Wow! Chicken Enchiladas + Corn Three Ways. That's what we've decide to name this recipe for a family favorite. It's the perfect dinner for late summer, after the vacations are over and the first day of school is right around the corner.
What's good about it? Well, the organic greens in the bean salad count. So does the locally-grown watermelon that brightens up the dinner plate. And of course it all tastes really good. Especially with a margarita. The skinny kind.
See? It's all good.
"Are those tomatoes?" My middle daughter was studying the colors and shapes on the platter. Circles of yellow, orange, and red. And semicircles of white.
"Yep," I said. "Those are tomatoes from the farmer's market. Tomatoes grow in colors other than just red. Aren't they pretty?" I studied the platter, too. It really was pretty. "And the white half-circles are slices of mozzarella cheese. All organic," I added.
"What's it called?" she asked.
"I don't know yet," I answered. I thought I'd just create a salad, and then name it, when I could see what it looked like after it was done. "Right now," I said, "it's just called 'lunch.'"
Actually, I think it's called research. Even better.
As it turns out, going through little girls' closets to find a few donations for a clothing drive can be a little bit of a downer. How can it be that the matching black and white tops don't fit anymore? Didn't I buy those outfits--yesterday? Those are the kinds of things you start to say to yourself as you pack up shirts and shorts and jeans and dresses.
But that's silly, really, I told myself. Let go of the black and white tops so that other kids can have something new to wear. Things are just things. Instead I think I'll choose to be extra glad I've still got the kids.
"Our team loves to teach kids about charities. We host summer workshops for elementary children to learn about the joy of giving. We ask the kids to create their own games so that the lessons really sink in." That's what we heard from Mulberry South when we asked the company to describe its favorite way to do good--volunteering.
But what's with the photo? These are mancala game pieces, which are part of one of the "giving games" used in the workshops.
See? Doing good is rewarding. And fun.
Doing good, the way you want to do it. It works!
Whether you choose to do good by giving to a favorite charity, recycling your cans of Diet Coke, volunteering at summer camp, serving on the auction host committee, attending community events, buying products that support a cause, donating canned goods, marketing your favorite nonprofit, caring for your health, or, if you are 10 years old, sharing your love of family on the wall of your mother's closet--or all 10 of those ways--it's all good.
Do good. Celebrate, your way. And benefit all.
Sangria, to go. Pour it into resusable mason jars, adding plenty of sliced peaches. Ooh la la! Each one is just right for a single summer serving at a party on the patio to celebrate a birthday or a graduation or any special occasion, including an ordinary day. Which, of course, makes an ordinary day extraordinary after all.
Once up a time I asked my youngest daughter a question. “Did you cut your hair?” I said, running my fingers through my two-year-old's silky strands. Several of which were clearly missing. Mothers ask the most obvious questions! “No,” my daughter replied with conviction. “An alligator did it.” Ah.
And so, that weekend, we paid a visit to the tot salon to repair the alligator's damage. "Alligators are tricky," I said to my daughter on the way home. "And they are not very nice," I added. Which is true.
Rarely, though, are there happy endings to stories that involve slimy creatures. Two weeks after the visit to the salon, a little voice piped up from the backseat of the car. "Mommy," she announced brightly, "the alligator went away." And so I asked, equally brightly, "Where did he go?" The answer: "He ran into the street and got hit by a car." Oh my.
For the record, one way or another, every dragon and worm and dinosaur and demon and alligator and serpent in the kingdom eventually meets its match. Especially in the victorious imaginations of beautiful and shrewd princesses who are determined to beat them.
The pink dress, or the blue dress? The ruffles or the sequins? Playing dress up is one of the best parts of being a little girl, learning to make choices between two good things.
Maybe playing dress up is a little bit like doing good. If you learn to make choices when you are young, you might just have that skill for life.
I think it is so important to underscore the ways we can do good. In my high school classroom, I see the kids that choose not to do good. It scares me and makes me sad. If we as parents can take time out to reinforce the idea early and often, we can help ensure our children will make the right choices when they get older.
That's according to Melinda, a mother of two girls, ages 7 and 9, and one boy, age 13. Well said!
Dressing up and doing good build positive habits. And that's not all they have in common. It feels good to dress up. And it feels good to do good, too.
"I need new shoes," declared the fourth grader. I looked down at her feet. Oh. She was right. The sneakers that once were white with pink butterflies were now a dirty grey. And the butterflies were barely visible, as though they had fluttered away with the months and years of childhood. The sneakers had been through a lot since the second grade. They even had holes in both of the toes and one of the rubber soles. How had all of that slipped past me?
"You sure do need new shoes," I said to my daughter. "We'll go shopping this weekend. Those shoes don't look so good."
But those shoes had done their job. Two first days of school. Two last days of school. 7 field trips. 282 lunches. 576 recesses. Hundreds of walks to the park. Thousands of little girl steps.
On second thought, scuffed is beautiful.
Nine dozen cookies. That is a lot! "Do you think you can really make nine dozen cookies?" I asked the girls. They were planning a trip to a food pantry, where they would volunteer. And bring cookies--enough for more than 100 people.
"Even I don't make nine dozen cookies all at once," I said. And that was true. Cakes are much easier to bake to serve a group of 100 people. You can slice up one big cake into at least 25 pieces, which means you only have to bake 4 cakes. Cookies are a different story. Each one takes time.
"But you can do it!" I added encouragingly. What would be the point of discouraging the girls from doing something bold? And what's the point of setting a small goal? Nothing, on either count.
And, sure enough, those 108 cookies got baked by three ambitious little girls with one big goal. Nine dozen cookies. All neatly boxed up and ready to go for an afternoon of doing good for others.
See? You meet what you measure.
"What do I look like?" asked the little girl who just had her face painted like a tiger. It was one of the special perks for kids at the 2014 Walk for Williams, a fundraiser for the Williams Syndrome Association.
"You look like a tiger," I answered, because I knew that was what she wanted me to say. But the truth was that she looked like my daughter, even with the orange and black stripes. The paint does not make the person.
And isn't that the point? "Orange" and "black." "Special" and "needs." Those are just words. Not a definition of the person who is inside.
We love the Williams Syndrome Association. It's one of our family's favorite charities. We also love reading the emerging research about charities, mothers and children. It's all good!
"You can make it!" I turned around and walked back to the spot on the pavement where my youngest daughter had met her match. She was lying down on the sidewalk. "I can't go one more step," she said. I reached out a hand to pull her up. "Of course you can," I replied. "We've made it this far. More than three miles, even. And we're only two blocks from home."
Actually, I was impressed. Three miles is a lot for a 6-year-old. Even for the most energetic one I've ever met. "You're doing great," I said with enthusiasm. And also with the thought that I didn't have much of a choice. She had gotten too big for me to be able to carry her the rest of the way. Even just two blocks. The day was beautiful. It was a perfect day for a long walk. And it didn't take long for the little girl on the sidewalk to get back on her feet. And we were back on our merry way. "See?" I said to my daughter as we rounded the corner onto our own street. "Aren't you glad you kept going even when you thought you couldn't?" My little girl didn't say anything. She just smiled. And of course she made it all the way home just fine.
It was all good. Of course it was! After all, if you aren't bold enough to set a goal that's a little too big to reach, you never really know how far you can go.
We've got big goals at our research firm, Mulberry South, to inspire more people, companies, and institutions to realize their own visions of doing good through the best possible personal experience, which in turn increases the effectiveness of philanthropy overall. After all, the better your experience with giving, the bigger difference you'll make in the lives of the people who receive.
10 ways to do good. And one you. Both are worth celebrating. After all, the better your experience with giving, the bigger difference you'll make in the lives of the people who receive.
It's true. Generosity empowers the giver. It's called success by doing good, and it's the topic of exciting, emerging research at Baker University's Institute on Leadership for Positive Change. And that's something worth celebrating.
I love cake. Maybe I love cake so much because I love to bake. Or maybe it is because I love to celebrate even the smallest joys in life, and what’s a celebration without a cake? Maybe it's because I love to bake cakes and try to do a little good for others at the same time. Or maybe it is because there is no such thing as a problem so daunting that it cannot be cured with a big slice of white cake. Especially if it is fluffy white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. Maybe it is because cakes are for parties, for dressing up, for having fun.
Or maybe it's just because cake is really, really good.
What's in the color pink? A favorite book, called Pinkalicious. And rosy cheeks, warm with the glow of donating the book to a charity for children who don't have any books. And, of course, the frosting on top of the cupcakes, baked to celebrate the generosity cooked up in a kitchen by two little girls and their mother on a Sunday afternoon.
Pink is a beautiful color.
Mothers are really good at teaching their kids about the joy of giving. But don't take our word for it. Check out the research.
Red, yellow, orange, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Learning about rainbows is one of the best parts of being in fourth grade. "It's called Roy G. Biv," she said. "I know," I said. "I was once in fourth grade, too."
I've always wondered, what's the difference between indigo and violet? And aren't they both another word for "purple"? Maybe it's a little bit like the spectrum of "doing good." Community events, fundraisers, online giving, bequests, going green, turning off lights, recycling cans, buying local, purchases that support a cause, volunteering and learning to give, pets, rolling up your sleeves, giving back in the workplace, corporate social responsibility, appreciating your own gifts and the talents of others, and buying wrapping paper from the school fundraiser. All of those are examples of doing good, in real life. And they are all good. Just like indigo, violet, and purple.
Rainbows are everywhere. In fact, chances are good there's one right in front of you.
"What is it?" I felt a little sheepish asking my daughter that question. I really liked the picture she'd texted me, but I couldn't quite tell what it was. It looked like a piece of wood with something tall and thin balancing on top of it. And the lighting in the photograph was really good. Other than that, I was drawing a blank.
"It's a pen," she said. Ah! I looked at the photograph again and I saw it. It was a picture of an old fashioned pen, the kind that you have to store, tip down, in a pen holder to keep the ink from drying out. It was a picture of a pen holder my daughter had made in school.
Once upon a time, I suppose, pens were the latest technology. Now we have lots of ways to write, by typing on a keyboard or even talking into a phone. So many ways to communicate with each other. It's all good!
Will pens go away? Maybe. Maybe not. But the reason for the pen is here to stay. To be human is to communicate, right?
"Put a cherry on top, Mommy," said my daughter. I had just finished pouring the last of the chocolate-spiked vanilla buttercream frosting over the top of an eight-layer birthday cake. The rest of the frosting was already on the cake. Or in the cake, actually. Nestled between the eight towering layers of three different kinds of chocolate cake. Just the way the birthday girl wanted it.
"I will do that," I said. My daughter was right. This cake needed something special on top. And not necessarily a curly candle, which is what usually goes on top of the cakes we make. "Maybe we should put a lot of cherries on top," I said as I studied the cake, trying to decide what might look the best. We had already added a ring of cherries around the bottom layer. And a couple on the side of the cake, between tiers four and five. "No, just one cherry on top," my daughter said. She was insistent.
So that is what we did. One cherry on top. And my daughter was right. The cake looked really good with just a single cherry on top. More cherries on top would not have made it better. More cherries would just be more cherries.
Sometimes one is enough.
For the recipe, please visit One Celebrations.
"What do you worry about?" I asked my 5-year-old daughter. We were driving around, running errands. And I was worrying. Not about anything in particular, or even anything major. Just a lot of little things, including how many calories were in that big piece of chocolate I had just eaten to make the worries disappear. Why do I worry about things I can't do anything about? Maybe worrying is just no good.
I glanced in the rear view mirror. "Lions, bats, centipedes and snakes," said my daughter. "Bears, too," she added
"Well," I said, "what would you do if you ran into a lion or a bat or a centipede or a snake or a bear?" My daughter did not hesitate. "I would tell it to go away," she said.
Tell it to go away. That might not actually work on a lion or a bat or a centipede or a snake or a bear. But I think it might work on a lot of worries.
When it comes to creatures in the animal kingdom, sometimes our very own imaginations are the scariest.
Bears and snakes, maybe, but math does not need to be scary. We love Math Monkey in Leawood, Kansas, where game-based camps and classes can help your child avoid the "summer slide." What's the summer slide? Research indicates that children lose between 6 and 8 weeks of learning over the summer break. Now that's scary!
What's the point of soccer practice?
According to the second grade soccer player, the point of soccer practice is to get better at playing soccer.
According to the older sister who does not play soccer, the point of soccer practice is to take a nap in the sunshine.
And according to the mother of the second grade soccer player and the older sister who does not play soccer, the point of soccer practice is to watch one daughter practice. And give the other one a lap to lay on.
Soccer practice is wonderful.
What's the best thing about spring? Actually, there are lots of best things about spring.
The birds chirping in the morning. The sun lingering a little longer in the evening, which means a little more outside playtime as the days of school wind down for the semester. And of course the sunshine and warmer weather.
What's the next best thing about spring?
Those little malted milk eggs with the crunchy outside coating that come in all sorts of pretty spring colors. The malted milk eggs that you can buy in those cute containers that look like miniature milk cartons. One milk carton equals one really yummy lunch. Or even breakfast on a special occasion.
Those little malted milk eggs are so good. You can even use them to decorate a cake.
Of course you can.
"What does 'chwersyrestz' spell?" My daughter asked that question when she was busily putting crayon to paper, practicing the alphabet and a few spelling words. "See?" she said, pointing to the paper. "C-H-W-E-R-S-Y-R-E-S-T-Z. Chwersyrestz. What does it mean?"
"I have no idea," I answered. "Actually," I said, "I don't think it means anything." My daughter looked disappointed. "But it's a word," she said. "It has to mean something." I sighed. "It's really not a word," I tried to explain patiently. "If I gave you a definition I'd just be making something up. 'Chwersyrestz' is not a word."
It must be so frustrating to be five years old and learning the alphabet and learning to spell. And then have to learn that some combinations of letters just don't mean anything. Sometimes we really are off the hook. Sometimes there really is no deep meaning. No warning to heed. And no lesson to learn.
Some things really do mean nothing.
When families embark on a journey to make philanthropy a part of their lives across generations, it often starts with simple concepts: Having fun as a family, being authentic and open about values, donating canned goods or clothing to families in need, recycling cardboard and aluminum cans, celebrating every birthday and holiday with a big cake and a gift to charity, buying wrapping paper from the school fundraiser, contributing to a handful of favorite charities--even eating healthy food and appreciating every peaceful moment.
In any household, “doing good” is a powerful way to create a sense of belonging--in the family, the community, and the world.
Now how's that for inspiring? Sure sounds good to me.
What would be the point of a magic wand, really? Wouldn't it take all the fun out of everything?
If you could get anything you wanted, in the blink of an eye, and never have to work for it, would you be missing out?
That's what we're supposed to say.
The truth is, of course, that a magic wand would be really, really great.
I love the way first graders draw their families. Everyone is about the right height, relatively speaking. And each person's best features are played up. A wide smile, perfectly styled hair, big eyes, long legs, youthful skin tones. All against a cheerful background, as blue as the sky on a perfect spring day.
A family portrait, drawn through the eyes of a first grader. Kind of makes you want to jump right in. Especially if that family is yours.
She really wanted to get her long hair cut. So I agreed. She's in second grade, I told myself. She's old enough to decide how she wants her hair to look. Even though I always think shorter hair makes little girls look older. Which always makes me cringe, just a little, because they grow up so fast.
"Wow," I said after the stylist was finished. "You look so different!" I followed my daughter, beaming with her new do, out of the salon and to the car. "Well," she said, "I still have the same mother so I'm okay."
Ah! The haircut was worth it.
When is inside better than outside? Not very often, especially not when spring arrives and the sun is shining. And not when you need a little objectivity, either. It's always helpful to step away from your situation and assess things from a neutral point of view.
What about when you are trying to decide whether to buy a cake--inside a box from an outside bakery--or bake an original cake inside your very own kitchen? Is outside still better than inside, or is it too confusing to even bother thinking about? Maybe that's when you can be creative and practical at the same time. Buy the cake, inside the box. But add an original twist using something from your own kitchen. Sprinkles on the frosting, fresh fruit around the edges, or a colorful curly candle stuck right into the middle of the top of the cake.
Sometimes thinking outside the box actually works best when you can do it right inside a box you've already got.
What do you call a cake for a 5 year old? Frozen. As in, the movie.
What else do you call a cake for a 5 year old? Impressive! As in, how did her mother get that frosting to look just like ice? And that snowman--so charming! And the numeral "5"--professional-grade decorating for sure!
What else do you call a cake for a 5 year old? Heart warming. As in, the birthday girl makes you melt.
Caroline, your cake is amazing! Happy Birthday, Camille!