How to REALLY love my children?

Yes, I just read a book entitled “How To Really Love Your Child.”

But, I already love my children so much…so much that there’s not even words for the love I feel in my heart.  I couldn’t possibly need to read a book like that.

This book was one of the best reminders I could have ever read.  I love my children, and this helped me focus on what truly matters.

Here’s a book review I just wrote for the newsletter at the school I teach at:

“Never have I read a more influential book about parenting: “How to Really Love Your Child.” The majority of the book explains the basic premise of loving our children, which includes giving eye contact, physical contact, and focused attention.  These actions fill the emotional tanks of our children.  When our children’s emotional tanks are full, we have built a solid foundation for other areas of child rearing, such as discipline.  “The first fact parents must understand in order to have a well-disciplined child is that making a child feel loved is the first and most important part of good discipline. Of course, this is not all there is, but it is most important,” explains the author, D. Ross Campell. Discipline is training our children to become well-rounded people, and discipline is not just punishment (which is really only a tiny, tiny fraction of discipline). As a busy mom of two young children, I was graciously reminded to be purposeful and consistent in filling my children’s emotional tanks, especially in the midst of very busy days.  As a result of filling their emotional tanks, disciplining (training) my children, has been enjoyable. The book wraps up with the importance of spiritually training and teaching our children and how this builds upon filling the emotional tanks. Please read the book to find out why; the investment in your children is well worth it.  It would be a fantastic read for parents with children of any age.”

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Vacation or a Move–Making Baby Food to Travel

Traveling with baby can be challenging, especially if you’re making all of your own baby food.  I’m very intentional with how I feed my children…there are things we stay away from (gluten and dairy), so traveling takes planning and lots of prep work.  However, a vacation or a move doesn’t have to cause a headache concerning baby’s meals (just a lot of sweat to get all that baby gear through airline security). So, here’s a few tips:

First of all, those pouches of pureed food by “Plum Organics” or “Earth’s Best” are one of the best inventions ever.  My experience traveling and prepping food for a trip was for a family trip to Mexico for a week.  I packed about 20 of these pouches, so I’d have at least 2 per day. I put them in my checked suitcase.  Of course, when I picked up my suitcase, it had been searched.  (I’m sure my bag caused quite the alarm with all of the liquid food crammed into one big pocket. Nothing was confiscated though.)

Ziploc baggies, in all different sizes, will be your best friend.  Prepare your pureed food ahead of time. Freeze each serving in a snack size bag.  Then pile your frozen snack bags into gallon ziplocs.  I was able to put these galloon ziplocs (I had two of them) in my check-on and explain to security that it was baby food.  PLEASE, check the airline security website for what they will allow you to take on the plane concerning liquids, but once they searched all of my food, I was ok to take it through. Even before I prepared all of this food, I had called airline security to make sure that I would be allowed to take this baby food through with the way I was packaging it.

Pack everything frozen, so if it thaws, you can just stick it in the fridge or freezer when you arrive at your destination. Or, if you’re driving, make stops to add ice to your cooler as needed. I was able to put all of my baggies right into a fridge in our hotel room, so everything was thawed and ready to use throughout the week.  If you’re driving, I’d definitely set out the food to thaw so it’s ready when baby is ready to eat.

What were my ziplocs filled with?  I took pureed kale, diced sweet potatoes, and whole green beans. My daughter was over a year old by this time and eating more chunky foods.  Also, I knew I would be able to get eggs, rice, and beans at the buffet, plus plenty of fresh fruits and steamed veggies.  I made seven snack baggies of kale (one bag per day for the week).  This way I made sure she got her serving of kale every day of the week we were there.  I stirred the thawed kale into a little bowl of smashed black beans or rice, or I would squeeze a “Plum Organics” pouch into a bowl and stir the kale in.  The diced sweet potatoes and green beans were perfect snacks to take to the beach.

Dried foods– I took packets of instant oatmeal (gluten free) like McCann’s Irish Oatmeal.  I also packed powdered goat milk.  I mixed these two together to give my daughter creamy oatmeal for breakfast.  Larabars-I took the snack sized ones.  They were perfect for the plane ride and the beach.  One of her favorite snacks are “Pirate’s Booty Veggie” puffs.  I put a large unopened bag of these in my carry on for easy access and took extra snack ziplocs to carry them to the beach.

Your carry-on–Because your food supply is very important, take everything but the pouches in your carry-on.  They did not allow the pouches through security when I was flying (in 2010). Gallon ziplocs of frozen food, oatmeal, powdered milk (make sure it’s in a bag, not a tin), Larabars, veggie puffs, and any other dried foods you use.  I figured if they confiscated all of the pouches out of my checked bag, I would have enough food in my carry-on, plus the food I knew she could eat at the buffet.

Traveling with a baby under a year? Pack more pureed food, of course, and take advantage of those “Plum Organics” and “Earth’s Best” pouches.

Attitude- Parent Style

Parenting is an adventure. Life is an adventure.  Parenting and life come down to attitude. To me, every situation is about attitude.

I had a revelation today…. after dealing with a tough discipline issue with my daughter, I found myself thinking, “How can I help her?”

I want to help her, I want to help myself to help her, I want to help her so she can be the best she can be.

My revelation? How I respond comes down to an attitude of helping vs. an attitude of “deal with it.”  I realized if I just wanted to “deal with” this phase/her intense emotions etc., then to decide to just “deal” is to choose to “survive” until it passes.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to just “survive.” I want my husband and I to find the best tools for ourselves so we can impart to our children what they need for life.  Thriving, having energy (as much as possible), and being content come from being proactive, finding solutions not band-aids.  Its about having an attitude of endurance and purpose.  It’s about praying and seeking wisdom.

Am I perfect?  FAR from it! But I was glad my attitude showed the resolve to make things better for all involved.  Have I cried? Yes.  Have I felt utterly mortified at my daughter’s meltdown over being pushed with one hand on the swing instead of two (because I was holding my son in the other) making every adult and child stop and stare at us for what felt like 5 minutes? Yes. Have I yelled when I wanted to be that mom that stays calm-and-collected no matter what? Yes.  Despite all the feelings involved, all the bumps in the road, and all of the hiccups…I still get up.  I have to.  For my kids.  For our family.  That is the attitude I choose.  An attitude of thriving, not just surviving.

My Top Four Add-Ons

I’ve read, researched, and studied…and these are my “TOP FOUR” add-ons (essentially the “nutritional supplements” I feed my children)

1.  Kale- I try to feed this to my children every other day.  After steaming, pureeing, and freezing kale, I add a kale cube to warmed up apple sauce, into spaghetti sauce, scrambled eggs, or soup.  The possibilities are endless really.  My son’s favorite is pureed pears and kale 🙂  When kale is on sale, my daughter and I make cheesy kale chips.  However, our “cheese” is nutritional yeast, soon to be featured in #2.  (Making cheesy kale chips is easy…wash and dry the kale, break it into chip-sized pieces, toss with olive oil, salt, and nutritional yeast.  Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees).

2.  Nutritional yeast (AKA nutri yeast)- SO yummy!  We put it on everything to add a cheesy, nutty flavor.  Find it at the health food store next to Brewer’s yeast.  It is best on sliced avocado, and simply great on spaghetti.  I sprinkle it on diced avocado to help my babies grip their first finger food.  We seriously add it to everything because it’s full of B vitamins!

3. Flax seed- I call this my breakfast booster. These little seeds are full of Omega-3, antioxidants, and fiber. I buy the brown flax seeds in bulk and grind about two cups at a time, keeping them in an easily accessible ziploc in the fridge.  Every morning it’s stirred in to oatmeal or yogurt; it’s sprinkled onto a slice of toast with almond butter or sprinkled onto cereal or granola. Like nutritional yeast, when my babies start to do finger foods like slippery banana or mango, I sprinkle the flaxseed over the diced pieces to make them easier to grip.

4. Molasses- This thick, black tar is actually full of iron, magnesium, and Vitamin B6.  My kids beg for more as we put it on top of goat yogurt for breakfast.  It’s not complete unless mommy attempts to make a picture of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, or Linus out of molasses.  Don’t ask me how that tradition got started.  😉

Why Gluten Free and Cow-Dairy Free?

How I approach feeding my children has been inspired by my own journey going gluten free.  Living gluten free, I believe, literally saved my life.  Gluten made me tired, groggy, lethargic, and asthmatic.  Taking gluten out of my diet led to inhaler-free workouts.  I could run, walk, and swim without needing my inhaler at all.  What freedom!  No longer was I lethargic during the day, but could sit through college classes without constantly yawning, and I could sit in my dorm room doing homework without falling asleep.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, “Mish Mash Beginnings,” the book Infant Nutrition by Dr. Mark Percival has been an excellent reference for me as I feed my children gluten and cow-dairy free.  I highly recommend this book.  To begin with, it discusses infant digestion.  When discussing grains, Percival states that “grains are less likely to be digested properly until between 1 and 1 1/2 years of age. My advice to you is to hold off the introduction of grains as long as your child is content and developing normally.  Remember that vegetables are the most important foods we eat” (page 63).

Experiencing my health difficulties with gluten, I found Percival’s recommendation to be something I wanted to follow to feed my children.  My daughter’s first grains were rice and quinoa around 15-16 months of age.  My son, who is currently 14.5 months, has not had any grains yet.  His first grain will probably be in the next couple of months and will be rice.  My daughter, almost four, still eats gluten free.  I have tried giving her some wheat/gluten to see how her body would handle it, but it gave her terrible diarrhea.

We have cow dairy intolerances in our family as well.  I, personally, had a high intolerance to it when I was little.  My brother and mother still have strong reactions to cow dairy.  Eating a bit of ice cream every now and then or putting some sour cream on a bowl of chili doesn’t bother me.  However, I find adverse effects if I eat, say, sour cream with dinner, ice cream at dessert, cow dairy yogurt the next morning, and cheese at lunch.  Jumping back to when I was little, cow dairy gave me terrible stomach problems as an infant and young child.  So, my mother gave me goat milk.  I wasn’t a fan then, but I am in love with goat dairy products now.  Why goat dairy?  It is easier to digest.  “Dr. Sherilyn Renya of Washington State indicated that it takes less than 20 minutes to digest goat milk and cow milk can take almost a full 24-hour day to be digested” (http://www.dairygoatjournal.com). The fat molecules in goat milk are smaller than those in cow milk, and goat milk contains less lactose.  (http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/goat-milk-vs-cow-milk.html#b)

As you can see, the preference for eating gluten and cow-dairy free begins with digestibility and what is easiest on our system.  We’ve found this is best for our overall health.  My health is better without gluten and cow dairy. And I feel my children have benefited immensely.  They function better and have strong, stellar health with our focus on gluten-free foods, limiting cow dairy, and emphasizing vegetables and fruit. (Not to mention, they are both excellent poppers which, in my opinion, is a telling sign of how well food is being digested and handled by the system).

Old Souls

I chose a hectic time to start a blog.  Writing curriculum and finishing by a recent deadline has taken much of my time.  Catching up on blogging about food will soon include some more of my favorites and a funny story about my baby eating peas…

But, in the meantime, I’ve been pondering. musing…

Old people.  I like them.  Sitting and talking with them, I learn of the ways of the past, bits of wisdom, even their misunderstandings of current-day trends.  The only time I get annoyed is when an old person is driving REAAAALLLY slooow…then I have to remember they probably can’t see very well…like our neighbor.  He’s a friend of ours now.  He can’t see well, but he also really canNOT hear…my daughter and I have to almost shout.  We visit him a lot.  He lost his wife about 2 years ago, so when we went down to give our condolences, we took him some homemade food, some frozen meals, and some treats, and…became instant friends (we had just moved into the neighborhood).

We check on Mr. Bolton every couple of weeks since he’s all alone. Visiting him entails a lot of listening.  He likes talking about sports and schools.  Computers baffle him.  He’s 86 years old and doesn’t have a computer.  He’s an extremely hard worker, taking care of his home and garden.  His daily walks bring him past our house, his long legs carrying him around the wonderful trails we have in this area.  He used to be a college baseball player.

My daughter has come to really like “Mr. Bolton.”  When we’re out drawing with chalk, she asks, “Mom, can we go visit Mr. Bolton?” Or, when driving past his house, “Mom, I’d like to go see Mr. Bolton.”  Although, the last time we were there, his house had a pungent smell, making her eyes water and her tummy turn.  She was so polite, “Mommy, can we go?”…and waiting so patiently as I listened to him finish his story.  Baby needed to sleep so we had to leave about 10 minutes later.  Her eyes and tummy got over the smell because she was ready to go back a couple days later: “Mommy, can we ride our bikes to visit Mr. Bolton.”

Like I said, I like old people. My little girl is for sure an admirer of Mr. Bolton.  I’m fortunate enough to have both of my grandmothers still around, and not many kids are lucky enough to meet their great-grandmothers, both of whom she adores.  At least once a month I would call each of my grandmas (now that I live close to them I see them more often and call when I can…)  They both like to talk.  I’m a listener. (Maybe old people just need someone to talk to. I listen.)  Stories of the Great Depression engage me.  Stories of traveling the US and moving from school to school invite me into their past worlds.  Recording these stories is a dream.  To write down the history of my grandmothers would be a gift to my children, to all of my family.  I’ve had this goal for awhile.  I just need to do it.  I don’t want to have regrets…like not being able to find my tape recorder…wanting to record some of my great-grandfather’s stories.  He was alive and well until age 92 and died when I was in my second year in college.  I still kick myself to this day that I couldn’t find that recorder…he told the best stories.

Old soul I am…

Making Baby Food Prunes

Since baby has been constipated, I’ve stuck to a rotation of sweet potatoes (thinned with water), pears, and prunes.  We’ve stayed away from bananas for awhile and occasionally done avocado.  Every day, I give him prune juice with two meals, usually breakfast and lunch (keep those bowels movin’!).  Sometimes I mix it in his food (sweet potatoes with prune juice is quite tasty) or I just feed him a bottle with it (I bought organic prune juice…there’s no added sugar).

When you make your own baby-food prunes, I have learned one VERY important tip!  Cut open each prune to look for any pits…the pitting machines don’t always get them out!!! When making prunes for my daughter, I ruined at least two batches of prunes because of a pit…the blender starts whirring away and clunkity, clunkity, clunk…little pieces of pit blended in the prunes…not for baby! or anybody for that matter.

So, I got smart…

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Here I am slicing each prune in half.  Took about 30 seconds to do a whole bag of prunes (I buy them at Vitamin Cottage…)

I am SO glad I did this.  Look what I found!  Half of a pit.

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I steam the prunes first.  Use purified water because you will need this later.

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Blend everything in your blender.  Prunes are sticky and thick, so use as much of the water as you need to from the pan you just steamed in.  The hot temperature of the water helps the prunes to blend as well as thin them a little so it isn’t like blending thick mud.

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Voila!!!

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Prunes look like, well…you know.  At least they accomplish the job they were created to do.

I freeze my prunes.  However, they are an odd fruit and don’t freeze well.  I think it’s the lack of water in them.  I still freeze them.  Even though you will find them turning into a big mush in your freezer bag, the process of freezing gave them some form, then I just take a spoon and scoop out what I need to warm up for baby. (Stay tuned…my next two posts will feature how I warm up baby food, and then how I made apples this time, which was a blast!)