Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fog in a Jar

The other day when we took the ferry, it was just the muggiest, foggiest day. The kids kept asking why we couldn't see and I did my best to explain fog, but to be perfectly frank I do think it's a little much to ask a two or even four year old to understand. We concluded it was like a cloud near the ground.

Surprisingly enough, a few days later when we went to the farmer's market we found this book:

The book was a little wordy, but in the back there was a little experiment about creating fog in a jar. The kids were super excited to try it at home! If you want to try, this is what we did:

Fill a jar with hot water.

Pour out all but one inch.

Put ice cubes on top.


We tried this a few different ways and couldn't quite get a perfect fog, but they were able to see the condensation pretty well!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Grain Detox My Whole 30 Experience


On a whim I decided to do the Whole 30 to detox of grains. Well actually that's not accurate. M and I had a conversation about how I haven't been feeling great. We diagnosed me with IBS; all symptoms fit to a T. And then I went to the internet…because "we don't know why", "because of stress" and "just avoid the triggers" are not how I would like to live my life. I'm absolutely on board with stress as the initial trigger but upon further reading am pretty sure that a gut imbalance is the cause. Since I'm not looking to be prescribed medication (at this point), I decided that my first course of action would be to try and detox, clean my system and then see about reintroducing (grains and legumes) and possibly adding a probiotic. So I went to bed reading about all the possible causes of IBS…bacterial, fungal, etc, and woke up deciding to quit my daily bread (literally).

How it went:

Breakfast- After trying out different combos, I settled on two eggs (scrambled or sunny side up), sometimes sautéed greens or leftover veggies mixed in, and a salad of tomato, a cucumber and avocado. I did mix it up with all manner of eggs but overall this really worked for me and kept me satiated.

Lunch- I really tried hard to go with the spirit of Whole30 and just eat 3 square meals a day, but running around after kids for most of the morning is almost like a workout and I couldn't keep my energy up without a snack. Generally a small handful of almonds around noon kept me energized enough until I was home to eat lunch around 2pm. Lunch was usually leftovers from dinner, or a salad supplemented with tuna or chicken sausage.

Here are the dinners I remembered to write down. I forgot most of the third week and a few days were leftovers, but this should give you some ideas if you're interested in trying it out.
*Fish and veggie stew, salad.
*Carrot/celery/onion riced, leftover fish, salad.
*Chicken pieces, almonds, bananas (out and not much choice).
*Fish cakes made with sardines, carrots, celery, onion, egg; green beans, salad
*Buffalo burgers (no bun), green pepper and onions, cabbage salad, green salad
*Chicken with mushrooms, eggplant- celery-zucchini sautee, salad
*Hot dog, broccoli, salad
*Burger with zucchini, mushrooms and spinach, salad
*Mahi mahi with garlic aioli, zucchini and lettuce sautee
*Schintzel (made with arrowroot powder), grilled eggplant, yellow green beans, salad
*Beet greens, fish in oven, salad
*Baba ghanoush w/carrots, green salad, ground beef w/spinach
*Beet salad, cabbage salad, baba ghanoush, grilled chicken
*Zucchini eggplant sautée, mahi mahi, green salad, roasted broccoli
*Mahi mahi, yellow pepper and carrots, cherries*Chicken thigh, summer squash, salad

How I felt:

Week one- The first couple days I felt hungry and incredibly thirsty. Then I was just feeling fatigued, followed by a couple days of irritability and then pure exhaustion. This description was spot on:

Week two- I had crazy dreams and still tired. I took about a week off of drinking coffee completely and felt fine so I guess that means I had more energy. By the end of the week I felt like I had just gotten used to the new diet.

Week 3- I was coasting and kind of bored with my options. I did decide to bring coffee back in, but just a half a cup or so after breakfast to get that extra zing. After trying hard to eat lots more meat and chicken the previous two weeks, I realized that it just wasn't for me and started reverting back to my mostly pescatarian ways. (I guess there's a reason I ate that way for several years).

Week 4- So over it! Really the only silver lining is that the "rules" were preventing me from eating all.the.chocolate. while dealing with moving stress.

What I learned:

*My nursing supply tanked except on days I ate A LOT of starchy vegetables (carrots, beets, potato, sweet potato) and fruit. 

*That afternoon slump- still had it most of the time! I'm pretty sure it has more to do with being tired from a full morning of activities than what food I'm eating.

*Going back to having just one coffee in the morning is great! I should just go back to having an espresso (like I did for years) instead of that french press pot I was having the last few months…

*As mentioned above- pescatarian for the win. I'm not opposed to some meats here and there but I really don't think they make you healthier in the long run and I don't like the heavy feeling I get from eating them regularly.

*Cooked veggies keep you fuller longer than raw.

I'm hoping to follow up this post with short and long term effects of the detox. In the meantime, I'm glad I did it!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

MSPI Friendly Granola Bars

A few months into starting solids I started looking for some snack options that I could share with my little one. The vast majority of time I carried around nature's perfect snack- fruit! First freeze dried fruit, then whole fruit, then dried fruit. Sometimes I changed it up with vegetables, cucumbers and then carrots. To be perfectly honest, I still consider this the perfect snack- easy and inexpensive. However, from time to time I wanted to change it up and be able to carry something in my bag that I wasn't worried about bruising when my bag got shoved under the stroller, tossed in the entryway and otherwise manhandled. With MSPI store bought treats are significantly limited, so I hit up Pinterest and came away with the fabulously easy banana-oatmeal cookie recipe. In time, I adjusted the proportions to make these a slightly larger, more filling, and in my opinion tasty treat. 

MSPI Friendly Granola Bars (dairy free, soy free, gluten free)

Yields 12 bars

Ingredients (required)
2 bananas
2 cups oats (rolled or quick)

Ingredients (optional)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup pecans (crushed)
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips (dairy free, soy free)
Pinch of salt
anything else you can think ofcinnamon, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts (crushed), chopped dried fruit, etc.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Mash bananas
  3. Combine with oats
  4. Add as many or as little optional ingredients as you would like.
  5. Form into bars on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 12 minutes. If you forgot to preheat you can still stick them in a cold oven just add a few minutes 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

How to throw a birthday party in less than 24 hours

I know my two year old won't remember his birthday party. I know. But as much as I wanted to just have cake and call it a day, I couldn't resist putting together a little party with all his favorite things. Our Birthday Boy had an amazing time and at the end of the day that's all that really matters!

6:00 pm- M comes home from grocery shopping and brings balloons he picked up at Party City

6:30-9:00 pm-  Dinner, bath, bed

9:00 pm- Make homemade jello (gelatin+juice), tidy kitchen

10:00 pm- Inflate a bunch of balloons

11:00 pm- Hop on Pinterest for some cake and activity ideas

12:00 am- Make a party plan, cut out shapes for our craft, collect supplies for party games

1:00 am- Bed!

7:00 am- Up! Kids discover balloons! Fun!

8:00 am- Breakfast/ hang some decorations as kids are eating, Skype with family members

10:00 am-1:00 pm- Getting dressed, out for usual morning activities and back

1:00 pm- Lunch/leave ingredients out for "cake"

2:00- Nap for the birthday boy. Meanwhile: throw together cake and stick in the oven, finish wrapping presents, cut out and paint cardboard car, draw a backhoe

4:00- Birthday boy is up (sleeping for a half hour longer than usual!), begin tidying living room while kids play

5:00 pm- M home early! We cut veggies to serve with hummus, pop some popcorn, make guacamole for the tortilla chips, throw some chicken on the Foreman and microwave rice from the night before (all the Birthday Boy's favorite foods).

5:30 pm- Send the kids to our bedroom for a few minutes of screen time while we put up streamers, tape the cardboard car onto the floor, set up the obstacle course and decorate the cake!

5:45 pm- The "Party" commences!

The kids were incredibly excited to run through the streamers back into our living room! B's eyes just lit up when he saw the drawing of the backhoe on his easel! We turned on some music, took some pictures in the car, and started the games right away. We did the obstacle course twice, then played pin the man on the "snort" (the backhoe). We then sat down to make our paper trains and calm the excitement a bit before moving on to the ball toss, (just as it sounds, throwing soft balls into cardboard boxes). By then in was our regular dinner time, so we sat to eat and then sang happy birthday and ate cake and ice cream and jello. The kids were elated to finally dig into the presents and though we had planned to dance with glowsticks to burn off the sugar they were delighted to just play with all their new toys so that's what we did!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Surviving Our First Winter

Man, it's been cold lately! I can't sugar coat it- we've been having a tough time. My kids were incubated and born in the sunshine. They are incredibly miserable every time it gets cold, yet on the other hand, hate wearing sweaters, jackets and the like. The little one calls all clothing "shorts" and that's exactly what they would wear every single day if given the opportunity. So as the temperature has been dropping, we've had to make a new game plan for surviving the winter. 

1- Indoor games and novel activities- We have been blessed to have been gifted numerous educational toys over the past several years: puzzles, matchingsorting, and simple board games have all made the rotation. A relic from the days I had a baby in the house and was worried about a choking hazard, we keep toys with small pieces on a higher shelf so that an adult has to bring them down. The bonus benefit is that we avoid the chaos (not to mention tripping hazard) of a million pieces all over the floor. In terms of keeping the activities novel: we cook and bake together, do little art projects using various materials,  and I have them "help" with different chores around the house so that we're constantly doing something "new". 

2- Go outside during the warmest part of the dayI'm a big believer in fresh air, and even a short break outside the home helps calm our cabin fever, but sometimes their little faces get so red, so quickly that we just can't have long excursions like we're used to. We try to go outside during the warmest, or at least sunniest, time of the day. Sometimes that means we only go out after nap time, for twenty minutes, but something is certainly better than nothing! Also, snowpants! We get them on every day so that there's no deliberation about it and they generally feel cozy enough to play at least a little. 

3- Bath time as sensory play before (or after) dinner- My little guys are always getting messy! If it's not dirt from the park, then it's from their dinner yogurt drawings or some other explorations. Being in the water is a relaxing time for them, so even if we have been mostly indoors we run the bath. In time, we've come up with a slew of activities to make their water experimentation time unique: recycled plastic containers for pouring, foam cut outs for sticking to the walls, water paints/crayons, and of course traditional bath toys.

4- Museums, grocery shopping and play dates- When it's been a little less freezing (if you know what I mean), we do head out for longer treks. We have been visiting our local science museum very, very frequently. We obviously need to do some grocery shopping from time to time, and when everyone is healthy, we try to plan play dates. Unlike the summer time, when big adventures happen daily, a smattering of these keeps us going in between mostly at home days. 

5- Screen time- It makes me cringe a little that I have to include this, since before we were hit with this thing called "winter" screen time rarely happened at our house. As it stands, sometimes Mama just needs a break from the non-stop activities.  

In combination with reading, independent play, and our usual self care routines, these activities have helped us pass the days in a mostly enjoyable manner, and dare I say, practically enjoy the winter!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

From the web: Early Childhood brain development

My take-away: Work on creating a village for my kids (especially during their first 3-4 years)- trusted adults and positive interactions to promote a lifetime of social-emotional well being.