Archive for March, 2011

Mr. Tomato Head Helps Children Eat Veggies

Does the thought of climbing Mount Everest seem like a more manageable task than getting your kids to eat their veggies?  If so, maybe Mr. Tomato Head can help (along with some additional tips). 

Do try this at home:

  • Offer “special treats” and snacks in the form of veggies.  At times, it is the thought of dinner that makes kids automatically put their guard up…they just know there will be something green on their plate.  Mr. Tomato Head will somehow seem more appealing when it appears to be a “special treat.” 
  • Put away (or don’t buy) the junk.  Instead, keep a fruit bowl on the counter and ready-to-eat veggies in the fridge. 
  • Get your kids involved.  Let them pick out recipes they may want to try, let them pick out the veggies from the supermarket or local farmers market, and then let them help cook.  Kids like to help and if they feel a sense of pride in what they’ve made, they’ll want to eat it.  I tried this one year at Thanksgiving.  My niece and nephew wanted to help cook.  I decided to let them help make the broccoli and cauliflower casserole.  I had them cut the veggies and mix them in with the other ingredients.  I think they ate more of that dish than anything else and insisted that everyone try it. 
  • Talk about veggies like they are something to enjoy.  Say things like, “yum, I really like the Zucchini and it is so healthy for us.”  We all know that children pick up on our vibes and especially what we say. 
  • What kid wants to eat a blob of spinach (I don’t even want to eat it)?  Instead, offer variety and have some fun with it!       

(Share your tips and tricks with the group.  We can use all the help we can get!)       

I found these recipes on parents.com.  I’ve only included two, but the article gives 30 Kid-Friendly Fresh Veggie Meals.  Check it out for additional, fun recipes to try!

Source: parents.com

Mr. Tomato Head

Hollow out a tomato, saving the top slice. Fill with cooked couscous mix, top with shredded basil, and cover partially with reserved tomato top, as shown. Rest black-olive slices on tomato ledge for eyes. Cut a piece of provolone cheese in the shape of a mouth and place it right on the tomato — it’ll stick.

Source: parents.com

Tasty Tic-Tac-Toe

Peel an eggplant and cut lengthwise into sticks. Toss in a bowl with 1 egg and 1/4 cup milk, then coat with bread crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Arrange strips like a tic-tac-toe board and fill in with cherry-tomato halves and broccoli.

 

P.S., Don’t forget to take the poll in the right navigation bar.  I’ll take the poll down next week and want your input!

Motherhood: The Hardest Job We’ll Have

I love my readers and I know you read my blog partly because you are looking for an encouraging environment. I’ve experienced the love and support I speak of from many of my readers who I also know in person. I feel it safe to assume that most, if not all, of you are the same way. I’m going to rant a little and hope that this post encourages you to uplift mothers even more than you already do. I apologize for the long post. I hope you’ll read it.

I often linger on parenting websites, because I’m an information junkie. Yesterday, I stumbled across an article that had an eye-catching title, but seemed to lack reliability. In the end, it wasn’t the topic that necessarily bugged me; it was the response from the readers. Being a mother is a hard job – probably the hardest. We are all trying our hardest to be the best mothers we know how to be (there are always exceptions to the rules). Not one of us will do a perfect job. We may hit the mark in one area and then slide in another, but in the end we all love our children and attempt to do what is best for them.  My issue is with the competitiveness between mothers and how mothers can be so judgmental and mean to one another. It amazes me how judgmental mothers can be when they themselves feel the pressure and even experience judgment. Why do we tear each other down when we should be encouraging one another?

The article I read discussed breastfeeding and the workplace. Instantly, mothers started going at one another.  I couldn’t believe the lashing I was reading – comments that didn’t even relate to the article. I just wanted to scream, “Why do you do this to one another?” Yes, it has been proven that “breast is best,” and I personally think that mothers should try to breastfeed if they can and for as long as they can. HOWEVER, it doesn’t always work out and it isn’t always an option for some.     

So, what causes this back-and-forth? I think that we are all a little defensive. If you are feeding your baby (with bottle or breast) and someone looks at you, you automatically think the worst; when, in reality, they could be admiring your little cutie (the baby, not your breast!). We try so hard and we torture ourselves to no end because we feel this incredible responsibility to our children. We feel this way because we love our children with our entire selves and feel that everything is a reflection on us as mothers. I admit, it is a heavy load and I’m no exception to the feelings I’m describing here.

To breastfeeding mothers:

  • I commend you on the incredible job you’ve done sticking with it! It is hard, difficult, and often trying. You have pressed on when others have given up and you have done a wonderful job.
  • It is important to remember; others who don’t breastfeed or don’t stick with it as long as you have don’t make those decisions because they don’t care about their children or because they care about themselves more (for the most part, remember there are always exceptions). Walk into the NICU and talk to the premie moms who never had the chance to breastfeed because their milk never came in. There are many, many situations that cause mothers to use formula. After all, there was a reason why formula was created.

To formula feeding moms:

  • I commend you for trying and for sticking with it as long as you could. If you weren’t able to breast feed, then it isn’t the end of the world. There is no doubt that you love your children….even more than you love yourself. You will do so much for your children, beyond nutrition, that will shape a happy, healthy child.
  • Remember to support breastfeeding moms. Imagine what they go through to breastfeed their children for the first year. It isn’t an easy job, and they do deserve some credit. Acknowledging their efforts does not mean you are admitting you did anything wrong.

We make choices every day that impact and shape our children. From what they eat – to how they are raised – to the love and affection they receive. It is a combination of factors that creates well-rounded, healthy, smart children.  There is a laundry list of things you should and shouldn’t do.  You will drive yourself crazy if you stress over every little thing.  Do the best you can.  That is all I can do for my son – the best I can.  I bet our children will turn out to be lovely!   

I’ll end with an enlightening story and then share my experience with breastfeeding.

Story

My husband and I had  just finished eating dinner at Leong’s, a local Chinese restaurant, and I was walking Kaden around to distract him (it was getting close to bedtime and I wouldn’t let him eat my general chicken, remember he is only 7 months). He starts smiling at this little baby, so I walk him over to meet her. Both babies were being very social with their social smiles. I asked the dad how old the baby was. I was very surprised when he said, “11 months.” I would have guessed 11 WEEKS. He immediately started defending her size….we are her foster parents and are in the process of adopting. She was 5 lbs when she was born and was extremely malnourished when we got her. She has grown so much since then, but still can’t sit up or crawl…. I just smiled, because I knew he thought he needed to make his case (as we all do sometimes). I just smiled and said, “She is perfect and I can tell that you have so much love for her. She is lucky to have you as a dad. She’ll catch up before you know it.” He replied, “You have no idea what it means to hear someone say that.”  I could tell they were feeling the, unnecessary, pressure.  

My breastfeeding journey

Some moms (me included) really try everything they can to make breastfeeding work, and it is heartbreaking to us when it doesn’t work out. I did everything I could to breastfeed my son and it was successful for the first 3 months. My son latched on, my milk supply was high, and everything was good. Then, as my son’s digestive system began to develop, he had incredible gas issues. He would cry every night. I would try to play with him and he would just cry. Sometimes he didn’t make a sound. He’d just sit while tears streamed down his face. I spoke to his doctor and a lactation consultant. It broke my heart to watch him suffer so much. My doctor finally told me something that helped. She said, “Yes, breast is best, but if your son can’t play, or interact or bond with you, then the benefits may not outweigh his suffering.” She explained that he needs to play and interact to develop and learn properly. After consulting with his pediatrician, I decided that I would try formula for one week (while continuing to pump so my supply didn’t go down – I was determined to breast feed). Within 24 hours of him being on formula, his tummy troubles went away and he was back to his happy self. I was able to kiss those cute dimples that only surfaced when he smiled. He even laughed for the first time during that week. Still, I kept pumping. I couldn’t allow myself to stop. A week later, I convinced my husband to let me try the breast milk again. I thought that maybe we’d have a different result. Within 24 hours my son was back to crying constantly. I even tried half milk and half formula…I was determined, but that didn’t work either. My husband finally asked me, “is it better to give him breast milk and have him be in that much pain?” He went on to say, “We do have a responsibility to our son, but that goes beyond nutrition. He deserves to be happy.” He also asked, “Don’t you think he’ll develop better if he can actually play and interact with us?” All good points. After a lot of tears, I finally quit pumping. My son is a very happy and healthy 7 month old. His development is advanced (which is another debate b/c I know it is all averages, so let’s say….above the average). He and I also have an incredible bond. I couldn’t imagine a stronger bond between me and my son, but I did put in a lot of Kaden and mommy time to make up for not breastfeeding.

When I first started my son on formula, I’d get a lot of dirty looks (we all get dirty looks, it doesn’t matter what choices you make), and moms would ask, “you aren’t breastfeeding?” in a very judgmental tone. At first, I’d go into my whole explanation as if I had to defend my decisions. After time, I began to examine these judgmental women. One mom (who didn’t even know me) was talking to me about breastfeeding; her young daughter came up and tugged on her shirt. The mom turned around and snapped, “get away from me, can’t you see I’m talking, God, you are so annoying today.” The girl walked away with tears in her eyes. At that moment I realized, yes, breast is best, but it doesn’t, in any way, determine your child’s future. I walked away from that conversation thinking, “I am a great mom and my son doesn’t know how blessed he is.”  After that day, I never questioned my decision.  He is so incredibly happy and I love seeing those dimples as opposed to tears. 

Let’s focus on uplifting and encouraging one another.  We all have hard jobs!  Feel free to share your stories with the group, but remember….this is a place designated for encouragement!

My little cutie with "kiss me" dimples (2 months)

Delicious & Healthy Cookies

My friend, Sonja, the author of The Happy Veggie, shares the best recipes.  She is very healthy and very inspiring!  I love reading her blog and enjoy trying her recipes.  She recently gave me these cookies to try, and they were very tasty!  When she told me the recipe would be posted to her blog, I couldn’t wait.  I was eager to learn the ingredients of the oh-so-yummy cookies that I knew had to be healthy.  If you can trick me into eating healthy cookies, I’m in! 

I immediately thought of my For the Love of Mom readers.  We need to stay healthy and keep our families healthy, right?  Nod and say, “yes.”  These cookies are completely healthy.  You (and your kids) won’t regret trying these cookies.  In fact, you’ll love them.  Create some family time, while teaching your children that healthy eating can be very tasty, by having your children help “bake.” 

Do you have a fantastic cookie recipe?  Please share!

Chocolate Banana Cookies

(click above link and scroll down for recipe).     

Image Source: The Happy Veggie

Save on Clothing…Click for Your Coupon

We all love to find cute, name brand children’s clothing at incredible prices, right?  I search out good deals to the point of annoyance – my husband will not shop with me!  BUT he is always thrilled (and thankful) when I come home with some great finds.   Unless I find something that is super cute, I don’t spend more than $2-$3 on a clothing item for my son…..and he dresses nice (at least I think so).  I’ll share one of my biggest shopping secrets with my readers…that is you! 

Before I go on, I must give a shout out to my newest subscriber from Portland, Oregon.  I hope you enjoy For the Love of Mom.  The mall I will reference is not located near you, but I’m sure you have an outlet close by and you can still benefit from the tips.  Welcome to For the Love of Mom! 

Items in above picture:

  • 12 pjs from Children’s Place
  • 5 shorts from Children’s Place
  • 1 pair of sweat pants from Baby Gap
  • 1 sweatshirt from Baby Gap
  • 5 long sleeve tee-shirts from Baby Gap
  • 1 tee-shirt from The Children’s Place
  • 3 short sleeve, collared shirts from Children’s Place
  • 1 hoodie from Osh Kosh
  • 3 sweaters from Children’s Place
  • Not Shown: one down coat and a pair of sandals from Children’s Place

Retail Price = $451.44

Price Paid = $73.68  (34 items = $2.17 per item)

How To:

1.   I shop the sidewalk sales at Tanger Outlet in Branson.  There are good deals at the outlets in Osage Beach, but I typically find better deals in Branson. 

TANGER OUTLET IS HAVING A SIDEWALK SALE EASTER WEEKEND- APRIL 22nd and 23rd

2.   Bring coupons!  You can use coupons to save on top of the sale prices.  Most stores always have promotions going on.  Visit their individual websites to print the latest coupons and receive 15-20% off your entire purchase. 

Tanger has a 20% off coupon good through April 30th (remember the sidewalk sale is April 22nd and 23rd)! Click here for the coupon.  At some stores, you can use the Tanger coupon in addition to store coupons.

3.   Save more money by not purchasing items you won’t really use.  I bought a shirt from Gap once that had this horrendous picture on it.  It was $0.99.  I thought for $0.99, Kaden can wear the shirt. Nope, never wore it and I wasted $0.99.  It doesn’t seem like much, but it can add up if you buy too many items you don’t actually like.

I hope to see you at the sidewalk sale in April!  (p.s., they have stores for you too :).  I always find great deals at Banana Republic.)

To my Oregon Subscriber: I hope you find great deals where you live!  My future posts won’t be specific to one geographic area. 

Additionally

  1. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter so that other moms can benefit.
  2. Don’t forget to take my poll in the right navigation bar.  I’ll take the poll down soon and do some restructuring based on your feedback.  Thank you!  I truly appreciate my readers.

 

 

Homemade Baby Food

This week has been dedicated to Ah, Cooking, and I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the recipes.  I must finish the week by addressing our littlest of little ones.  My husband and I decided that we would make Kaden’s baby food and we have been very pleased with that decision.  I’ve noticed a trend, and I hear more and more moms talk about making baby food.  If you are considering the idea or are already making baby food at home, then you’ll enjoy this post.    

Source: parents.com

Benefits

  • It is a healthier option and you know the ingredients.  We send our homemade baby food to daycare with Kaden.  I remember one girl smelling the carrots and saying, “mmm, what is this?  It smells so good.”  We smiled and said, “carrots.”
  • There are unlimited options.  Next on my list? Eggplant.  Kaden is eating asparagus now.
  • You save a lot of money.  It costs about $1.08 to make 48 ounces of carrots.  It would cost at least $12 to purchase 48 ounces of Gerber carrots at the store. With some fruits and veggies you save more, with some you save less, but you always save! 

How To

It may sound like a daunting task, but it is actually very easy and simple. 

  1. Steam
  2. Puree
  3. Store

Some fruits don’t even need to be cooked – simply puree. 

What to Make

Basically, anything.  It is typically best to start out with veggies and then move on to fruit because fruit is sweeter, and – let’s face it – sweets are much more appealing.  Establish a taste for veggies and then move on to fruit. 

  • Veggies: carrots, green beans, peas, squash, zucchini, eggplant, avocado, asparagus, artichoke, sweet potato, and the list goes on.  We are going to try cucumber this weekend and I’ll puree some cabbage tonight (from our corned beef and cabbage meal!). 
  • Fruit: mango, banana, strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears,…(do I really need to list every fruit we can all think of, yum!) 
  • Meat: you can puree cooked meat as well.  Steak can be hard on little tummies and seafood should be avoided until a later age because of the risk of seafood allergies. 
  • Get crazy with it and make combinations like bluestrawpear!

For recipe ideas, check out Make Your Own Baby Food on parents.com

Store

  • Make-to-order – Kaden is still in the beginner stage where we are ruling out allergies by feeding him the same food item for 3-4 days, so we make enough to last him 4 days and then are off to something new.  Right now we make-to-order because we aren’t preparing baby food very often.  Baby food will keep in the fridge up to 5 days. 
  • Make a large batch and freeze – Freeze overnight in ice cube trays.  The next morning, put cubes in a ziplock freezer bag.  Each cube will be 2 oz.  Dethaw one cube or 3 depending on your little one’s appetite.  Store frozen baby food up to 3 months in the freezer.   

Tips

  • Use a plastic bib!
  • Take a lot of pictures! 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie? Yes, please!

Thanks to a FTLOM reader, I was just informed that Monday was National Pi (3.14) Day as well.  Monday could have been twice as awesome (National Chip and National Pi Day).  Technically, National Pie Day is January 23rd, but pie is awesome and I choose to celebrate in January and March next year.  The awesomeness level of pie is so high, that I’ve decided to celebrate anyway.  Here is a great recipe for you pie (and chocolate) lovers to try!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Ingredients

3 cups Multi-Bran Chex cereal
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 box (4-serving size) chocolate pudding and pie filling mix (not instant)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup peanut butter

Directions
1.   Heat oven to 350°F. Crush cereal. (To easily crush cereal, place in plastic bag or between sheets of waxed paper, and crush with rolling pin or spoon.)
2.   In ungreased 9-inch microwavable pie plate, mix butter and 1 tablespoon peanut butter. Microwave uncovered on High 30 seconds; stir until blended. Stir in crushed cereal until evenly coated. Press evenly on bottom and up side of pie plate. Bake 10 minutes. Place in freezer.
3.   Make pudding mix as directed on box for pie filling, except after cooling 5 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of the 1/4 cup peanut butter; stir a few times just until melted and marbled throughout. Pour into crust.
4.   In microwavable measuring cup, microwave remaining 2 tablespoons peanut butter uncovered on High 30 seconds. Drizzle over pie. Refrigerate at least 3 hours but no longer than 24 hours until filling is set.

<You can make two and freeze one for later!  Thaw overnight and serve.>

If you weren’t able to celebrate National Potato Chip Day or if you’d like to extend the celebration into the weekend, check out Monday’s post for some homemade, healthier potato chip options – Celebrate National Potato Chip Day.  For a healthier option check out The Happy Veggie’s recipe for Kale Chips.  They look good!    

Happy belated Pi Day!

Meatloaf…in the crock pot?

I have to be honest here,  I’ve never tried this.  BUT, I will try anything once if the recipe claims the meal can be cooked in the crock pot.  If you don’t want to cook it in the crock pot (which, I think will be good) then you can always cook it in the oven – those directions are also included. 

(p.s., are you wearing green today?  [[pinch]] )

Crock Pot Meatloaf 

Ingredients (or use your favorite recipe):

  • 2 lbs ground beef (or 3 if you have a larger family and bigger crock pot)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup ketchup or barbeque sauce
  • 1 package meatloaf seasoning

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients, shape meat around bottum of slowcooker, cook on low for 8 hours.  (You can also cook in the oven for 1 hour.) 
  • Freeze and cook – mix all ingredients, place plastic wrap in bottom of slowcooker, shape meat around bottum of slow cooker, take meat out and place in a gallon freezer bag.  To cook, thaw just enough to remove from bag, place in slow cooker, cook. (If you plan to cook it in the oven, then you’ll need to dethaw the meat over night, cook 1-1/2 hours) 
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