Monday, May 26, 2008

Easier-Than-It-Looks Recipe: Lisa's Satisfying Spinach Balls

Linda made "Lisa's Satisfying Spinach Balls" this past Memorial Day Holiday for a cookout. They were quite tasty. I figure that the summer is THE cookout and picnic time of the year, and the Spinach Balls (served warm) are perfect for such gatherings of friends and family. Lisa and her family are long time friends of ours. She would make these Spinach Balls for office parties, and they would be the main reason I would attend. As you might imagine, they are healthy, and easier than they look to make.

2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach
2 cups herb stuffing
1 large onion, chopped
4 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 clove garlic, minced (about a teaspoon)
Salt (if you have to) and pepper to taste
Cook the spinach as per the package instructions. Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Mix together all of the ingredients. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Roll the mixture into 1" balls, and place them on an ungreased pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. And there you have some of Lisa's very satisfying spinach balls.
You can vary the recipe depending on how many you need to make. We ended up up with a lot because we made smaller ones (about 75). Lisa says that if you make 1" balls they come out better, and end up with about 35. Linda took about half of the recipe and made some very satisfying spinach patties (bigger and flatter than the balls, and about the same cooking time). Thanks Lisa!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Consider Forgiveness...

I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately, mostly because I'm reading a book about it (Forgiveness: Theory, Research, and Practice, by M. McCullogh and others, 2001). Actually, some of the book is kind of boring (I'm reading it for continuing education credit), but it's mostly pretty interesting. So in preparing to write some of my thoughts on the subject, I reviewed some of my earlier bloggings (I'm not sure "bloggings" is a word, but "blog" just became a word itself!). And I've written about it a few times last year: "Give Peace a Chance," July 15 2007; "All You Need Is Love," Sept. 22 2007; and in my response to comments, I wrote "Forgiveness, Easier Said Than Done," Oct. 1 2007. I was not aware I had given this subject so much attention. This will not be about how to fogive, or the effect of it on relationships as these subjects are covered in my previous bloggings (sorry, I had to use that 'word' again). This is more about the effects on you, and your happiness. I will try not to repeat myself, but obviously there's more to be said on the subject of Forgiveness. Consider this...

Scientific evidence proves, no, let's say strongly suggests that forgiving others has positive effects on your health and well-being. However, there may be certain aspects of our life that are currently influenced by personal views/beliefs that were developed from situations, or information that we've received. Consciously or not, we may hold resentments, fears, even anger towards individuals, or groups of individuals who may seem to have hurt us or people we care about. We therefore try to avoid these individuals, or treat them without the care and respect that we treat others with. In worse cases, we may pass this on to our kids and cause them confusion when dealing with these people (that we may or may not know personally). Of course this is how negative stereotypes develop. Also how negative expectations of people develop, and perhaps cause us to miss out on a beneficial relationship. For example, some people hate men. And of course there are men out there who do bad things, but to project that on to all of us is going to negatively influence those relationships.

If there are certain attitudes that you hold towards others (personally known to you or not), that tend to arouse negative emotions in you, consider forgiveness as an option to relieve yourself of some of the obstacles to your happiness. As I've said before, forgiveness is not always an option. If your resentments, even anger, interfere in your life in some way(s), and the object of those feelings is not actively continuing to hurt you, then it is time to consider it. I am not suggesting that you "forgive and forget." "Forgetting" may leave you vulnerable to similar situations in the future. Forgiveness relieves a specific emotional burden, and hopefully will bring you a few steps closer to the good health, peace of mind, and happiness that you seek.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Summer Play School

Last year, in May, I posted a blog suggesting that parents use their kid's summer vacation as a time to help their child brush up on aspects of their academics or behavior that were causing them difficulty in school. It is a great idea for this summer too. Several of the families I worked with last summer on developing their "summer play school" plans saw improvement in their child's performance this school year. The initial complaint is usually that children (and parents) deserve a break from school work during the summer. Well, I think we all deserve a break from school work whenever we can get it. But, first of all, the work can be very well disguised as play. And second of all, if you don't put the time in now (during the summer break), you'll likely have to put in much more during the school year, when you actually have less time. Do this stuff even on the trips you take. Offer good enough incentives, and your child will be eager to "play school."

In addition to good incentives, I have a few other suggestions. Identify the areas of concern, for example, studying habits, organization, daydreaming, attention-seeking, hyperactivity, social skills, forgetfulness, conflict with peers or teachers, impulsivity, test taking, peer pressure etc. Next, develop play activities for your child that simulate the school situation. Role-playing is a good example. Your child can imagine being that kid that can't stay in his seat for 5 minutes. Through acting (role-play), with good enough incentives, he can prepare to perform much better when school starts. If it's 15 minutes a day, and fun (and don't forget the REWARDS), he'll break some old bad school habits and develop some new, more helpful ones. You should have several things that your child works on even though they may not be specific problems. Reading, writing, math, internet research, and any of the areas that you want them to learn new skills in, or to keep their skills fresh. Still, make it enjoyable for them. If you have to fight them to gain their participation, you have to get more creative. Fighting is not fun. Make the plans together with your young'un, even before school ends. As you're planning the summer's activities. If you need help, give me a call. (Also remember to read the "Back-To-School" Series from last summer to further prepare your child for a successful school year next year.)