didn't think they'd return. After all, it was a potted shrub, for goodness sake, placed just outside my bathroom window.. not exactly the best location. But they both seemed to like it and she started work immediately. By mid-morning, she'd built a basic foundation for her nest. It was looking good. The male ﬂittered around inadequately making encouraging noises which she totally disregarded.
Work continued for some time and I went back to my own activities.
I was surprised, a little later, by a noisy altercation outside. The male had obviously brought her a gift, a small contribution to the nest construction. It was a nice gesture. I can understand its appeal. It was a pretty blue scrap of a ribbon. He'd probably searched all morning for just the right interior design accent.
But she was not happy.
I don't know whether she hated the colour or resented his intrusion. Perhaps she would have preferred something of a more practical nature. Maybe he presented the gift with a 'too cavalier' an attitude. Whatever the reason, the ﬁght continued for some time, and then the male retreated to a nearby shrub in a huff.
The offending little ribbon was dropped unceremoniously at the base of the potted plant.
The next interruption hit with the ferocity of a cyclone. It came fast, hard and furious and without any warning. I think it was the in-laws. The air was ﬁlled with shouting and recriminations and, I'm inclined to think, a fair amount of ﬁlthy language though I don't speak bird talk.
The battle continued for some time, and then there was silence.
I peeked outside; the small couple sat in a nearby tree whispering together and looking at their unﬁnished new home. At length, they left. I kept hoping they'd return, but they never have. I just can't bring myself to remove that small nest, begun with such excitement and determination, and destroyed with such acrimonious family discussion.
Now, I don't know anything about nest-building.
I can appreciate that the location of the birds' nest was a little unconventional. But it was under the cover of the house eaves so that was a plus. And my husband loves to feed birds so a constant food source is certainly another positive.
I can't help thinking that there should have been a better way of handling the whole irregular nest building situation.
One of the hardest things to do as a mother or grandmother is to just sit back and let your kids make their own decisions. Now, I'm not saying that we can't voice an opinion when we're asked. And I'm sure that you can delicately drop your pearls of wisdom as needed without ruffling feathers. But as kids get older, grow up, and perhaps leave the nest we have to take a back-seat in decision-making. (I'm sorry.. just couldn't resist the 'bird' metaphors.)
However, you can have an even greater impact on your family through difficult times with patience and encouragement. Did you notice that your kids took time to research a problem before making a decision? Let them know you respect their diligence. Have you seen the care they take ensuring they have all the facts? Tell them. Are there moments when your kids or grandkids show kindness and understanding? Take note and encourage them... perhaps even drop them a note to let them know how much you appreciated their actions... leave a little sticky note of encouragement.
And.. although I mention it last it should come first; it's prayer. It's something that we tend to overlook until everything starts to unravel and fall apart. I've found that everything just falls into place in ways I could never imagine if I hand it over to God first; and especially before I say or do anything.
Maybe, the moments your family will remember most will be those times they experienced your support and encouragement in their life. Our time is finite- we need to spend our time doing things that are helpful, loving and encouraging.
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I've decided to accept the 31Day blogging challenge with my own focus for the month: falling in love with small moments.