Saturday, 6 September 2014
Have you ever seen your child doubled over with laughter watching someone else and wondered why you can’t get him to produce the same belly laugh at home? Me too. I am lucky enough to live in the DC area, which one of the country’s best children’s entertainers, The Great Zucchini, calls home. If you haven’t heard of him yet look out for an upcoming show on FX about him called The Great Zucchini.
There are several ways to add laughter into your home that are so easy and don’t take long. Also, when a child is sad, or is having a temper tantrum, humor can make him smile. After too many times watching The Great Zucchini, also known as Eric Knaus, make my children laugh in a way I never could I sat down with him to get some tips. Here are some of my favorites!
Children usually understand when something isn’t right and they love telling you about it. They can feel empowered by being able to communicate that they know something isn’t quite the way it should be.
There are many ways to do this. When Eric stands in front of a child at his show and pretends not to be able to find them children often crack up and say “I’m right here!”
Pretend to lose kids again and again and they love it. This can be done in various ways at home. For example, at the kitchen table wait for Max to sit down then say, “We can’t start until Max sits down” and walk around kitchen looking for him.
Another way to empower children to let you know something is wrong is to do a running gag of pretending to pour different juices into cereal instead of milk. Children will laugh and correct you at the same time. Another take on this idea is that when the phone rings, pick up a random object (shoe, spoon, etc.) and say hello. Children will laugh, and tell you “That’s not the phone!”
A great trick to getting children to laugh is a take on hide-and-seek. Pretend to do a magic trick to get an object to disappear, hide the object somewhere easily discoverable such as behind your back or under your shirt, and let your child discover it. After your child finds the object, pretend to be flustered, and try it again.
When playing hide and go seek, lift up ridiculous object to hide behind, like chair or a piece of paper. Your child will love finding you and think you’re not a very good hider.
Pretending you do not know where common items go or where they can be found will get kids laughing as well. Put milk back in cabinet and let kids tell you where it goes. Pretend that you can’t find a fork to use to eat, and pick up different items to use instead such as your phone or the remote. You can also pretend to fall asleep randomly in the house.
Try these tricks at home and you will quickly become your child’s new favorite entertainer!
Thursday, 4 September 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
• 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
• 1⁄2 cup of cooked brown rice (optional)
• 4 burrito-sized tortillas (can use gluten free tortilla like brown rice tortilla)
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!
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, butyou 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
• 1 cup blueberries
• 7 oz organic vanilla yogurt
• 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 2 tbsp orange juice
• 1⁄2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 tbsp raw local honey
• 1⁄2 cup ice
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
• 1 cup frozen berries
• 1 cup steamed broccoli
• 1 cup 100% cranberry juice
• 1⁄4 cup organic plain yogurt
• 4 ice cubes
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.
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.
Sunday, 31 August 2014
I’m a stay-at-home dad; and having both a 5 year old and 11month old daughter means that I need parent gadgets for all sorts of things! The age of my kids presents a unique situation when it comes to taking them out. Obviously the baby needs to be carried, but though my 5 year old is very independent, she does get tired, especially when being dragged out for ‘errand day.’
My old stroller was pretty high tech and accommodating, but it was big, clunky, hard to store and travel with, and most of all,y wife hated it! With my new TooFold from Joovy, I get the portability of a cheap collapsible stroller with all the high tech functionality that I need! It’s light, it folds down easily, it has a rugged design with large rear wheels and front shocks, and you will really turn heads when people see it quickly extend to feature a rear pad for a toddler to ride on!
I’ve included a video demonstrating how fast I can have this thing out of the vehicle and set up for use! It’s a game changer. I could go on and on about this stroller, but you really don’t understand how cool it is until you handle one! The only thing it lacks is storage, but when you think about it, if it had all the extra storage, it wouldn’t be as easy to use and store.
Watch the Video here —> Video
Joovy Dad & MommyCon Chicago Attendee, Andrew Mugnolo
Friday, 29 August 2014
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.
Friday, 22 August 2014
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.”