January 2020 Feature Articles
ABC’s Of Winter Checklist
Jigsaw Puzzles Are Perfect For ‘Me’ and ‘We’ Time This Winter Page 11
Maintaining Friendships Page 7
Simple STEM Activities to Do at Home!
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January 2020 FamilyFunInOmaha DIGITAL ISSUE
January 2020 FamilyFunInOmaha DIGITAL ISSUE
Maintaining Friendships By Amy McClure
“We should get together soon” is a phrase I find myself throwing around with my good friends, people I just met, or old acquaintances I run across. The problem is the followthrough when it comes to planning and committing to social events. Spending time with friends is good for us, and especially in the doldrums of January, it’s healthy for us to remain connected to our social circles. However, sometimes getting out of the house or coordinating plans feels overwhelming (especially for those of us with children). How do we prioritize friendships and our social health when we feel busy and socializing feels like a chore? Find good friends Socializing should build us up, and so it’s important to make sure your energy is going to relationships that will energize you. As the new year begins, assess your relationships. Distance yourself from the toxic relationships, and identify the people you enjoy being around. Put your effort into friendships that leave you feeling lighter, happier and full of joy. Finding the people who you can be yourself around makes leaving the house in the dead of winter worth the effort.
you the most joy. It may be a book club that meets every first Monday, or a Saturday morning jogging group. It might just be a bi-weekly night out with friends, but commit to the reoccuring time slot by getting it on the calendar, and then protect that time by following through. Keep it real Before having kids, it was fun to have friends over for a 3 course dinner on a Saturday night. I loved spending my energy on a Saturday cleaning, cooking a new recipe and preparing to entertain. As a stay-at-home-mom, cooking and cleaning are no longer fun ways to spend my weekend. If you make dinner plans, don’t feel bad about ordering pizza, or making a
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Plan something regularly When we don’t prioritize relationships, it’s difficult to stay connected. Plan something regularly and block off the time on your calendar with the people who bring January 2020 FamilyFunInOmaha DIGITAL ISSUE
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soup in the crock-pot. If your house is less than perfectly clean, don’t sweat it. Be yourself around your guests and allow them to step into your (less than spotless) life. If you focus more on hospitality than entertaining, your guests will feel right at home and hopefully overlook the lego pile and crumbs on the rug. True friends understand that life is messy, and it feels better to be genuinely welcomed into someone’s home instead of seeing a staged facade of orchestrated entertaining. Keep It Simple Sometimes hosting feels like a burden, or it can be overwhelming to host friends at your home. Find an easy place to meet up, like a park, a community event or another activity. Rather than hosting so many dinners with friends, I have found that Saturday morning family playdates can be just as fun. Meet another family at a park and pick-up bagels. No one has to clean or cook, the kids can play while the adults socialize and no one is melting down over bedtime. Be Understanding As life circumstances change, sometimes we move along and get so wrapped up in our current situation that we forget who is really important to us. Relationships can be hard to maintain when someone gets married or welcomes a new baby. As your friends navigate life changes that you may have not yet gone through, reach out to them. It may seem like your friend with a new baby is too
busy for you, but maybe the way you spend time together changes. Rather than spending a Friday night out for drinks, try bringing food and a bottle of wine and just hang out. Also, new parents: make an effort to spend time with your old friends! The longer I am a parent, the more I appreciate the flexibility of my friends without children. I love how they can come over and stay up after my kids are asleep! Find ways to incorporate your old friends into your new lifestyle rather than becoming too wrapped up in yourself. Show Up As simple as a sounds, the best way to maintain friendships is to reach out and show up. Is your friend having a tough week at work? Bring them dinner. Did you get invited to a party, but you won’t know a lot of people other than the host? Show up anyway. It means a lot to the host and you may even make new friends. If you make plans, do your best to follow-through with them. You mean more than you think you do to your friends, and your presence matters. Juggling a social life with work and family can seem overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Spending time with friends may look different at 30 than it did at 20, but there is a beauty in seeing how our relationships evolve and mature. Keep a creative mind as you make plans knowing that “getting together soon” does not have to be an elaborate meal, but it does involve quality time.
January 2020 FamilyFunInOmaha DIGITAL ISSUE
Jigsaw Puzzles Are Perfect For ‘Me’ and ‘We’ Time This Winter
uring the blustery cold days and cozy nights at home this winter, there’s no better time to rediscover the simple pleasures and quiet joys of indoor activities that help you relax and reconnect with family. Over the holidays, through winter break and beyond, families everywhere are eager to unplug, get away from screens, and spend quality time together. One great activity to help you do that is puzzling, which you can enjoy alone or with friends and family. Did you know that 1 in 2 Americans puzzle at least once a year? A study conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Ravensburger found that American adults puzzle for a number of different reasons - from millennials looking for an escape from their digital world to seniors who like activities that help them stay mentally fit. Perhaps also not surprisingly, 3 in 4 of those surveyed said that they puzzle most during the winter months.
your self-care habits and creating a sense of wellness in your life. Jigsaw puzzles provide a relaxing, tactile and meditative outlet that is sure to keep the winter blues at bay. You can choose a picture that is sure to bring you joy once it’s completed - from a beautiful piece of art or a cultural icon such as a 3D replica of a double-decker London bus - puzzling gives you the opportunity to bring your favorite things to life in a fun new way. The results are all positive puzzling helps you de-stress, improves your memory, and boosts your problem-solving skills. Puzzling on your own lets you choose how often and for how long you enjoy the activity. Leaving a puzzle in progress on a kitchen or dining room table lets you complete your puzzle at your own pace and reminds you to
Here are a few of the benefits of taking a little time in your day to work on a jigsaw puzzle. “Me” time It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, especially after the holiday season has wrapped and the coldest winter months set in. This time of year, it’s more important than ever to be checking in on January 2020 FamilyFunInOmaha DIGITAL ISSUE
pause and take a moment to slow down every so often. “We” time In the Ipsos study, 7 out of 10 (69%) respondents who puzzle saw it as a family tradition activity, and 59% said that they like to do puzzles while they’re on vacation or over holiday break. Jigsaw puzzles can be a fun and effortless way to reconnect with family and friends of all ages. When everyone gathers around the table to puzzle together, it offers opportunities for relaxed conversations and connection with each other, away from the formality of a meal or structured activity. You may learn something special and new from one of your loved ones during a casual “side conversation” while working on a jigsaw puzzle together. From piecing together the riddles in an “escape the room” puzzle to your own customized puzzle of a treasured family photo Ravensburger offers collaborative puzzles that are perfect for family time. Working on puzzles allows everyone to unplug from technology, slow down and live in the moment together. In fact, 84% of those surveyed said that they usually puzzled together with others. Why do people like to puzzle, whether alone or together? Those
who regularly puzzle said that their main reasons are relaxation (59%), fun (57%), stress relief (47%), and brain boosting (42%) - all of which are especially important to maintain during the short, cold winter days. No matter your age, you can open up the experience of puzzling to your friends and family this winter and beyond to take a break from your tech-fueled lives and enjoy spending time together. Kids, teens, parents and grandparents can all puzzle together - no user manual, batteries or complicated directions required!
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Simple STEM Activities to Do at Home
Winter is the season for family gatherings, snow days and breaks from school and work, but all this time indoors can lead to a serious case of cabin fever for both children and adults. Before you face another chorus of “I’m bored,” consider these simple activities you and your child can do together when winter weather or schedules have you stuck indoors. Each activity idea from the experts at KinderCare can help children build foundational skills they’ll need for success in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas so you can combine fun and learning. Infants Most babies love sensory baskets, and it’s easy to make one at home. Fill a basket or lowsided container with materials in a variety of shapes, textures, weights, smells and sounds for your baby to explore. While your baby explores the materials and develops hand-eye coordination, describe what he or she is doing, seeing, feeling, hearing or tasting to help build his or her vocabulary. Toddlers Show your toddler how to make ramps by stacking blocks or small cardboard boxes and placing one January 2020 FamilyFunInOmaha DIGITAL ISSUE
edge of a piece of cardboard on top. Invite your child to gather toy vehicles or balls and other objects to see how they roll. Gather objects that will roll and a few that won’t. Encourage your child to ask questions and experiment with ramps of different heights. These experiments in force and motion can help develop your child’s understanding about how different objects behave on inclines. Preschool (3-4-year-olds) Invite your child to observe from a safe distance as you boil 1 cup red cabbage in 2 cups water. As the water turns purplish, drain it into a clear container. After the water cools, invite your child to measure a small amount of white vinegar and stir it in while observing what happens as additional vinegar is added. Next, have your child measure a small amount of baking soda or milk and stir it in to observe even more changes. Exploration, experimentation and observation are all key STEM skills. Pre-Kindergarten (4-5-year-olds) Gather a variety of craft items, building toys and recycled materials like construction paper, markers, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, fabric scraps, glue sticks, tape, scissors, blocks, interlocking toys, paper towel 16
rolls, tissue boxes, cardboard, lids and plastic food containers. Place the materials you’ve gathered in a bag. Give your child the “tinker bag” and some space to build. Invite him or her to explore the materials, create something and share it with you as a way to build engineering skills and curiosity. Limiting the number of materials children have to work with can often create more opportunities for problem solving and innovation. School Ages Gather a few containers from your recycle bin, such as plastic food containers, tin cans or cracker
boxes. Talk with your child about how some things typically thrown away or recycled can be reused for the same purpose or a new one. When items are reused, the amount of waste that ends up in landfills is reduced. Invite your child to select one of the containers and decide on a new use for it. When your child is finished creating something new using on-hand craft materials, ask him or her to share the innovation with you. Give your child feedback in the same way engineers do by giving a compliment, asking a question or offering a suggestion. For more activity ideas, visit kindercare.com.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili (Family Features) Cold, crisp days call for hearty foods to warm up from the inside-out. With just a few tasty additions, you can take chili – the classic comfort food – to the next level. This Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili calls for bacon, sweet potatoes and a chopped jalapeno pepper for a spicier version of the wintertime favorite. Find more comforting, family-favorite recipes at circulon.com. Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 60 minutes Servings: 6 • Circulon Symmetry Chocolate 5.5-Quart Casserole • 6 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, chopped • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch pieces • 2 medium onions, chopped • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped • 5 garlic cloves, minced • 2 tablespoons chili powder • 2 teaspoons ground cumin • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper • 2 cups chicken broth • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) no-salt-added fire-roasted diced tomatoes • 1 can (15 ounces) no-salt-added black beans • 1/2 cup quick-cooking barley • 1/2 teaspoon salt 1. Heat casserole over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until browned and crisp, about 7-8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-covered plate. 2. Reduce bacon fat in casserole to 2 tablespoons and return to stove over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, onions and jalapeno pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is slightly softened, about 5 minutes. 3. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano and ground chipotle; cook until fragrant, 15 seconds. 4. Pour in broth, tomatoes, beans and barley; reduce heat to mediumlow, cover and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender and barley is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bacon and salt; let stand 15 minutes before serving.
January 2020 FamilyFunInOmaha DIGITAL ISSUE
4 Tips For Nutritious Meals When You Are Crunched For Time
t can be a struggle to prepare a Ienjoy. nutritious meal the whole family will Finding time to spend around
than double the omega-3s and 10 times more vitamin E.
Actress, chef and mother of two Haylie Duff has a few expert tips and tricks for crafting nutritious meals on a time crunch.
Buffalo Deviled Egg Bites
the table during back-to-school season can be particularly challenging, but not impossible.
For a make-ahead snack the whole family is sure to enjoy, try these Buffalo Deviled Egg Bites from the American Heart Association and Eggland’s Best.
1. Use pre-made ingredients to reduce prep time.
Ingredients: 6 large eggs 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
Keeping the fridge stocked with premade ingredients is a simple time saver. Adding ingredients such as pre-cut vegetables or hard-cooked peeled eggs to on-the-go snacks or family meals is an easy way to boost the nutrition of a recipe without all of the prep work.
1 tablespoon hot wing sauce (lowest sodium available) 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon finely crumbled low-fat blue cheese 1 tablespoon chopped celery
2. Plan a meal-prep day each week
Preparing meals ahead of time to pull from the fridge or freezer and pop into the oven will help save time and reduce stress. Setting aside a couple of hours once a week to plan and prepare meals can make the school week more relaxed. Plus, planning means more time around the table with loved ones during mealtime.
* To hard cook the eggs, gently place them in a large saucepan or pot. Add cold water to cover the eggs by 1 and 1/2 inches. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, remove the pan from the stove.
3. Add slow-cooker recipes to your weekly routine On busier days, let a slow-cooker do all the work. You can make tasty recipes, such as roast chicken with steamed veggies, a quiche or a healthy pasta dish. Simply put the ingredients in the slow cooker and fire it up. In the meantime, you’ll have more time to spend playing with the kids or helping them with homework. 4. Stock up on quality, versatile ingredients It is so important to nourish children with top quality ingredients such as Eggland’s Best eggs, which are packed with superior nutrition compared to ordinary eggs at the grocery store. These eggs contain more than double the vitamin B12 compared to ordinary eggs, which helps transform food to energy to keep the entire family energized throughout the day. They also contain six times more vitamin D, 25% less saturated fat, more
* Let the pan stand, covered, for 12-15 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pan. Allow them to cool before peeling. * Carefully cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Place the egg halves on a work surface. * Transfer the yolks to a medium bowl. Add the mayonnaise, hot-wing sauce, salt and pepper. Stir until combined. The mixture should be smooth. * Spoon the yolk mixture into a resealable plastic bag. Clip the corner of the bag. Pipe the yolk mixture into the egg white halves. * Sprinkle the blue cheese and celery on top of the filling and enjoy! Eggland’s Best is a national supporter of the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good movement and is encouraging consumers to try out the recipes available at recipes.heart.org.
ABC's of Winter Checklist, Winter Fun Guide, + more!