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What Every Expectant Mother Should Know…

Well…Baby #3 is going to be joining our family Thanksgiving 2017 and we are pretty excited and nervous all bundled into one at the thought of going from 2 to 3 kiddos. We have always wanted a bit of a larger family and 4 was always our “perfect” number. After being blessed with two beautiful baby girls, we were pretty certain that 4 may not be in our future but 3 was a must! So…here we are!

Having been through this 2 previous times now, I do have some advice for us mommas…

1. When people ask if your child sleeps through the night, just lie and say yes. It helps you avoid all that sleep advice.

2. It’s okay to mourn your old life and think, “Dear God what have we done!”

3. Ask for help. Accept help when offered.

4. Supermom doesn’t exist.

5. Ask yourself whether what you are upset about will be important in five years or even in five minutes.

6. You’re not a bad mom if you don’t love every single stage of child-rearing.

7. Don’t try to accomplish too much in any given day. Aim for one thing: grocery shopping, unloading the dishwasher, a walk around the block. But not all three.

8. Read your baby, not your baby book. You are enough.

9. You’ll never look back and wish you held your baby less.

10. It’s perfectly okay to abandon a shopping cart full of groceries if your baby gets fussy.

11. Buy a pair of nice cotton pajamas and wear them for two weeks after birth to remind your family that you’re still recovering. (And to remind your husband that you’re not back to your bouncy self!)

12. Don’t compare your chaotic, sleepless life to other “edited” versions.

13. Just when you think you’ve reached the best milestone with your baby, it keeps getting better.

14. Beware of everyone who wants to tell you the right way to do things: breast feeding, foods, sleeping arrangements. They all want to sell you something.

15. It’s okay to cry. And it’s okay to be tired. Take a moment, recharge, and bury your face in your baby’s neck. Breathe him in and stop for a moment, counting to ten. And then suddenly, it’s all okay again. Repeat as necessary. 

16. Airline attendants tell the adult passengers to put their own oxygen masks on before helping small children. It’s okay to let a baby cry for two minutes if you need to pee or to make a sandwich.

17. You’re a good mom if you’re doing your best. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not.

18. If you breast feed, bite on a leather belt before you chip a tooth from the initial pain.

19. Walk. With the baby. Even it’s just to the corner. The fresh air will do you both good.

20. The days are long but the years are short.

21. This too shall pass.

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Water Safety

Summer is coming and so is bathing suit season! If you are anything like my family, you can’t wait to hit the beaches or swimming pools this summer. But…being aware of your surroundings is key to keeping everyone safe.

Growing up, I never was big into swimming. In fact, I don’t even know how to swim…that well. When I enter a swimming pool, the thought of water approaching my shoulders and chin gives me the chills. Once I had kids, I was determined to make sure they were placed into swimming lessons and excelled at something I never mastered. Here are some facts and tips around water safety that I think are important to know as a parent of young kids.

The Hard Facts

Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 – 4 years old. Children less than a year old are more likely to drown at home in the bathroom or a bucket.

Top Tips

  1. Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted. Keep young children within arm’s reach of an adult.
  2. Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after use. Store them upside down so they don’t collect water.
  3. Close toilet lids and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
  4. Install fences around home pools. A pool fence should surround all sides of the pool and be at least four feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates.
  5. Know what to do in an emergency. Learning CPR and basic water rescue skills may help you save a life.

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5 “MUST HAVE” Bath Time Products Under $5

I don’t know about you, but I am continuously changing out bath toys as they get mildew stains, bitten, gross, etc. from wear and tear. I have found some inexpensive MUST HAVE bath toys that won’t break the bank and are easily disposed of, don’t take up a ton of room, and the kids LOVE playing with!

  1. Glow Sticks-You can go to any dollar store and get gobs of glow sticks for just a couple of dollars. Wait until bedtime, draw a bath for the littles, and allow them to play with the glow sticks in the dark. Want to spice it up even more? Add bubbles to the water as well.
  2. The Barbie Boat! Take 2 bottles and cut a hole out of each for Barbie to sit in, tie the 2 bottles together and Tad ah…Barbie now has a speed boat to travel around the tub in with her best friend! 
  3. Buy a pool noodle or two from the dollar store, cut them up and throw them in the tub! Oodles of FUN in the tub!                                                                   
  4. Craft Foam Bath-Take craft foam from the dollar store and cut into various shapes. Have the kids design monsters, dolls, houses, gardens, trucks, etc. out of them in the tub. 
  5. Bath Paint-1 tablespoon cornstarch, 4-6 pumps baby shampoo, 2-3 drops food coloring, 1-2 teaspoons water = Bathtub Paint                                                       
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Does My Child Have a Developmental Delay?

“He hasn’t rolled over yet?”

“Aren’t kids usually talking by now?”

People may not mean to be insensitive when they ask you questions like these. But it can still be upsetting to see other kids passing milestones before your child does.

Not meeting these types of milestones isn’t always a sign that your child has a developmental delay. If it turns out he does have a delay, however, getting supports and services early may help him catch up more quickly.

Basics About Development and Delays

Kids don’t develop skills on a strict timetable. For example, some babies start walking as young as 9 months, while others don’t take their first steps until 15 months. Both of those babies are within the range of typical development. Those types of short-lived delays—when kids catch up on their own—aren’t usually cause for concern.

But a developmental delay is more than just being “slower to develop” or “a little behind.” It means your child is continually behind in skills other kids his age have.

For example, a baby who isn’t rolling over by 4 months may be just a little behind in that one skill. But if he also isn’t able to hold his head up and push up when lying on his tummy, he’s behind in more than one motor skill. That’s a sign of a developmental delay. (If you’re noticing this in your child, there are many ways to help.)

Five Areas of Skill Development and Possible Delay

A developmental delay can occur in just one area or in a few. A global developmental delay is when kids have delays in at least two areas.

Kids develop skills in five main areas of development:

  1. Cognitive (or thinking) skills: This is the ability to think, learn and solve problems. In babies, this looks like curiosity. It’s how your child explores the world around him with his eyes, ears and hands. In toddlers, it also includes things like learning to count, naming colors and learning new words.
  2. Social and emotional skills: This is the ability to relate to other people such as being able to express and control emotions. In babies, it means smiling at others and making sounds to communicate. In toddlers and preschoolers, it means being able to ask for help, show and express feelings and get along with others.
  3. Speech and language skills: This is the ability to use and understand language. For babies, this includes cooing and babbling. In older children, it includes understanding what’s said and using words correctly and in ways that others can understand.
  4. Fine and gross motor skills: This is the ability to use small muscles, particularly in the hands, and large muscles in the body. Babies use fine motor skills to grasp objects. Toddlers and preschoolers use them to do things like hold utensils, work with objects and draw. Babies use gross motor skills to sit up, roll over and begin to walk. Older children use them to do things like jump, run and climb stairs.
  5. Activities of daily living: This is the ability to handle everyday tasks. For children, that includes eating, dressing and bathing themselves.

There is no one cause of developmental delays, but some risk factors include:

  • Complications at birth: Being born too early (prematurely); low birth weight; not getting enough oxygen at birth.
  • Environmental issues: Lead poisoning; poor nutrition; exposure to alcohol or drugs before birth; difficult family situations; trauma.
  • Other medical conditions: Chronic ear infections; vision problems; illnesses, conditions, or injuries that have a significant and long-term effect on a child’s day-to-day activities.

If your child is showing signs of a developmental delay in any of the areas mentioned above, it is important to get him evaluated by the pediatrician and start interventions as soon as possible for the best possible outcome.

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Meal Planning with Kids + a Kid-Friendly Meal Plan

I LOVE eating healthy and challenging myself to feed my family right. My main motivation in writing this blog this morning is to help make natural & healthy living easier for other families. Certainly, this job is easier said than done, and getting kids to actually eat the healthy foods we prepare can be difficult.

I’ve also found that having kids help with acquiring the food (through gardening and shopping) and preparing the food with kid-appropriate tasks like chopping with a crinkle cutter, stirring food or helping serve goes a long way toward helping my kids want to eat the food I prepare.

I’ve been meal planning for quite a while now because it helps me save time and money in the kitchen. I have seasonal meal plans for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter that I rotate with the seasons, but I try to let my children get involved in the meal planning each season so they have a vested interest in eating the food.

Here is a kid-friendly meal plan that is sure to please all kids.

Monday: Beef and Broccoli Chinese Stir Fry

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yield 4 -6

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of thinly sliced strip or sirloin steak
  • 2 lbs of broccoli, cauliflower or mixed
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp Cicinut Aminos (similar to soy sauce)
  • 3 Tbsp oyster or fishsauce
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • arrowroot to thicken
  • Sesame seeds (optional-topping)

Instructions

  1. Marinate beef in coconut aminos at least 10 minutes or as long as overnight
  2. Cook broccoli in lightly salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes until slightly tender, pour into strainer to remove any excess liquid
  3. While cooking broccoli, combine coconut aminos, fish sauce and broth in bowl or shake in canning jar until well-mixed, set aside.
  4. Drain any liquid off beef and put into pre-heated skillet or wok with butter
  5. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so
  6. Add sliced onion and garlic, cook 2 minutes
  7. Add broccoli, cook one additional minute
  8. Pour sauce over until just heated.
  9. Top with sesame seeds if desired.

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cuisine chinese

Tuesday: Healthy Gluten Free Homemade Pizza-Meatza! (sounds weird, but you will like it!) with Salad

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yield 6 +

Upside down pizza with a meat crust is a more filling and gluten and grain free way to make pizza.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • Seasonings of choice (I suggest basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and other herbs)
  • Meat topping of choice (optional- I’ve used scrambled sausage, bacon, ham, leftover chicken, etc.)
  • ½ lb Mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
  • Jar or Pasta/Pizza sauce
  • Chopped veggies of choice (onion, bell pepper, spinach, olives, mushrooms, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. In medium bowl, mix 2 lbs ground beef with eggs and 2 T Parmesan cheese and any desired spices
  3. Mix well by hand until incorporated
  4. Spread onto greased cookie sheet (must have a lip on the sides)
  5. Roll or press the meat onto the bottom of the cookie sheet by hand. Once oven has preheated, put meat on cookie sheet into oven and cook about ten minutes until browned and most moisture has cooked off. It will reduce in size quite a bit! Just make sure it is cooked enough, you want it pretty solid.
  6. Remove from oven and put oven on broil
  7. Spread pasta/pizza sauce over “crust” then top with veggies, meat then mozzarella. I recommend putting some very thinly sliced onions on the top (uncooked) which brown nicely and add a nice crunch.
  8. Put back into oven under broiler and watch closely. It will only need to cook 4-5 minutes. Cook until cheese is lightly brown and bubbly.
  9. Remove, let cool 3 minutes, slice and serve. This is also really good cold for lunch the next day (or breakfast!) It has a similar texture to real pizza and tastes better, in my opinion.
  10. Serve with Salad

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Wednesday: Grilled Citrus Chicken Salad with Egg, Cucumber and Apple

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yield 2 +

A delicious salad with grilled chicken, cucumbers, extra protein from eggs and a hint of citrus.

Ingredients

  • 2 (or more for leftovers) large chicken breasts (or 4 thighs)
  • 1 orange, lime or lemon
  • Spices
  • 1 Chopped cucumber
  • 1 apple, peeled, sliced and chopped
  • 1/2 cup slice strawberries (optional)
  • 2 or more hardboiled eggs
  • lettuce or spinach for salad
  • homemade dressing of choice

Instructions

  1. Bake Chicken in oven for approx 1 hour (or slice and pan fry) with sliced orange, lemon or lime and spices on top (salt, pepper, cilantro, garlic, etc) or just sprinkle some lemon juice on for flavor
  2. Hard boil 2 (or more for leftovers) eggs and let cool
  3. Prepare lettuce or spinach in bowls
  4. Chop cucumber, apple and other veggies if desired and put on lettuce
  5. Prepare homemade dressing of choice (last week’s meal plan has these)
  6. When chicken is done, slice or cube and put on top of salad
  7. Top with dressing

Thursday: Crockpot Barbecue Ribs with Sweet Potato fries and homemade coleslaw or salad

(Note: this meal is best made in the morning for eating in the evening so they can be slow cooked)

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yield 4 +

These delicious slow cooker ribs are simple to prepare and a great meal to come home to on a busy day.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of beef or pork ribs, cut every 3-4 ribs to fit in crock pot
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce (make sure it’s grain free. I think Lea and Perrins is)
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 cup honey or molasses (optional)- can also use a dash of stevia

Instructions

  1. Dice the onion and place at the bottom of a crock pot (at least 6 quarts!).
  2. Sprinkle the garlic and chili powders, salt and pepper on the ribs an put them in the crock pot also.
  3. Mix the tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, worcestershire, liquid smoke and sweetener if using and then pour evenly over the ribs.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until tender.
  5. Toss in sauce before serving.

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Friday: Curried Shrimp and Vegetables

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yield 4 +

This curried shrimp and vegetable stir fry is a quick and simple meal idea for a busy night and it goes from frozen to finished in 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb shrimp (frozen or fresh, tails removed)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 T butter or coconut oil
  • 1-3 tsp of curry powder (if you don’t like this, just sauté the shrimp in butter and add spices you do like)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (can or carton)
  • 1 bag frozen cauliflower or other frozen veggies of choice

Instructions

  1. Melt butter or oil in skillet and add sliced onion
  2. Cook until slightly soft and add coconut milk, curry seasoning and other spices if desired
  3. Cook a couple minutes to incorporate flavors
  4. Add shrimp (thaw if frozen) and cook approximately 5 minutes until shrimp are cooked
  5. Serve with steamed veggies of choice topped with butter and salad with homemade dressing

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Saturday: Stuffed Peppers with Guacamole and Salad

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yield 4 +

Simple and delicious stuffed peppers with ground meat, onions, garlic, tomato, zucchini and eggs are a protein-packed meal idea.

Ingredients

  • At least 2 Bell peppers (any color)- I suggest making 4 for leftovers
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped, or garlic powder
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or 1 fresh diced) (and any other veggies you would like to “hide”
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 raw eggs
  • Spices of choice (I used cumin, chili, garlic, salt, pepper, cilantro, etc)
  • Avocado or pre-made guacamole
  • Salad or veggie of choice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Brown meat in large skillet, add onion and garlic and cook 4 minutes, add zucchini and cook another 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, add tomatoes, spices and eggs and mix well
  4. Cut tops off peppers but keep them. Scoop out seeds and spoon meat mixture into peppers (if you are only making 2, you will have extra meat, just make into meat type balls and cook with it)
  5. Bake in oven 30-40 minutes in glass baking dish until well heated and peppers are slightly browned. Keep an eye on them, this can happen fast.
  6. Top with guacamole and serve with salad.

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Sunday: Healthy Shepherd/Cottage Pie

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yield 6 +

Shepherds pie with a cauliflower topping instead of the traditional potato topping to sneak in some extra vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 2 (or more) pounds of ground beef, turkey or other meat
  • 2-3 heads of cauliflower or 3-4 bags of frozen cauliflower
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed veggies (no corn! It’s not a veggie!)
  • 1-2 onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon each of basil, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and a little cayenne
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of butter
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese (optional)
  • Cheese to top (optional)

Instructions

  1. Brown meat in large skillet and season to taste when cooked. Set aside.
  2. Saute diced onion in skillet until somewhat soft. Set aside with meat.
  3. Pour mixed veggies in the skillet to heat on low heat and in the meantime…
  4. In large pot, boil several cups of water. Add cauliflower, cover, and cook until soft enough to mash.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat, pour off the water, and add butter and cream cheese to the pot.
  6. Add spices and mash. (I use a hand blender to make it really smooth).
  7. Mixed veggies should be cooked by now.
  8. Mix the meat, onions mixed veggies, raw egg and any additional seasonings and put in bottom of 9×13 baking dish.
  9. Spread mashed cauliflower mixture over it until smooth.
  10. Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes.
  11. Add cheese and bake 5 additional minutes (optional).
  12. Serve warm (or reheat later).

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Healthy Meal Plan Shopping List

This shopping list contains all the ingredients for the above recipes for 2-3 people for a week. Double or triple for a bigger family. I usually double dinner recipes to have leftovers for lunch, and buy a lot of lettuce and spinach to make salads with lunch. Make sure you have enough eggs, and you have easy leftover omelets for breakfast each day.

Meat

  • 3-4 lbs beef ribs (or roast or stew meat)
  • 4 (or more) lbs ground beef
  • 1 lb ground sausage
  • 2 (or more) large chicken breasts
  • 1 lb flank steak (or more)
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen shrimp (no tails)
  • 1 package bacon

Produce

  • 4 or more large bell peppers
  • bag of onions
  • 2 (or more) medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cabbage or shredded coleslaw bag mix
  • bag of grapes
  • 2 heads fresh broccoli (must be fresh)-for snack salad
  • bag of apples
  • mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 orange, lemon or lime (optional)
  • 1 (or more) cucumber
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • avocado or pre-made guacamole (check ingredients!)
  • strawberries (optional)

Frozen

  • 2 bags frozen broccoli
  • 3 bags frozen cauliflower
  • 1 bag mixed veggies, no corn

Dairy

  • 1 pound butter (organic is best)-or more
  • mozzarella cheese (optional)-but for Pizza
  • 3 dozen eggs (not dairy, I know, but in the same area)
  • 8 ounces or more plain, full fat unsweetened yogurt
  • carton of unsweetened coconut milk (or can get in can)

Other

  • snack foods of choice
  • olive oil for salad dressings if desired
  • 1 can or jar diced tomatoes
  • curry seasoning (optional)
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • big jar of tomato sauce (or can) no seasonings added
  • jar of pasta/pizza sauce (check ingredients)
  • honey or molasses (optional-for barbecue sauce)
  • can of coconut milk (or fresh)
  • lemon juice

Snack options: nuts of choice, more eggs for deviled eggs, avocado or guacamole (highly recommend), tuna, canned wild caught salmon, almond butter, celery, apples, cream cheese, cucumbers, etc.

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Staying Active With Your Kids on Rainy Days

I don’t know about you but winter/ grey skies/ rain/ etc. gets me into a FUNK! I could just wrap up in an overly soft blanket with a good book and read my day away…and then there are kids 5 and under…which want nothing to do with sitting still and reading books all day under a blanket. Humph! What is a momma to do?

Here are some suggestions on those dreadful winter days that can entertain the littles without much prep work.