Friday, September 27, 2013

Toddler Learning Activites

Although preschool does not start until the age of 2 1/2 for most kids, I still say that I home-school preschool my 21 month old. I believe strongly in the role of parents to teach children in every moment of their lives. I don't believe that toddlers need any formal education if parents grab every teachable moment. I discussed this in another post all about what Montessori calls practical life type of learning: Skirting the Full Monte(ssori). That being said, I began formal learning activities with my son around 19 months. I decided that since potty training was apparently the deciding factor for when a child would move from the toddler room to the more learning centered classroom in a Montessori school, why not use it as a gauge in my house? (I sort of say that tongue and cheek as I partly think it's ridiculous; yet, at the same time, I understand that there is something to be said once a child can mentally grasp potty very well may be a sign for something)

Jack's classroom is set up Montessori style. There are trays that he can grab from in two different sections of a room in our home used solely for this purpose. We go to this room for a half hour to 45 minutes every morning after our walk, and then once again in the afternoon if possible. The only rule in the school is that he must return the activities once he is done. He is allowed to explore them in any way he wants. He can do them on the floor or on the toddler table. The activities are changed every 2 weeks or so. However, I do add activities for holidays or seasons here and there. In a Montessori classroom there are numerous categories: Practical Life, Sensorial, Cultural, Language and Math. Practical Life is generally covered by most stay at home moms who involve their child in daily activities like emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the house, cooking. Sensorial and Cultural can overlap with music and art. At the age of a toddler there are pre-math activities such as sorting and counting steps. Language includes language acquisition and the physicality of writing which is helped by improving dexterity. I would love to put the activities into categories; however, many over lap. For example, our walks are sensorial for obvious reasons, but they are also cultural since we look at different leaves and plants and learn about our habitat, mathematical because we count things like trees and cars and categorize trees, and language because we learn new names for things. I will try to categorize the activities as best as possible.

Here are some of the activities curently in Jack's classroom:

Practical Life:
Setting the table

Making is morning vegetable/fruit shake

Baking (making honey cake for Rosh Hashanah)

Dinosaur Washing

Finding buried treasure (frogs)

Homemade scented play dough

Froze some toys in a bowl of water, he played with them until the toys melted out

Matching colors (this was an easy sew homemade activity)

Dyed rice

Pouring, this is an important activity in Montessori

Tracing helps to prepare for writing
Using tongs to pick up items begins for writing preparation

Threading (these are cut up milkshake straws)

Poker chips with letters on them he puts into the box

This is my only real deal Montessori item. The concept is that once kids can readily place these objects they are ready to learn to write (kids learn writing before reading in Montessori) The different circles are different depths and widths.

Homemade binder puzzle

Matching animals to their pictures on the blocks

Sorting beads by color and threading
Building and counting by color

Matching shapes and outlines


Matching paintings and artists

Colaberation for a mobile

Rosh Hashanah cards and apple stamping
There are many other activities that will be rotated into his room. Crayons, paper, and nonfiction books are ALWAYS available in his classroom. (He isn't deprived of fiction; we just keep it up stairs in his room)

***It is important to note that at this young of an age, it is really important that this is fun and student driven. No child should be forced to learn ever, but especially not at this age. Jack actually begs me to play in his classroom.

Monday, July 1, 2013


The greatest word I have taught my son so far is "Help" and he is actually starting to use it!

"Thank you", "Please", "Love you" are probably among the top phrases that we emphasize to our children in the beginning. We hope to hear them use these words with out prompting, and eventually they do. It feels wonderful to hear a 16 month old say please and thank you. The pride we take in polite children is powerful. However, I never ever imagined the power of the word "Help" and it was totally accidental.

We keep a bucket of toys just above my son's eye level in the living room. He started to be able to reach the bucket, and I didn't want him to hurt himself by pulling it down so I would say, "Help?" when he reached for it. Then I would take it down. Eventually he would point to it and say "Elp". This was great, but the benefits go way deeper than communicating a need.

At around the 17, 18 month mark kids start to develop the "Me Do!" attitude. This is that annoying, but incredibly exciting attitude that they want to do it, on their own, and their way. They also get incredibly frustrated when they can't do something, sometimes resulting in temper tantrums. "Help" has helped with this tremendously. First, in the obvious way that my child can ask for help if he needs it. This is a powerful lesson for a growing mind. Knowing that he can rely on others to help is encouraging. It also instills a sense of community in him; as a family, we work together.

The second benefit is that I can offer help when I see frustration, and he knows what I mean. When I say "offer help" I mean exactly that, help. Probably the most important part of this word is that it doesn't mean I do it for him. This means that I hold his hands, manipulate his fingers to help him and show him how to do it himself.

How to help the "right" way? When your child asks for help or you offer it, NEVER grab the object they need help with, you should always first grab their hands. Try to move their hands to the correct motion that they need for success. Of course there are situations where this is impossible or difficult like reaching for an object up high, but the point is that we need to fight the natural instinct to just do things for our kids and actually help them.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Skirting the Full Monte(ssori)

I may have screwed my son up by confining him in a crib...he will never learn to think outside the box now.

Although there are certain concepts of Montessori that seem abstract or odd to the average person (having a child sleep on a mattress on the floor from birth, with a mirror beside it), there are other concepts that so perfectly and clearly make sense.

Practical Participation
So begins our journey with Montessori. One of the concepts that I believe in strongly, I'd say the most of all of the Montessori theories is what I'll refer to as "practical participation" (they refer to it as Practical Life). This is the idea that having children do practical, daily, perhaps mundane, things is actually more stimulating and healthy for them than playing with noisy, flashing, toys that supposedly teach them the alphabet. Interestingly, this is something that is sadly lost with modern moms, especially working moms. Children used to partake in household chores at a young age, now they are not around for those chores or they are put in front of a TV show while these chores take place. Of course I am not saying this isn't possible to impliment practical participation while working; I do it. As a working mom, we just tend to value the little time we do have and want to fill it with fun and play. However, we don't realize how much fun a kid can have participating in daily chores. Instead of saving it for after the kid goes to bed, have him help you make his lunch for the next day, "fold" the laundry, dust the shelves and so on. Avoid entertaining them with the TV while you race to get your household duties completed before bedtime. A child would much rather be involved with you than the TV, even if they don't know it yet.

Practical Participation can either cause WAY more stress or take stress away from from you. In the beginning you may hate it. It will all depend on how you look at it. It's kind of like working overtime today for a great vacation tomorrow. You are not only building amazing neurons and pathways in your child's brain, you are also teaching them independence, pride, and self esteem. Don't set yourself up for disaster and distress thinking that you will get the task done the same way and in the same amount of time. Does it take me longer to empty the dishwasher when Jack helps? YES, you betchya...more than double. But I am also killing two or more birds with one stone, or plate.

What a dishwasher can teach that Elmo doesn't:

Jack helping at 10 months

  • Sorting (placing the small plates, large plates, spoons in piles)
  • Everything has a place (something some adults still don't get)
  • Community (as a family unit we work together and help each other out)
  • Cycles (every chore, activity, has a clear beginning, middle and end)
  • Concentration (Montessori puts a huge emphasis on the power of concentration and brain development. I'm not going to get into the science behind this, but it is very convincing)
  • Pride ("I can do something!" Instead of me shoving him away from the dishwasher while I try to empty it with record speed)
  • Language (naming items)
  • Big/Little (comparing sizes of objects)
  • Matching (matching lid sizes for tupperware)
  • Hand Play (Montessori also emphasizes how important working with the hands are to brain development. This is another very interesting Montessori concept to look into if you have the time.)
  • Careful (allowing a child to handle fragile things gives them the opportunity to understand the concept of being careful and gentle with certain items)

I am sure there are many more, and they change as a child gets older. In the beginning Jack just grabbed silverwear and threw it into the drawer. Then he would hand me pieces, and I would sort (this also practiced "thank you"), now he is beginning to sort items on his own on the floor and then I put them in the cabinet. Again, I am not creating a workhorse here. This is not a means to enslave a child and pass on a chore. In fact, watching us do this it looks more like a lesson than a chore.

Beyond anything this teaches both of us that you can learn in every moment of your life; therefore, creating my ultimate goal for him: LIFE LONG LEARNER

Some other practical participation we do at 18 months:
  • Laundry (moving items into the basket from the dryer, putting items into the drawers)
  • Dusting
  • Throwing away garbage
  • Putting clothing in hamper
  • Cleaning highchair
  • Cutting food (using a vegetable cutter is great because it isn't sharp)
  • Pouring drinks
  • Vacuuming
  • Feeding Pets (feeding the dog is probably Jack's favorite activity)
  • Making food (only about 25-50% of the time does he help, but I try to have him at least help with his meals...the only reason he doesn't help more is because I am a little bit of a neat freak, that's my issue, not his)
  • Letting the dog out to go to the bathroom
  • Cleaning up toys before bed
  • Retreval Tasks (at first I felt weird about this, like it was playing fetch with my child, but he loves it and it has been great for vocabulary building, "Go get your blanket" "Give daddy his apple")
I will continue to post different activities that we do/have done that are based in or skirt the Montessori philosophies, but I think this is one of the most powerful and easiest starting points.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Face, Skin and Décolleté

I am no beauty queen, nor am I makeup obsessed.  Make-up isn’t something I live for, nor die for. I can leave the house without makeup, though I hardly ever leave without eyebrows or mascara. However, I do know a little something about the trials and tribulations of skin. I was on two rounds of Accutane as a teenager; you know, the heavy stuff. As a result my adult skin is bountiful with large pores, but I probably only get 5 pimples a year max (unless I’m pregnant).  I have slept in makeup most of my life. A few years ago I was with my father and brother. We all have different variations of the same nose. I remember looking at the pores on his nose. I never thought anything of the giant craters, and I am sure he never did either, but it hit me, that was my future nose, and that is no nose for a woman. So after many different experiments with many different skin care products, expensive and cheap, I arrived at the most amazing products in the world, Dr. Hauschka. I definitely want to emphasizes that skin care is leaps and bounds more important than makeup. The goal of skin care is not to have to wear so much makeup, and those that wear tons of makeup generally do not have good skin care. In addition to looking for the best products, I also wanted ethical products, but like with everything, I straddle that grid too.

I should probably include some hysterical joke about the title and what your décolleté is (believe it or not we all have one), but I am struggling for wit right now. My first site of the term was in the Dr. Hauschka brochure with directions to include my décolleté in my beauty procedure. Quite concerned that I might not have a décolleté I googled it. Apparently it is the upper part of a woman's torso. I think in the terms of skin care it means the area between your neck and your breasts, what a simpleton such as myself might call, your chest.

The Brands

AlimaPure sends great, little samples with  all orders
Ethical, Humane, Mostly Vegan:
  •             Dr.Hauschka
  •             Stila
  •             Tarte
  •             AlimaPure (supporting small business bonus)
  •             PeaceKeppers (they specialize in "cause-metics")

The other side of the grid:

The Process
(“process” sounds like it takes a long time, it doesn’t)

I brush my teeth with homemade toothpaste at night. In the morning I think I need the stronger rat poison stuff. (Homemade: baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint oil)
Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk- wash my face with this and warm water (all of these products are meant to be patted into the skin and not rubbed, use Dr. Hauschka’s press and roll method)

Charlie Banana Wipes- I use these wipes and LOVE them for my face. They are really baby bum wipes (though these have never seen a baby’s bottom). They are so soft and two sided. I use the soft side at night and the rougher side in the morning to apply my toner since it isn’t absorbent). I splash my face with cold water after to close the pores.

Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream Light- I like this at night, it is thicker than what I use in the day. You really don’t need as much as is pictured. It smells great and sometimes I find myself petting myself because it is so soft. Dr. Hauschka argues against night creams; however, my skin is always itchy and dry at night, so I use it.

Raw Honey- Occasionally, maybe every week and a half, I put raw honey on my skin before moisturizing. You rub it in and leave it on for a little while, 10-20 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water.

Hands- I often use a lot of my face products on my hands when I remember. I personally believe the clearest signs of aging are on people’s necks and hands (even after plastic surgery). Why not treat them like you treat your face?


Dr. Hauschka Cleansing  Milk- I wash my face in the shower in the morning; the steam will really pop open your pores.

Dr. Hauschka Facial Toner- Using the rougher side of the cloth wipe I use the toner on my skin and down my neck. Toner is also nice after you work out to wipe off the sweat.

Dr. Hauschka Normalizing Day Oil- I apply about 5 drops all over my face, even my nose! I know it sounds counterproductive to put oil on your face; however, the over production of oil is usually due to dryness. Also, oily skin doesn’t wrinkle as early on as dry skin (the only benefit of oily skin). I find that this stuff causes my face to be less oily throughout the day; in fact, I never have a shiny nose. I am sure most people would be concerned about breaking out from this. I break out from coconut oil on my face, but not this oil.

Kiss my Face- I use this as my all over body lotion when I come out of the shower

Mama Bee Belly Butter- I use this while pregnant on my belly, backside and chest, any area where stretch marks are possible….sometimes even my thighs.

The only downfall to this skin care morning routine is that it doesn’t include sunscreen. Although I am not a crazy supporter of the 100 spf sunscreen nation, I do like a little protection on my face. However, this is something that can be added when needed.

Morning Makeup:
Bare minimum for me means eyebrows and eyelashes. I think I was supposed to be albino. Although my skin is light, I am not insanely fair and my hair is dark. However, my eyebrows, eyelashes and the hair on my body is blond. The only benefit is I can get away with waxing my eyebrows three times a year. I look weird without eyebrow shadow and mascara so those are the two things I usually wear no matter what.

This is my arsenal of make-up I use every day that I go out in public. It takes me about 5 minutes to put my “face” on. My makeup is very light. Obviously, what I do varies depending on the day and season. I don’t wear blush year round, and I don’t wear lipstick every day.

Peace Keeper Eco-Sensual Lipbalm- This is a lip moisturizer; I actually usually put it on right after I use my toner.

Stila Smudge Crayon Eye Primer- I put this all over my eyelids to hold the shadow and liner on throughout the day. I have chronic dry eye and use eye drops throughout the day, this prevents me from looking like a raccoon.

Dr. Hauschka Liner- I put this on top and bottom lids and smudge it a little. As I said, this stuff stays on very well for someone who is always putting eye drops in.

Anastasia Brow Powder Duo- I prefer powder to an eyebrow pencil; it looks way more natural.

Doir Eyeshadow- I have always used this stuff, and I like it a lot. It stays in place, and it isn’t too bold.

Alima Pure Eyeshadow (luminous shimmer)- This is my new favorite, I have their shimmery line, and it isn’t ridiculous for every day use. It stays on well throughout the day.


Stila- This has a nice thick brush and stays on nicely.
Dr. Hauschka- Sometimes I use this on top of Stilla because it  separates lashes very well. I bought this first, but the alcohol  (I assume that’s what it is) in it made my eyes tear up when I applied it, so now I just use it sparingly. It is a great product though; I think I just have sensitive eyes.


Alima Pure Concealer- I only use this if I have a pimple

Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation- I love this foundation, and especially love the brush they make as it is extra soft and according to their website, good for sensitive skin. It covers nicely, but lightly and minimizes the look of pores without clogging them like Bareminerals.

Tarte Bronzer- I lightly apply this just about every day as a nice little color pop and healthy glow.
Tarte Natural Cheek Stain- This is not only a great creamy blush, but also can be used as lip-gloss!

Peace Keeper Lipstick- This lipstick is nice and doesn’t make my lips look all dry and peely. I maybe use it 2 times a week.

Obviously it is important to do your own research with different products. Both Dr. Hauschka and Alima pure have sample sizes that you can order and try out (Dr. Hauschka it’s a travel pack). Tarte and Stila are available at Sephora if you want to try it and have the option of returning it if you don't like it. See what you like best.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A-Z (okay, maybe Y) of "off-the-beatten-path" Family Friendly Foods

I came across an article on that was a list of “off-the-beaten-path food for toddlers A-Z” Although some foods were off the beaten path (B is for Black Strap Molasses) most I found to be pretty standard things that I think maybe people don’t think to feed their kids but aren’t something someone would give you a funny look for (K- Kiwi, D-Date, P-Pumpkin). I’m not knocking any of these foods, but it got me thinking about what are some real “off-the-beaten-path” things that I feed myself or my family? So here is my “off-the-beaten-path” list. I didn’t go insanely off the path because I think they should be readily, or fairly readily available foods. Disclaimer: Everything has pros and cons that you have use your own judgment in weigh. In addition, I am not a doctor nor am I a nutritionist…I’m just a mom who reads up on things. So here they are:

A: Adzuki Beans: These are little red beans that make for a yummy vegan breakfast a friend taught me about by combining them with brown or wild rice and dates to make a sort of porridge (I throw in chia seeds too). They are a nutty sweet bean with great benefits in the bowl department due to their magnesium and fiber content. They are also rich in zinc and iron. Bean in general are fairly magical!

B: Black Strap Molasses- I am keeping this suggestion because it is a new find for me. It is high in calcium and iron. As a family that doesn’t consume milk, this is a great option to add to our food to sneak in a little extra calcium. You can cook kale with it, or add it to a shake. (Runner up: Beets/Borchet)

C: Chia Seeds- These are not just for pets. They are a wonderful seed that is easy to sneak into things, and it is high in protein, contain omega-3, help balance sugar, cholesterol fighter. I often add chia seeds to quinoa and rice. (Runner up: Coconut Oil)

D: Date Paste- says dates. I say dates are great, but date paste is a little more off the path and certainly an awesome sweetener. You can blend it into shakes, almond milk or bake with it.

E: Elderberry- Elderberry isn’t really something that I would eat, but it is a wonderful defense against colds that is safe and readily available. I generally mix elderberry with coldeeze when I feel a cold coming on mix it with room temperature water and chug it.

F: Flax Seed Oil- With a yummy, nutty flavor, flax seed oil is a nice addition to most dishes. I usually just squirt some into our shakes, or on our food instead of olive oil. It is another source of omega 3’s and fiber.

G: Goats Milk- If you are going to consume milk, goats milk is the most easily digested milk. If it the most similar to human milk and when breast milk isn’t available it is wonderful for a formula substitute (there are tons of recipes for that on line). It is also possible to get fresh goats milk in most states where fresh cows milk is illegal. (Runner up: Goji Berries)

H: Honey (raw)- Raw honey, especially local, helps fight allergies, but my favorite place for honey is in my cosmetic bag. Raw honey is a wonderful hair treatment that can be used to slowly lighten your hair. It also is wonderful on your skin for minimizing pores and acne scaring (I mix it with coconut oil and make a mask).

I: Injera Bread- Later on I have teff on the list, so maybe this isn’t fair because it’s main ingredient is teff, but it is a lovely, light and gluten free bread like option.

J: Japonica Black Rice- This is a nice alternative to brown or wild rice. Although “Japonica” is kind of cheating because it is a trademark name, it is an ancient type of rice that has made a resurgence.

K: Kale- Certainly growing in popularity, kale is a great source of calcium. I personally hate kale chips, but there are other options like raw kale salads, cooked kale, kale in a smoothie.

L: Lotus Root- A very low calorie root vegetable, so it satisfies that carby craving without the calories. It is a complex carb and high in fiber which is great for blood sugar. It is also very high in vitamin C.

M: Mushrooms- Just about the only vegan food that is naturally a great source of vitamin D…no fortification here. Mushrooms come in many varieties that appeal to different taste buds and different nutritional needs.

N: Nato- This is not something that I eat personally as I avoid soy and can’t get over my memories of the smell of my mom eating it as a child (dirty socks). However, it’s worth mentioning as it is a little known “super food” which is high in both K1 and K2. K2 is hard to find (it’s mostly in bacteria, yuk) but really prevents bone loss by some pretty drastic numbers. Nato is basically fermented soy beans.

O: Oolong- Although not as amazing as green tea, oolong does have many of the same benefits without the intense flavor. I personally get pretty instant stomach cramps from green tea, so I find oolong to be a nice alternative.

P: Persimmon- An often overlooked and rather delicious fruit, I didn’t have my first persimmon until I was 30 years old and decided to buy one for my son.

Q: Quinoa- Completely mainstream and perhaps not really “off-the-beaten-path” now, but still one of my favorite grains. Quinoa is very versatile and wonderfully high in protein. It is also an easy sell for most people because it is a fluffy light grain and not to different from couscous in texture.

R: Rainbow Trout- Very similar looking to salmon, in fact the first time I bought it I pointed to it thinking it was salmon. The flavor is much more mild than salmon. (with all seafood, wild caught is obviously preferred and in my opinion with certain fish, the only option (especially salmon))

S: Sauerkraut/Kimchi- Fermented cabbage has amazing enzymes that help the body to digest more efficiently. I try to consume a cup of sauerkraut a few times a week, even better would be daily.

T: Teff- I fell in love with teff the first time I had Ethiopian food. It is used to make a very yummy, spongy bread called injera. Teff makes a very delicious sweet, warm cereal. It is a great source of iron and fiber.

U: Ugly Fruit- A citrus fruit that packs vitamin C and protein it is somewhere between an orange and a grapefruit (though I can’t stand grapefruit so obviously it’s not that close to one in flavor)

V: Vinegar- Okay, okay, so I use vinegar every day and go through TONS of it, but I hardly every actually consume it, though my son LOVES vinegary foods like cucumber salad and pickled beets. Vinegar is my cleaning lady. It can be used to safely clean just about anything. I clean my son’s toys and sometimes even his hands with it. Half water and half white vinegar in a spray bottle goes a long way. My husband hates vinegar and the smell nauseates him so I started adding a few drops of orange oil into my cleaning solution. This also helped because while pregnant anytime I cleaned all I wanted was salt and vinegar potato chips.

W: Water from the Tap- The more I look around me the more I see that this one is WAY off the beaten path. Tap water has gotten a bad name thanks to the wonderful advertising bottled water companies do. Tap water is tested more often than bottled water and is much more closely monitored. I’m not going to even get into the trash that comes from all of the bottles or the chemicals in the plastic or the cost.

X: Xylitol- This is something that really is only good and safe in very small doses and may just be the lesser of evils. I love chewing gum, so xylitol offers a safe option to sugar or fake sweeteners. It also has antibacterial elements to it, which is great for killing bad breath.

Y: Yucca- Is a root vegetable that is an amazing anti-inflammatory. I have made it like chips (similar to fried plantains) or as more of a mashed potato (comes out very gooey). They are pretty readily available in ALL supermarkets in my area.

Z: (Runner up according to my husband: Little Debbie’s Zebra Cakes) ….I honestly have nothing for this one. The only “z” I eat is zucchini, and it is certainly not off the beaten path.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Stradling the Fridge

Food glorious food...the more you read about food and nutrition the more it seems like your only options are water and air, and even those seem rather scary. We are currently going through a milk dilemma, which I will talk about once I get a handle on my feelings about that for my family, but when it comes to food, sometimes it seems like ignorance is bliss.

I have always had difficulty with straddling the line between health and enjoyment. As I've gotten older I have learned to LOVE vegetables, but I think most of this love comes from knowing how good they are for me. It takes time to accept health over enjoyment. While I don't think food is meant to be enjoyed as it is just sustenance, it is the world we live in and frankly, there are some things that are absolutely delicious. So, as an adult I can logic and reason and take complete responsibility for my weight, however, how does one do this with children?

I was not allowed to have sugared cereal except for maybe once a year, but I also never learned portion control. There is something to be said for allowing some "forbidden fruit" so children learn to control urges. At the same time, I can't explain to my son that candy has white sugar that isn't really meant to be processed by our bodies and elevates our blood sugar and stores as fat and we have diabetes in the family and so on and so on...he's 16 months old! I understand it and sometimes it is still a difficult choice to make.

The second issue is, what is safe? It is difficult to decide what is "worth" what. Yeah, cows milk is a quick and easy source of calcium, protein and fat for my kid, but it's also a source of cow pus and blood. Beans are a wonderful and healthy source of protein and fiber, but my son will have uncomfortable gas if he eats too much.

There is enough for moms to get hung up on and drive ourselves crazy about, do we really need to be hung up on food? I'd love to feed my son whole organic foods and beef that was raised in healthy happy fields with classical music being played as they were slaughtered. The fact of the matter is, he's going to go to parties, he's going to sometimes buy a school lunch, he's going to live in the world of microwaves and potato chips...I need to teach him how to live among it.

It is 1:30 and so far Jack's food has gone like this:

  • Breakfast: 4 ounces of water, 1 cup of "cheerios" (some gluten free organic fake cheerios, lightly sugared with pomegranate juice (lovely and pretentious)), a bowl of applesauce and cinnamon
  • A few hours later he had a cup of half almond milk and half water
  • While I was baking dessert for passover he broke into the pantry and had a handful of dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries and prunes), and I gave him a dark chocolate chip and a marshmallow to try from the brownies I was making
  • Lunch: 1 cup of organic kidney beans with garlic and olive oil, diced tomatoes with olive oil and sea salt (left over from a salad), and a cup of fruit salad (grapes, blueberries, and strawberries (all lovingly organic))
  • Before his nap he had a handful of goldfish

In retrospect how do I feel? Well, a few months ago or pre having a child I'd feel bad about the marshmallow and the goldfish (it's funny that the chocolate chip doesn't bother me at all)

How does Jack feel? Happy, content, and full enough to be napping right now.

The fact that my kid can have 1 chocolate chip and walk away and keep playing makes me proud...I probably shoved 10 in my mouth while baking. Should I have used flax seed oil over olive? Should I have used fresh garlic? Should I have given him home made beans instead of rinsed organic canned? Yes, probably yes to all of these things...but is my ultimate goal being met?

Are 90% of his calories coming from healthy/nutritious foods?         YES
Is he learning healthy foods can be yummy?                                  YES (he loved them more than the chocolate)
Is he learning self-control?                                                            YES, appears so

Overall, there is a fine line between sheltering and exposing. If I don't expose him, he won't know how to deal with life's obstacles?

*Jack finished the day with a dinner of wild salmon and flounder, broccoli, and banana. Oh, and a taste of the passover brownies I made (which he enjoyed but walked away from to point at the bananas and scream "nanners") In the course of a life time, does a handful of goldfish or non-organic dried garlic really matter?

I'd feel like I was not doing my civil duty if I did not include infomration on honest food labeling (which for those of you who don't know, there are plenty of misnomers on our food that are government approved).
This is a link to the Coalition for Honest Food Labeling:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Parenting by any other name would…still be loving your child

What camp are you from? Are you a Dr. Sear’s follower, or do you believe in Babywise? Are you Vax-er? CD-er? BF-er? Babywearer? Which acronym defines us as parents? We subscribe to a camp of thought, a group of beliefs that begin to define our parenting, define us.  To the internet world of mommy groups I’d probably be considered an AP CD-er who vaxes and babywears.  To me, I’m a mom who loves my son and leads with my gut. Seeing as though we like to subscribe names and labels to things, understandably, I’d like to say that I am a “natural” mom, but I don’t think that is the term. Even that term could imply things that aren’t true about my parenting. I vax and my kid consumes chemical laden goldfish daily.  My ideals coincide with Attachment Parenting, but I don’t co-sleep and I don’t leap over furniture to grab my son if he is crying, though I do go to him. Which parent am I?

I started thinking about this when my husband was up late one night researching the Ferber method. Why? I have no clue, my son sleeps fine and we never ferberized him. Maybe a little background is necessary, my husband cringes and shuts down if I start a sentence with “Dr. Sears” or “Attachment Parenting”. He apparently set out to see what the whole Cry it Out verse rocking your child argument was all about. He approached me the next day, hesitantly, to inform me of the research he found discounting attachment parenting and it’s scientific research claims. Then he went on about how, with the next baby, we shouldn’t read any books and should just do what feels right. I laughed. Little did he know, other than reading things to support what I was already doing and reassure myself, I read very little in the realm of how to raise a child. Between the wonderful things I watched my sister do with her kids, the way I was raised and my gut I found my way. He seemed relieved, “But I thought you were an AP Mom?” Yes, if I am in a room with moms I know that if I need to identify myself as something, saying I am AP will get most of my points across. Saying I am AP will let people know most of my philosophies and the intentions of my parenting. However, I am not an AP mom…I am an instinctual mom. I parent from my heart and monitor my heart with my mind.

Society convinces women that they are not capable of parenting without a book, and they cannot give birth without a class. Books and classes are great, but a parent can’t survive googling every choice. I believe you need to parent from the hip (both literally wearing baby there and shooting from there). Although I owned plenty of books to consult, I found it overwhelming to read them before I had my son. So, I consulted them at different points. When Jack suddenly started waking up in at 4am around 6 months, when I heard someone say that I should get him off the bottle at a year. I felt certain responses in my gut, consulted books and google and then inevitably, went with my gut. Fortunately parenting is NOT a science and because of that, it is possible to find articles to support any of your beliefs and reassure you that you are doing the right thing.

We need to support each other and develop a new way of thinking. Maybe, just maybe, we know how to raise great kids, productive members of society, without anyone else’s input but our own. Just maybe, we are born with this knowledge. We don’t need names for what we do, because in the end we all do the same exact thing, love our children.