Monday, August 23, 2010

Making Play Doh

I'm going to be making some of this during the week and will hopefully be able to add some pictures of our adventure for you to see. I hope you enjoy this as it's a lot of fun to make and play with. It will harden and you can even save the beautiful items your children make if you'd like.

1 C Flour (not self rising)
1/2 C Salt
1 C Water
1 Tblspn Veggie Oil
1 1/2 Teaspoon Cream of Tarter

Add some drops of food coloring or Kool Aid (this will make it smell nice too).

Mix it all into a saucepan together until it begins to stick together & roll into a ball.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bento Lunches
My 6 yr old son Andrew is beginning 1st grade this year- next week actually! He has a peanut and a tree nut allergy, so he will not be able to eat the lunches they serve at school. I decided to make it fun for him, and to get him to eat healthier foods than they sell in the school, I am going to buy him a Bento style lunch carrier, and make his lunch fun! I am really going to love experimenting with his lunches and seeing how he reacts.
My main goal for my family is making sure that we eat healthy. Knowing that I am making his lunch means that I know exactly what he is eating, and I know that its good for him.
Please check back for my experience with this challange!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Steel Cut Oats
If you love oatmeal as much as I do, and you haven't tried steel cut oats yet, you must!!
Steetl cut oats are oats that have been cut into a few pieces rather than being rolled. So they are not flat like your typical oat flakes. The consistency of the oatmeal is a little creamier than regular oatmeal as well, and a little chewy. They take longer to cook as well, up to 30 minutes, but its sooo worth it! I was actually able to find a quick cook version and it only takes 5-7 minutes to cook!
After they cook, I pour them into the bowl and add some butter and brown sugar! Yum!! Even my daughter loves to share them with me!
Steel cut oats are very healthy. You are getting a serving of 100% whole grains! They are also an excellent source of fiber and protein, so its a great way to begin your day!
There are so many versions of oats out there. Be sure that you pick a carton that says "Irish Oats", "steel cut" or even "coarse cut oats".
When feeding your children, you want to ensure they are getting 100% whole grains. Skip the flavored oatmeals in the stores. Grab a carton of steel cut oats and you can tailor it to their liking by adding in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and even sprinkles. My son loves sprinkles in his oatmeal!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Raising mindful children with effective gentle discipline
I am a mom of 4 children, and I am bound and determined to get at least one of them to listen to myself and my husband! I have decided to use "gentle discipline" on our youngest. As I have gotten older, I feel that I am able to tolerate more, and its easier for me to "keep my cool" even with a busy household.
If you aren't sure what gentle discipline is, it is basically speaking softly and kindly to your child, while telling him/her "no" and then using positive reinforcement and redirection. By using force (spankings), you are sending them mixed messages. If you are trying to discipline your child for hitting a sibling, why would you spank your child and tell them that its not OK for them to hit their brother or sister? What that little brain is hearing is "Its not ok for you to express yourself through force but its ok for me to hit you". The gentle discipline approach would have you tell your child no, explain why it is not nice to hit, and then if they are of age to speak, you have your child appologize for their actions.
You also cannot discipline a baby, because they are not able to understand their actions. You would just remove them from the situation and place them in a safer spot. You can begin using gentle discipline with toddlers, so as they grow, they become more aware.
Schedules and Routines: If you are anything like me, I love to be on time and keep things scheduled and flowing. I cannot depend on people to wait on me and my family. If we are due to arrive somewhere, I always try to allow at least an hour where I can tell the kids "Ok, we have to leave in an hour, so let's get dressed." Once the kids are dressed, we ask them 1 at a time to brush their teeth. Once teeth are done, then 1 by 1 they go and use the bathroom before getting in the car. By this time we are probably around 20 mins til we have to get in the car, so I have them get their shoes on. By the time they finish monkeying around, it is nearly time to get in the car! Bottom line is, if you can maintain a schedule and be consistant, you make it easier on yourself. Always be sure to call out "5 minutes until we are leaving" so that when its time to walk out the door, they are already forewarned.
Be Blunt: If you want your child to mind you, you have to lay it all out there for them in plain english. If you want them to clean their plate from the table, you need to tell them "Please get your dish and put it into the sink." There is no confusion there. You are telling them specifically what you want them to do. If they do not respond to your command, then prep them with a warning stating that they have 1 more chance, or they lose a privelage (something as simple as no snack after dinner).
Since my daughter is only 1, I have her doing simple tasks, such as bringing me a toy that she has tossed onto the floor so that we can put it away together. Ever since she was able to crawl, she would pick up little pieces of fuzz or whatever she could find on the ground, and put it straight into her mouth. I would say "Ackie! Give that to mama please" and then I would take it out of her mouth. Now when she finds a piece of something on the ground, she picks it up and walks it over to me! Constant repeating has shown her that she shouldn't pick up something from the ground and put it in her mouth. Now, of course she still does put things in her mouth, but she's getting better!
It's never too early to have them clean up their toys!! Once your child is walking, have them help you clean up their toys. When I am cleaning up Emmaleigh's toys, I will point to something and say "Can you hand that to mama please" and she will look all over, all around at everything besides the object that I am wanting. lol But I just point and repeat "Can you get mama that doll over there please?" and she will eventually understand and get it. Then I say "yay! Thank you!" and we clap our hands.

Oh, Once a Month Cooking, how I love thee!
How many of you reading this want to feed your family wholesome meals? (Okay, yes, I see you nodding to yourself.) How many of you feel like there is NEVER enough time to get everything done, including cooking supper and cleaning up afterwards? (Again with the nodding...very good, very good.) Well, I have a solution.

I had heard of Once A Month Cooking (OAMC) and knew that it sounded like a good idea, but I had never taken the leap required to try it out. WOW! Had I been missing out!? What's better than having homemade Alfredo Chicken Penne with garlic bread and only having to run the microwave and put places and utensils in the dishwasher? At my house, NOTHING!

So I know you're thinking, is it really possible? How do I actually do this? I'm here to help you out, step by step!

Step 1. Pick a day that you will cook. Plan to have someone keep the children for the day, unless they are great at occupying themselves.
Step 2. Make a list of items your family loves or would like to try (I would encourage only trying 1 or 2 new recipes--just to keep things easy).
Step 2. Break down that list into a list of what ingredients you need for each dish.
Step 3. Check the cupboards, freezers, etc. for these items.
Step 4. Make a list of which items you are still in need. Don't forget disposable metal pans (if you want to use them), aluminum foil, plastic wrap, baggies, etc!
Step 5. Make a trip to the grocery.
*Note: If you shop like I do--stocking up on Sale items, but not ever buying at regular price--you will want to plan ahead each month/week and be buying those items you will need for your OAMC.
Step 6. Next day--Begin cooking!!!

As far as the cooking goes, it will be much easier if you plan to make all like dishes at once. For example, I made breakfast first. I cooked all of my sausage patties first. Then I browned all my sausage for burritos next. While I was doing this, I had eggs cooking in the microwave for burritos and biscuits in the oven for sausage biscuits. Make all chicken dishes at the same time, make all beef dishes at the same time. If you're going to need 1 lb. of ground beef for 5 dishes, cook all 5 lbs at once and divide later.

Planning ahead and multitasking are your best bet when it comes to OAMC!! Another idea would be to ask a friend or family member to help and split the meals! I can tell you from experience, an extra set of hands would have gone a LONG way!

The most important thing is to not be overwhelmed by the thought of it. Jump in! That's the only way you'll ever try it! I can tell you, I won't be going back to the hassle of trying to figure out what to cook every night. I love going to the freezer in the morning and thawing out a homemade supper!

Good luck with your cooking adventure!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cloth Diaper Review- BumGenius 4.0
So I recently purchased a new Bum Genius 4.0 from RG Natural Babies. I can admit that I am not a HUGE fan of one-one size diapers because on my kids, they never seem to fit true to size. When my daughter was a newborn, she wasn't able to wear many diapers that were "one-size" until she got a little meat on her thighs. The diapers just looked plain ridiculous on her! If it was a one size fitted, forget it. There was no way that she could even put her poor little bird legs down with that huge bulk between them! lol
Anyways, I have many of the Bum Genius All-In-Ones, but only had 1 of the Bum Genius 3.0 one size. Curiosity got the best of me when it came to getting the new version, the 4.0. I mean, how much can you really change a diaper? Well, with the new 4.0, you can now get a snap closure for those of you who are not fond of applix. Since my daughter is 1, I prefer the applix because trying to change her diaper is like roping a baby calf! Most of the time her bum is up in the air and she is half twisted, trying to get off the couch. Oh come on, you know you can relate!! Besides being perfect for quick changes, if I want my husband to participate in diapering, snaps confuse him!
Another new feature of the 4.0 diaper is that the velcro is supposedly better. I will see. I know that the velcro that I have on my all-in-ones gets terrible after awhile!
The front panel that sits against baby's belly is also wider, to accomodate bigger babies. This I love! I did notice that feature and that is a plus in my book. My daughter is slightly over 20 lbs at 1 year old, so if this can make it stretch to potty learning, that would be fabulous! That was another downfall of the sizing on one-size diapers. They never seemed wide enough.
There are also new colors: Bubble(light lavendar), Noodle(very light cream) and Sweet(a pale blue). The names are a little "different" and when you see the diapers in person compared to the swatch on the website for the diapers, in my opinion, they don't match. I bought "bubble" and it is the prettiest shade of light purple/lavendar!! I really am in love with the color, though I think I am biased because that is my fave color anyways! "Noodle" is a reaally light cream color. You can definately notice that it is not white. It's more of an ivory maybe. I honestly don't remember what "sweet" looked like. Maybe that's because its a shade of blue and being that I have a girl, I didn't think to look at the blue.
All in all, so far, the diaper is living up to my standards. I only use the 1 insert in it (the snap down one) during the day and its super trim. I do wear a lot of dresses on her though, mainly because it just makes for easy diapering. We are also wearing it on the 2nd rise setting. If you haven't had a chance to check out the diaper yet, please do! I don't think you will be disappointed.
*This review is based on personal opinion, and I was NOT compensated or asked to review this diaper by Bum Genius or Cotton Babies*
Baby Wearing for the Everyday Mom

As a mother of one, I already notice the benefits of wearing Lilly, my little girl. And, as a nanny to three other child, it's even more apparent. Being able to scoop up my daughter and wear her close to me in my Ergo is fabulous. Not only does she love being up high (at least on me since I'm 5' 11"), I am able to do everything I need to while she's hanging out on my back. :) As a woman who is constantly chasing down a child, being able to give my daughter that one one one time is wonderful. The chance for that closeness with mommy is great for her and I don't feel like I'm missing out either. So you ask what the benefits are of wearing your child? Let's talk about it...

The biggest perk, in my opinion, is the closeness I get to her while I'm wearing her. I'm always on the go and love that mommy and me time, especially for the days when she is really fussy and needy and I still have a ton to accomplish. Being able to put her on my chest and see her calm down is an amazing feeling. I love that it comforts her and allows her to feel safe and secure no matter what is going on around us.

Let's talk accomplishing stuff with a child running under your feet, well, as you all know it's nearly impossible. Dishes aren't happening, vacuuming no way, and laundry... That's a joke, well, not anymore. I'm sure I'm not the only mother whose daughter gets into everything in the kitchen, is terrified of the vacuum and loves to play in freshly folded laundry... in a newly made pile on the floor, by my wide smiled child. :)

So, what do I do? I nurse her, give her a snack, and off to cleaning together we go. She loves watching me and being able to see everything that is going on. And since I don't have to worry about what she is getting into, these chores actually get done. I have the time to accomplish all of that and to go about my day with more time to spend with her.

I have found it to be a wonderful addition to the house since beginning to nanny. A double stroller is so heavy and quite large for my Malibu so it's nice to not have to pack one up to go somewhere. I can use a little stroller for the infant and the Ergo for Lilly. I love not have the bulk of a double stroller in the grocery store, or at the park while I'm trying to play with the girls. Plus, there are times where Lilly wants some Mommy time and I'm able to do that with her without taking it away from the other children.

As a new mom this past year, I didn't think I would need it, I only have 1 child right? Wrong! Leaving the house was nothing less than terrifying when she was born, everything became different, trying to remember this and that. Well this was so easy to remember and use because she was already on me while I was getting everything else together. It takes up no space in my car and is so convenient for us. I am able to keep Lilly close and prevent her from grabbing a hold of everything in every isle while I'm shopping. Plus, during flu and cold season, that closeness allows me too move quickly and be done in no time, making for less time in a busy supermarket.

I'll admit I was skeptical at first, but now, I love it. I couldn't imagine life without my baby being worn on me. As an owner of a Beco, Ergo, and Moby Wrap, I say give it a shot, you have nothing to lose! Maybe you'll find the love of babywearing as I have!

They are now offering places to rent different styles so that you can learn what you love before purchasing them. Plus, the website will give you the opportunity to learn more about each style and the different perks to each one. Try going to Granola Babies for more information on renting a carrier.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week!

Ok, honestly, I think that if you are a breastfeeding mom, it should be celebrated on a daily basis. There is nothing better for baby. Nothing compares to the bond that you get from having your baby placed on your chest for the first time and watching her do the breast crawl. That was probably the most amazing thing I have seen. I gave birth to my 4th child via c-section, so getting her placed on my chest as soon as I got to recovery was important to me, and the hospital knew it and they complied. The nurse was great. She put Emmaleigh on my bare chest and said "Now, you just watch" and Emmaleigh slowly lifted her minutes old head up, and inched her way towards my breast to latch on! That will be forever etched in my mind.
My daughter is now nearly 1 year old, still nursing at least 4 times a day, plus during the night. I am one tired mama! lol I've wanted to quit many times. After taking domperidone to up my supply for a few months, to pumping while I returned to my part time job for a few months. Having my husband feed her with a baby medicine dropper because she was too stubborn to take a bottle- yes, ridiculous!! I think I've drinken more water than anyone should in a lifetime. I've had my fair share of lactation cookies that I honestly don't care if I ever see those things again! But, even with all my problems, I am glad I made it to a year. I've tried to be a witness to those struggling with first time breastfeeding, or those having issues. Lord knows I've had my share of issues as well.
This week marks World Breastfeeding Week. How will you celebrate your breastfeeding experience? I challange you to help a new mom, or give information to a pregnant mom. We need to make a stand for a baby friendly world.
All week I will be posting various breastfeeding topics and information. I hope that it will encourage you to keep breastfeeding, or give you the information you need to make an informed decision during your pregnancy!