Friday, 5 September 2014

School is Back in Session¦Are you Challenging Yourself?

I always get so excited for back to school. The kids are learning new things and I always like to challenge myself with something new too. This year, I am working on creating good habits. My newest challenge is training for a half marathon. This is funny because I am not even a runner! I am starting from scratch! I was inspired by my sister in law, Beth, and my friend and training partner, Heather… thank you ladies! What I love about the training is the training app on my iPhone.   When I wake up everyday it tells me what to do.   Now that I have told the whole world, I hope I can make it!

My second challenge for the month of September is organization. I am a very organized person but every summer things go wild. All the closets need to be tackled, my desk and files are a wreck and my to do list is about a mile long. I am planning to spend a little time each day organizing.  I hope to be finished by September 30, after several trash bins are filled up and many runs are made to the donation drop. Each week I am going to focus on one area. Next week I will begin with my desk and files. This is going to be a big project. Wish me luck!

 

What are your goals for back to school month?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Getting Families Eating Habits Back On Track

Everyone wants their kids to eat better, but it can be hard to make that happen. After one too many Mac n Cheese dinner I thought it was time to seek out professional help. I found a busy mother just like me who would understand the obstacles I face to getting heathy food on the table. I turned to the founder of Mai Health Now, LLC, Certified Health Counselor and Wellness speaker Mai Trinh Joubert.

7-365 natural treasure - ice pops on the coldest day of the year are a treasure!-2

Like me, Mai is a harried working mother of three young children. However, unlike me, she is able to prepare healthy meals that her children actually eat and enjoy every day so I knew she was the right person to consult to get practical advice on how to prepare quick and easy healthy meals and snacks that appeal to young children on the go — and their busy parents.

robeks

As a mother, Mai is able to test her recipes on her family to be sure they will be a hit with children and parents alike. Mai offered a sampling of recipes that are both kid-approved and quick to prepare.

Breakfast:

Oatmeal is a fast and easy breakfast to prepare that will give your kids a good start to their day. You can even prepare a big batch on Sunday night then heat up smaller portions every morning during the morning rush. Preparing your oatmeal with milk instead of water gives your kids some extra calcium.

baby smoothie (1)

Although the old standby for oatmeal toppings is raisins with a bit of brown sugar, you can change what you add to your oatmeal every few days so your kids don’t get bored. Some options are dried apples, dried coconut, walnuts, raw almonds and omega-3 rich chia seeds. Fresh blueberries with a dash of almond milk and a dash of raw local honey is a winning combo most kids will love. 100% maple syrup with generous helping of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg is another combo that is a hit with kids.

Lunch:

Wraps make a quick lunch that kids enjoy. This one is a hit in Mai’s house.

Mai’s Sunflower Wrap

Spread sunflower butter on a whole wheat, brown rice, or gluten free tortilla. Add a touch of raw honey with a sprinkle of chia seeds for crunch and a dose of mega 3s. Roll it up. Serve with an organic cheese and stick side of fruit.

Clementines or fresh grapes are healthy choices kids love. This lunch is easy to prepare and packs well.

It contains have a complex carb, a dietary fiber, and a protein to help gets make it through the day.

Snack: Kale is a nutrient-dense food that packs a lot of punch. It is a great choice for all kids, but works

especially well for those kids who pick at their food or prefer to snack. Rather than asking kids to scarf down another green, you can sell this recipe to your kids as chips, which most kids think of as a treat. It takes very little time to prepare and can be stored after baking, giving you a week’s worth of snacks to pack for lunch.

Mai’s Asian Baked Kale Chips (small children approved)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rip stems off a bag of fresh Kale. Tear Kale in small pieces.

Throw stems away. Drizzle sesame oil on foiled baking pan. Place kale pieces on pan. Drizzle sesame oil and Braggs Amino Acid (naturally fermented soy sauce — a little goes a long way) on kale pieces. Mix sauce and kale with hand so that kale is evenly covered. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes depending on your preference of crunchiness. Serve and eat!

Dinner

This is a quick and easy, and totally yummy, kid-friendly dinner recipe that serves up veggies and protein in way kids will love.

Mai’s Banging Black Bean Quesadilla Recipe:

Total Prep And Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Yield: 4 Servings or 4 quesadillas

Ingredients:

1 can or 2 cups of cooked black beans*

1/8 tsp of cumin

Squeeze of lime (optional)

1/3 cup salsa, as you like it

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 small Roma tomatoes, diced

2 cups of chopped baby spinach

1 cup shredded cheese or non-dairy cheese

2 cup of cooked brown rice (optional)

4 burrito-sized tortillas (can use gluten free tortilla like brown rice tortilla)

 

Directions:

1. Mash the beans, brown rice (optional) and stir in the salsa, cilantro, and tomatoes

2. Squeeze lime in mixture (optional)

3. Spread 1/2 cup of the bean mixture on one half of each tortilla

4. Top each tortilla with spinach and cheese

5. Fold each tortilla in half

6. Cook on medium heat, one or two at a time ona large skillet, turning to brown both sides.

7. The quesadillas are done when they are browned on both sides and the cheese is melted

*Note: If you’re going to soak and cook beans, do this overnight and save the rest for soup later!

 

robeks-3

Smoothies

All kids love smoothies and they are a quick and easy way to get lots of fruit (and even some veggies)

into your kids at one time. Smoothies make a great snack and can be served as breakfast in warm weather. Fresh or frozen fruit can be used. Here are two recommended by Mai especially for kids, but you can experiment with different combinations. Try giving your smoothies fun names like the Punchy

 

Purple Monster for a smoothie that features blueberries or Razzle Dazzle Red for a smoothie made with strawberries. A green smoothie could be sold as Yoda’s favorite drink for Star Wars fans and or one of Tinkerbelle’s favorites for fans of the green-clad fairy. A little marketing goes a long way with kids.

Mai Blue for You Smoothie

Total Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Yield: 2 Servings

Ingredients:

1 cup blueberries

7 oz organic vanilla yogurt

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp orange juice

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp raw local honey

2 cup ice

Directions:

Place everything except ice into a blender and pulse a few times until blended. Add ice, cover and blend on high until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Blueberries are a superfood with high anitioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium and vitamin C. They help fight heart disease and cancer and are anti-inflammatory to keep illness away.

Mai Brocco Power Berry Fruit Smoothie

Total Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Yield: 2 Servings

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen berries

1 cup steamed broccoli

1 cup 100% cranberry juice

1/4 cup organic plain yogurt

4 ice cubes

Directions:

Place everything except ice into a blender and mix until well-mixed. Add ice, cover and blend on high until smooth. Add honey or agave nectar if you want more sweetness or use vanilla yogurt instead of plain. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Broccoli is a great source of healthy portions of calcium, fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. It has many cancer-fighting properties and is especially beneficial in preventing bowel cancers. Steamed broccoli mellows out the taste and is sweetened by fresh fruit!

Hopefully these recipes will give you a good start on getting your entire family on the path to healthier eating. If you are interested in learning more about how you can make sure 2013 is the year your family eats better, visit Mai’s website at www.maihealthnow.com for more recipes and tips. Mai is available for consultations or to help you plan meals even the pickiest eaters will enjoy. She also speaks to groups throughout the DC Area about eating better and boosting energy. For those who need a little more help in the kitchen, Mai conducts cooking demonstrations.

making pizza and cake-3

 

Focusing on making changes that are sustainable will help ensure that you and your family can enjoy the benefits of healthy eating throughout 2013 and beyond. With just a little guidance and a little effort, you too can get your kids to trade in cookies for kale and put them on the path to a lifetime of healthy eating.

Jamie Smith

Friday, 29 August 2014

Importance of Family Dinners

I came across a quote from Ronald Reagan that I wanted to share with you.

 

All great change in America begins at the dinner table.

 

I love this quote and I am a big believer in family dinners. Today there is so much written about the importance of sitting down at the table and eating together as a family. It is a constant challenge in our home with my husband’s work and travel schedule and the children’s sports and activities.

 

I grew up in a very busy household with two parents who worked fulltime and sometimes beyond.  My brother and I played sports among a list of many other activities. The funny thing is that I don’t remember NOT eating together at the table. Many times it was crockpot meals or casseroles or sometimes it was even eating the $5 papa platter special at Papa Gino’s but we always sat down together.

 

Last week I stated in my post that one of my personal goals this school year is to make delicious dinners for my family. I am not abandoning this goal but I am going to take a little pressure off myself. Dinner doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal every night. It can be simple. It can be soup and salad, take out, or a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. The most important thing is to set the table, sit down and eat as a family.

 

If my mom could do it working full time, I can certainly do it as a stay at home mom. I remember making fun of my mom because she spent so much time cooking and freezing on the weekends. Now I know it was her planning that made our family dinners possible. I am going to accomplish this by scheduling just three to five nights a week when everyone can sit down together. Hopefully this will be one of the habits my children will carry on as adults.

 

I challenge all of you to sit down together this new school year. Let’s see where it takes us.

 

IMG_3960

Friday, 22 August 2014

Happy New Year¦ I mean, Back to School!

 

 

As a stay at home mom, this time of the year feels like the start of a new year. After a wild summer, it is a time to regroup and set goals not only for the children but for me as well. It is a little more radical for me this year, as my youngest will begin full time kindergarten. This will be the first year that I drive through the morning carpool lane and ALL my kids will hop out of the car.   Yahoo! I am sure I may shed a quick tear but he is ready to go to school and I am ready too.

 

Several people have asked me when I will go back to work.   This is a sensitive subject for me. I love staying home with our kids but I’ve always struggled with not working. While I haven’t had an “official” job, as many of you know that stay home, I’ve been working my bottom off the last 10+ years. They say watch what you wish for and now I am at a point where I may have some time to work and I am not sure that is what I want to do.

 

Last week I attended a birthday party for one of Bob’s future kinder classmates.   Attending the party were many mothers that will be sending their last child off to school. The conversations were interesting. Almost everyone I spoke with was planning a new adventure from running a half marathon to joining a tennis team to putting more hours in at the office.

 

There are two things that I know I want to do, make delicious dinners and exercise. I want the kids and my husband to come home at the end of the day to a calm and peaceful home. This may seem simple to you unless you understand the chaos that occurs between 3pm and bedtime in most homes.

 

I want the time after school with my kids and husband to be enjoyable. I want to embrace my stay at home status. As James M Barrie once said, “The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.”

 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Summer Through the Eyes of Our Children

This summer has been an interesting one. This is the first summer that all of our children are really appreciating and enjoying summer vacation. To the children, it’s been a true break from school and all activities. There has been no piano practiced, no workbook pages completed and no alarm clocks set. We’ve had a wonderful summer of staying up late, sleeping in, attending a few camps, traveling, going to the beach and pool with friends and family. It’s nice to slow down and enjoy the simple moments in life.

 

As the end of summer is almost here, I find my emotions are torn between the simpler side of summer and getting back into the routine of the school year.

 

I’ll end with a quote from Dr. Suess, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

 

Please share summer of your favorite summer moments with us!

 

IMG_3009

IMG_2944

 

IMG_3021 IMG_5381 IMG_5354

Friday, 8 August 2014

Be Mindful of the Habits you are Teaching Your Children

Last weekend we had dinner with old friends. They are at a different stage of life. They are almost empty nesters. One son graduated from Boston University in May and one son is half way through college. It was interesting to listen to their summer adventures. They have been a bed and breakfast for many of the boy’s friends throughout the summer. They truly enjoy it. They were saying how it was interesting that with all the visitors, the boys still get up first thing in the morning and exercise. Our friends believe this is because that is what they have always done. For as long as the boys can remember, the parents have gotten up early and exercised. What a great habit!

 

This story got me thinking about our family and the habits we are creating, some good and some not so good. The dictionary defines habit as, an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street. There are countless books on the market about habits. Habits are important. You may not even realize something you do is a habit but if you do it everyday or most days, it is a habit. When children are young, we create basic habits such as eating, sleeping and potty training. As children grow, it’s brushing their teeth, doing homework, and household chores. Children are constantly watching us and learning from our behaviors. Do you exercise every day? Do you cook or bake a lot? Do you clean up after yourself? Do you sit down to eat dinner as a family? Do you kiss your spouse goodbye and hello? Do you read books? Do you eat ice cream directly out of the container? Do you watch movies? Do you spend time with your friends? Do you call your parents on the phone? Whatever the answers are to these questions, your children are watching you.

 

After our dinner, I watched our children for the next few days. They have many good habits and a few bad habits. This inspired me to adjust some of my own habits.

 

Can you see your habits developing in your children?

Friday, 1 August 2014

America The Beautiful¦Have you seen it?

Summer was quickly approaching. My friends planned summer trips to Israel, Turkey, England, and Italy. My stepdaughter prepared for a European vacation. I planned a trip to a family reunion in Kirksville Missouri.   Even though I knew a trip to Europe was not fiscally possible, part of me wished for one as I listened to my friends share their plans. When asked what we were doing, I quietly said we were driving to a family reunion. At the time, I couldn’t get excited about it. It didn’t sound very glamorous.

 

Summer arrived and off we went on our two-week road trip. Our first stop was the Grand Canyon. I had no idea how beautiful and overwhelming it would be. The word grand doesn’t come close to describing the experience. The countless stars we saw that first night was like nothing my children had seen before. We are lucky if we can pick a few stars out of the sky where we live. From there we went to Lake Powell. I like to describe it as the Grand Canyon filled up with water. We met several Navajo Indians that still speak their native language and that really impressed our children. Then it was off to Four Corners. Although there was not much natural beauty to speak of, the expression our daughter’s face lit up the landscape as she said it was very cool to stand in four states at the same time. It was in the car again and off to Mesa Verde National Park. It was yet another breathtaking and amazing part of American History as we stepped back in time. Our next stop was Durango Colorado and it was beautiful, peaceful, and so green after driving through the Arizona desert. I decided that I could move there. As we drove across the Continental Divide I found myself singing “America, The Beautiful” because the song so perfectly describes our United States of America.

 

In the end, the experience was so much better than I imagined and seeing it through my children added special magic. We had two weeks of uninterrupted quality family time, we saw parts of the United States that we had never seen before, and it inspired us to do it all again next summer.

 

As a young girl, one of my goals was to travel the world and to set foot on every continent. I still have that goal but this trip inspired me to see my own country. I am a true patriot. I cry at the National Anthem, I cry when I see my Dad stand at attention for the National Anthem or Pledge to Allegiance and I think there is nothing more honorable than an individual that choses to join a branch of the military and defend our freedom.

 

I am sharing my new dream with you. I will see America. I will enjoy its beauty. I will share with my children the history and majesty or this country.

Have you seen America?  What is your favorite spot?

 

 

 

IMG_5168 IMG_5224 IMG_5153 IMG_5114

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Freedom Cyclers: Lasting Impact

When my husband’s cousin called us and asked if her college-age son and three of his friends could “crash” at our house for a few days because they were riding their bicycles across the country…I thought it was crazy.  We have a small house, we have three young children,  it was the last week of school, I just returned from a business trip and the list goes on and on…but we said yes.  It’s family and we always try to do everything we can for family.  The funny thing is that I had never met Jeff or any of his friends and my husband hadn’t seen him since he was a little boy.  We were in for a great adventure.

The “boys” arrived and spent three days with us.  First of all, let me say that these boys were thoughtful, intelligent, athletic, considerate, spiritual young men.  They were gearing up for a long summer of riding their bikes from Laguna Beach, CA to Savannah, GA for a cause.  They were riding for freedom (thefreedomcyclers.com) the end human slavery.  We were honored to be there for the beginning of their journey.  Our daughters were inspired by the fact that we opened our home and enjoyed getting to know the boys and hearing about their ride.  Our son, Bob, loved having four big brothers for a few days.  We thought we were going to lose him one day when we saw him in the driveway “tuning up” his bike…he said he was going with them.

Anyway, I was searching for something to watch on TV the other night when I came upon the movie, Yes Man.  It is a comedy with Jim Carey (not appropriate for children.)  In the movie, his character has to say “yes” to everything.  It is amazing where his “yes” journey takes him.  Sometimes I feel like I am saying “no” all the time (especially as a mom.)  Saying yes to The Freedom Cyclers staying with us enriched our lives and the lives of our children.  It was not an inconvenience, it was a blessing.

Here is my challenge for you, start with one day and just say “yes.”  I promise you that you will say yes to things that you think are crazy but at the end of the day, you will be happier and richer for the experience.

Ready, set, JUST SAY YES!

IMG_5071

Monday, 16 June 2014

Project Breastfeeding

Click the image to learn about Project Breastfeeding, a breastfeeding support group founded by Hector Cruz.
image (1)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

10 Ways Motherhood Has Changed Me

This guest post is brought to you by Jenny Schafer, senior editor of HerScoop and Celebrity Baby Scoop! Jenny is mom of 3 and well, please read on and see if you can relate even slightly to the way motherhood has changed her!

Since welcoming my first child in 2006, it seems I’ve morphed nicely into mommyhood.

I’m not one of those moms that talks about my children non-stop” not that my three kids (aged 3, 5 & 8) aren’t the cutest and most special humans on the planet!

But there is no question that my life has taken on new meaning and I’ve developed some strange new habits since becoming a mother.

So let’s take a look at the top 10 ways motherhood has changed me.

10. I am always at the grocery store.

The amount of milk I have purchased in the past eight years is alarming” I should’ve bought shares in our local dairy farm. Not only that, it’s pretty bad when you are always at the supermarket and know the employees by their first name, according to their specific departments. (By the way, what’s with all the hot guys working in the produce section?) Seriously though, sometimes just blasting the tunes while driving to the grocery store sans kids is the highlight of my week.

1345339932789_9912851

9. I drink copious amounts of coffee (errr, and wine).

I fancy myself a bit of a mombie these days. Sadly, the rigors of motherhood cause many of us to de-stress with copious amounts of caffeine during the day, followed by an evening glass of vino. Is this really healthy, amidst our kale smoothies and high-protein diets, fellow mombies?

970229_316360731832315_45989429_n-590x396

MORE: Do Moms Drink Too Much? Are We A Culture Of Mombies?

8. I’d rather get a good night’s sleep than stay out late.

Lord knows I love my GNOs, but these days I’m just as happy to stay home, change into my PJs by 7 p.m., and hit the sack by 9 – 9:30 at the latest. Sexy, I know! As it turns out, motherhood and maintaining everyday life (work, meal prep, cleaning, keeping the marriage strong, and everything else in between) is simply exhausting.

MjAxMi1jNTg2MjI1YWI5YjNkOGVm

MORE: The Top 5 Mom Excuses Redefined

7. My hair is a mess most of the time.

There’s nothing like embracing the aging process, eh ladies! Thanks to years of over-processing, my hair is a frizzy mess, making it easier to put back into a ponytail or messy bun most days. Pre-motherhood, I had the best hair on the block. I would simply factor in the time it took to work out the frizz before stepping out in style. Sigh

052112_global_frizzing_small

6. I sing made-up songs all day long.

As it turns out, I truly am turning into my mother. Whether I’m toasting a bagel, sweeping up the floor, or watching my kids run in the backyard you will hear me belt out an impromptu song about the occasion. Although practically tone deaf, my family has yet to abandon me for this newfound habit.

Screen-Shot-2012-04-20-at-12.05.49-PM

MORE: 10 Signs You Are Turning Into Your Mother

5. I believe strongly in self-care.

Since welcoming my babies and being faced with the hard work of motherhood, I’ve learned to take care of myself. Although a debated topic by some, I put myself first above the kids and the marriage. While some say I’m being selfish, it’s actually all about self-preservation. While completing my bachelor or social work in my university days, the concept of self-care was drilled into our heads. I am putting those valuable lessons into practice now that I’m a mother, with regular exercise, clean eating and at least 5 minutes of meditation every day. Not only that, I’m sure to keep my expectations at a minimum as it turns out, life is not a Ryan Gosling movie.

cuddle for dessert

MORE: Got Guilt? 4 Ways to Conquer Mommy Guilt

4. I realize how difficult it is to make new (& quality) friends.

Is it just me, or is it damn near impossible to find quality friendships these days? I have a dozen BFFs from my childhood and high school, but when it comes to making new mommy friends, I haven’t been so fortunate/ With two of my kids in school, you’d think I’d be fighting off the mommy friends with a stick. Not quite, even though I wear the required Luluemon uniform of overpriced yoga pants and uncomfortable hoodies. (I sense another blog/rant on this topic coming your way soon.)

MomToMom_003-pict

3. I don’t try so hard to be perfect.

Before I became a mother, I was the perfect parent. Truth is, I make mistakes, my house is a mess most of the time, and I always seem to be pissing someone off. And regardless of not being the coolest mommy on the block, my husband and kids think I’m pretty neat frizzy bun-head and all. While there’s a fine line between letting yourself go and simplifying your look, there’s also a balance between striving to be the perfect wife/mother/friend and just trying to do your best. Although I never want to quit learning and reaching for new goals, I’ve stopped trying to please everyone and comparing myself to other women and their seemingly perfect lives.