"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."~Maya Angelou

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day, Mom!

It is time again for another celebration this weekend, this time one for the dads. My children are still pretty young, and don't quite fully understand the concept, but they are excited to celebrate "Dad", and do some fun dad stuff. We got to go out on a nearby lake this morning, do some fishing, some sun soaking and some swimming. My husband is a great father, and I am so proud of the dad he is. No matter what he always makes time for our children, even on his most tired days, because he loves them like no other, and he is honored to be their dad. He is a great partner to have, I can count on him to help me with the kids, or around the house, if there is anything I ever needed all I would have to do is ask, and he would do anything in his power to make it happen. Of course we are a "normal" married couple, with our ups and downs, but through it all we have determined that we love our little family, and at the end of the crazy day, we want to be together. I am so lucky to have him, and I can't imagine how hard it would be if I didn't.

Which leads me to my next thought, and the reason I am writing this blog today. Single mothers. I was raised by one, actually my older brother and I, and she is the most amazing, heroic, inspiring woman I know. She did it all, everyday, by herself. Her mother, my grandmother, was able to help, and I am so thankful my mom had her nearby. My grandmother was there for support, and to help my mom take care of us so she could go back to school and receive her 4 yr degree. She was a single mom, who worked full time, had two children and still managed to get her degree. Simply amazing. What is most amazing to me, is I look back on my childhood and smile, as it was one of the best childhoods anyone could ever ask for. You name it, my mom made it fun. Birthday's, holiday's, vacations, anything. She was always meticulous about the little things; making sure my milk was pink the morning of my birthday, decorating the tree after I went to bed on Christmas Eve, just to keep the tradition alive that Santa came and decorated it. Teaching me how to drive a stick in big old parking lot, and not once losing her patience while I gave her the slightest case of whip lash. I remember smiles, laughs, snuggling with her on the couch, helping both of us with our school work, being a support system when my heart was broken. She still is my best friend. She was my mother, and my father, and never have I felt for a second that I was missing a parent, or that there should have been someone else there. She did it effortlessly, or at least it seemed so to me, and I guess that's all that matters. I know it was so hard for her, but she never let us know it for a second. It is now, at this point in my life, as I have two young children to take care of, and a partner to do it with, that I sit and wonder how the heck she pulled it off. To say thank you just doesn't seem enough, but I will say it anyway. Thank you to my mom, for giving me the best opportunities you could, for caring for my brother and I with such a strong, unwavering love, for giving us a childhood that was full and complete in every way.

When Father's day rolls around every year, not once have I ever felt sad for a "missing parent". I smile and think of my mom, who gave me the most incredible start in life, who played the part of not only mom, but dad, and I never knew the difference. I celebrate my husband who makes his children squeal with laughter, and my mom, who made me who I am today.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Father (and Mother) Time

        I find myself wondering if I have the time. Time to write a new blog. Time to bake something with my kids. Time to clean my house. Time to go grocery shopping. Then I stop and look at my children, who just a minute ago were squishy little babies, and are now a thriving and energetic combination of 41/2 and 2. Not to mention my step daughter, who was also just born yesterday, will be 7 this summer. How did the time go so quickly?

        I work part time at a preschool, a job that I adore. I have chosen to work part time there to be home with my children more, and lucky for me they will start attending the school this summer, and through the next school year. I am so blessed to be with them as much as I am. I also started my own home business, in the hopes to continue to be "at work" less and "at home" more, but not losing any income. Working from home takes time too, and that at moments has been challenging for me to figure out. You have to stay focused and driven, just like at any job, and my squishy little babies are pretty awesome motivation to keep my business thriving!

        Back to time. We all crave more of it. We are all a bit fearful of it. We all try to enjoy every moment of it. And time does fly. I am nervous my "babies" will wake up as teenagers at any moment...and what about my 17 year old nephew?  Just yesterday, I remember riding my old 10 speed down to the hospital to hold him for the first time.  Time is amazing, it is powerful, and it is limited. We all think we have all kinds of it, but the truth is time can stop for anyone at any moment. Now, don't get me wrong, I am certainly not trying to be morbid here, but I am trying to make a point. We need to stop living in a land of "THERE'S NO TIME!" Vow to yourself, today, to never say those words again. Because here's a little secret....there is always time. You get home from work, walk through the door, the kids are running around, one is having a sizable tantrum and the other is screaming for a snack and you jump right in to "get things done". Did you stop and hold your spouse and kiss them hello? Did you stop and greet each child with a smile, a hello and maybe if your lucky a hug and kiss? Or are you one of those people who say, I would have liked to but there was no time? You have to understand that there is always time. It only takes a moment or two to look someone in the eye and tell them you love them. To make a connection with your partner, and verbally or non verbally let them know you are so glad to see them. Then, feel free to change a diaper and clean up the spilled juice, while switching the laundry and slicing some cucumbers.

        My point here folks is that all of us complain, probably on a daily basis that we don't have enough time for x, y or z. We need to realize that we all have the power to make time, to prioritize what's really important. Isn't it more important to play with your kids, enjoy their bath time and snuggle them up as you tuck them into bed? Of course it is. There is time for it all. There is time for me to work out of the home, as well as in the home, be a full time mom and wife, and play with my kids. A year ago I would have sworn differently, but I 've figured it out. (Well, some of it ). Now all you have to do is stop and take the time to figure it out for yourself. :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Back to Basics

Every parent wonders what they can do to assist their child's development, what words to say what games to play. The truth of the matter is it's the basic things that really help, nothing fancy or over the top is needed! Don't lose sight of whats most important, talking with your child, reading with your child, singing and dancing. These basic skills help new toddlers understand the world around them. Don't feel the urge to make your child grow up to fast either. They will spend the next 18+ years in school, getting your child into a school setting early on is fine, but definitely not needed for optimum growth and development! Visit http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/12-18-months-activities-for-cognitive-development/?sssdmh=dm17.558742&esrc=nwpmmdailytip110511&email=2177568409 for some great, natural ways to support your child's development!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Precious pumpkins

It's pumpkin time! Time to head out to your local farm or pumpkin venue of choice and collect some goodies!  My family traveled to a nearby farm this weekend to collect some pumpkins for pies as well as to carve in another week or so.  The woman who we dealt with was so nice and ended up giving each of my children more than one free pumpkin!  Going to get pumpkins is such a fun family tradition, along with taking those great pumpkin photos!  One fun fact that I have learned is that the more "lines" a pumpkin has the more seeds will be on the pumpkin, meaning it has been on the vine longer. Ripened pumpkins will also be darker in color. Of course pumpkins are part of the squash family, making them a super healthy food choice.  Pumpkins, with their rich orange color, are considered an anti-oxidant, full of beta carotene. Studies show that diets rich in beta carotene are less likely to develop certain cancers.
Of course, there are also the delicious seeds found withing the pumpkin.  make sure when you are scooping out those pumpkins this year, you toast at least one batch of seeds! Toasting seeds only takes about 10 minutes and is a great snack to share with your kids. It is an easy process and the kids can help. To make your seeds scrumptious, first clean the seeds by rinsing with cool water, then lay them on a baking sheet, so they don't overlap. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for 7 to 10 minutes at 350, depending on how crispy you like them. Cooking times vary, but you will quickly find what works best for your taste buds!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Baking Bug

Temperatures are slowly dropping, leaves a starting to turn color and the sweet smell of woodsmoke is beginning to perfume the air. It is the start of a wonderful season, probably my favorite. The first family outing of the fall tends to be apple picking in our house, which we will be doing next weekend. If you go to early the apples are still a little green and quite tart, so you definitely want to wait until mid to late September. My personal favorite to pick is Cortland apples. They not only taste delicious, they are excellent for baking. What to bake you ask? Well cooking with apples is easy and very rewarding. A few of my favorites are applesauce and apple muffins. I encourage you to let your children help you in any way they can. Under good supervision most two year old's and up can help cut up the apple after it has been peeled, and of course add ingredients to any dish. Below you will find the recipes to my homemade applesauce and some apple muffins that include other very healthy ingredients, which provides a "delicious and nutritious"(as my son likes to say) way to start their morning.  I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does!!! Happy Baking!!!

Homemade Applesauce
Peel and slice up as many apples as you wish, you will probably want to use at least 20 apples though.
Using a steamer, put about 2-4 inches of water in a pot, add apples to steamer and cook until soft. When all apples have been steamed I put them in a food processor to blend. I always add some cinnamon to my applesauce, and depending on the tartness, a tablespoon of sugar.
I enjoy storing my ape sauce in mason jars, but any glass jar will do.
Cool and refrigerate, but don't expect it to last to long, it is just to yummy!!!

Glorious Morning Muffins
2 eggs
3/4 C veg oil
1/4 C milk
2 t. vanilla
1 C white flour
1 C wheat flour
1 C packed brown sugar
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 C shredded carrots
1 C shredded peeled apple
1/2 C coconut
1/2 C raisins
3/4 C sliced almonds
Heat oven to 350. In large bowl beat eggs, oil, milk and vanilla with whisk until blended. Add flours, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. With spoon, stir in carrots, apple, coconut, raisins and 1/2 cup of the almonds.
Divide batter evenly among muffin tray, will make 18 large or 30-35 mini. Sprinkle remaining almonds over batter.
Bake 20 min or until toothpick comes out clean.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Is your child getting enough sleep?

  Counting sheep. Listening to the chirp of crickets. The whirl of a fan or music from a radio sometimes do the trick too. All of these things may or may not help us get to sleep. As an adult we may rely on outside white noise to settle us down at night, or reading a good book and having some tea. As we settle ourselves down from busy days, it is important to remember to do the same for our children, as their ability to unwind is our responsibility.
                 I can not stress enough my belief that a bedtime routine is not only helpful, but necessary. Having a routine not only comforts your child from as early as 6 months old, but gives them a sense of consistency that is so important in their changing lives. I know everyone would love to be at home every day with their children, but that is not always possible. So as a child's day may change from a sitter to home, or school to home, having a consistent routine will give them a tremendous sense of security. Both of my children have always had the same routine; dinner, baths, quiet play and bed, and I have some great sleepers! Now of course there are some tantrums and such thrown in there, but they know what's coming next. They can count on going upstairs after dinner to take a nice bath, and know that they will return downstairs to play for a short while before stories and bed.
               I have found an excellent website I am excited to share with you that has several great features including the amounts of sleep recommended for various ages. The bottom line is all children over the age of 1 should be getting at least 10 hours of sleep, while some children will want up to 13 with daytime naps on top of that! Another point I want to stress is to remember that it does not work to your advantage to keep a child up to help them sleep better, in fact it will have the opposite effect by making them overtired and harder to settle down.
                Sleep is so important for their development, both cognitively and socially, and I hope everyone will take a moment to reflect on their child's sleep pattern and adjust it if necessary. Sweet dreams everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What's in your lunchbox?

               That special time of year is upon us again, no not that big guy in red, but back to school time! Many of you have children going back to public schools, while others have some pretty big milestones coming up, whether it's the first day of preschool, kindergarten or your child's senior year in high school! (Good thing I have made a deal that mine won't be getting any older after this year!! :) ) As parents we do as much as we can humanly do to not only prepare our children for this, but ourselves as well. We go clothes shopping and shoe shopping to make sure they are as comfortable as they can be, we want our children to be happy, right? We give them new hair cuts to give them a fresh new feeling, because we want them to feel good about themselves, yes?  We also load them up on school supplies, backpacks and 1,000 other knick-knacks because we always want our children to be prepared. Then the night before the first day of school arrives and you pack their lunch. Let me ask you this, how many of you did a "back to school" grocery trip? Let me explain.
                At this point in time I am packing lunches year round. My children are still quite young and when I am working they are in childcare. They have to have lunches and snacks packed when this happens, and I need to be prepared for it. A few things I like to have on hand include easy to eat protein foods; red beans, cheese, peanut butter or chicken bits. I try to have as much fresh fruit and veggies as possible, like carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber or apples. Frozen veggies are always a good standby, peas, mixed, or broccoli can be thawed and added to a lunch box pretty quickly. In my experience children will eat whatever they are fed from the beginning. My 14 month old is extremely picky, but I just continue to offer her good choices knowing one day she will know no other way. The key seems to be trying to offer a variety and being consistent. Their taste buds are always changing so you never know when that day will come when she smiles and eats green beans happily, instead of throwing them on the floor!
                  I divide my time between working at home and working in an early childhood center for children from 18 months to preschool, and I have seen thousands of lunches come through. I must say that for the most part parents pack some very healthy lunches, with 3-4 great choices. But there are a few that just makes you think, what was that parent thinking? To give you an idea of what I am talking about, here's a sample of what I've seen. Fluff sandwiches, artificially colored cheese crackers, gummy fruit snacks, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, yogurt that is neon in color, and microwavable "baby" food, that, I'm sorry, smells revolting!! Now don't get me wrong, anything is fine in moderation and my children enjoy goldfish and graham crackers. The point I am trying to make is why do we spend all sorts of time, energy and money and making our kids feel and look good, but forget about the importance of fueling their body? What we pack in their lunchboxes is so important, and I hope that every parent thinks twice this year before they throw in some processed crackers before adding a banana.
                 I have included some information on the new "food plate", which has replaced the old food pyramid. I hope you all find it as helpful as I have, I think many people will find this much easier to work into their lives. Happy Eating everyone!!

The new food pyramid is a circle.
The feds have ditched the age-old triangular guide to eating well in favor of a circular plate they hope diners will load up with fruits and veggies.
"As long as they're half full of fruits and vegetables and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we're golden," said First Lady Michelle Obama, who helped unveil the new icon Thursday.
The simple white plate is paired with a smaller white plate that the feds say is reserved for dairy, such as a cup of milk or a container for yogurt.