Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2 Steps From Grumpy to Grateful--Printable

As my kids are growing older, I am finding that I can't just kiss their bumped heads and send them on their way anymore. Their challenges are starting to get a little more....well....challenging. When they were babies, I read parenting books and interrogated friends about what they were doing to make sure their little ones felt heard. Now that I have a school-aged daughter, I feel like I can relax a little more, but then I get blind-sided by a problem she is having and I find myself flummoxed and just repeating something I heard as a child.  I mean, I almost caught myself saying "just because everyone jumps off a bridge doesn't mean....."

This week, I am sharing a tool I used for myself that I realize I want my children to have. I think it will help me hear my daughters out instead of just dismissing their complaints with a "you-can-do-it" or a push to find something to be grateful about. Here's how I came to discover it: I reluctantly returned to a part-time job after being full-time with my family for the last year. At first, I really wanted to grouse on and on about how sad I was about the transition. And I was sad. Many people encouraged me to find the silver lining in it all, which I eventually was able to do. But my big discovery was that in order to get in gratitude about something that I did not like, I had to hit the release valve first and just let the disappointment of it come out for a while. I really saw how often I skip this crucial "release valve" step with my kids and just jump into optimism.  Sometimes in order for us to find the silver lining, you first have to acknowledge the cloud it's attached to.

So, the next time your child comes to you with a challenge, use these printables to start the process of finding some LOVE for something they may not LIKE.

Click here to download a printable to get you through the clouds...

Click here to download a printable when you are ready for the silver lining

I think if we allow ourselves (and our kids) to sit with some tough emotions, we will find ourselves on a fast-track to being more at-peace with all that comes our way.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It's Kind of Like Hamburger Helper...

I am writing this from under a fussy baby who has been the same amount of said fussiness each time I try to post this week. So I must be brief....

As February approaches, I intend to focus on LOVE....of self, of others, of the environment, of learning, even of things that I don't particularly LIKE. This week eat a meal by candlelight. Candlelight can be romantic, but it can also be calming and make things feel special. So if you find yourself rushing to get dinner on the table this week and all you can manage is re-heated take-out or soup from a can, dim the lights, light a candle and see how it shifts the mood and changes the conversation. An additional bonus---no one will be able to see their plate that well, so you might be able to slip in an extra vegetable or two ;-)

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I'll Take the Corset

Whoever invented bedtime must have had a staff of servants on-hand to help them through the day. It just seems illogical that after a long day of parenting, there is still the heavy-lifting of bath-time, tooth-brushing and child-herding to be done. In an effort to get through this routine faster (so I can sip a glass of wine and watch movies), I have been known to cut a corner or two. I haven't gone so far as to pull out their baby teeth and replace them with little tiny dentures until their adult teeth grow in (tells you how much I like brushing teeth, doesn't it?), but I do sometimes catch myself speed-reading through bedtime stories.

That's why this weeks activity takes us back to pre-electricity era entertainment. This week, read a for it......ALOUD. Most people with small children already read aloud, and if that's you, this week do it some other time than bedtime and read the way you always imagined you would before you had kids....use all the funny voices, create suspense, "chew the scenery"....act it all out like a play. If your kids are older, grab a chapter book and read to them out loud. Pass the book around and take turns reading passages. Get into a deep philosophical conversation about how the story would be different if Hermione were the main character and Harry was the sidekick. If you need some book suggestions Read Aloud America has extensive reading lists of books that have "excellent read-aloud appeal" and are broken down by age group from Infant/Toddler to Ageless.

So get to your library, cozy up on the couch and enjoy!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What Caterpillars Can Teach Us About Our Health

No matter how good my intentions, it is hard to keep up with a consistently healthy diet when we travel for long periods of time. Add in the Holidays, and I feel like the Very Hungry Caterpillar after his Saturday feast of one piece of chocolate cake, one ice cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon. If you recall, he ends up with a stomachache. I generally just feel lethargic, foggy and ready to get everybody back on track once we return from our culinary escapade.

In Eric Carle's book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar feels much better after eating through one green leaf. Here's our "Sneaky Green Smoothie" recipe in case anyone in your house (like ahem...the Mom) has an aversion to cleansing, healthy greens. It took years for us to develop the proportions of this so we could get spinach and kale down the hatches. I call it "Sneaky" because you can't taste the greens because of the fruit. It will still have a green tinge, but if my kids wrinkle their noses, I just tell them "Hey you eat chocolate and it's brown!" and they know I mean business.

Sneaky Green Smoothie-makes 3-4 servings

    • 2 cups apple juice
    • 1 banana
    • 1 cup frozen strawberries
    • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
    • 1/2 cup frozen mango
    • 2 generous handfuls fresh spinach, kale, chard or any other dark leafy green
    • (optional supplements) 2 Tbs. coconut oil, ground flax meal, chia seeds. In winter months, we also add a tablespoon of acidophilus for immune support.
    * Preparation notes---we follow the Mary Poppins Method of helping the "medicine" go down here. You can substitute milk/nut milk/ice for the base and sweeten with maple syrup or stevia if you prefer less sugar. We also have a high powered blender at home. If you are using a standard blender, alternate pulsing the motor with tamping the fruit down with a spatula (motor off) until the liquids and solids begin to incorporate.

    1.  Place all ingredients in a blender.  Puree until smooth. You think that it's only 30 seconds, but let that baby blend for about 1 minute and a half, otherwise you will have a "Chunkie" not a "Smoothie".

    2. Pour and enjoy a cleansing, healthy drink.

    3. Sit down on the kitchen floor and have a "Smoothie Picnic" and enjoy the inevitable Smoothie Mustaches and Smoothie Unibrows.


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