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
OR
1/2 cup chocolate chips (dairy free, soy free)
Pinch of salt
OR
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.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

From the web: Fire-retardant PJs

http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/12/can-wearing-fire-retardant-pajamas-affect-your-childs-health/?utm_campaign=cc+tweets&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=141202+flame+retardant+pjs&dynid=twitter-_-cc+tweets-_-social-_-social-_-141202+flame+retardant+pjs

My take-away: Considering my kids spend (over) half their day in pajamas, we should probably avoid fire-retardant pjs. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adjustments

Radio silence on the blog, sometimes a good sign, sometimes a bad sign. This time it was just a busy sign; in that too busy to think (let alone write) kind of way. But things are finally, slowly but surely, winding down. Before I know it we will have a new normal, but in the interim we have adjustments, lots of adjustments. 

So let's catch up. The move was stressful. I flew with the kids to Texas, M drove and made it there two days later. We were packing until the very last second; it was beyond crazy and intense. The next couple of weeks we spent in Texas involved scouring rental listings, checking out google maps, coordinating the second part of the move, unpacking some stuff to leave in Texas and repacking some stuff we had waiting there for us. M flew to NYC for a weekend to see some places and I was just trying to survive solo parenting in a totally not baby proofed house.  We tried to do a few 
activities while we coordinated part two but all in all it was a very nomadic feeling.

Once our things were finally all packed in a pod and heading north, it was time for us to do the same. This was probably the best part: we took a week to drive up to New Jersey with the kids. The drive was intimidating and the longer stretches were not easy by any means, but they were troopers, and we even saw some cool places along the way. Dare I say, it was kind of fun. We arrived and headed straight to get some permits for our pods that would arrive the next day. And that just sums it up right there because the logistics were just exhausting (and something we are still dealing with). Since then it's been a lot of unpacking, organizing, buying, returning, and just figuring out how to set ourselves up. To sum: moving with kids; it was worse than I could have imagined. 

Now we are adjusting to a new place. Apartment living. Sleeping on a twin mattress (for Baby Brother), not going to school/speaking the language (for Little Boy). New routines for all of us. I'm looking forwards to a few months from now when hopefully we'll be a bit more organized, know some more people, and feel less like foreigners. In the meantime we'll just keep on truckin'.