Friday, May 31, 2013

Positive Outlook

  


     Have you ever watched a child and wondered how they can be so amazed at the simplest of things? Sometimes it's a particular color block, an extra soft pillow or a ray of sunlight that comes in from the window. They look at everything in astonishment. They are astonished at how beautiful everything is. They wonder about every little detail. Does the sunlight feel different then the block? What does it look like on the other side of the room? It is because they are seeing things for the very first time.
    When I watch Xavier play by himself. I am forever amazed at how he sees things. I guess to adults that's what children are; they are called a "child" and "little" because they do not have the "big" knowledge that us "adults" have. However, sometimes I think we are wrong about that. Children may not know how to tie their shoes or cook themselves dinner. However, they know how to live. They know their purpose in life. They are here to enjoy as much of life as they possibly can. They are gonna try and fit as much into a day as they can. So what if they have to miss a nap or two or even time on the potty they need as much time as possible to figure out how those rings go back on that yellow stick thing.
   Perhaps they are the ones who know "big" knowledge. They come into this world knowing that time is precious and to enjoy every single second of everyday and fill it up with as many good things as possible. If you fall and bump your head try to shake it off as quickly as possible and move on. They love with all their little hearts and they do not have hate. To children the opposite of love is not hate it is indifference. They may not love the toy car that you bought them, but they don't hate it either. They simply pay it no attention. Yet, the box that the toy car came in they absolutely LOVE and they will spend as much time as possible with that box. Isn't that why toy companies spend tons of time testing out toys? To make sure that it will not only be a toy that a child will love but that will also withstand that child's love.
    What an amazing lesson that we can learn from children. That you only need to love or be indifferent to things. There is no time for hate. There is no time for negativity and feeling bad. Life is too precious and too wonderful to be enjoyed. So go and be with your family as much as possible and be present in each moment and look for the things and the people that you really love!




I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be sure to enter our giveaway for a one year subscription to ABCmouse. com a $80 value. If you don't have children of your own it makes a great gift!





Thursday, May 30, 2013

Running Snot



WARNING THIS POST MAY BE VERY GROSS YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ IT WHILE YOU ARE EATING!

   When you have a toddler in your house many things are always running; your feet, your hands, your brain, your entire body, your pets, your partner, your water, your toddler and your toddler's nose. Xavier just got a cold. No big deal, no fever or anything other then a bad case of the sniffles and sneezes. He has had a crazy amount of energy and curiosity lately so he has been quite the energetic character. However, yesterday was different. He was cranky from teething again lately and on top of that he got a cold. So an extremely, energetic, curious toddler with a cold is now running around my house sneezing on everything and wiping boogers all over my furniture. (I'm not sure any of you want to ever come visit us again). There was actually once during the day when he had boogers on his hand and when I went to grab a paper towel he put his hand in his mouth. You think that is bad, but what is worst is that I was happy that at least this time, it was not on the furniture.
    I kept calling him to me and I would wipe his nose the second I saw a little glisten under his nose. However, by the time he would come, he already knew what I was going to do.  He would then, run away and get over excited because I was chasing him.  Finally, he would crash into the couch, the loveseat or the ottoman and smear his face all over the cushions with drool, boogers and who really knows what else. EEEEEEWWWWWWWWW!!!!!
      I realized that when I decided to have kids that my house would not be perfect and it would get a lot of wear and tear and I even prepared myself for the occasional booger that may have been left behind somewhere. I was NOT prepared to have to comprehend cleaning booger-drool (yup that's my name for it) that is smeared all over my furniture, and his arms, and his clothes and oh of course my pants and shirt. Not to mention I cannot really ask him to not smear his face all over everything possible. I cannot tell him that he has to blow his nose. All I can do is wrestle him down and suck as much snot as possible out of his nose with a stupid nose bulb. So that he can jump up and run around for ten minutes and have more of it glistening and starting the whole sequence again.
     I guess that just goes to show you what true love really is. True love is wiping someone's butt multiple times a day. Putting on butt cream and of course wrestling someone down to suck as much snot as possible out of their nose. I hope you remember this story the next time you hand someone a tissue. Remember that it does not start off that way. If I hand Xavier a tissue he tries to eat it. If someone takes a tissue nicely and says "Thank you" and blows their nose into the tissue, then throws it away and washes their hands remember that a mom who endured a snotty house and wardrobe taught her child to do so!





Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sponsor Review and Giveaway: ABCmouse.com




     Parenting has been changing throughout history. However, as new parents there are even more challenging hurdles then there were years ago. For instance there are many technological advances that have happened over history that has made parenting with technology much different. For instance when televisions first came out parents thought they were wonderful babysitters. You could prop your child in front of them for hours and they had a blast. It was not until years later that we learned that the screen time in front of the television watching cartoons such as Bugs Bunny although entertaining were not good for your children. They should not be in front of screens for more then two to four hours a day and for only "quality" programming.
   When I started off my journey as a parent I thought I had this technology thing down. I instituted quality television time and thought nothing of it. I occasionally brought out the laptop for Xavier so he could watch television shows that we may have missed or to talk to relatives far away. However, when it came to playing on the computer, my iphone or my tablet. That was always a "No". Why would a young child have any need for any of those things? I can now see that times are changing. That technology is a HUGE part of our culture. It is our job as parents to be able to teach and help them navigate safely through technology. So when I was contacted by the wonderful people at ABCmouse .com about doing a review of their online early childhood education curriculum I thought this was a great opportunity for me to see a side of technology that perhaps I may not have thought of. I want Xavier to have all the advantages he can in this world and I want him to be able to do whatever he wants and needs to. Early childhood education is a huge initiative that is being pushed right now in the United States. A good start for children can lead them to good learning and work habits later on in life. As a stay at home mom I am sometimes limited on resources for helping to teach my child things. So by using the ABCmouse .com early education childhood curriculum I am able to teach Xavier age appropriate things and even play games that help him to navigate through technology by also learning valuable information at the same time.



      ABCMouse .com is a superior teaching tool for any parent of a young child. It has a full online curriculum from Preschool through Kindergarten with even a new toddler program that we were overjoyed to test out. There are over 450 step by step lessons in six different levels along with over 3,000 individual learning activities. It promotes lesson learning, independent learning and free play. Every activity has one or more learning objectives. The different subjects offered are Reading, Math, History, Science, Art and Music.



    When Xavier and I first signed on I watched the video explaining everything which was about five minutes but it was extremely easy to understand and to learn how to use. I had no problem navigating it. Since Xavier is new to actually touching the computer I had fun teaching him how to use the mouse. He goes a little nuts with it so instead we used the pad on my laptop. That way I can help him control moving the mouse and he loves to click the button. What I thought was nice was there is a tutorial for learning to use the mouse on the website.


     You get to set up an avatar for your child and they get their own virtual room with a fish tank and a hamster. When your child does lessons and games they get tickets to then use to buy things for their room, fish tank or hamster. I must admit I love this idea as it is a great reward system but since Xavier is so young he did not understand that so for the most part I just hold on to his tickets until he figures out how to spend them on his own.



   We pretty much tested all the aspects of this website which actually took a long time as there are so many things to choose from. We found plenty of favorite places and things to do on it.One of our favorite places is the movie theater.  They have a lot of small five minute movies that remind me of music videos about the alphabet. Xavier loved watching them and always clapped his hands and danced with them. There is also a farm and a zoo on the site that you can visit whenever you want. That was a great activity that Xavier and I enjoyed. He loves animals right now so to be able to see them and watch them in their habitat. (it is still cartoon but they are very realistic) He loved visiting the zoo and farm everyday.



     The toddler curriculum is very well put together. He learns about the letters of the alphabet one at a time. I would even encourage him to play a game after the lessons that also incorporated the same letter or lessons that we learned during the curriculum. He loved the bubble popping games with letters in them. It was easy for him to use the mouse pad to move around and pop bubbles and he would get all excited when it would say the letter name out loud.
    The graphics and sound are very well done and very rich. I had no hang ups on the site. It worked very well and in fact to type this article I had to wait until Xavier went to bed because when he hears the logo music he gets all excited and wants to play on the computer with me.
     Each lesson has a lot of different things from puzzles, to coloring pages, to songs and stories. The songs were great as you can get a bouncing ball for the lyrics so we could sing a long with them. I really thought that the lessons each had different ways for your child to learn but also all had the same underlying theme which really kept your child engrossed in the activities.



    I am so excited to be able to have program like ABCmouse .com that we can use to learn new things and to help Xavier get a head start in the world, both technologically and academically. If you have young children in your home I highly recommend ABCmouse .com. It is a wonderful toy that is an amazing teaching tool.

ABCmouse .com lets you pay monthly or yearly for a subscription and your first month is free!
To find out more about ABCmouse .com visit their website by clicking one of the links in this post or check out their Facebook page or Twitter page!


Also, you can enter to win a year's subscription to ABCmouse .com by entering below. You can enter everyday! The contest is open to all United States residents and ends Monday, June 3, 2013 at 8pm EST.


    a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Courage




  I am forever amazed at how much a woman really changes when she becomes a mother. It is like her entire personality really transitions and it can make her much stronger and do things she would never have thought she could before. Motherhood challenges each and every woman in many different ways.
    Many females in general are very squeamish. We don't like bad smells, textures and tastes. We tend to not like things that squirm or crawl. We tend to not always be on the braver side. However, as we become mothers you find yourself doing things you never dreamed of doing, even if in your dreams you are a mother.
   I have seen some mother's do things that I know they would never have done before having a child. Such as putting your hand out to catch your child's puke, because it's better in your hand then in your friend's car. I have seen moms shelter their little ones from disasters, from fights. Many couples work harder on their problems all for the sake of their children. There are marriages that stay together just for the pure sake of their children. As mother's we forgive a lot easier, unless of course you mess with our kids.
    I am glad to say I have not yet had to have a crazy tale to remind you all of this. However, I had a small run in that just made me think of this subject. The other day Xavier and I and our dog, Vito were playing outside. We came inside to have a snack. I put Xavier in his high chair and as he was munching and me munching next to him a black spider (would love to say huge as it seemed huge to me but it was probably an average to small size) came out of his hair and crawled on his face! He of course did not notice as he was very involved in his cookie. I grabbed that spider with my bare hand and squished it in my hand and threw it in the sink. Now, unlike many women I do not hate spiders. They eat other bugs so therefore they are ok in my opinion, but if they are in my house I kill them. I'm sure they would do the same to me if I am in their house. Let alone on my child's head. Although I don't hate them, I would usually kill a spider with an extra large shoe and shiver as I pick up it's lifeless body in a giant paper towel.
      I was washing my hands from squishing the spider and I laughed at how "brave" I was. I would never even think of touching a spider before, but it was on my kid! You don't mess with my kid. I have to admit although a small accomplishment it does make your day to know that when push comes to shove you can "step up" and do amazing things for the sake of your children. I admit it is not as amazing compared to the mom who sheltered their child during the tornado, or the mom who jumped out the window to save her son from falling or the mom who stepped in and was bitten by a bunch of dogs to save her child. However, it is in these small situations that give me the faith and strength to know that deep down I do have what it takes! I know that when needed this mommy is ready to spring into action. Though I am hoping next time it is just perhaps an ant.
    I'm sure if you look back on your time as a mom you can think of an amazing thing that you did for your child that surprised even you! We all have that special super power in us it just sometimes takes a little human to remind us of how strong we really are.





Friday, May 24, 2013

Chocolate Macaroons








 I thought a great way to lead you into the holiday weekend is with an easy and yummy recipe for you and your family to try out. I have been looking for a good, somewhat healthy cookie to give Xavier every once in a while. A favorite in our house is the peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, but Xavier is still too young to have peanut butter. So I found this recipe in the book, Easy Gourmet Baby Food 150 Recipes for Homemade Goodness by Chef Jordan Wagman & Jill Hillhouse, BPHE, RNCP.  These were extremely easy to make and with simple ingredients and they are not very bad for you as there is not a lot of sugar in them. They are great for toddlers also, they not only got Nick and my seal of approval but Xavier's seal of approval as well.



I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Memorial day weekend. Remember today is the last day to enter our Language Bear children's book giveaway. See you back on the blog on Tuesday! Thank you to all of our veterans for their life's dedication for our country and freedom.


Chocolate Macaroons
makes about 18 cookies

Tips: When egg whites are whisked to "stiff peaks" this literally means to whip them until they resemble a mountain range, stiff, with zero movement. From a health perspective, the best choice of chocolate is high-quality, plain dark chocolate. The more the chocolate is processed, the more its polyphenols are lost. These polyphenols are potent antioxidants that help the body's cells resist damage. Dark chocolate retains much more of this antioxidant capability than milk chocolate does, plus it generally contains less sugar to butterfat. To reap the health benefits of chocolate look for the first ingredient to be "cacao" or "cocoa" or for the chocolate bar to contain at least 70% cocoa solids.


Ingredients
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tsp. agave nectar
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
In a bowl, whisk egg whites, agave nectar and sugar until stiff peaks form. Stir in coconut and chocolate chips.




Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets, 2 inches apart.



 Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes.



 Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.









Thursday, May 23, 2013

Teething Troubles



 It is what you wake up to everyday. You hope to see it as much as possible in your child. It is their amazing little smile. There is nothing that warms your heart more then when your child smiles at you. It starts off as a little toothless grin and slowly but surely ends up with a bunch of pearly whites; to then fall out altogether and hopefully get even better pearly whites. Parents are always wondering what is the time table on teething? What can I do to ease their pain? So here is some of the information that I have been able to poke around and find and compile for you in hopes that this will ease communication gaps with your little ones and hopefully give them some relief.



   Throughout your child's life their teeth will alternately grow and rest a lot. A teething child may feel pain off and on for up to several weeks before a tooth actually emerges. Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do to relieve your child's pain but these are known remedies to help. 

1) The best way to relieve teething pain in your child is to give them something cold and firm to chew on. The hard surface provides relief through counter pressure and the coldness numbs the gums. Teething rings that are refrigerated or put in the freezer work best. If you have a baby a wet, frozen washcloth works well and it is easy for them to grasp.

2) Acetaminophen (Tylenol) will relieve some persistent pain, but since teething discomfort often passes quickly, it may not always be effective. Over-the-counter teething ointments, which contain a local painkiller, may be more helpful then acetaminophen, but consult your baby's doctor first. You should never use alcohol such as Whiskey or Rum on your child's gums. It can affect your baby's nervous system and still irritate their gums even more then they already are.

3) Make sure your child has something to chew on all the time. Many times people get rid of teething rings after the first couple of teeth come in, but then when your child is a toddler and teething they have nothing to chew on anymore. They still need something hard to chew on. You can use anything from rubber or wooden teething toys to your finger. Sometimes large frozen vegetables such as a carrot or a cold wooden or metal spoon work as well.

4) Believe it or not cuddling has been known to reduce the pain associated with teething. Something in the make-you-feel-good hormones eases your body's pain response. So it is an extra excuse to spend some cuddle time together as a family.

5) Offer your child plenty of distractions while they are teething. Take them to new places or to one of their favorite places. If you see them start to have some pain grab their favorite toy and offer to play with them. Go out of your way to help them get their mind off the pain and only focus on the good things.





  To take care of your child's first pearly whites be sure to rub their gums with a washcloth at least once a day. You can move up to a soft baby toothbrush when they get a few more teeth in. Remember to specifically get baby's toothpaste. Your child should not have fluoride toothpaste until they are at least two years old due to the chance of them swallowing the fluoride toothpaste. Try and make teeth brushing fun for your children. Get them fun toothbrushes in their favorite style and a fun flavor toothpaste. Set a good example by letting them see you brush your teeth. Be sure to take your child to their first dentist appointment a little after they turn a year old to be sure that everything is on the right track.




Article sources: Babycenter.com, and Parents magazine



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sponsor Review and Giveaway: Language Bear Book Bosley Goes to the Beach in English and Spanish

   
 
     As a mother there are lots of things that I hope for Xavier. Mostly of course that he is always happy and healthy. However, my other two things I really wanted for Xavier was that he be a good eater and a good reader. He is definitely a good eater and he is on his way to be a good reader. So when I was asked by the wonderful people at Language Bear if I would consider reviewing one of their dual language children books I jumped at the opportunity as we are all about reading and language in the Arbia household.
     When I first received the book The Adventures of Bosley Bear Bosley Goes to The Beach A dual-language book in English and Spanish written by Tim Johnson, translated by Debora Frid and illustrated by Ozzy Esha I was very impressed with the quality of the book that I received. It is a nice big size with very rich and colorful pages and the print is big and easy to read. I was excited to check it out so I scooped up Xavier and off we went to read about the adventures of Bosley bear at the beach.



   Multilingual books are a great way to enjoy stories with your children because you are introducing them to new words and vocabulary along with your first language. They are also great if you are an adult that is looking to learn a new language. The simple vocabulary and grammar makes for a great read for all ages. The Language Bear offers multilingual books of all sorts; children's stories for bedtime reading and exploration as well as multilingual novels for adults. The current children's books are offered in the following languages: French, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, German, Chinese, Korean, Sign Language (ASL), Italian, Russian and Portuguese. The Language Bear also offers flash cards as well to go along with your language learning.



    When I first read the story to Xavier I read it in English. He of course loved the story. It is a great story about a bear that goes to the beach for the first time and learns about many things and even realizes how great he himself is in the end. The illustrations are magnificent, very bright and colorful. Xavier loves to touch the pages because of all the colors. It is also nice how they have things labeled on some pages so you can point out "bag" or "bolsa". Once I finished it in English I waited a few hours and read it again to Xavier in Spanish. We have since been switching back in forth for the past couple of weeks. I will admit that the only problem that I had was that there is no pronunciation guide in the book, but you can get an audio recording of the books if you would like to. Luckily since we got the English-Spanish version I just had to practice it a little on my own to refresh my brain of all the Spanish classes I have taken years ago. It came back to me and what is nice is that the Spanish reads right along side the English. So while reading Spanish I knew what I was saying so I could do the voices and have fun with the story the way I would if I was reading it to Xavier in English.



    It was funny at first to see Xavier's face when I started reading Spanish to him but after a few times he seemed to like the story just as much no matter which language it is read to him in. They also highlight certain words in the story in a different color on the English and Spanish side so you can see the specific word and not only learn the meaning but see how it is used in the context of the language and story. Plus, at the end of the book is all the vocabulary words from the story that you just learned.



    I am extremely pleased with The Language Bear book Bosley Goes to the Beach. It really was a easy way to introduce another language into Xavier's vocabulary. We do not really know other languages very well so I am happy to be able to expose Xavier to other languages so easily and at such an early age. If you have children definitely check out The Language Bear for some wonderful dual-language children's books. They make a great addition to your child's library and would make great presents to the children in your life. It is a wonderful and unique idea that I am very glad I had the privilege to review.



If you would like to order a dual-language children's book from The Language Bear you can check them out on Amazon
or their website  TheLanguageBear.com or become a fan of their facebook page.

Also, I am giving away a brand new copy of this wonderful book Bosley Goes to the Beach in English and Spanish so enter below. All residents of the United States are eligible and you can enter everyday. The contest ends Friday, May 24th at 8:00pm EST.



a Rafflecopter giveaway




 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sweet Potato Quesadillas with Cucumber Relish

    

     
       If you have not noticed by my recipes page we are big fans of Mexican food. Xavier loves it and honestly when you have a toddler Mexican is great to cook with. It is always fast, easy, usually soft and easy for little hands and mouths and you can do so many different variations. We have a lot of quesadilla recipes but this one is now one of our favorites and is definitely added to our menu. I found this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens April 2013 magazine. It is a nice summery recipe that is lighter than most Mexican food with a good crisp taste. I hope your family enjoys it as much as ours.

Please Note: There are no pictures of me actually cooking the quesadillas as I have a quesadilla maker so I use that. However, I do put the cooking instructions. Before I got a quesadilla maker I used to make them on the stove top all the time and they are very easy to make on the stove top if you are trying them out for the first time. Also, wear gloves when handling jalapeno peppers because they can burn your skin and eyes. Wash immediately if any of your skin touches the seeds or membranes.

Sweet Potato Quesadillas with Cucumber Relish
 makes four servings

Ingredients
- 15-16oz. can of navy beans (cannelloni or Great Northern) rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup snipped fresh cilantro
- 1 TBSP lime juice
- 1 small fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped  
- 1 tsp. ground ancho chile pepper
- 1/2 cucumber, quartered and sliced
- 3 to 4 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
- 12 oz. sweet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 4 10-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped baby spinach
- 3/4 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced

Optional
- plain greek yogurt for dipping
- salsa for dipping
- paprika

Directions
- In a medium saucepan cook sweet potato in lightly salted boiling water, covered, for about 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; drain. Return potatoes to saucepan; coarsely mash. Stir in cumin.



- In a medium bowl combine beans, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno, and chile pepper; set aside.



- For cucumber relish, in another bowl combine cucumber, radishes, and remaining cilantro; set aside.



- Spread sweet potato mixture over half of each tortilla. Top each with bean mixture, spinach, green onion, and cheese. Fold each tortilla in half over the filling, pressing gently.
- Heat a grill pan or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook quesadillas, two at a time, for 6 minutes or until lightly browned, turning once halfway through. Repeat with remaining quesadillas. Cut into wedges. Serve with cucumber relish and Greek yogurt sprinkled with paprika if desired.









Monday, May 20, 2013

A Frat House





 It is amazing to me how much fun it is to write a blog. I really enjoy sharing all of our experiences with all you readers. Some of you I know very well, Hi DAD! Some of you I think I know and some of you I do not personally know at all. However, there is a reason you keep reading my posts day in and day out and I am forever grateful. You see when you are a blogger your primary purpose is in hopes that someone somewhere is reading what you are writing and perhaps you are making a difference in that person's life if for no other reason then perhaps to make you chuckle, smile or think of something that you might never have noticed.
    It has been hectic around our house lately so I have not had a ton of inspiration to write. Mostly because I am just tired as most moms know that feeling. My husband has started a new job and with a new job comes new hours usually longer at first due to training and until one gets the job figured out.
      You would think if you are a stay at home parent this would not affect your day as well, but it does. Not necessarily bad, but different. We had to adjust our morning routine to eating breakfast earlier if we all want to eat together. Xavier and I eat by ourselves a lot for dinner time and our weekends are spent being sure to spend as much family time together as possible. I have written many times on how I love our very special weekends of nothingness. However, I have never really mentioned what our week days are like. The best analogy I could think of is that being a stay at home mom to a toddler reminds me a lot of when I was in college. I get up very early to eat because if you do not eat first thing and a good breakfast you may not make it through the day. In fact meals are extremely important times for toddlers. Xavier loves meals, snacks you name it. If you are standing near the highchair, refrigerator or cupboard you are going to be mauled by a one year old who apparently is never full. Very similar to living in a frat house with very hungry teenage boys.
    Next up of course is the mess. I am not a nut when it comes to cleaning but I do not like dirt. So for the most part what you will find in our house is clutter. If you call or text before entering my house I will throw all the clutter into another bedroom, cupboard or some spot that I assume you will not see.    
      
      Then, there are toys. Tons of toys, toys, toys. Xavier prefers to have many of his toys out. Although I make him pick a few for the day. He usually has around 7-10 toys out at any time and all the millions of little pieces that go with each one of them. Not too bad when he was just crawling and they all pretty much stayed in the living room, but now they are all over the house. There was a Little People slide in the bathtub the other day when I went to shower. I frequently find balls of every shape, size and color in corners of every room, and you never know when suddenly you will hear "Come chase me" out of the stupid orange electronic cat that my husband thought would be fun to buy for Xavier to chase. (Xavier loves it, it broke and doesn't even move anymore but it still says "chase me, chase me". I hear it in my sleep). Very similar to college when all your roommates left their stuff all over your house and you had no idea what it was or when it got there.
     Of course there are smells and weird messes. There is the always stinky diaper pail that needs emptying constantly. The very sticky highchair no matter how many times you suds it down. The stains on the couch that you were sure were water, but does water stain couches? (fyi they do if you let your toddler leave a dripping sippy cup on them long enough, though you can wash it out phew!).  Plus, it is always great to find the weird stinky goop. Yup, with toddlers there is always weird, sticky goop somewhere. Don't see it in your house? Check around, perhaps the bottom of the door, the window sill, the bottom of that chair, your favorite shoes, or that nice new shirt you just put on to head out the door without your toddler who gives you a big hug and on his hand is weird, sticky goop that ends up on your back and you have no idea what it is or how to get it out. I am pretty sure there was also lots of gross goop in your college house as well, no need to get into specifics.


    We have music playing and people screaming all hours of the day. Sometimes good screams sometimes bad screams. Usually it is music from Yo Gabba Gabba which will remind any parent of some sort of drug or alcohol that they did in their college years. We get little sleep if at all and sometimes are known to just crash during the middle of the day.
    What is funny is that college was some of the best years of my life. I now know why,  it prepares you for toddler hood. You see that degree also let  you in on a lifestyle, one that although you never dreamed would be repeated, it is. Only this time with all the early mornings, clutter everywhere, loud music and screams and even the weird, sticky goop it is even more worth the trials and tribulations. Every night I kiss my little man good night and tell him what a wonderful day we had together. Every morning I get to kiss him again and greet him with a big morning hug and we eat our breakfast together as a family and plan all the fun things we will get into today.


I dedicate this post in particular to the Niagara University class of 2003 as it was ten years ago that we graduated! Soar all you Purple Eagles Soar!

I hope this post lightens up your Monday and helps you have a positive week!





Friday, May 17, 2013

Crash, Bang, Boom



 You think that once your child learns how to walk all the falling and bumping of the heads will stop. I mean Xavier fell over a lot at first. It was rough to watch, but now he finally has a hand of it and he walks all over the place and even at strange places, like people's houses, outside in public stores, etc.   
     However, we now are learning to run. Or well he has decided that he can run. He gets so excited and starts running. You can see that a problem is starting to arise when you can tell that his little body is way ahead of his feet. Not to mention he has no idea how to brake. Up until now he would just fall.   
      Today he was running at full speed and crashed into my nightstand. Mind you the nightstand has always been there. It is a giant very old piece of furniture so very heavy duty. He is not supposed to even be near the nightstand but something about it got him so very excited that he had to run to it. Except his little body got ahead of his feet and he had no idea how to stop himself so he crashed right directly into it and lay sprawling on the floor and bawling his eyes out. We felt so bad.
        He has been crashing and banging into everything left and right. No matter how well we baby proof things he just finds a way to crash right into them. I think he needs some football padding all over his body to protect him. I guess it is all a part of life. I mean I really have a BOY. Man, he is really a boy. Although he is more hesitant than most boys in that it takes him a while to warm up to new things but once he does he jumps in full force even if his little legs cannot keep up with him.
        I guess the life cycle is just making me tougher and tougher because sooner or later he will end up getting scraped, cut and bashed by something. I am silently preparing myself for that day. As I know it is inevitable. Though it is nice to know that I can always make him feel better when he gets hit hard. I guess that is what a great parent does. They make sure their child knows they can conquer anything as long as they always know mom and dad have their back.

I hope you all have a marvelous weekend!







Thursday, May 16, 2013

Some Good Eats





 Although this is a blog mainly about my son and mostly about parenting I rarely brag. If you are a regular reader you know that I am a firm believer that all children are different therefore how they are raised should be different according to the children and the needs of that particular family. I am only on my first child so far, but yet, I keep finding how amazed people are at how my son eats. Xavier loves to eat. He eats everything! Yes, everything, I have yet to put something to him that he will not like. His favorite foods are mushrooms, yogurt, cheese and black olives. He has a huge appetite and is never fussy. That being said just to clarify, although he is a "big guy" (I'm sure you have noticed in the pictures) he is at a very healthy weight for his age and height plus he also eats very healthy. So I have been asked by many moms what my secret is. It is not a secret by any means, perhaps it is the fact that I was brought up this way and so I am a very healthy eater and not fussy at all. However, I am willing to dispense what I have learned over the past year from having Xavier eating with us. As well as what I have researched from the American Academy of Pediatrics, parenting magazines and columns and the Women Infants and Childrens Nutrition Program. I hope this will make meal time at your household much easier.
    First of all, it helps if your child does NOT have parents who are picky eaters. If you are a picky eater and you do not want your child to be a picky eater it is time to broaden your palate. If you have a baby there is not much you can do before they turn six months, but there are few things that I have learned and did that I do think really helped us out.

HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO BE A GOOD EATER
 
Children Before Six Months of Age
- If possible try to breast feed your baby as long as you can. The taste of breastmilk constantly changes with what the mother eats. Therefore, babies that are breastfed already are starting to use their taste buds before those that only have formula
- Bring baby to the table with you for every meal possible. Every meal you eat at home, sit at the table with your partner and/or other family members and bring baby as well. You do not have to put them in a highchair. We kept Xavier in his bouncy seat on the table and then rotated to the bumbo seat on the table while we were eating. That way baby is already aware that food time is at the table. It should be that the only time you eat should be at the table. I would be lying if I said every time I had a snack when Xavier was a baby was at the table, but I at least tried. You will want to do all meals at the table later on when your baby is older so the earlier you start the habit the easier it will be to do when it is necessary later on.


Children over the age of one
- Only eat at the table. Your child at this age should be getting three meals a day and two to three snacks a day. Have these at a table. Preferably with you or anyone in your household also at the table eating. If you are out and your child wants a snack sit on a bench or picnic table. You want your child to learn to sit and only eat, not to walk around and snack while playing with toys. This way your child learns that if they want to eat they need to eat at the table and they will learn to be excited to eat at the table. 
- Variety is the key to nipping that picky eater in the butt. Do not have the same foods week to week. Do not make Thursday spaghetti night. You should change your foods all the time. I have many recipes for things. Of course we have our favorites but they may only make an appearance once or twice a month and that is it. Same goes for snacks. If your child likes eating cheese and crackers that is fine but change the type of cheese and crackers. Xavier loves cheeses, anything from colby to extra sharp cheddar to pepper jack!
- The three meals a day need to be from all three food groups. Grain, meat and fruit/veggie. Do not skimp on the grain. Children do not need to be gluten free like adults. They actually need the carbohydrates to burn and help them grow. Just be sure to feed them whole grains. Also, when preparing their plate, it should be in fourths with one half of the plate fruits/veggies, one quarter meat (or beans, legumes for vegetarians) and one quarter grains.  Your child should get food from the five food groups each day. That is six servings of grain (serving is 1/4 slice of bread, 2 Tbsps of rice or noodles, 4 tbsps dry cereal or 3 crackers), three servings of vegetables (serving is 2 Tbsps or 2 ounces of vegetable or tomato juice), two servings of fruit (serving is 2 Tbsps or 2 ounces of 100% juice), four servings of milk (serving is 1/2 cup of whole milk or yogurt, or one slice of cheese), two servings of meat and beans (serving is 2 Tbsps meat, 1/2 egg, or 2 Tbsps cooked beans or tofu). Please note all children need the same amount of servings for each food group but these serving sizes are for toddler in the 1 to 2 year age range. You need to check the food pyramid to be sure of the serving sizes appropriate for your children's ages.
- Eat what and when your child eats. You will find it is a lot easier to understand when they are hungry if you are eating the same thing. Your child just needs smaller portions then you. Plus, you will spend a lot less money if you can share food instead of having some food for your toddler and other foods for you. Do not feed your child one thing and you eat something else. Eat the same thing, even share it together. You are teaching your child that they are the same as you. Toddlers especially really love that. Plus, they need only healthy food and that is what you should be eating as well. If you need the sweets try a little snack after your child goes to bed. That is what I sneak in once in a while.
- I will admit eating healthy on a budget is unfortunately a form of art. As it is very hard to find cheap fruits and vegetables. If you do not have a green thumb to grow your own, (don't be sad I do not either) try checking out farmers markets or buy fruits and veggies that are in season. Also, buy frozen. Did you know that frozen is about as good as fresh and usually can be found at half the cost? Plus it cooks much faster when you are in a rush. You can even get frozen fruits as well as vegetables.
- You will learn with a toddler that it can be a pain to have all meals at the table as there is a lot of clean up. What I have found that helps is to have snacks ready ahead of time. I usually figure out what snacks are every week. I cut up large portions of fruit ahead of time. Buy a block of cheese and cut it up into small slices a head of time. That way you can save a lot of time on your snacks.
- What also helps to save time is instead of always making a special lunch make a big enough dinner and keep the left overs for lunch tomorrow. I love this idea. You can usually expand your dinner menu as meats and things are cheaper if you buy in bulk. I will then feed Xavier and I lunch the next day from the left overs. I like it because it's less mess and easy to heat up and serve.
- Don't be afraid to season your foods. Once your child is past the allergy age, feel free to experiment with seasonings and herbs. You will be surprised how refined a child's palate really is. Remember they have very strong taste buds so don't over do it but you will be surprised how much your children love spices. Xavier loves all sorts of indian, chinese and mexican spices a lot. I found myself trying out new ones since he has been born.
- Do not force your child to eat. Children will eat when they are hungry. Never make them eat to clear their plate or to get down. Do not tell them they get dessert if they finish their plate. Do not make the plate the punishment and the dessert the reward. Children have a knack for getting what they need through their natural instincts just be sure to always offer them all the foods in the food groups they need and your child will make up for missing last nights string beans by eating the extra mushrooms later.


- If they do not like what is on their plate give them the option to not eat until the next meal or eat what is on the plate. Do not make them something special. I always just say this is what we have you are free to eat what you want as long as you try everything. If nothing suits you our next meal is at 4:00pm you may choose to wait to eat then.
- Don't give up on foods. If one day your child does not like spinach. Don't assume they will hate it forever. Keep serving it to them. Put it in different foods, try cooking it a different way. You will be surprised how much their taste buds will change very frequently.
- I hit on this a little bit earlier, as I mentioned you should be eating the same foods as your child. This means you should feed your child adult foods. Do not buy toddler or child food. If you go out to eat order your child something from the adult menu and get it in a smaller portion (typically you can try an appetizer portion) or save the rest for lunch tomorrow. Too many times the healthier food is for adults and children's food is very bland making your child less likely to like adult food when they finally try to switch to it.
- If you are already stuck with a picky eater, try adding some additions to their favorites. Add some mushrooms into that grilled cheese, or put some sweet potatoes into that macaroni and cheese. You would be surprised how easy it is to jazz up favorites and even make them healthier. If you need some recipes try my Recipes page. Many of those are Xavier tested and approved and they usually say so in the beginning.
- One of the biggest reasons for always eating at the table is because it is family time. Your child will learn that although you are together all the time you do not always have each others' full attention. Yet, at the table you do. Focus on each other and how wonderful the meal is. Talk and laugh about your day. Let the phones ring and soak in the moment of pure family bliss by making mealtime fun. You will see how much your child will soak up the food and attention and hopefully you will have some good eats!










 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sponsor: The Evolution of the Diaper Bag





   Please note: I wrote this post while participating in a campaign by Pishposh Baby and will receive compensation to thank me for my time. All views and opinions with regard to the products or company itself are my own and were not influenced, nor reviewed, by the company prior to posting.


       Being a mom has had a big rise in the impact it is making for baby products. No longer are moms the ones who rarely get out of the house. We do not sit at home all day darning socks and yelling at the children and wiping our hands on aprons. We are a new generation of moms, what I like to call the Next Generation of Moms. I happen to be a Next Generation Stay At Home Mom. However, whether you stay at home or go to work or have some sort of schedule in the middle such as work part time or work at home you will find as a mom that a diaper bag is an extremely important item. One that has without a doubt been the staple item for the next generation of moms and dads!
      We are tired of the giant, ugly and in some cases, not made very well type of diaper bag. It used to be a bag that you just carried and it was usually pink or blue or sometimes green and it was very bulky, usually ripped easily and did not always even make it through the first year of baby's life. However, the next generation of parenting has realized how important a diaper bag really is. We know that literally on one hand is baby and on another is the diaper bag. We no longer want frumpy, ugly bags that barely make it through the first year. We want a versatile, durable and good looking diaper bag that will make it for at least a few years with one child if not make it until we decide to expand our families.
      Many moms want a stylish diaper bag. We have to carry it all the time. We usually also make the diaper bag our purse. You know how big of an industry women's purses are it does not take a marketing expert to realize that women want a stylish diaper bag. We do not want to be punished just because we are a mom. We do not want to not be taken seriously because we have a old and beat up diaper bag on our shoulder. Also, what about dads? Many dads have diaper bags now as well. Some parents even have a dual diaper bag where they make sure it works for either mom or dad to use all day. Then, there are some men who have daddy diaper bags as well. I have to admit in our house we have had multiple diaper bags. We started with an over the shoulder tote while Xavier was a newborn, then we progressed to the backpack when he was sitting up and crawling, and now that he is a toddler we are on the messenger type bag. All three bags came in handy for different reasons at different times.
     If you are looking for that perfect diaper bag to suit all your family's needs you need to click on over to Pishposh Baby! They are your online stylish source for all your baby item needs. They have all of the new and modern baby gear at very reasonable prices. If style, function, versatility and durability are on your list for a diaper bag they definitely have a good assortment of diaper bags for you to choose from.
       When you browse through all the different types of diaper bags you will see how far they have evolved compared to the bulky ones of the past. For instance this simple messenger style diaper bag, the Skip Hop Dash Messenger Diaper bag in Sequins is similar in style to what the old diaper bags looked like except that it is made from better material to make it very durable, it has many compartments and a clip to make it versatile and it comes in a cute pattern for boy or girl, mom or dad.
     If you have an older baby and you need your arms free to carry baby or you need to put a baby carrier in the front you can use a backpack diaper bag. We use our backpack diaper bag very often. It is great for trips to the zoo, aquarium, around town or even hiking. Plus, if you travel with baby this is a great option as well. The new diaper backpacks come in many different shapes and sizes. If you are looking for a fun and stylish backpack you should definitely check out the Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack in Misted Marseille. It is not only adorable but it is very handy to have all the bottle and pacifier compartments, and the extra diaper compartments that have water-resistant lining.

   As you can see diaper bags now come in a wide array of shapes, sizes and styles. You now have the freedom to choose what works best for your family. Whether it is just about style like the Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel in Flowering Firenze or
if you need a bag for a specific function, such as the Mutsy Fun Seat Beach Bag, which is great for holding all your beach gear and keeping it separate from your clothing items.

The diaper bag has definitely evolved into the "must have" for new parents. We no longer will settle for just any diaper bag we want lots of options in a diaper bag so we can be sure to get the diaper bag that is just as unique as the baby it is going to represent.
    Be sure to take your time shopping for a diaper bag and even consider waiting a few months after baby is born to really find out what types of bags work for you. Be sure it is something you know you are comfortable with and that is durable. You have enough to worry about when making an outing with a baby, such as food, diapers, wipes, extra clothing, toys, etc. The last thing you should be worried about is your diaper bag. It should work to make your life easier so that at the end of the day you had a wonderful outing with your baby and you were able to focus on quality time together.




If you like the diaper bags in this featured post feel free to check them out and many others along with great baby gear from the site Pishposh Baby!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Big Boy Cup






   It never ceases to amaze me how fast Xavier really does learn things. It seems like everyday he learns something new. The other day him and I were eating lunch together. He was drinking out of his normal sippy cup. I got up to get myself a drink and I decided to get some orange juice. I put it into a small plastic cup (one of Xavier's) because usually I leave a little in the cup and let him finish it. I thought perhaps I could help him to use the regular cup. So I fed him what was left of the juice and I set the empty cup away from him. He kept looking at it and wanting it. I did not know why because it was empty but he kept on trying to reach for it. Finally, I gave him the empty cup hoping he would realize it was empty and he took it in both of his little hands and tried to drink from it the proper way. I got all excited and said "good boy Xavier!" and I ran and put some water in the cup for him to try drinking from it again. He grabbed it again and started drinking from it. He was so happy that half the water was spilling out of his mouth, but you could see how proud he was that he figured it out. My little man is already on his road to becoming a gentleman!






 

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Weekend Breather




   I find it funny that although I am a stay at home mom I still look forward to the weekends. You would think it does not matter all that much, as I am still in the house and I guess "on duty" (though I am pretty sure there is never an off switch) but weekends are still something I love and look forward to all the time.
   I always say that a good weekend can help me to get through a tough week.  There are days when I have Xavier all day from the moment he wakes up until the moment he goes to bed. We also only have one car right now so I am home those long hours with Xavier. It has it's ups and downs. Some days there is nothing better then spending the entire day with your son and other days you just want a minute of peace.  So the peace that I do not always get during the week, I look forward to getting on the weekends.
    I love weekends because we try to leave them as unstructured as possible. We all mosey out of bed and play in pajamas. We always have a nice big breakfast together that my husband always cooks. We spend long lazy days doing nothing other then sitting on the porch and watching Xavier play in the back yard with his toys.
    I like that sometimes we do something fun. We will sneak in some fun activity either Saturday or Sunday and just take our time getting there and not worrying about schedules. Even Xavier is always off his nap schedules on weekends. We just let him nap when he crashes.
    It is amazing to see each other just let loose. Even Xavier seems to be freer and looser on weekends. He seems to enjoy running a muck in the house with toys all over the place. Eating and napping at different hours. Though bedtime is still strictly enforced he is usually worn out with fun and passes out early. A bonus for mom and dad.
    What is so nice about letting loose on the weekends is also nice to have a start to the week. I am sure most people love Fridays and of course I do as well, but I have to admit I am always somewhat intrigued for Monday. You see I am a glass half full kind of girl. I am always hopeful that this week, will be a fantastic week. This is going to be the week that big things are happening. I have great goals for the week and what I am going to get done and when that weekend comes we are going to let loose again.
    It amazes me how quickly children pick up on that as well. Xavier seems more focused during the week. He seems to be learning new things faster and faster. He insists on sticking to his schedule during the week. Apparently, even at one years old he has his own goals and things he wants to accomplish this week. I do think this is a great thing to pass on to your children. Instead of always teaching them to dread Mondays, try to teach them that Monday is a new start to some new possibilities and to even set goals for yourself for the week. It will make your weekend even sweeter when you have accomplished what you set out to do!





Friday, May 10, 2013

The Teachings of Mothering



   When you study history and anthropology you learn about all the different cultures and how they each raise their young. There are always different ways of carrying your babies, feeding your babies and even playing with your babies.
     As the babies get older you see how different cultures also handle each situation with older children. Each parents' style of parenting is different. They are all unique. Some are definitely better then others, but they all have one thing in common. They are doing the very best that they can. All mothers do the best they can with what sources they have. I do not just mean actual tangible items. I mean some mothers are more intelligent then others, some mothers have more family to help out then others and some mothers learned their mothering skills from a great mother or grandmother.
    If you think about it for a moment we all carry the same type of name with the same type of spelling, you are considered a mother, yet you probably have a mom and you may even have a grandma. Mom, mom, mom. The three letter word which is a noun though it feels like a verb is also a name that can evoke huge emotions for a person. If you have a bad experience with a mom it can last a lifetime. You may spend years in therapy because of it. I am sure that you wonder why you were made to suffer at the hands of such a horrible mom? Perhaps it was so you could be a phenomenal mom.
    There is a reason that the words all carry the same type of spelling because we all come from what has been passed down to us. If you look back at your mom and grandma most of the time, they each got better at being a mother as it got handed down. People in general are always trying to improve mothering. There is a giant baby industry that just makes products to make mothering easier.  Each generation of a family the mothering gets better and better. Us babies,  learned from our mom's mistakes and paid extra attention when she made the right decisions. Therefore, after quite a few generations we will all be phenomenal parents. What you put into your child now you are also putting into your grandchildren. Imagine if you did a phenomenal job as a mother, and imagine that your child did an even better job then you on your grandchildren. Imagine what a wonderful world this would be if we all mothered our children the way we know in our hearts we need to.  So come on moms give yourself a hand for all that you do. You are a phenomenal mom, you are doing your very best for the children  you love and that deserves a big THANK YOU!



     On a side note, just in time for mother's day, I would like to give an extra special shout out to the universe to thank the two generations of phenomenal mothering that I have been fortunate to have in my life to help make me be always at my best.  To my mom and my grandma, though you are both not physically with me now, I know you are here in our lives everyday.
     I know the words you spoke, I hear them once in a while.  I remember the songs you sung, I hum  them every now and then. Those yummy recipes you both left, I make as often as I can. The lessons you taught me, I try to remember as much as possible. The actions you did that were always the right choices I try to always pick in my life.  Because of both of you I am a better mother and I could not be more proud at the mother I have turned out to be. I love and miss you both! Happy Mother's Day.

A Very Special Happy Mother's Day to all my readers who are moms. Thank you so very much for all that you do!


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