Quincy Area Family Magazine Issue 2 | Winter

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a note from the editor And just like that, we have our Winter Issue, which is also issue number 2 for our new publication. I am very excited to bring this first winter issue to all my current and hopefully new readers. My advisory board has again been so helpful in more ways than one in helping me bring this magazine to publication. Again, I truly appreciate each one of you.

In our Family Life section, you’ll find a fun marriage date night idea that can help you reconnect with your partner or help bring you even closer. You’ll also find some tips and tricks for the busy parent(s). Nikki has been doing the commuting/ busy parent thing for a while now and has some great ways to manage time better so you have more time with your family.

Wintertime brings many things, from the holidays to snowy weather to the need and want to hibernate LOL. In this issue, you will find some things to help you through the winter season as well as the holidays. We know the holidays can be overwhelming for some people and sometimes sad for others. You will find some helpful tips on managing your mood and hopefully having a brighter year.

This issue also brings up some topics about loss and how to handle grief. The season may be great for you, but there are people who just lost loved ones and may be going through this holiday alone for the first time. We also have an article on pet loss and how to help families and kids through it. It’s hard enough handling your grief, so I imagine it to be even harder to explain to your kids what is happening and how they can manage their grief. We all go through it at some point. These topics may also be part of future issues, so you know you are not alone.

Something new we started with this issue is featuring local not-for-profit organizations. There are so many in our area that I want to give them a shoutout. In just the past year, I learned about so many organizations that I had no idea were around. I want you, as our readers, to know about them as well. I plan to have at least one local not-for-profit featured for each issue. This issue is unique, and we have two amazing organizations for you to learn more about. Our Food Talk is also full of some great items. Wintertime is great for hot food, and I know many people like chili and soup when the weather gets cold. There are some yummy soups to try and a chance to overcome your fear of using an Instant Pot. Sounds like they are better than some people think. Me being one of them. 2

If you make your way over to Kids Corner, check out the submission on Funny Things Kids Say. I’m sure they’ll give you a chuckle. We also have some fun Christmas traditions listed, so if you want to start a new tradition this holiday with your family, look at some we had submitted. Maybe they’ll work for your family too. In this issue, each section has something great and beneficial to you. We always take content submissions, so go to our website and send us your ideas and stories. I hope you all enjoy our second issue as much as I do. Happy Holidays! Brandy Owens Editor in Chief

localstories 4 Meet the QAF Board 6 Home Safety 10 Local Not-for-Profit Spotlight Quincy Children’s Museum

differencemakers 14 Kevin Blickhan

foodtalk 20 Soup Season 26 Holiday Food Safety


28 Marriage Date Night 32 Tips & Tricks for the Busy Working Parent 36 Coping with Grief During the Holidays

kidscorner 38 Local Not-for-Profit Spotlight Festival of Lights 41 Navigating Loss with Love: Family Friends ways to Heal Together

42 Funny Things Kids Say 43 Christmas Traditions


44 Win This Winter: Tips on Boosting That Mood 47 Healthy Holidays

P.O. Box 3080 Quincy, IL 62305 connect@qafmagazine.com qafmagazine.com


QAFMBoard Members My name is Allison and I am a board member and content creator for The Quincy Area Family Magazine. I moved to Quincy in 2015 with my husband Mitch and we now have two boys ages 4 and 1. I am passionate about The Quincy Area Family Magazine because I grew up in a broken family with parents who focused on their addictions and not their children. Being a parent is a privilege I am always working at improving upon and not something I take lightly. I am striving to raise good humans who know they are valued and will always be supported. They are my “why” and I am thankful to get to parent and grow in such a wonderful community. Family picture courtesy of J. Ashley Photography

I am Nicole Eddy and I’m an Advisory Board Member and Writer for Quincy Area Family Magazine! I grew up in Quincy and graduated from Quincy Senior High School, I moved away for college and the beginning part of my career and moved back to the area about 10 years ago. I have an amazing husband, Nick and two beautiful kids, Piper and Keagan. I am excited to share my experiences and thoughts with you, the readers of QAF and learn a lot along the way too. Photo credit Stacey Milks Photography

My name is Lisa Freed, and I am an insurance agent who is enthusiastic about protecting families when circumstances happen. My wonderful husband, Sterling, and I have combined, four amazing adult children: Timothy, Jessica, Samantha, and Josh. Having spent ten years in the U.S. Navy, becoming an award-winning writer and public speaker, I joined the QAF team aspiring to share my experiences about family life, military parenting, travel, single mom life, women dealing with trauma, and sharing the loving advice from my parents. I enjoy spending time with my family and pets, visiting with other veterans, learning from other parents and grandparents, spending time with friends (especially their children,) strengthening my relationship with God, and sharing His message with others.

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” - Robin Williams

My name is Sarah Nolinwinkler (Garriga) and I am honored to be working alongside Brandy Owens (Editor of QAF) and the QAF Board as we begin this journey to bring a little more “family” back into your home. I am a mother of two beautiful tiny humans (Harrison Gray 6, Abigail Mae 3) whom are my true purpose in life and are also the very reason why I consume coffee in the mornings and perhaps a little occasional wine in the evenings. We all strive to be better today than we were yesterday because let’s face it there’s no rulebook or “How To” guide for life/parenting and the best thing we can do is try again tomorrow. That right there is my reason for joining the Quincy Area Family Magazine. It is to help families find their groove even if it’s only for that one moment where core memories are captured or to encourage parents that it is totally normal to have those guilty feelings at the end of the day but use those for inspiration to do better in your tomorrows.

HI, I’m Jessica Speckhart, a Venue Manager and Coordinator at Pointe D’Vine Venue & Vineyard, the home and property of my in-laws. I’m a business graduate with extensive corporate experience and have been a part of the venue management team since the family began hosting events almost 12 years ago. I enjoy serving others and making the most of life’s special celebrations. My husband, Aaron, and our 3 children inspire me daily. I enjoy traveling, playing board games, and staying active in my free time. I decided to join the QAF board to give helpful advice and guidance to new moms and those with special needs while teaching acceptance of neurodiverse individuals. Photo credit J. Ashley Photography




ow many of us consider our home to be our safe spot? I do. What does the phrase “safety of my own home” really mean? These days, sales pitches include “From the safety of your own home.” There are plenty of reasons for that phrase. This is where we should feel safe, can relax, have the freedom to be active and healthy, and enjoy our family without worry. If we’re going to call our home safe, we must first make sure that it is, in fact, safe. There are many hidden hazards. Did you know that over 33,000,000 people are injured in their own homes by consumer products in the home each year? There is an abundance of things we can do to make home accidents preventable. We naturally gravitate towards children and/ or seniors when discussing keeping our home safe. But it’s all of us.


Let’s look at some of the safety concerns for children.

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Home Safety Checklist for Older Adults and People with Disabilities Adults over age 65 are predominantly susceptible to falls and poisoning. To help minimize the chance of your loved one getting hurt: •Arrange furniture to clear all pathways to reduce risks of falling. •Install bars and other safety devices to assist in showers, bathtubs, and toilets. •See that tubs and showers have non-skid surfaces to reduce the risk of slipping. •Install an elevated toilet set. •Do not let clutter lay around. Keep the floor free from debris. •Do not use throw rugs. Tack down all other rugs to reduce the risks of tripping.

•Install handrails on both sides of the stairs. •Install nightlights throughout the home, especially in hallways and bathrooms. •Place non-slip treads on bare wood steps. •Consider safety features for medicines, such as color coding, to prevent mixing dosages. •Consider a Panic Button such as a bracelet or necklace. We’re all busy with many demands on our time. Practicing good safety measures in your home will make an impact you may never know. You will never know how many trips or falls you saved someone from. You will never know the quantity of choking visits to the ER you didn’t experience. Keep your home your safe spot. Submitted by Lisa Freed





Quincy Children’s Museum – We envision joyful children, engaged families, and a connected community. I got the chance to sit down with Amy Peters, Executive Director of the Quincy Children’s Museum, and discuss how her vision has come to life and what the future looks like for Quincy Children’s Museum (QCM). Q: Can you share a little of your background with us, Amy? Are you from the Quincy area? A: I am a proud Quincy native and have lived here my whole life. I graduated from Quincy High School in 2010, attended John Wood, and canceled my move to Colorado when I met and fell in love with my husband. Q: Can you tell us about your family and how parenting has shaped your vision for QCM? A: My husband and I knew we wanted a family right away. We have always loved kids and started our parenting journey by becoming foster parents. That experience opened my eyes to social work. It led me to obtain my bachelor’s degree in social work from Western Illinois University and my master’s in social work from Mizzou. I then went on to get my professional educator’s license so I could work in the school setting. This was a busy season for my husband as we were growing our family both naturally and through foster care. From the beginning of our parenting journey, we recognized the need for quality family activities, recreation, and educational opportunities without having to travel two hours out of town. I remember repeatedly saying to my husband, “Someone should really open a Children’s Museum in Quincy!” Little did I know then that I would take the initiative upon myself.

Q: When did your vision for Quincy Children’s Museum really take off? A: In 2019, I was attempting to be a stay-at-home mom, and in less than a week, I developed a logo and an interest survey that over 600 people took in less than a week of me posting anonymously. With such great interest and support, I was quickly able to form a board, get incorporated, and register as a non-profit organization all by early 2020. We had a lot of big plans, but COVID-19 required us to pivot. We used this time to work remotely with a team of 35 people to develop a strategic plan that identified our mission, value, and plans for the next three years. In 2021, we started partnering with community events and introduced a thousand children and their families to QCM in that first year. In 2022, we were able to attend 82 community events and I got to officially become the Executive Director of the Quincy Children’s Museum. In the summer of 2022, we hosted our first satellite exhibit at Quincy Public Library. It was called, “Into the Artic” and the community response was awesome and left them all wanting more! In fall 2022 we started providing local schools with our mobile exhibits for a week at a time to enjoy. The feedback has been amazing. We went on to secure a 1-week contract with The Quincy Town Center to have an on-site location that quickly turned into a 13-week contract due to the high traffic and high demand. In February 2023 we were able to open Studio 101 in con-

junction with Experience Quincy and this was available through September 2023. In August we opened our second satellite exhibit, this time partnering with Quincy Arts Center. This satellite exhibit was called “Curiosity Magnified” and was available for two months. In October we returned to the Quincy Town Center and will be there through the end of the 2023. Starting in January 2024 we will be located at 115 N. 4 th Street in Quincy. This space will include a loft for birthday parties, classes, and special events; an art room, our own parking lot, and a HUGE tiny town! Our goal is to remain in this space until we open the permanent site. Q: Now that you’ve shared everything currently going on with QCM, can you tell us what the future looks like? A: Our permanent site will be located at 230 N. 3rd Street Quincy and has been under renovation for the past several months. We have raised 2.5 million of the necessary 12.5 million needed and our hope is to open in 2026, dependent on fundraising. However, QCM does not want to wait to start living our mission until our permanent site is completed. Our community and children need

quality activities and educational opportunities now. We are busy spreading awareness and helping create core memories and we cannot do it without the community’s help. Up to this point, all programs offered have been completely free to utilize with donations welcomed. QCM introduced a membership program earlier this year, starting as low as $5/month to be eligible for special membership hours and programs. Effective 01/01/24 we will be implementing admission fees for visitors ranging from $2 to $5 per person and will require a minimum of $10/month to receive full family membership benefits. We will be offering a Museum’s for All Program, including 50% off admission and membership for qualifying families. These steps are critical to our growth as an organization as we work towards the completion of our capital campaign and the construction of our permanent site. Q: Any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers? A: Yes! I am humbled and grateful Quincy Children’s Museum is becoming a reality and this would not be happening without continued on page 12


the village around me. We have an incredible Board and amazing volunteers and committees. This whole project is about community and those that call the Quincy area home. This would not be possible without the community support we have and continue to receive every day. This also would not be possible without my amazing children and husband. My husband continually has a mile long to do list and my children are the official exhibit testers. Thank you to everyone who has played a part in making QCM a reality! To stay up to date on all the exciting things happening at the Quincy Children’s Museum you can join their mailing list at https://form.jotform. com/212365261856155, follow them on Facebook and Instagram, or visit their new website launching January 2nd. To donate to this wonderful cause, you can mail a check to P.O. Box 5022 Quincy, IL 62306, give online at givebutter.com/qcm or venmo @quincychildrensmuseum To make a reservation to play please visit givebutter.com/qcmreserve To schedule a mobile exhibit, birthday party or for general information please email quincychildrensmuseum@gmail.com 12

Submitted by Allison Housewright

differencemakers Kevin Blickhan

Father, Husband, Hero

Difference maker? “I don’t think of myself as a difference maker.” -Kevin Blickhan Story By Kari Vogel & Kaitlyn Wegs



aking a difference is a goal most people in the service field have, but they don’t always know the ways in which they are making a difference unless someone points it out or honors them in some way. Even then, those who truly and profoundly influence and inspire those around them, don’t understand how they could have done so. For our dad, Kevin Blickhan, this is exactly who he is and how he has lived his life. We’ll reference Kevin as Dad in this article simply because that is who he is to us, and calling him Kevin just doesn’t feel natural. Dad has always been an inspiration to us, and there has never been a better man to be our hero. He has always shone us by example as

Photos by: Joselyn Rae Photography

well as lectured us on how to behave, present ourselves, write, play sports, speak to others, respect others, how to be a solid spouse and parent, as well as countless other life lessons. However, throughout our childhood, we didn’t always know how much he impacted others and made a difference outside our loving home until we became adults. I (Kari) watched my Dad in his career throughout my life, and he was so dedicated to his work as a social worker with children, that it inspired and fueled my own career. It’s a family legacy of sorts. He would tell you he did not necessarily want me going into the same field as him as he knew the heartbreak, stress, time away from family, and toll it takes to do this work well. But I watched how much kids and their families mattered to him. I saw how he would get home late because he wouldn’t stop advocating for a child in need. He would sit with them and make sure they were safe no matter what, and that alone made me dedicate my own career to advocating and protecting children in the child welfare system.

In 1979, Dad began employment in his field at the Adams County Youth Home as a counHe was raised in a loving, modest home and selor, then in 1980 as the Assistant Director. brought up in the Catholic religion. He atThe youth home is a detention center for tended grade school at St. John’s the Baptist youth in trouble with the law. Dad worked Catholic Church and School when this was there for five years. “I married the love of my still in existence. Dad graduated from Quincy life, Sandy, in 1981. She was beautiful! All my High School in 1972 in one of the largest class guy friends couldn’t believe it and wondered sizes in school history; 640 students. He then how I got her. We were blessed to finally add attended Quincy College in 1972 while living to our family with two wonderful girls in 1987 at home to save money. During this time, and 1988.” He started classes for his master’s he was recruited to join Circle K, which is a degree in the mid-1980s, taking one class at preliminary student organization to Kiwanis a time. He finally completed his degree after and Kiwanis International. The focus is to vol- stopping and starting in 1994 with a master’s unteer and provide primary help to children degree in public administration. His employthrough fundraising or work projects to help ment changed to Chaddock in 1983. He was community areas in need. “What drew me to a Cottage Coordinator, Assistant Director of them was my personal desire to help chilResidential Services, and Admissions Coordren and to teach others the value of comdinator. He then went on to work for The munity service. The reason I still stay involved Illinois Department of Children and Family is to stay active and to show others they can Services in 1988. Dad worked for the DCFS be helpful as well. I’m still learning.” He grad- Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline in Springfield, uated with a degree in Sociology. Dad didn’t Illinois, from 1988-1989, then as a caseworker, go to work in his field until 1979, as he mancasework Supervisor, and Supervisor of Fosaged a bar in town for a couple of years: The ter Parent Retention for the Central Region of Fortique. Illinois, at DCFS, (1988-2016). continued on page 16


“I retired in 2016 from DCFS after 26 years, and a total of 36 years in the field of child welfare. I was worn out, working for the state, and had paid my dues, so to speak, but felt that in retirement, I could pick and choose what I wanted to do, at my own time at a pace that would not interfere with family needs, and my own desire to do what I want and when I chose to do it! I love children! They need so much! I love sitting down and talking and problem-solving with them.” We were born in 1987 and 1988, so Dad was doing all this while we were very little. We didn’t have a clue about the sacrifice he was making as far as time with us to better himself in a career that would eventually help and guide hundreds. This has always taken a toll on him. He has mentioned many times over the years, the guilt he used to feel having to isolate himself away from us to study and to miss out on play, dinner, and bath time during those years, but we never knew a time when he wasn’t there as we were so little. “Boy, do these three (mom, Kaitlyn, and Kari) keep tabs on me! It was absolutely the most wonderful time watching Kari and Kaitlyn grow up! They were the best little girls, with long blond hair and blue eyes! Sandy did a super job raising them, as she parented them predominantly. I’ve always been very proud of them, and have been so thankful when considering and reflecting on many of the less fortunate children and families I worked with in my career. Too many funny stories to tell about all three of my girls, and they know them all!” When asked why our Dad got into the field of social work, he said, “I love children, especially the little ones. I worked predominantly with teenagers in my work at the Youth Home and at Chaddock, but the little ones were always special in my heart. I always wanted to make sure we protected them and kept them safe. I also wanted families to succeed. My parents were caring people, as well as many friends, relatives, and professionals I worked with.” Dad has been awarded and nominated for his service to children, families, and the community over the years. It just shows that people really do appreciate and recognize how rare and important he is in this field, in this community, and to the lives of the people who love him. He received

a national award in 1988, and again in 1994 as an Outstanding Young Man of America, nominated in 1988 by a Chaddock administrator and a foster parent with DCFS in 1994. Other accomplishments have been simple recognition by supervisors in his work with kids and foster parents. Gem City Breakfast Kiwanis accomplishments are as follows: Board of Directors 2004-2006, President 2006, Richard Walz Distinguished Service Award 2010, The Dr. Luis V. Amador Award (the most distinguished award one can receive in Kiwanis regarding neuroscience research for central nervous system diseases)- 2022-2023, and Kiwanian of the Year - 2022-2023. “What inspires me to do the service work I do with Kiwanis and the fundraising and childhood reading, mentoring, and so on, is that I have been blessed and that I need to give back, with whatever talent or effort I can.” One impactful and incredible accomplishment started back in 2005 when Dad began mentoring for the Quincy Public Schools. “I began mentoring in approximately 2005, at the Early Childhood Center at the request of a high school friend of mine that felt I could provide some help to this

three-year-old young boy, who had lost his mother the year before in a drug shooting. He was attending the Early Childhood Center at the time, and our Breakfast Kiwanis Club provided members once a week to read to a couple of classes. I was one of those readers. I began meeting with this little boy, who at the time was a real wild child. Losing his mother at the age of two was obviously devastating! Anyway, I continued to meet with him each week for approximately thirty minutes to an hour, depending on his behavior, and 15 years later, he graduated from high school at QHS. This young man struggled, but our friendship grew over the years, and is still alive today! He played football at QHS, and was a first-team all-conference player, receiving a scholarship to Eureka College in the Peoria area! We were both chosen and honored to do a recruitment video for the mentorship program that can be viewed today! Thanks to editing, I am very proud of that video with that young man! I also mentor currently, 5 young men at QJHS, and 1 young man at QHS weekly. I look forward to seeing and talking with them each week, and honestly, they do with me as well. I love it! What inspires me about the kids and families I have worked with in my career and now in my retirement, is when they are problem-solving, having success, and doing

for themselves. That’s when they’re happy. That’s when they smile!” How do you want to continue helping this population? “Time will tell, but I want to continue helping the young people I work with the same way I’m doing now, or if the schools want me to do something else....as long as I know it’s best for the kids!” Social workers have high burnout because of the depth and rigor it takes to get children and families to make changes, deal with trauma, conquer addiction and mental health issues as well as fighting THE SYSTEM, so it says a great deal to have a person who has the dedication and stamina for longevity in this field of work. Our dad is the exception to all the rules. He is a humble man. He’s never been one, at least in our eyes, to brag about himself and his accomplishments. He has three women in his life to do it for him! When asked, you have two daughters and grandchildren that think the world of you, as well as a wife that brags about your accomplishments to others; how does that make you feel that you are held in such high regard as a husband, father, and grandfather? “I think the world of my family, and I am very blessed. I am very grateful to have these women in continued on page 18


my life, and, hopefully for many more years to come. It makes me feel very lucky that they think of me the same way I feel about them. As far as my grandkids, they are my life!” A support system, whatever that looks like, is also essential for a social worker. Dad described his support system as his family. While we know we are the ones writing about him and how much he means and supports us, he definitely gave it back to us. His parents, our mother, and we suppose we are his support system. “My parents, for sure, were my support system years ago, encouraging me to go to college and eventually graduate school. My dad was especially encouraging as he had a couple of college courses, but never completed. It was important for him to have a son that attended and graduated college. My wife Sandy was especially supportive, taking care of our two little girls while I traveled twice weekly to classes to complete my master’s degree. She has always been supportive whether it was to go to school, play in a band, play sports, or work on our antique cars. Kari and Kaitlyn always knew Dad was doing something, as they also were involved in their activities of sports and dance, or theatre.” Dad’s advice is, more often than not, reliable, consistent, and trustworthy. So, when asked, you can always know he means what he says, and whatever he says will make a difference in your life. “What I would say to others at this point in my life,

is to work hard for what you want. It takes time, but don’t ever quit. Utilize the support of family around you to re-energize you. Spend more time with them. Real time. Meaningful time. Child welfare is tough! Don’t get into it unless you put your whole self into it. Embrace it; otherwise, it will overwhelm you. There are rewards, maybe few and far between, but they are there and worth the wait. Volunteer with a community service group if you don’t get into the field itself. There are a multitude of organizations that could use your expertise. As an old graduate professor once said to me as I was struggling with an assignment and I was looking for guidance, he simply said, ‘keep working, don’t quit!’” This article is supposed to be about difference makers in our community, but Kevin Blickhan, our Dad, is more than that to us and to many others he would not want us to specifically highlight. He does so many things under the radar because he is in a position to help, whether it be a kind gesture, a joke that made someone’s day, a monetary contribution to a cause, or a specific person that touched his heart or just talking at a restaurant or bar because he doesn’t really know a stranger. “I do not consider myself a role model. I have too many flaws. I just want to help kids any way I can, and if that helps them currently or down the road, hopefully they can pass it on to others.” He is our difference maker!



Soup Season

t’s getting cold out, and nothing screams warm and cozy dinner like an inviting bowl of soup. One of my favorite ways to make soup is with my Instant Pot! Many people respond to that last sentence with, “Oh, yeah, my (insert relative here) bought me one for Christmas a few years back, but it’s still in the box. I’m afraid to use it.” I respond with a little laugh and explain how great they are, but I doubt the poor thing still ever sees the light of day. I hope to entice a few folks to rip that box open and try out a few soups this season! Here are a few things that make a multi-cooker (Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, etc.) so awesome: 1. It’s an all-in-one pot! - Maybe this one is obvious, but it is! You can saute like you would a skillet or boil like a pot, use it like you would a crockpot/ slow cooker, AND the best part: a pressure cooker, which means that things take just a fraction of the time to cook! Most recipes, if they are written correctly (I’ll get to recipes in a bit), will put everything in the order that you’ll need to cook them so that it can all be cooked together in the same pot even if you’re using different functions, so WAY LESS DISHES! 20

2. It’s faster. As I mentioned above, pressure cooking saves so much time, so many recipes only call for partially cooking the meat before pressure cooking or letting you use partially frozen meat which helps you save tons of time. 3. Cheap-especially since the fad has kind of worn off, you can get these things for way under $100. I definitely recommend going with a 6qt model because most recipes are standardized to that size pot. If you go above that, things can take way longer to cook or come to pressure, and if you go below that, you can mess up the recipes when you try to pare down the ratios. You can always add fancy things like air fryer lids and silicone trivets, but all base models should come with what you need for most recipes and all the recipes I’m sharing in this article. I like to research a lot before I try new things just to make sure I’m buying the right things, so when I bought my Instant Pot a handful of years ago, when they were really popular, I found a lot of recipes online. Some recipes were good, some were not good, so I started looking for groups on Facebook of people who had recipes they liked

and recommended. I stumbled upon this group and one of the guys who would post a lot had videos of some of his recipes (which I find super helpful when I’m going to try something new-Hello, Millennial!) His website is Pressureluckcooking. com, and you can find tons of different types of recipes (not just soups) with videos, step-by-step pictures, and full recipes. He also has great books if you’re interested in something more tangible. I have 3 of his 4 books, and they are great, too, with even more recipes than what he has on the website. The step-by-step pictures make it much less daunting to tackle. Here are three of my favorite soup recipes from Jeffrey Eisner’s books/website in order of difficulty (in my opinion only). Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup From The Step-by-step Instant Pot cookbook by Jeffrey Eisner, page 68, and... https://pressureluckcooking.com/instant-pot-chicken-tortilla-soup/ Prep time 5 min Saute time 5-10 min Pressure building time 10-20 min Pressure cook time 14 min Total time 45 min Serves 4-6 Ingredients 2T Vegetable oil 1 Yellow onion, diced 2 Jalapeno peppers, diced 3 Cloves garlic, pressed or minced 5c Chicken broth (I use chicken bouillon cubes and water) 1-14.5oz can Diced tomatoes, with their juices 2 Limes juiced 2T Hot sauce 2T Salsa Verde 1T Dried cilantro 1T Ground cumin 2lb Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs 1/2c Sour cream continued on page 22 21

Suggestions to add when serving: Chopped fresh cilantro Freshly sliced avocado Shredded Mexican cheese Tortilla Strips 1. Pour the oil into the Instant Pot, then hit saute and adjust so it’s on the high or more setting. After 3 min., when the oil is heated, add the onion and jalapenos and cook for 3-5 min., until softened. Add the garlic and saute for 1 min. Longer. 2. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, lime juice, hot sauce, salsa verde, dried cilantro, and cumin. Stir well. 3. Add the chicken breasts, secure the lid, move the valve to the sealing position, hit Keep Warm/ Cancel, and then hit Pressure Cook or Manual on High Pressure for 14 minutes. Quick release when done and let the soup cool for 5 min. 4. Meanwhile, use tongs to remove the chicken. Place in a mixing bowl and shred with two forks (or a hand/stand mixer for ease), and set aside.

5.Once the soup has slightly cooled, whisk in the sour cream until totally melded. Return the shredded chicken to the pot and stir. 6. Serve topped with some fresh cilantro, avocado, shredded cheese, and tortilla strips.

Medium White Chicken Chilli From The Lighter Step-by-step Instant Pot cookbook by Jeffrey Eisner, page 62 and... https://pressureluckcooking.com/whitechicken-chili/ Prep Time 10 min Broiling Time 12 min Saute Time 10 min Pressure Building Time 15-20 min Pressure Cook Time 5 min Total Time 55 min Ingredients 2 Large poblano peppers, seeded and roughly chopped 1-7oz can Green chillies, with juices 2T Extra-virgin Olive oil 1T Pure maple syrup (trust this one) 2T butter 1/2t Liquid smoke 1 Large spanish or yellow onion, diced 2-15.5oz can White beans (Cannellini, great northern or navy beans) drained and rinsed 3 Cloves garlic, pressed or minced 3T Cornstarch 2.5lbs Boneless, skinless chicken tenders, breasts or thighs, cut into bite-size pieces 3T Cold water 4c Chicken broth (I like to throw bouillon cubes in and pour in water to volume the broth makes inside the pot) 1-10oz Package frozen corn (can also use a can of corn) 1c Salsa verde 1/4c Plain Greek yogurt 2t Ground cumin 2t Seasoned salt 1t Chili powder 1t Black pepper 1 Lime, juiced Optional add for garnish: Shredded cheese, I like Monterey Jack Chopped Cilantro Lime juice 1. Toss chopped poblano pieces with oil and spread onto baking sheet and pop under

broiler for 10-12 minutes or until they are blistered, you can also use an air fryer or air fryer top to an instant pot, cooking times may vary, so keep an eye on them. This step will add a lot of flavor to the end soup. 2. In the Instant Pot hit Saute and adjust so it’s on the more or high setting. Add the butter to the pot. Once it’s melted and bubbling add the onion and poblano peppers, saute for 3 minutes and then add garlic and saute for another 1 min. 3. Add the chicken pieces and saute, stirring constantly for another 3-4 min, until it turns pinkish white (it will not be fully cooked yet, but that’s ok). 4. Add the broth, salsa verde, cumin, chili powder, pepper, lime juice, green chiles, maple syrup, and liquid smoke and stir. Finally, add the beans on top and, rather than stirring them in, lightly smooth them out so they’re just below the broth. 5. Secure the lid, move the valve to the sealing position, hit Keep Warm/Cancel, and then hit Manual or Pressure Cook on High Pressure for 5 min. Quick release when done. 6. Mix together the cornstarch and cold water to form a slurry. (For a thicker chili, you may double this slurry mixture.) 7. Hit keep warm/Cancel followed by Saute again. Once it begins to bubble, add the corn (if using). Stir in the slurry for 30 seconds and then hit Keep Warm/Cancel. Stir in the yogurt and seasoned salt and let set for 2 minutes. 8. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese and cilantro, if desired. Instant Pot Soups continue on page 24.

This is my new favorite soup! It is so hearty and flavorful it checks all the boxes for me for sure. It calls for a lot of very heavy ingredients like heavy cream, gnocchi, which is an italian potato dumpling and Jeffrey’s favorite flavor enhancer-Boursin cheese. In my opinion it can go without some of that, I like to use the Boursin bites which are little bits so it’s easier to only use a dab instead of an entire brick, I use a splash of milk or half and half instead of cream and you could even cut out the pancetta or bacon if you’d like to. I have also made this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken before and it was great. From The Simple Comforts Step-by-step Instant Pot cookbook by Jeffrey Eisner page 78 and... https://pressureluckcooking.com/instant-pot-chicken-gnocchi-soup/ 4T Salted butter 2t Dried thyme 8-10oz Pancetta, diced or 1/2lb bacon cut into bits 1t Dried oregano 1 Medium yellow onion, diced 1t Italian seasoning 2 Medium carrots, peeled and diced 1 Whole Chicken (4-5lb) chopped into quarters 3 Ribs celery, diced (leafy tops reserved) 8-10oz Baby spinach or chopped kale 3 Cloves garlic, pressed or minced 2c Heavy cream or half-and-half 1/2c Sherry wine (optional) 1/2c All-purpose flour 5.5c Garlic broth (Garlic Better than Bouillion and water) 1-2lb Store-bought packaged gnocchi usually found in the pasta aisle 1T Seasoned salt 1/3c Grated parmesan cheese 1t Black pepper 1-5.2oz Package Boursin or any spreadable herb cheese cut into small chunks (optional) 24

oodtalk foodtal lk foodtalk foo odtalk foodtal

Medium to High difficulty Chicken Gnocchi Soup

1. Add the butter to the instantpot, hit saute, and adjust so it’s on the More or High setting. 2. Once the butter’s melted, add the pancetta or bacon and saute for 6-8 minutes, until cooked and slightly crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined bowl and set aside, but lease the bacon grease and melted butter in the pot. 3. Add the onion, carrot, and diced celery to the bacon grease and saute for 3 minutes. Deglaze/ scrape the bottom of the pot and get browned bits up. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. 4. Add the Sherry (if using) and let simmer for 1 min. 5. Add the broth, seasoned salt, black pepper, thyme, oregano and italian seasoning. Stir well. 6. Add the Chicken and make sure it’s submerged in the broth. Top with the spinach but do not stir. Secure the lid and move the valve to the sealing position. Hit cancel and then hit Presure Cook or Manual on High Pressure for 10 minutes. Quick release when done. 7. Using tongs, slide the spinach off the chicken and into the soup. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and let cool for 10 minutes. Pull off the meat and discard any cartilage, skin and bones. 8. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the cream and flour until thickened (it should look a little curdled and slightly lumpy). Add to the soup and stir for about a minute to get any small lumps out. The flour will cook from the heat of the soup and smooth the lumps out. 9. Hit cancel, then hit Saute and adjust so it’s on the More or High setting. Once bubbling, add the gnocchi and let boil for 2-3 minutes, until the gnocchi float or tender. Hit cancel to turn the pot off and switch to keep warm. 10. Add the pancetta or bacon, the shredded chicken, and the reserved leafy tops from the celery, parmesan, and boursin (if using) and stir until the dairy is melded into the soup. Ladle into bowls and enjoy with some crusty bread!

Now that you’re comfortable making soups with your multi-cooker, you can do anything! Check out all sorts of recipes online. The sky’s the limit. My favorite Jeffrey Eisner recipes from Pressureluckcooking. com are listed below, and they are definitely a crowd-pleaser in my house! Be sure to let us know if you try out any of the recipes from this issue and share pictures on our Facebook page. Click here to go straight to our page. + Rigatoni Bolognese + Spaghetti Carbonara + Spicy Lemon Spaghetti + Beef Bourguignon Submitted by Nikki Eddy

Holiday Food Safety 1 – Hand washing. Keep your hands clean by effective hand washing with soap and water. Avoid using your bare hands to touch “readyto-eat” foods. Ready-to-eat foods do not need to be cooked in order to be consumed. Examples are crackers, breads, cheeses, deli meats, veggies for a veggie tray, etc.

4 – Avoid leaving food out for extended periods of time without some kind of temperature control. Meaning, keep cold foods cold and hot food hot. Easy, right? Bacteria can grow rapidly between 41 degrees F° and 135 degrees F°. If you choose to leave food out without temperature control, discard the food within 4 hours.

2 - Food separation. Keep raw foods separate from the ready-to-eat foods. Store raw food below ready-to-eat foods. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and ready-to-eat foods.

5 – Chill. Chill food quickly and refrigerate promptly at 41 degrees F° or lower to prevent bacteria from growing.

3 – Cooking. Cook food to the proper temperature. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, and seafood. Proper cooking temperatures can kill harmful bacteria.

In summary, food safety is important all year round, but especially during the holidays when we prepare and eat more food. Following these five simple tips can help protect yourself and your loved ones from food poisoning.

Reindeer Pancakes Prep Time: 10minutes Cook Time: 10minutes Total Time: 20minutes INGREDIENTS 1 package of bacon 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I prefer Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix) 2 large eggs 1 1/2 cups milk 1 Tablespoon oil 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract 1 cup mini marshmallows Marshmallows and M&M’s for eyes Red candy for noses (I like gummy candies) INSTRUCTIONS For the bacon antlers, preheat oven to 350° then place bacon on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until cooked through For the pancakes, combine all ingredients minus the marshmallows and candies and mix well Gently stir in 1 cup of marshmallows Cook a large circle (6” diameter) and two small circle for the nose and ears (2-3” diameter) on a greased griddle or frying pan, continue until all batter is cooked

Jingle Bell Bark PREP TIME: 10 minutes ADDITIONAL TIME: 2 hours TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 10 minutes Ingredients 12 graham cracker sheets 12 ounces white chocolate morsels, melted Sprinkles Instructions Place graham crackers on a baking tray. Melt white chocolate morsels according to package directions. Spread over graham crackers.

Assemble the pancakes by placing the big pancake down first then top with one mini pancake

Sprinkle generously with sprinkles of choice. Allow white chocolate to harden at least 2 hours. Break into 2-3” pieces. Place in a sealable container.

Gently tear off two edges of the other mini pancake and place like ears on the top of the large pancake

Recipe from https://snacksandsips.com/jingle-bell-bark/

Place bacon for antlers on each reindeer head

Submitterd by Tracey Vandenberg

Stick M&M’s in marshmallows and place on the pancake for eyes and add a red candy on the mini pancake nose to complete your reindeer pancakes Recipe from https://www.thisvivaciouslife.com/ mini-reindeer-pancake-party/ Submitted by Tracey Vandenberg

familylife Marriage Date Night


irst, let’s just get the credits out right now. I snagged this adventure from my church, The Crossing, in Quincy. My husband and I participated in this date night challenge, and it was one of the greatest dates we ever had. I’m including dates when we were newly in love and still in the courtship phase; I know I’m dating myself. I have made a few minor changes to the challenge. My husband and I are a Christian couple, but understand some may not be comfortable with that setting. No worries. There are options for you if that is the case. This challenge was intended to have surprises along the way, as they were in unopened envelopes. You could only open your envelopes at certain intervals of the date. I can’t do that since we’re publishing in a circulation. You, the reader, have the advantage but don’t take advantage of the date. Keep your mind open to the spontaneity of the date. Do your part to make it fresh and exciting. I invite you to copy and paste the envelop portions of this article and put them in your own envelopes. Note-taking is unnecessary, so you could share these envelopes with your friends or family members when you’re done with your date. Now, you must set aside plenty of time for your date. You should be spending more than the usual amount of time at a restaurant. If you’re ready for your date, let’s go. Envelope 1 Our relationship with our spouse is the most important we have. Please take this opportunity to set everything else aside, focus on each other, and make this night matter. Your first task for the evening is to select a restaurant. Making memories as a couple is important, so take a selfie together or ask your server to take

your picture. If you want to, share your picture on social media and tell your friends about your evening plans. Let them follow your date and see your enjoyment in one another. I encourage you to start your own hashtag. This could be something you continue to post for years to come. Just think about the memories this evening could spark years later. Open Envelope 2 after you have ordered your drinks, but before you order your meal. Envelope 2 As you look over the menu to decide what to order, consider the following: 1. Be adventurous. Pick three meals you would like, share these with your spouse, and then let them choose what you will eat! 2. Share funny memories of each other. 3. Now that you’ve taken your selfie set your phones down and leave them down until you are ready to pay your bill. This might be difficult, but it will be worth it! Wait to open Envelope 3 until after you have ordered your meal. Envelope 3 Take some time to discuss the following questions and make sure you both respond: 1. How did you know I was the one when we first fell in love? 2. What’s one or two things you love most about me? continued on page 30

momtalk Christmas is merely days away, and you have completed your shopping, wrapped all the gifts, and completed all your grocery shopping for Christmas dinner, right? Ha! That is so far from the truth for most of us busy moms. Most of us are not feeling very jolly currently but very stressed. When you take the normal day-to-day expectations and add the holiday madness into the mix you find your halls are decked with unfinished to-do lists. Even with a helpful partner it is still exhausting making sure you have accounted for everyone on the list, delegated tasks to others, and have tied up all the gifts and the loose ends. I sometimes feel like the month of December is a ticking time bomb. As each day passes, I am reminded of everything I need to accomplish while also fitting in mailing holiday cards, acquiring matching Christmas pajamas for the family, baking cookies, decorating the house, and coordinating schedules with family and friends for holiday gatherings. Then, just when you think you have it all worked out, someone’s kids get sick, including your own. Falalalalalala! Being a mom during the Christmas season is basically like being an undercover Santa without the help from the elves. I don’t know about you, but I want to start enjoying the 29

3. What is something I do that you would like me to do more often?

be praying for one another. Listen closely to each other’s response.

4. What is something I used to do that you would like me to start doing again?

It may even be helpful to record your spouse’s prayer request in your notes app, or email or text yourself. It’s important that you remember each other’s requests and commit to praying for them regularly.

In marriage, it is crucial to do our part, be united, and meet each other’s needs. Really spend some time discussing these questions and commit tonight to start doing these things more often or to start doing these things again. If dinner has not been served yet, go ahead and open Envelope 4. However, if your food has arrived, pray for your dinner and thank God for providing and blessing you with your spouse. If prayers are not something you are comfortable with, take a moment or two to sit quietly and BE thankful for your spouse. Get a few bits in and then open Envelope 4. Envelope 4 You’ve made it to the halfway point of our date night! We hope you’re enjoying this night out and special time spent with your spouse. It’s time to go a little deeper in your discussion, and for this step, there are some ground rules: Just listen! Whatever your spouse says, do not argue or defend yourself. Respond with grace. After your spouse has shared, ask them what you can do to make them a greater priority in your life. Receive and recognize what they ask you to do, whatever the answer may be. Most likely, whatever their answer is, even if it is hard to hear, your spouse is being honest because they care about your relationship and you. Now that we’ve covered the rules let’s get to the question. Take turns responding and discussing: Do you feel like I make you the priority you need to be and deserve to be in my life? After you’ve discussed everything, open Envelope 5. Envelope 5 Look your spouse in the eyes, tell them how much you love them and how committed you are to them. Have the courage to open up a bit more than you usually would and share how you can

If praying is not something you are comfortable with, commit to making your spouse’s requests a priority every day. Record your spouse’s request and remind yourself of the request regularly. Finish dinner, and before you leave, open Envelope 6. Envelope 6 Wife, choose a place, not too far away, where you share a special memory with your husband. Drive there and find a place to park for a bit, or drive past it and continue to talk as you’re driving. Share the memories you have of this place. Once you have both shared, answer this question: What do you dream about? In other words, what things do you hope to accomplish or experience? Now, discuss how you can work together to make these things a reality. Even if the dreams are great, how can you take small steps together in that direction? Once you have had time to discuss these things, open Envelope 7. Envelope 7 Husband, choose a place, not too far away, where you share a special memory with your wife. Drive there and find a place to park for a bit, or drive past it and continue to talk as you’re driving. Share the memories you have of this place. It is so important to value this kind of time together, just the two of you. What are a couple of specific reasons you find these times so valuable? OK, before you open Envelop 8, tell your spouse something you really like about them. This is not why you love them, but rather what you like about them. Take turns telling each other something interesting about the other, something important you value in them as a person, something humorous they do that makes your day, etc.

Once you have had the time you need to discuss these things, open Envelope 8. Envelope 8 Congratulations! You made it to the final step of the date! It is so important to not skip this step. Before I let you go, enjoy the rest of your evening. Pick a day in the next four weeks to schedule your next date. Do this right now before you forget! Seriously, get your calendar out and schedule it. Thank you so much for taking the time to invest in your marriage. We know that everyone’s desire is to have a strong relationship with their spouse, and we believe that continuing to date each other is an important aspect of a BETTER marriage! Submitted by Lisa Freed

momtalk holidays more instead of wishing they would pass quickly so we can get back to our “normal” routine. We only get so many holidays with our children before they start splitting their time between two families and eventually create their own family. I invite you to be intentional with me these last few days before Christmas. Review that to-do list and be honest about what needs to be done. What can you take off completely or delegate to a spouse? Slow down and be intentional with your time. Watch that Christmas movie with the family, bake cookies, drive around, and look at lights. Just be present and stop worrying about the presents, even if it’s just for one evening. Years from now, our children won’t recall most of the gifts under the tree, but they will remember the feelings of family, love, and tradition. Let us remember that as well. Merry Christmas to you, moms; you make the holidays brighter. Modern Mom

Tips & Tricks

for the Busy Working Parent


nitially, when I wanted to write this article, I thought it would be about Tips for the Commuting Parent. I’ve been a commuting parent as long as I’ve been a parent. When my daughter was born, I commuted from Belleville, Illinois, where we lived, into St. Louis’s Central West End, where I worked. That drive took anywhere from 30 minutes if there was average traffic or little to no traffic to 2 hours when a Cardinals game was going on. We moved back to Quincy when my daughter was 2, and I started a job in Carthage, Illinois, which most days takes 40-45 minutes one way. The further I got into planning this article, the more I realized that the things I wanted to say were helpful for all working parents with demanding careers, so I changed the title. These are still mostly super beneficial ideas for commuting parents, but I’m sure everyone can glean some tips along the way!

bored very easily driving, and if I can’t keep my mind busy, I find it very difficult to stay alert (and awake), especially during the winter months when the sun is slow to come up and fast to go down, so I looked for things to keep me occupied. I worked my way through audiobooks at first. You can get a paid service like Audible, which I know people love, but I love the free route on anything I can! Quincy Public Library has a few audiobook options; if you have a library card, you can download these apps and download free books to your phone to listen to any time!

One of the things I found the most frustrating about my drive is the mindless nature of it. I get

After a few books seemed to drag on forever, I took a dive into Podcasts. Podcasts are faster and


Suggestions: • Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants • Amy Pohler’s Yes Please Hot tip: use your phone’s 1.5x speed for slower books to get through them faster.

more bite-size pieces of information that you can listen to in one way if you have a longer drive, and it can make the drive breeze by much faster. If you’re driving with your kids, there are even podcasts you can listen to with your kids to help pass the time. Hot tip: use the 30-second skip and 15-second back options to skip through commercials. Kid podcasts: • Sound Detectives (LeVar Burton) • Disney Magic of Storytelling • Brains On! Science podcast for kids Adult podcasts: • The Daily-New York Times news • American History Tellers-history told in stories • Cautionary Tales-true stories of history with a twist • Fly on the Wall-Dana Carvey and David Spade talk to guests from Saturday Night Live past and present • Office Ladies-Jenna Fischer and Angel Kinsey from The Office TV show rewatching the show and doing some special interviews with cast and crew There are so many more out there. Scroll through your podcast app or on Spotify, and I’m sure you’ll find something interesting! More surviving the drive suggestions: • Call friends and family- if you have cell service along your drive, I highly recommend this. • Carpool- If you can share the driving with a co-worker, I recommend this. It is worth doing if you can share the drive, socialize, and share the vehicle wear and tear and gas. • Learn a new language-there are tons of language learning apps out there, so pick one!

• Bring your caffeine with you- I will go back to my previous comment about finding it difficult to stay alert while driving in the winter with the most obvious piece- caffeine! • Breakfast-and to follow up, bring your coffee, tea, Mountain Dew, or whatever, be sure to bring your breakfast for the drive. Hot tip: prep some breakfast on the go, like egg bites and breakfast burritos- if you microwave them while running out the door and wrap them in a paper towel, they should be cooled enough to eat by the time you hop on the highway! Or prep some trail mix or grab a banana if microwaving is tough to manage. My daughter is now 12 years old, so I’ve been commuting for over 12 years, and I have found that making the most of my lunch hour is critical to staying sane. Below are some helpful things I try to do during my lunch period each week as workload allows. • Exercise-I’m sure I’m not alone, but I found it practically impossible to exercise with my kids around, especially after my son was born six years ago. I joined the local gym and found that physically getting out of the office during my lunch hour and doing some physical activity, even for only 20 minutes, did some major good on my mental and physical health. If I couldn’t go to the gym, I’d walk around the neighborhood of my office for 15-30 minutes to get my heart rate up. • Shopping-If you are not already using the curbside pickup options of our local stores, you could be saving valuable time in your week! You can pick out your groceries or household items online and schedule your pickup time on the same day most of the time! • To do lists-stay with me on this one. It is beneficial to know everything I need to do for the day, week, or month and write them all out. It helps me to mentally organize what we need to do as a family as well as continued on page 34

personal To do items like calling to schedule a hair appointment or get the dog into the vet, etc. • Family Calendar- Along the lines of the to do list, I will add that having a family calendar is super helpful. My husband and I put everything on it, like when he has training for work, off days, kid activities, reminders to pick up or drop off for said activities, appointments, etc. Also, if your child is older and has a cell phone, you can add them to calendar appointments to ensure they know what to do. If your child only takes the bus home on certain days, this is very helpful for them to remember when they need to do it, etc. • Apple Car Play/Android Auto- This can be a lifesaver if you have a car with the option to connect to your smartphone. I have Apple Car Play on my vehicle, and it’s how I use my podcast app, listen to audiobooks, and send texts while driving. Voice-to-text in-text messaging is great, but you can also send emails (with some added directions to Siri). I have emailed myself reminders that I need to add to To-do lists, and I don’t have to hold that information in my head or worry about forgetting it before I get home or to work. • Dinner prep can be a huge pain; no one wants to come home after a long drive or a grueling day at work and then spend an hour cooking dinner. I find it very helpful to have a few cookbooks that I like and pick meals out of there 2-3 times a week, make sure that all of the items needed for those meals are in my house, and plan to make them sometime during that week. Hot tip: Check out the Food Talk section for my article on using an Instantpot or multicooker to make your meal preparation faster and easier! Tips on how to save money •Most of the time, gas is a contentious topic because of the up and down prices throughout the year(s). Use gas apps like Gas Buddy, Up side, Checkout 51, or even some gas stations with specific apps that can help you earn money to be paid out later or reduce the price of a tank of gas in the future. If you live on the Missouri-Illinois border, as many of us do, you know that 34

Missouri has lower gas taxes, so when feasible, travel across the river to save on gas prices. Some retailers like Sam’s Club have great gas prices for their members, and Hy-Vee also has a decent fuel-saving option for loyal customers. Check out what is available based on your shopping and fueling activities. • Going back to an earlier mention of using curb-side pickup options for local retailers, many during-the-week deals can save a lot of money if done timely. Check out their ads and set up pickups as they become available to get the most bang for your buck. My biggest tip of this entire article is to delegate some of the daily and weekly household responsibilities to your family. Think of things your kids can do to help; below are some appropriate things for different ages that will surprisingly help a lot and, as a side effect, teach them responsibility, which is a major win-win! 2-4 years old • Sorting and matching socks • Feeding pets • Putting dirty clothes into the hamper as they take them off •Putting shoes away 5-7 years old • Cleaning up their toys • Tidying their room • Making their bed • Dusting/sweeping • Folding/putting away laundry • Bringing dirty laundry to the laundry room • Putting away groceries • Putting away dishes, they can reach Hot tip: clear a drawer in your kitchen to store kid dishes; they can put away their dishes and get themselves water and even a snack if they can reach their things 8-10 years old • Vacuuming/mopping floors • Washing dishes • Clean up after dinner • Laundry sorting

11-13 years old • Cleaning bathrooms • Cooking simple meals • Doing laundry independently • Yard work and gardening 13 and up • Cleaning the house • Preparing meals for family • Babysitting siblings Most importantly, make time for yourself and the things you do simply because you want to do them. Schedule yourself a massage or pedicure periodically and dinner with friends or significant other. Don’t let yourself feel constantly worried about what isn’t getting done. If you can manage it, a few things to remember is to hire out what you can to give your family more time for fun. • Housekeeper- even if they only clean once a month, this can give you more time. • Taxi service, someone who can shuttle your children to activities while you cannot, helps a lot with relieving guilt that your kids cannot do certain things because you can’t take them to or from those activities.

• Meal prep-there are great options for preparing meals that are healthy for your family and limit the time you have to spend preparing. • Dinner in the bag • Hello Fresh/Blue Apron • Lawn Care Take Care! Nikki Eddy

e familylife family

Coping with Grief During the Holidays Grief is a curious thing. It is supposed to get better with time, but what it really does is change you over time. It changes the way you look at things. It changes the decisions that you make. It changes the relationships that you have with others. It ultimately changes and affects every aspect of your life. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief, but know that you are not alone. Many people suffer the loss of a loved one, and it is no secret that dealing with grief during the holidays is a difficult feat. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to include your loved one. Start a tradition to honor the person you lost. This could be sharing a memory about them each holiday, lighting a candle for them, or any other tradition that helps you deal with the loss. Spend time with family and friends over the holidays, if you enjoy doing that. If you need to take a break from celebrating a holiday due to the grief, that is okay too. Think about what is healthy grieving for you. This will look different for everyone. Give yourself permission to work through the grief, whether the loss was recent or in the past. There is no amount of time that is right or wrong. Grief affects everyone differently, and dealing with grief during the holidays will most likely always affect your life in some way. The most important thing to remember is to be patient with yourself. Maneuvering through grief during the holidays is very difficult, and each situation is different. Be sure to be patient with others who are grieving as well. Submitted by Heather Leindecker


Mardi Gras dance Presented by: Quincy Charter Chapter of ABWA

February 24th, 2024 6:00pm - 11:00pm

The Atrium on Third 201 South Third Street Quincy, IL 62301

Scan the QR Code for more details or to buy tickets $25 a ticket $175 for a table of 8 *Live Band *Silent Auction *Raffle *Live Auction *Selfie Station *50/50

must be 21 to attend a portion of proceeds go to bella ease






ne thing that my family and I have enjoyed doing the last couple of years is driving through the Festival of Lights that takes place at Moorman Park. Each year, I am always amazed to see the display. So much time, work, and effort goes into building and creating this amazing display for anyone to drive through and see. The Festival of Lights is an Illinois Nonprofit Corporation created to prepare and operate a seasonal light display for the benefit of Quincy and surrounding communities. It’s following the lead of the iconic and legendary Quincy display, the Avenue of Lights, which was headed by Bob Scott for many years and closed after the 2014 season. With big shoes to fill and giant expectations to meet, the Festival of Lights was opened in 2019. As they move forward over the course of

16 years, they hope to provide a display that meets the standard of excellence set by the former display. Bob Scott is a great example and “mentor in passing both his knowledge and experience of those 16 years on in helping the Festival of Lights resume the work of providing a seasonal lighted display in the Quincy park”. Some people might not realize the time and work that goes into creating this display. After talking with Eric Dooley, President of the Festival of Lights, I learned that this display setup can start as early as August and continue through to opening day. We may not see it as we drive through Moorman Park that time of year, but there are areas of the park where setup has begun. Teardown can be just as long, going all the way through to April. If you have driven through and seen the displays, you know they have all sizes, from small to very large. Setting up and tearing down has to be done carefully, and each display has to be tested before being set up and then managed every day while the Festival of Lights is open and running. So much more goes into getting the displays set up and running. It’s not just sticking them into the ground and plugging them in. With the use of so much electricity for this setup, things have to be managed and set up correctly to avoid any issues or accidents. So help from people like Jeremy Crossan, on the electrical side of things, is very beneficial

and greatly appreciated. The Festival of Lights is always in need of volunteers and help from the community to make this whole thing possible. “The Festival of Lights needs volunteers. Your time is valuable and your time is meaningful to those of us at the Festival of Lights. Like so many projects in our community that would simply not exist if it weren’t the dedicated volunteers that give of their time, the Festival of Lights only exist through the loyal volunteers that take it upon themselves to see that the work of having a display is completed; without the volunteers it is impossible for the display to continue. If you share a passion for the light display and agree just how important to our community that having the display is, we hope that you will share of your time and reach out to the Festival of Lights. Just some of the ways that you can help are: • Fundraising Committee • Volunteer Recruitment Committee • Business Sponsorship and Custom Displays Committee • Charitable Outreach Committee •… and many more!” If you want more information about volunteering, you can head to their website and fill out the contact form.

Another way to support the Festival of Lights is to become a sponsor. “ There is no doubt that it is a combination of volunteers and the support of the local business community. The support of the business community via a combination of sponsored and custom displays is a customary method for drive-through parks, like the Festival of Lights, to fund displays and counter expenses”. Even though they are looking for volunteers and sponsors to be able to continue to provide this experience for our community, the Festival of Lights also does a lot for the community. Some of those would be donating tickets to Chaddock yearly so foster children can enjoy the lighted display, and on certain nights, they offer discounted tickets if you bring in canned goods, which will then be donated back to other local nonprofit organizations. So, if you’ve never driven through the Festival of Lights, make sure you do. As you drive through, take a moment to remember how much goes into making this an amazing experience and something fun for the family to look forward to each year. Submitted by Brandy Owens


· Your smile ·


the best


Navigating Loss with Love: Family-Friendly Ways to Heal Together


avigating the delicate path of helping our children cope with loss is a journey that demands both strength and tenderness. Over the past few years, my family has faced our fair share of heartache – from the painful experience of a miscarriage in 2021 to bidding farewell to my beloved grandfather last year. And this year, within the span of just four days, we said goodbye to both of our cherished furpups. Each loss brought its own unique challenges, testing our resilience and emotional endurance.

McPoonst: Best Dog Ever.” Reading together creates a shared experience and may facilitate conversations about emotions and healing.

If you have ever had to help your children grieve a loss, you understand the struggle – the search for the right words, the comforting gestures, and the reassurance they desperately need, all while you are also processing the loss. It is tough. I understand. It took me over a week just to pick up the dog’s food, left untouched where they left it.

Approaching loss with empathy, patience, and creativity can help children navigate the complex emotions associated with grief in a supportive and understanding way.

Amidst these challenging situations, there can be a beacon of comfort I found as we navigated the loss of our furpups. • Create a Memory Box: Encourage your children to gather photos and mementos of their beloved pet to create a memory collage. This artistic expression can be a therapeutic way to celebrate the joy and love your pet brought into your lives. • Hold a Memorial Ceremony: Organize a small memorial ceremony where family members can share their favorite memories of the pet. This can provide closure and a sense of unity in honoring the life of your furry friend. • Open Communication Channels: Foster an open environment for your children to express their feelings. Encourage them to talk about their emotions and share stories about the pet. This dialogue helps in processing grief. • Read Together: Explore books that deal with pet loss. We really enjoyed “Love from Alfie

• Draw or Paint: Engage in art activities where children can express their emotions through drawing or painting. Art provides a non-verbal outlet for them to communicate their feelings. • Plant a Memorial Garden: Planting flowers or a tree in memory of a loved one or a pet can be a beautiful way to symbolize growth and the enduring nature of love.

Submitted by Sarah Clark

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Funny Things Kids Say • I have a million fireballs to do!

• I’m so hungry, I could eat all the furniture in this living room! • I put my finger is a cooked chicken’s butt hole. • Mommy, are dolphins real? • Parent: Are you excited to see your friends at school? Child: *Sighs* I can’t ride penguins because they don’t have backs. • Child: “When you grow up do you have to be something? Like a doctor or teacher? Because I don’t want to be anything.” Mom: Girl Same

• I told my son he could wear his Halloween costume to school but we weren’t going to put it on until we got to school because the chest plate (his Batman muscles) were too big for the car seat. We walked into his class room, costume in hand, and he said, “I couldn’t wear my costume in the car because my nipples were too big.” • Child: “Mommy can I have a snack?” Mom: No, dinner is in the oven. Child: *Opens snack drawer* I’m sorry snacks, I can’t have you.

Christmas Traditions Whether you have your own or looking to start one, below are some Christmas traditions submitted by local families. My kids can open one present on Christmas eve that is specifically marked “open on Christmas Eve” it has: 1. New Pajamas 2. A book 3. A small treat like a candy or cookie 4. A small gift age dependent gift (cozy socks or nail polish for teens, matchbox car, coloring book/crayons, slime, fidget toyetc.) We also do a tradition of Advent calendars in December. This year my son got a Lego one, he builds his “day” each time he opens it and looks forward to the next day he gets to build his next project. My daughter got a “gem painting” one that she makes key chains for each day, she can give them as gifts to her friends. We also drive around and look at lights. My son’s birthday is at the beginning of Dec., so we try to go for his birthday to Festival of Lights and bring Grandma and then drive around town and find neighborhoods that also have pretty displays of lights. We do a Christmas Cookie bake a few weeks before Christmas, we spend a whole day at my house a handful of friends and their kids and make Christmas cookies and candies and then at the end share all the goodies amongst everyone. Our church has giving wreath tags the week before Advent starts, our family always gets a few tags and the kids and I go out and pick out presents for the people on tags. It helps me to teach the kids how it is important to give to those in need. My daughter and I have been going to see The Nutcracker Ballet every Christmas since she was 5. It is at QCT every other year and when it is not we go down to St. Louis and see it at the Touhill performing arts center at UMSL. This year we are going as a whole family, my son’s first time, we’ll see how it goes! We like to take the kids to see the Festival of Lights every year and I think we started a new tradition this year of going to Pizza Hut for pizza after seeing Santa Claus.


Win This Winter:

Tips On Boosting That Mood


ver wonder how to successfully get through the long winter months that lay ahead? As someone who has settled in the Midwest region, you have unfortunately discovered how the long, dark, cold, wintry season may impact one’s mental health. However, ‘Tis the season to improve the winter tide, so let’s explore ways to boost our mental health below. Light Therapy Our moods may be affected, especially in the winter months, due to decreased sunlight exposure. Light exposure contributes not only to our circadian clock but also to other areas of the brain that impact mental disposition. This is where light therapy can influence an improvement in our mood. Light therapy includes using a light of at least 10,000 lux for 30 minutes daily, sitting directly or off to the side, but not looking directly into the light. Using light therapy can be done in the morning while one reads, watches television, works on a computer, and much more. Sleep Hygiene Sleep plays a crucial role in our mood, and both have a bidirectional relationship in the outcomes of our mental health. However, for the purpose of this article, we will focus on how sleep affects mood, not the latter. Improving one’s mood calls

for proper sleep hygiene, which entails establishing a night routine, sleeping in a cool, dark atmosphere, decreasing electronic usage prior to sleep, avoiding caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon, exercising earlier in the day, and avoiding it close to bedtime. An adequate amount of time asleep is also required, at least seven hours per night. When you hone in on your sleep hygiene and achieve the appropriate amount of sleep, your mind and body will thank you.

Nutrition and Exercise We know the New Year is upon us, which is frequently a time for creating new fitness and health goals. Common goals surround eating more nutritious foods and exercising. Let’s shift the focus of nutrition and exercise goals to benefit not only our physical health but our mental health as well! Participating in regular exercise is a great way to work towards improving our mental health. This is in part due to the brain releasing endorphins as well as serotonin, which works to boost our mood. Nutrition also plays a vital role in our mental health. One way to see benefits in our mental health is to focus on functional foods. These are whole foods rich in macronutrients and micronutrients. Food and mood go hand in hand; the more nourishing foods consumed, the more you’re setting yourself up for a healthier gut and mind. Mindfulness When we practice mindfulness, we practice living “intentionally.” It can be difficult when we are surrounded by so much technology that has a tendency to pull us from the present moment. Mindfulness practices are key to helping us become attuned to our feelings and thoughts, which can in turn help us manage them better. Ways to practice mindfulness include meditation, mindful eating, yoga, gratitude journal, breath work, and more. Quality Time With Family & Friends You may roll your eyes at this one. At this point, you may have had enough time with your quite irritable Aunt Karen, whose political opinion is undoubtedly the only correct one in the room and, in her case, the whole United States. However, it is not recommended to spend extra time with those you do not find agreeable and who tend to raise your blood pressure. In fact, that might have quite the opposite effect you’re wanting on your mental health. What is recommended would be quality time with people whom you enjoy spending time with, like loved ones that you consider good emotional support. Spending more time and surrounding yourself with good company whom you have built healthy, positive relationships with is key in helping improve your mental health. These face-to-face interactions can greatly decrease depression and anxiety symptoms this winter. continued on page 46

Seek Help Deciding when to seek help for mental health treatment can be difficult. If you are having a difficult time during this wintry season, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a mental health provider. You may also find it helpful to reach out to a friend or family member to help you work through this decision. In the tough seasons of life, resources are available to help you get through. Mental health providers can help recommend the most effective treatments to improve mood symptoms and work on your overall quality of life. It’s time to nurture your mental wellness. Can you implement one or some of these tips in order to win this winter? We’d love to see it! Submitted by Madeline Bickhaus PMHNP-BC

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Healthy Holiday


ith the holidays quickly approaching, it’s up to us to continue to make healthy choices to better both our physical and mental health. The holidays are often centered around three things: family, friends, and food. The typical holiday foods, while very tasty, are oftentimes not the best for our overall health. However, there are many things that we can do to have a healthier holiday season while still enjoying ourselves! • Try to incorporate at least one healthy food item into each day! (For example- start your day out with a healthy breakfast of Greek yogurt and berries if you know it will be difficult to make healthy choices at lunch and dinner.) • The Holidays can be a stressful time for sometry incorporating some form of physical activity into each day in order to help decrease stress. This can be something as simple as a walk outside with your family, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator when you are out doing your holiday shopping! • Avoid alcohol at holiday parties. Cocktails are a common drink served during the holiday season and can contain a lot of excess calories and sugar. Remember that alcohol impacts the receptors in the blood vessels near the heart and can result in an increase in blood pressure. Alcohol can also increase stress hormones and lead to a higher heart rate. Try substituting alcohol for flavored sparkling water with a lime wedge, or fun mocktail. • When cooking desserts using things such as whipped cream or milk products, swap them out for low-fat options! You will be surprised how similar low-fat options taste when they are mixed in a yummy dessert. For example, Fat-free and protein-rich PLAIN Greek yogurt is a great substitute for full-fat sour cream. See if your family notices! Some other substitutions: • Whole-wheat flour for white flour. For every cup of white flour, sub stitute 7⁄8 cup whole-wheat flour.

• Unsweetened applesauce for butter. If your recipe calls for one cup of butter, substitute 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce and 1/2 cup of a non tropical oil. You can even swap in applesauce for some of the sugar in cookies, muffins, or pancakes! •Pay attention to your portion sizes. For example, instead of having three pieces of pumpkin pie for dessert- have one and a small side of fruit. You can also aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. • Boost your immune system! The holidays are packed full with family and friend get-togethers- unfortunately, this is a prime time for catching the seasonal flu or other sicknesses. Try incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables into your diet to increase your antioxidants and vitamin intake, as these will help fight off sicknesses. Stay hydrated during the day and ensure you get plenty of sleep at night, as a lack of both of these things can lead to a decreased immune system. • Practice food safety while cooking for your holiday parties. Remember to keep food out of the “Danger Zone.” Bacteria grow rapidly between 40°F and 140°F. If you are planning on preparing your food early- make sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within 2 hours to avoid preventable illness. If you do not believe you will be able to meet these requirements- opt for bringing a non-perishable treat such as trail mix! Most of all, remember to enjoy yourself. The holidays only come around once a year, so make sure to soak up all the time with your loved ones. Have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season! Submitted by Madison Sperry RD, LDN, and Liz Lombardi MS, RD, LDN 47

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