The Benefits of Wheat Germ For the Whole Family

wheatFeeding your family healthy food can be challenging, especially when you are crunched for time. Wheat germ is a great thing you can add to things you normally cook to add more vitamins and minerals. Check out the list of how everyone in your family can benefit from wheat germ and try the easy recipes below to change things up a little!

5 Groups Who Can Benefit From Wheat Germ

  1. Prenatal women: Folic acid is critical for good prenatal nutrition, helping prevent birth defects. Wheat germ also contains zinc, which is necessary for proper growth and development.
  2. Athletes: Working out? You need to keep your body fueled, and not with empty calories. Wheat germ is a fast, easy and inexpensive way to get the nutrients you need to fuel up or recharge. Add to smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal pre- or post-workout.
  3. Children: Getting kids and toddlers to eat healthy foods can be a challenge. Wheat germ is a great solution because it blends so easily with the foods they already love. Add it to favorite foods like yogurt, cold cereal, mac ‘n’ cheese and, yes, even cookies! This gives children the boost in vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy and grow strong.
  4. Health-conscious eaters: Wheat germ is a perfect companion in the kitchen. Sprinkle it on everything from cereals to soups to boost the nutrition, or use it to replace less nutrient-dense foods in cooking, like breadcrumbs. Trying to slim down? When you’re cutting calories, wheat germ helps ensure you’re not also skimping on nutrients by delivering the essential vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and fuller, longer.
  5. Seniors: As we age, our eyesight begins to diminish. Wheat germ is an excellent source of vitamin E that can help promote eye health and may even lower the rate of cataracts. It also keeps brain function strong to possibly help ward off Alzheimer’s.

Here are a whole bunch of recipes you can try to include wheat germ in your family’s meals:

·         Double Berry Banana Smoothie

·         Berry Delicious and Easy Wheat Germ Pancakes

·         Baked Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard Sauce

·         Kretschmer Wheat Germ Oven-Fried Chicken

·         Homemade Pizza with Wheat Germ Crust

·         Kettle Corn with Wheat Germ

·         Pumpkin Waffles with Wheat Germ

·         Key Lime Tarts with Graham Cracker Crust

·         Chocolate Truffle Pie with Wheat Germ Crust

The Dragon Pearl

This family friendly movie is one for the kids only. It is best suited for school-age kids (not preschoolers), although my 3 year old was interested when the dragon was on the screen. There are a few fight/action scenes that are probably ok for most school-age children to watch and the language is fine. The story line might be hard for younger kids to follow but nothing is really scary. The dragon doesn’t talk, it only “growls,” but my 3 year old quickly recognized it was friendly.  The dragon doesn’t have as much screen time as I thought it would, but the focus is definitely on the child characters. The acting is not impressive but I don’t think kids will really care. The dragon and the flying/floating effects are sub-par, but again children shouldn’t be bothered by it. When I asked my daughter what she thought of the dragon she said it was “cool.” I can see boys that are into dragons liking the movie and even the big “fight scene” near the end.

The Dragon PearlThe Dragon Pearl

Available on DVD June 18, 2013

Synopsis: Josh (Louis Corbett) and Ling (Li Lin Jin) thought they were in for a boring vacation with each of their parents (Sam Neill and Wang Ji) at an archaeological dig in China. It turns into an adventure of a lifetime when they discover a mournful dragon trapped deep inside a mystical temple. According to ancient legend, the dragon is missing its life force, a sacred pearl that is hidden away in a secret chamber. Josh and Ling must battle evil forces (and some very skeptical parents) in their heart-stopping journey to return the magical pearl to its rightful owner.

8 Ways to Stay Connected With Your Kids

by Kathi Lipp

happy familyI thought I was close to my kids. Then I bought my daughter a toothbrush. That’s when I found out how clueless I really was.

“Mom! A Barbie toothbrush! How could you buy me a Barbie toothbrush?” Kimberly shrieked.

“Sweetie, you like Barbie. You just asked for a Barbie for your birthday,” I said sweetly, trying to not let my aggravation show.

“Mom, that was two whole months ago. I don’t play with Barbies anymore,” Kimberly said, stomping off.

With hectic schedules, overbooked kids, and worn-out parents, it is hard for us to keep up on toothbrush styles, much less work on shaping our children’s character. But carving out time to spend with our children is a must.

Recent research shows that children who spend time talking to their parents, taking part in family activities and meals, and building family traditions with their parents are less likely to engage in harmful activities. During these times of simply hanging out with their parents, kids tend to open up more easily about sensitive topics and explore issues in greater depth. Those same conversations about school, God, friends, and science projects rarely take place solely in a 10-minute chunk of “quality time” at the end of a long day.

As Dr. Janice Crouse, a respected authority on family issues, explains, “Kids learn our values when they are spoken to respectfully and feel free to ask questions. When we spend time with our children, we can be sensitive to the teachable times in their lives. Even while I watched television with my kids, I would ask them leading questions. ‘Did you see how that man treated his wife? How could he have handled that situation better?’ Those discussions helped my children become more discerning and discriminating in what they watched and the activities they participated in growing up.”

To avoid a repeat of what is now referred to as “The Barbie Incident,” and to keep the lines of communication open between the members of our family, we have come up with eight ways to stay connected with each other. Try them out in your family, or use them to inspire bonding time that’s unique to your family.

1. Take a One-on-One Vacation
My friend, Kim, and her husband, Jim, had long promised their children that when each child turned 16, he or she would go on an extended vacation with one of their parents; their daughter, Sarah, would go with Mom, and their son, Ryan, with Dad. The only requirements were that it had to be in the continental U.S. and that the kids had to help plan the trip.

“Money was tight, and we had to give up a lot in order to afford the vacations,” Kim explains, “but we knew how important it was to spend that time with each of the kids.” Time alone with a parent during the teen years can be just the ticket for a teenager who needs to be reminded that she’ll always have a safe haven as she moves out into the world.

If an extended vacation is impossible, try a long weekend with each of your children, like my friend Lynn. She and her husband, Mark, have taken turns going on a weekend getaway with their boys, Jake and Ben. Lynn got the first opportunity when each of their sons turned 10, and Mark two years later when the boys turned 12. Lynn says the best part about the trips was getting to see the uniqueness of each of her boys. While Ben wanted to get dressed up and go to the area culinary academy with his mom to try new and exotic dishes, Jake was thrilled to pedal across northern California on a guided bike tour with Lynn bringing up the rear.

Finally, if a weekend away won’t work, an overnighter in a local hotel or campground can go a long way toward strengthening the bond between you and your child.

2. Plan a Family Night
Once a week, we have a “Family Fun Night,” with one family member in charge of the planning. They get $15 to feed and entertain the troops. Our family has experienced everything from a bake-at-home pizza and a video rental of The Princess Bride to a home-packed picnic at the duck park followed by an afternoon at the local nickel arcade. Not only does Family Fun Night give us an opportunity to spend some time together, it forces our kids to plan, budget, and take other people’s likes and dislikes into consideration. We also find that giving the children the chance to plan the event helps them enjoy this time a whole lot more.

3. Eat Dinner Together
It sounds so simple, but when our family is balancing work, kids’ band practice, the golden retriever’s vet appointments, and church choir rehearsal, our van passes beneath the Golden Arches more times than I care to admit. Now we make it a priority to sit down and eat a meal together at least five times a week. These range from dinner at a local restaurant to pancakes and bacon on a school morning to a Saturday tailgate before the big game. Not only is this a time to nourish our bodies with food, we nourish our family with good conversation and fun.

When my kids were in junior high, we were seated around the dinner table, discussing what it was like to be a kid when my husband and I were in elementary school. “You didn’t have computers?” our son asked incredulously. “That’s right,” my husband replied, “we didn’t even have a microwave.” Justen thought about that for a moment, “Then how did you cook?” I am sure that he was not commenting on my culinary talents.

4. Have a Date Night
My son, Justen, and I began this tradition when he was 7 years old and we continued into his late teens. About once a month, we choose a night to go out on the town, just the two of us. It may be hamburgers and strawberry shakes at the ’50s style diner in town, picking up mystery novels and hot chocolate at our favorite bookstore, or playing Skee-Ball at the local arcade. Whatever the activity, it gives us a chance to talk without the distraction of the phone, his siblings, or the Cartoon Network.

To create your own date night, ask your child what type of activity he’d enjoy. Maybe you both love Japanese food and want to try out the new sushi restaurant in town. Maybe you’re astronomy fans; take a star walk sponsored by a local planetarium. The object of your evening is to get out of the house and do something you will both enjoy and can talk about in the years to come.

5. Pray Together
It sounds like a given, but it took many years before we got into the routine of praying together as a family. So we made it part of our regular routine. We decided to have everyone write out any prayer requests on an index card and place it in a basket on the breakfast table. Each morning, we divide up the cards, and have each family member pray aloud for the request. We pray for missionaries and math tests, friends who are sick and puppies who are about to be born. No request is too trivial.

My friend, Kimberly, prays with her son, Matthew, each night before he goes to bed. He refuses to put his head on the pillow until all of his friends, grandparents, and stuffed animals have been upheld in prayer. It certainly makes bedtime last a little longer, but this is a special time of closeness for Kimberly and Matthew that is rarely missed.

6. Write a Love Note
In the middle of our cluttered kitchen counter sat a small, lidded basket, better known as the “family mailbox.” Often when I would check our little basket, there will be a sticky note with the words “I love you, Mommy,” written in my daughter’s best 9-year-old cursive with green glitter pen.

Our family mailbox is a great way to encourage each other and brighten our kids’ days. My son is long past the age of wanting notes in his brown paper lunch bag where his friends can see them, but he never minds finding a note or a small treat in the family mailbox.

To start your own family mailbox, all you need is a basket, a pad of paper, and a pen. Start the ball rolling by writing notes to each member of your family. You could start with a note of encouragement, or maybe a Bible verse. End the note with a question, such as, “If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?” I promise you will get some fascinating mail in your little basket.

7. Break for Coffee
after a long day at school, kids need a chance to unwind before diving into their history and algebra homework. Once they’ve had a chance to pet the dog and put away their backpacks, we would gather around the kitchen table and have our after-school coffee break. We had popcorn and hot chocolate, cookies with a tall glass of frosty milk, or pretzels and lemonade. This is when I’d find out about the day’s happenings at school, how much homework there is for the evening, and, most importantly, how I could pray for my kids while they are at school.

To have your own coffee break, all you need to do is prepare a simple snack and be ready to ask open-ended questions. Instead of “How was your day?” ask, “What did you and Haley talk about at recess this morning?” or “I know you studied really hard for your chemistry test; was it as tough as you thought it would be?” Try to stay focused on your kids during this time. Look at them, listen to their stories no matter how convoluted they get, and make sure you share a little about your day as well.

Some kids just need to decompress after school and don’t feel like replaying their day right away. For other families, it might be nearly dinnertime before everyone is home. The point of the coffee break isn’t to add more stress to your lives, but to give you a regular time to talk through the day. So fit your coffee break in where it works best for you and your children.

8. Start a Parent-Child Journal
When my daughter Kimberly was 8, we started sharing a mother-daughter journal. One night she would lay it on my nightstand for me to write in; the next, I would tuck it under her pillow for her to record her thoughts and dreams. Through the pages of that little book we’ve shared secrets, settled arguments, and discussed life. It’s been a great way to talk about all the fun and not-so-fun issues going on in my little girl’s life. It has also given me the opportunity to share Bible verses, advice, and love notes in a non-threatening way.

It’s easy to get the ball rolling on a parent-child journal. Find a notebook, attach a pen, then write a question to start the conversation. Ask about school, friends, books, or anything else that interests your child. Ask open-ended questions, like “Tell me about the best book you’ve read in fourth grade.” This will help you get more in-depth responses, as well as having even more to write about the next time you share journal entries.

All of these ideas take planning and time, and there have been times that I’ve wondered if it’s worth it. Yet those seem to be the days when my daughter comes running in to tell me about the new elephant joke she heard at school, or asks my advice on how to handle a problem with her best friend. With a chuckle I realize all that effort has created a deep, lasting bond that will keep our family connected for years to come.

 

Kathi Lipp is the author of 21 Ways to Connect with Your Kids which can be purchased on Amazon. For more great ideas on connecting to your kids, go to www.kathilipp.com

Delhi Safari

This movie has some pretty big names on the box art along with adorable animals. I thought instantly my now 3 year old daughter would like it, which she did. The message of the movie is to protect animal habitat, a lesson that is great for kids to learn. The earlier children can understand their impact on the world, the better!

I did, however think this movie was more appropriate for kids that are a bit older. I didn’t love the weapons that the naughty monkey carried around and some of the violence between the animals bothered me. While there are not “bad” words it did use words like “stupid” which I don’t want my kids to use. I prefer children’s movies to be more “safe” although I imagine some parents wouldn’t think much of my complaints.

One other criticism I had was that because it was dubbed in English (it was made in India), the mouth/speaking animation doesn’t match the words coming out of the animals mouths. I found it distracting although my daughter didn’t seem to notice (or care anyway).

So, animal loving kids will probably like the movie, but parents are likely to be unimpressed. We have a lot of animal movies in our collection and I don’t think I will let my daughter watch this one again…at least for a while.
Delhi SafariDELHI SAFARI 
Available on DVD on April 16th, 2013

SYNOPSIS: A wacky pack of mismatched animals takes on the human race as they travel to the big city to protest the destruction of their jungle. How can a leopard cub and his mother, a peace-loving bear, a mischievous monkey, and a wisecracking parrot present their ideas to a bunch of humans? You’ll find out in this hilarious and heart-warming adventure that will have you cheering at the end.

Film stars Jane Lynch (TV’S Glee, Wreck-It Ralph), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Pirahna 3D, Snowmen), Vanessa Williams (TV’s 666 Park Avenue, TV’s Desperate Housewives, TV’s Ugly Betty), Cary Elwes (No Strings Attached, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter), Brad Garrett (Hoodwinked Too!, Tangled, Night at the Museum films), Jason Alexander (HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld).
Check out the trailer:

My Lucky Elephant

I admit that some days I let my daughter watch more TV/movies than I probably should. But, some moods (hers and mine) and some amounts of work to catch up on make it an easy solution that Cora loves. When I got sent this movie to check out I wasn’t sure what to expect. Since our family loves animals I figured we would think it was cute, but I wasn’t sure how cheesy it would be or how interested Cora (2.5 years) would stay in it since its not animated. Well, it turns out I was pleasantly surprised and the whole family truly enjoyed it.

There is not a lot of dialogue or a complicated story line, which makes it easy for younger kids to follow and I think that helps you appreciate the beauty of the elephants. It starts off with adorable footage of a sweet baby elephant that sucks you into the cuteness of the entire movie. You get to watch a wonderful relationship develop between the elephant and an orphan boy, which is relatable to any relationship between an animal and a child. The ultimate destination of these two, an art academy where the elephant learns to paint, was the best part of the movie to me. I was seriously blown away by how incredible these elephants can paint in real life! In fact, I was so intrigued that as soon as the movie was over I had to get online to see where I could purchase art done by elephants. Elephant art is now on my wish list!

This movie really is great for families with kids of many ages and even mom and dad can enjoy it. It is totally cute and completely safe!  Definitely worth checking out!

My Lucky Elephant DVDMY LUCKY ELEPHANT 

Available on DVD on February 26, 2013

Synopsis:  In a far away land of jungles and wild animals, there lived a little orphan boy who was all alone in the world. But he knew that no matter how hard life can be, it’s always better if you can share it with a friend. This is the story of how he found one, an elephant named Lucky. Together they face a changing world, but always manage to triumph. After a series of humorous challenges, they discover the Academy of Art, where elephants learn to paint. And Lucky becomes the star painter, a famous artist and celebrity. Finally, life is good for them, with money and food aplenty. But when Lucky falls in love with another elephant, Candy, and starts his own family, what will the boy do? My Lucky Elephant is an exotic adventure in a magical and beautiful place, and yet it’s about what everyone is looking for in life – a true friend, a home, family.

 

A New Game of Hide & Seek

snipe hunt gameYour two year old might not be that great at playing hide & seek. My daughter can’t stay hidden long enough for me to find her! It’s so much more fun to play when there are more people so someone can always be on your kid’s “team” to help them out. Well, I found the perfect game to accomplish this! It is called Snipe Hunt and it is a super fun game of Hide & Seek. My daughter LOVES the game (and loves the snipes themselves, which are her “babies”).

This game actually came from the traditional campfire story of the elusive creature of the forest, the Snipe. It is usually nothing more than a campfire prank, but Education Outdoors has transformed the story of the Snipe into a new family board game called Snipe Hunt. I am outdoorsy, but I had never heard of the Snipe story. It doesn’t matter if you are familiar with it or not, though! The game is just plain fun!!

A tradition passed down through the generations, the Snipe Hunt originated as a tall tale told by parents and teens to younger children. Inexperienced campers are told about a bird or animal called the Snipe and the usually preposterous method of catching it, such as running around the woods carrying a bag or making strange noises such as banging rocks together. As children set off in search of the Snipe, their elders take in the antics and try to contain their laughter.

A twist on this fruitless quest, Snipe Hunt is an indoor or outdoor game of hide-and-seek where players try to be the first to find their opponent’s Snipe and return it to its nest. To play, the teams choose an area that will be the Snipe nest and two areas to hide their Snipes.

Each team turns their Snipe on and disappears to find the best hiding place for them. In five minutes the Snipes will begin chirping and their eyes will start flashing red so teams must hurry to get back to the nest before they giveaway the direction their Snipe is hiding. Once both Snipes are hidden, the hunt begins! The first team to return their opponents Snipe to the nest is the winner.

One of the great things about this game, however, is that you don’t have to just play it the way it is intended! So, when it’s just me and my two year old, I hide the Snipes and she has to find them. The noises they make help her find them and keep her interest! If you have more people to play, and older kids too, you can amp up the difficulty and play it the “right” way!

Each game comes with two snipes, (named Biela and Smartin) and a Snipe nest. The packaging tells the story behind the legendary campfire animals. For more information on the game, including rules, visit www.educationoutdoors.net. Snipe Hunt retails for $24.99 and can be purchased at Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas, Books a Million stores and specialty retailers nationwide.