Family Fun – Make Your Own Pizza Night

family fun make your own pizza

I love spending time with the kids and creating opportunities for family fun. I’m always trying to think of ways to create quality time with them. Quality time doesn’t always have to mean doing something big or expensive. We do pretty regular family game nights and movie nights, along with a smattering of other activities. (Check out my Geocaching post for example.)

But even when doing a chill family night in, people need to be fed! So I decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and do a make your own pizza night! Everyone can experiment with putting different toppings on different slices, or just go ahead and make their good old favorite style of pizza.

By getting everyone involved in cooking dinner, you create a sense of togetherness while also creating a sense of independence and fostering living skills. Sitting around the table making pizzas, also creates a general light heartedness amongst everyone. Maybe it’s the casualness of the food – or maybe it’s the fun of not having to agree on what to make and eat. Whatever it is, it is the perfect time to talk and joke and just generally enjoy each other’s company.



It does involve a little prep, but it’s pretty simple.

If you have the time to make the pizza crusts too, more power to ya! There are many advantages to that. But to make it quick and easy (because those hungry bellies DO need to get filled), you can easily buy pre-made pizza dough.
So you’ll need dough, sauce, and any toppings you have on hand.
My kids like cheese so, even though I don’t eat it, I bought cheese for them. Things like spinach and mushroom are pretty easy because they’ll cook down enough on their own when you cook the dough. I had some broccoli and cauliflower on hand. The kids like when I saute it, so before we began I sauteed it. It was one more step, but one more I thought would pay off in child vegetable consumption. It’s up to you if you have time or want to include something that would add steps like that. Maybe leftovers would be a great option.

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

I love seeing them experience a bit of independence in a life skill. It gives them confidence.

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

They crack each other up!

family fun pizza night - vegan pizza

I make mine vegan with no cheese. And I love veggies!
My camera conveniently died before I got a picture of the kids’ pizzas.

But the dough had directions to cook for 12 minutes. So once we got finished, I slid them in the oven (the kids’ first) and then we were able to enjoy the fruits of our own labor. And play games and hang out while eating pizza.

Learning, bonding, and eating. Le sigh…

family fun make your own pizza
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Meditation for Beginners – 3 Ways to Start

meditation for beginners - 3 ways

Beginning to meditate can be daunting to some people. It sounds all so easy – just sit and quiet your mind. But if you are anything like me, learning to calm that crazy monkey mind is tougher than it sounds. It’s why so many quit trying to meditate so quickly. Their practice ends before it begins. Which almost happened to me too. So if you need a little extra help meditating, why not try a different method? Here are 3 ways to meditate that I’ve seen or experienced working for beginners or just people who have a lot on their minds.

Guided Meditation

meditation for beginners - guidedA guided meditation, uses visual mental imagery. By focusing on a relaxing scene, you give your brain something to keep it from wandering while also calming your thoughts.

To do a guided meditation, we actually like to use youTube. There are some great resources on there. One we particularly like is The Honest Guys. My daughter listens to a guided meditation by them to help her fall asleep at night. Boho Beautiful also has some great meditations I like to listen to.

If you have listened to a few guided meditations you may have figured out what works for you. In that case, you can always guide your own meditation.

Even if you haven’t, you can picture a scene that relaxes you. Perhaps you are on the beach at twilight, hanging on a hammock between two palm trees. You can close your eyes and listen to the waves peacefully crashing into shore. Or maybe you are camping in your favorite campground. Your sleeping bag is warm and cuddly around you. Close your eyes and listen to the crickets chirping. Think of whatever scene most relaxes you. I try to choose nature scenery. And then experience all of your senses using your mind’s eye. See it. What does it sounds like? Smell like? How does the  breeze feel? Can you almost taste the sea air on your tongue?

Walking Meditation

Ymeditation for beginners - walkinges, you can actually meditate while you walk. If you are new to meditation, this can be a good method because walking can be so peaceful and relaxing.

Find a quiet, calming location. Or somewhere you feel comfortable.

You can experiment with your focus.

Ffocus on the natural rhythms your body creates when walking – your breath or your footfall.

Or  use a focus word, such as “courage,” “dream,” or “create.” Say the word, out loud or in your head, with the rhythm of your feet.

Meditative Coloring

meditation for beginners - coloringColoring books are all the rage right now.

When you are coloring, your are completely focused on the task at hand. It helps keep you in the present moments and  let go of the other distractions.

It’s a great way to practice focus and mindfulness, if you have a hard time reeling it in.

 

Do you meditate? What method do you use?

 

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January 2017 Lifestyle Favorites

Lifestyle Favorites - January

2017 is already shaping up to be better than 2016. I’m already excited about what it has to hold. I know great things are in store for us. I have high hopes!

It’s so exciting when I find something or someway that makes my/our life a little easier, better, or more fun. I just thought I would share a few of my recent findings. So here are some awesome products/recipes/apps that I love.

        1. S’well Bottle
          My brother and sister-in-law got me this new water bottle for Christmas. I truly love it. I know S’well bottles are expensive but now that I have one, I totally understand why. I fill this puppy up every night (as well as multiple times during the day), put it on my bedside table, and when I wake up in the morning my water is still cold. It’s amazing and I love the color. It’s so fun and so pink which is amazing. But you can get almost any color or design if you prefer.
        2. Cuppow
          Another gift from my brother and sister-in-law. She gets me. 🙂 These are coffee style lids that go on top of mason jars and are then secured by the metal ring. They allow us to take drinks in the car or during family game night. (For some reason, cups and mugs seem to be ever more precarious during board games.)
        3. Minimalist Baker’s Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
          I am always looking for ways to streamline our routine. I love cooking, but I love even more when I find a way to make meals that are quick, easy, and kid-friendly. I love overnight oats because being able to toss a mason jar and spoon to my kids (and myself) makes mornings so much simpler. So when I found this recipe for overnight oats, I had to give it a try. We ALL loved it. My kids even said it tastes like peanut butter ice cream. I made it by the recipe (almost never do that!) and added bananas on top in the morning. It is absolutely superb!January Favorites - Overnight Oats
        4. Laser Tag
          I am always looking for ways to play together as a family – inexpensive and active ways especially. These galaxy blasters are especially great for that. My kids will happily grab one, toss one to someone else, and start firing without a thought for the TV at all. Of course, I enjoy being ridiculous because it makes it more fun for all of us. So run, hide, and roll around. They crack up and do it too. It makes us all laugh and hopefully creates some positive memories for them.
        5. App: Plant Nanny
          Plant Nanny is an app that my daughter found out about from one of her friends. Both of my kids have it downloaded on one of their devices. It’s an app that helps you to track your water consumption. When you drink water you record it on the app and the cute little plant grows. So they keep drinking water because they want to see their plant grow. After a while they will get sick of it, as they always do, but it’s nice that they become more conscious of their water consumption.

 

Have you found any new passions, strategies, or discoveries so far this year? How has January been for you?

* Mom is Such a Nerd is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no extra cost to you and I truly appreciate it!*

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Break the Pattern! | Stress Management

break the pattern | stress management

“I dropped my cereal. I stepped in a puddle. My socks are wet. I don’t like these I didn’t have time to do my hair properly. And I can’t find a headband!” My daughter began to sob in my car as she began her Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day type of tirade. I felt like I was looking at the me from certain parts of my life in the past. I knew where this could be headed. So I had to do something about it.

Not many people know this but I’m a pretty big Tony Robbins fan. And in the recent documentary I Am Not Your Guru, he reiterates one of his techniques which is to “break the pattern.”

My daughter was creating a pattern in her head. She was looking for all of the bad things that happened to her that morning. And I was afraid that she would continue to look for the bad things that happened to her during the day and just be miserable.

So I thought I have to break the pattern but how?

Tony Robbins uses humor a lot and sometimes adult language among other methods (but for some reason that’s what popped into my head in the moment) neither of which would work in this situation. Mostly because, while I think I’m hilarious, my kids don’t always feel the same way.

So I said “Man that seems like a lot of bad stuff that happened already this morning. Now tell me something that happened good this morning.”

She got quiet. She had to change her thinking. I did it. I broke her pattern.

“Anything, even the littlest thing. The weather. Do you like the change in weather?”

“Meh.”

“Okay tell me something else then.”

“Well I wasn’t mad when I woke up.”

“You woke up on the right side of the bed. I’m happy for that!”

“No I didn’t. . . I woke up on the left side.” Humor! She had now broken her own pattern and was creating a new one. “I have three tests today.” I asked her if she knew what was going to be on the test and she said yes. “So you’re prepared!” I exclaimed. She agreed and continued to tell me about the tests and the classes. By the time we got to school, she hopped out of the car with a smile on her face and walked into school standing pretty darn tall.

Have you ever seen yourself or someone you love start that negativity spiral? Break it! Try to pull them out of that funk before it becomes a pattern that hangs over them like a dark cloud.

  • Use humor.

    Making someone laugh can begin to break through that negativity and open a door for further conversation.

  • Surprise!

    The element of surprise can change a person’s thinking by figuratively knocking them off balance. It has the power to stop people in their tracks. Then there’s the opportunity to change their focus.

  • Physical Activity.

    Movement, changing your body’s position in space can change your perspective both literally and figuratively. Go for a run. Do mountain climbers. Drop and give me 50. Or whatever. Exercise releases endorphins and dopamine – feel good chemicals. Plus when I finish exercising, I always feel slightly more accomplished. Like I can check something off of my to-do list or like I’m worth taking some time to take care of myself. This is also a great long term strategy. (See more below.)

There are also long term strategies to help you naturally improve your abilities to deal with stress.

  • Physical Activity.

    Regular physical activity can improve sleep, mood, concentration, and memory. It can help to handle stress and increase daytime energy. Over time, some studies even show that regular exercise could help symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders. Just make sure to check with your doctor before you start an exercise program.

  • Practice Mindfulness.

    Mindfulness involves staying in the present, allowing things to happen without judgment. There is mindfulness meditation (see below), but you can also use mindfulness in your everyday tasks. Stay in the moment. If something bad happens. It’s okay to experience, to feel upset, but then let it go. Because right now is the only time you can experience right now. So why waste it worrying about the past or the future. (Of course that’s not to say you can’t mourn or grieve, that is important. Or do tasks that will improve your future – everything you do right now should be for a better future, but enjoy doing it, not fretting about it.)

  • Meditation.

    You can meditate. Trust me you can. So many people say that they can’t, but I don’t know anybody whose mind can be in so many different places at once as me. Seriously for months, I would sit down to meditate and write stories in my brain, my head would go as far as to make up my own songs or greeting cards. I would think about work, school, the kids, something funny. And of course the never ending to-do list was running like a loop in the background the whole time. It’s okay if it feels like you are just always thinking. (Kind of how I’ve always said I do my best writing in the shower. It’s a time when things slow down and my mind just feels free to roam.)When your mind has a mind of it’s own, it’s okay to observe that thought. But then let it go. Don’t judge it. Just release it. Bring your focus back to your breath or intention. It takes time. Start with something small like 5 or 10 minutes a day. It didn’t take long before I began to see a change in my ability to handle stress and to have internal happiness, not dependent on external forces. I learned to slow down and process where I was in the moment. I’m not perfect, but progress is progress.

  • Practice Self Care.

    It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. In fact it’s just the opposite. If you don’t take care of yourself and are already hanging on by a thread, one more stressor could make it snap. Take care of yourself. Build yourself up so no single event can knock you all the way down.

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