Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How to Wean Your Child (from TV)

My husband and I LOVE movies and TV. We love to read books and see how Hollywood butchers them. We watch TV and talk about them. We like to think we aren't just couch potatoes zoned out to the flashy box: we watch things that entertain us as a social topic. Before kids we could be found at the movie theater once a week. We knew what to expect for DVD release day Tuesday mornings. We didn't have cable (still don't) but that was so the budget could be spent on a decently extensive DVD collection. We had an almost complete collection of animated Disney before our children were even a twinkle. We also had game systems and enjoyed playing on them. When we were ready to have kids we were stoked to share with them the awesome-ness of media.

We still worked to limit their exposure. They have no idea who most popular tv characters are: Dora, Spongebob, Thomas, ect. We watched with them, not usually using the screen as a babysitter. Even still, they slowly became accustomed to more and more. When I was pregnant, sick, and tired we watched even more than I was happy with. It had become harder and harder to limit them without tantrums. It was time for a change. These are the things that help us cut our screen time.

Literary Movies
Movies based on books. Bonus if they are reading of the books set to animation. This can move your focus to more literary options. Barns & Noble has some of our favorite books read by popular actors and authors available as Online Storytime

Often TV is used as just background noise. So, use just the sound! By keeping familiar tunes on, it allows us to sing and play along, without sitting and watching. You can even create a station on Pandora.

Find the literary versions of your favorite characters. Offer to read about them in place of watching. Audio accompanied books are also great.

I have found a few places for coloring pages and learning packets based on the movies they love.

Star Wars Learning Packet
Disney Coloring Pages

Get Away From The TV
Find activities to get you out of sight of the TV. Explore your library for your at home supplies. Go to the park. Create a grocery list of JUST your kids' favorites and explore the store at their pace.

April 30th- May 6th is Screen Free Week. Do you think you can do it? To be honest: I don't expect to. Especially after bedtime. But, I  am going to bump up the use of these suggestions (and please, share yours!) in the coming weeks and see if we can meet this challenge.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Meal Plan Monday March 27th, 2012

Fresh foods are starting to appear! And we are clear to eat tofu again! And soy sauce! It is gluten free, but oh how I missed this flavor! I am so excited, it was hard to restrain myself to our end of the month budget!

Orange Basil Tofu with Fennel

Chunky Italian Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

Pesto Risotto with Roasted Zucchini 

Homemade Chicken Strips and French Fries

Chicken in Coconut Milk

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli

Chicken Pot Pie

Meal Plan Monday

Monday, March 26, 2012

DIY with NPN Blog Hop!

It's that time again! You might remember the great post in December 2011 that highlighted the Natural Parents Network volunteers' most popular or favorite posts from the year. Well, we are back and this time we are bringing you a collection of posts that focus on Do It Yourself projects, How To's, Tutorials, Recipes, and anything related to a step by step guide or informational how-to. There are a lot of really wonderful posts here and I hope that this serves as an excellent resource that you can pass on to your friends! Enjoy!

Momma Jorje: a slightly crunchy mommaJorje of Momma shares her Family Cloth Tutorial in pictures. She includes step by step photos with some tips for making very neat family cloth. You can find Momma Jorje on Facebook, too!

Lani at Boobie Time Blog shares "How to Help a New Breastfeeding Mom." This post provides some tips on helping a new mom while she is learning to Breastfeed. You can also find Boobie Time Blog on Facebook and Twitter.

Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares "How I Make Cloth Wipes." This post details how Amanda made all of her cloth wipes. You can also find Let's Take the Metro on Facebook.

Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy shares "Lessons in a Picture Book." A Lesson plan for pancakes and how to make your own butter! You can also find True Confessions of a Real Mommy on Facebook and Twitter.

Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares "Tips for Road Tripping with a Toddler." A long car trip with a young child can be a great way to make some wonderful memories if you are prepared to meet the challenges. You can also find Monkey Butt Junction on Facebook and Twitter. 

Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares "Maple Cinnamon Swirl Bread." This recipe tutorial shows you how to make a sweet whole wheat bread with beautiful cinnamon swirls in each slice. You can also find Farmer's Daughter on Facebook and Twitter.

Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares "How To Consume Coconut Oil Plus Coconut Oil Candy Recipes." This post provides some tips on how to get your daily dose of coconut oil down the hatch. It also provides some very tasty recipes for coconut oil candy! You can also find Hybrid Rasta Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Alicia at Lactation Narration gives some ideas for how to accomplish Partial Weaning for moms who would like to cut down on nursing without completely weaning. You can also find Lactation Narration on Facebook and Twitter.

Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares "A Learning-Rich Environment." This post provides a number of suggestions for creating a learning-rich environment and incorporating learning into everyday life, with a particular focus on the preschool age. You can also find The Hippie Housewife on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google +.

BecomingCrunchyKelly at Becoming Crunchy shares "Kale Chips = Awesome!" This post shares a super easy recipe for making a super easy (and surprisingly tasty) snack from one of the most healthful greens around. You can also find Becoming Crunchy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes shares "How to Move to California." A silly how-to she wrote while she and her then fiance were driving to their new home. You can also find Shannon on Pinterest, Flickr, and Google +.

Gretchen at That Mama Gretchen shares a recipe for "Homemade Fruit Leather." It's easier than you ever thought and the perfect snack for you and your family. You can also find That Mama Gretchen on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Julia at A Little Bit of All of It shares "How I Cloth Diaper (Part 1)." This post details the way Julia has cloth diapered her daughter along with the products she uses. You can also find A Little Bit of All of It on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Joella at Fine and Fair shares "Our First Sensory Bins." In this post, she shares how she made a "Scoop, Measure, and Pour" themed sensory bin, as well as an "In the Garden" themed bin. She also shares some tips for making your own sensory bins! Fine and Fair can be found on Facebook and Twitter. 

Visit Code Name: MamaFor all of you breastfeeding mamas, Dionna at Code Name: Mama has the ultimate DIY experience with the main ingredient being your breastmilk! 58 Medical, Costmetic, and Other Alternative Uses for Breastmilk includes a cradle cap remedy, an anti-itch salve, weaning jewelry, lotion, and more. You can also find Dionna on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings offers several ideas for "Keeping a Toddler Happily Busy on a Long Flight." The list includes handmade felt activities, among many other things. You can also find Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Shannon at The Artful Mama shares "Preparing Toddlers for Birth." This post features MamAmor dolls and shows some alternative ways to talk to toddlers about pregnancy and birth. You can also find The Artful Mama on Facebook and Twitter.

Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her "Family Binder DIY." This post shows how to put together a family binder, to help organize cleaning, meal planning, shopping and budgeting all in one convenient location!

I Thought I Knew Mama: A window into the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, & green and healthy livingCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares "5 Green Living, Spring Cleaning Tips." This post provides easy ways to keep the toxins out of your home and to freshen up your home for spring. You can also find I Thought I Knew Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares "Daily Bread: My Favorite Whole Grain Bread Machine Recipe." This recipe is easy, highly adaptable, and a great starting point for creating your own daily (or almost daily!) homemade bread. You can also find Intrepid Murmurings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares "10 Tips for Toddler Carseat Woes." Check out these ideas of dealing with toddler carseat issues without resorting to punishments. You can also find Living Peacefully with Children on Facebook.

Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares "DIY Mom's Night In." A somewhat humorous solution, this post provides exhausted Mamas the recipe for the perfect way to recharge!

Stacy at Sweet Sky shares “Ways to Bring More Mindfulness Into Your Days.” This post provides tips and tricks to bring yourself back to the present moment, so you can be the parent you want to be. You can also find Stacy on Facebook.

AnktangleAmy at Anktangle shows us how to make your own popsicle stick puzzles, a fun and simple "busy bag" activity for toddlers and preschool aged children. You can also find Amy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Hobo Mama: A Natural Parenting BlogLauren at Hobo Mama shares "How to sew a mei tai baby carrier." The mei tai is Lauren and Sam's favorite carrier for baby Alrik: as comfortable and simple as it is beautiful. You can also find Hobo Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Visit African Babies Don't CryChristine at African Babies Don't Cry shares "How to Make Rainbow Coloured Rice (Without Alcohol) for a Toddler Sensory Bin." This post provides a step by step tutorial for making vibrantly coloured rainbow rice for sensory play, includes a printable PDF. You can also find African Babies Don't Cry on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Luschka of Diary of a First Child shares "How To Send A Hug In An Envelope." This post is a creative way to send more than just the standard card to love ones. It literally is a hug in an envelope! You can also find Diary of a First Child on Facebook, and Twitter.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meal Plan Monday: March 19th, 2012

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Broccoli Slaw (Another Mikie creation. I am going to pay attention this time so we don't have to wait for his recipe!)

Tuscan White Bean Soup {Crock-Pot}

English Muffin Pizzas

Stir Fry


Swedish Meatballs
Adapted from Alton Brown's recipe

2 slices Udi's Gluten Free white bread
1/4 cup milk
3 tbsp butter, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
A pinch plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup gluten free flour
3 cups beef broth
1/4 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Set aside.

In a 12-inch cast iron over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground meat, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.
Using your hands, shape the meatballs into 1in rounds.

Heat the remaining butter in pan over medium-low heat. Add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in the warmed oven.

Once all of the meatballs are cooked (160deg), decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan or skillet. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add the milk and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the gravy and serve.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Pregnancy Must Have

Welcome to the Pregnancy Necessities Carnival! This post was written for inclusion in the Pregnancy Necessities Carnival hosted by Parenting God’s Children. Today, participants share what they simply cannot live without during their pregnancies or simply what to gather for their upcoming new addition. Please see the full list of links to the other carnival submissions at the end of this post. Enjoy! ***

There are plenty of things you think about needing for when you are pregnant. Maternity clothes. Support pillows. T-shirt warning people of impending damage to their cranium if they touch your protruding belly.  What was the ONE thing I used almost daily, through all three pregnancies, and that I suggest to all pregnant moms? A water pack.

Camelbak Charm 50 oz Hydration Pack

Keeping hydrated while pregnant can be difficult. But, it is so important! Water flushes waste products from the cells and aids in liver and kidney function for both mom and the baby. It is also needed for the body's expansion as mom's blood volume increases significantly. Insufficient water intake can be a factor in constipation, preterm labor, and miscarriage, and even slight dehydration can cause or contribute to fatigue.

Using the pack, I would drink without thought, kind of gnawing on the mouth piece. If I tried drinking cups of water I would feel bloated just thinking of how many I needed, or how big the cup was. With the pack I had water on me at all times, when it emptied I would fill again and know I would meet my water quota with one refill. It worked great. And I can keep using it to keep hydrated while breastfeeding, hiking, and taking kids out to play. The only con was keeping my kids from chewing on it!


Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi(e) Day Breakfast!

I meant to post this so you could celebrate Pi Day today: 3.14 with us, but here it is!

Breakfast Pi(e)

2c Frozen Hash browns
6 Eggs
2tbsp Milk
1lb Bacon
Olive Oil

Oil bottom of pie pan. Lay down a layer of hash browns for a crust. Bake at 350 until edges start to brown. Smash down potatoes to solidify crust a bit.

Weave bacon and lay on broiler pan. Bake at 350 until cooked together.

Crack and scramble eggs with a splash of milk; salt and pepper. Pour over crust. Bake at 350 until eggs are cooked (knife to center comes out clean).

Meat lovers and Ortho-Lacto Vegetarian!
Lay bacon crust on top of pie, bake until crisp.

Shredded cheese, sausage, veggies, salsa, anything else you might like with your eggs, go for it. As long as you cook this through, it is hard to go wrong!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Meal Plan Monday: March 12th, 2012

I love weeks with good food holidays! I have plans for 3 kinds of pie on Wednesday (3.14! *snicker*) and of course St. Patrick's Day pretty much comes with a built in menu!

Salmon Patties

Vegetarian Taco Pie

Ricotta Stuffed Mini Bells with Spaghetti

Chicken with Mushroom Risotto

Chili and Cornbread

Falafel with Avocado Tzatziki Sauce

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Irish Cheddar Roasted Potatoes

Sloppy Lentils

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 cup dried green lentils, rinsed
2 1/2 cups water
24oz can crushed tomatoes

Heat oil in crockpot on high, sweat onion, pepper, and garlic until softened. Stir in chili and cumin powders and cook for another minute or two. Add the other ingredients. Stir to combine, cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4, or a combo of both... whatever works with your schedule!

Serve with sliced cheese on buns or toasted bread.