Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Independent Play

So....I've been wanting to write about independent play for awhile now and how it is nonexistent in Everett. I've hesitated because I didn't want to focus on what is to me a negative aspect. Not only that but also because I haven't been able to put it into the correct words for it to be understood without coming across as if I was complaining that Everett does not play independently. It's a concern more than anything and my desire to have an independent child. And perhaps the opportunity to have breaks in the day where I can make lunch or dinner, just anything, without him getting angry that I have left his side. I came across a post that a fellow mama wrote on the Crunchy Mamas board about how her 3 1/2 year old daughter doesn't play well independently:

"I'm looking for a bit of advice. My DD is 3 1/2 and is an only child. She doesn't play well independently and never has. I think part of this may simply be her personality: She is very verbal - constantly has something to say. She wants a verbal response to EVERYTHING. Even if she says something simple like, "I colored the flower pink," she expects a response. And will ask for one if I don't give her one. For role play games, she expects a parent to be the partner. She claims to like baby dolls but won't play with the ones she has. Toys in her bedroom might as well not exist, as she won't go in there and choose anything on her own. If I am in there putting away laundry, she will play, but chats to me all the while.

I used to be a preschool teacher and my mom is a teacher as well, and I baby sat/nannied for all of my teenage and college years. So I feel like I have a decent handle on reasonable expectations, typical behavior, etc... But its so different when its your own kid, you know? I can't go to the bathroom without her coming with me - and not only that but her wanting me to "find her in the bathtub" or "pretend to be the mommy cat" while I'm on the toilet, lol. Last night she was at the kitchen table doing some art (of her own choosing) while I was straightening up. I left twice to put things away in other rooms and both times she hopped up from the table, following me, asking where I was going/what I was doing.

She's very demanding in other ways as well. Even though she's very bright and quite capable of doing things on her own, she hollers for assistance at every opportunity. I am sure that since she's an only child, we do cater to this more than other parents might. But I am aware of it and have her do things on her own pretty often. Its just that it is a battle the whole time, with me standing by and "coaching" her the whole way through.

I am just recently seeing glimpses that she might be outgrowing this a bit - but it is still rare enough that if she is playing independently it strikes me as unusual. Almost all of her toys are at eye level and easily accessible. (Although I have tried the opposite approach of putting most of it away and rotating through the options to make things seem more exciting, which wasn't effective either.)

She's not clingy in social situations, though. She does love her friends and for the most part will go and play as long as she is familiar with the other kids. She had a little friend over on Saturday and I hardly saw them for the two hours he was there. She's not one to play with a random child at the park, but I can't say I blame her for that. She does sometimes take a while to warm up to new places, especially playgrounds. She's a bit intimidated by the play structures (for example, she doesn't much care for slides). Again - this seems to come down to her need/want for me to help her with everything.

Sorry, that was long!! Any suggestions/advice? Will she outgrow it, or do I need to try other ways to encourage independence?

This was my response:

"I've had the same concern for my 27 month old son. You would think that our children are capable and perhaps should be playing independently by themselves for periods of time. I'll take "short" periods of time over no periods! I've researched this lack of behavior, if you want to call it that, with no avail. So, I'm currently working on getting my son out more in public by going to weekly story time where he's around other children. My reasoning in taking him to be around other children is that he will become independent and confident enough to leave my side to involve himself with them.

A difference between your daughter and my son is that he becomes quite angry if I leave his side when we are at home or doesn't get a verbal response or acknowledgment for every single little thing. And I mean, over every single little thing. It becomes exhausting for me. I can't get dinner ready without him crying and whining and hanging on my leg, making it next to impossible to cook, let alone do anything else.

Aside from taking him out and perhaps teaching him to be independent around other children in hopes that he will and continue to be that way at home, I'm at a loss.

Thank you for posting this. I can completely empathize and have been wanting to post the same thing but didn't know the right words to explain my thoughts and my concerns."

I've mentioned in prior blog posts and to my family and friends that Everett is a clingy, needy child. I receive advice that it's just a phase and he'll get past it but it's never really been a phase. He's always been like this and as he's getting older and more verbal, it's becoming very wearing on me. Like the fellow mama mentioned, her daughter wants acknowledgment for everything and will holler for assistance at every opportunity even though she is fully capable of doing it on her own. Everett has both of those identical behaviors. If it occurred every once in awhile, I would accept it and move on, but it occurs all the time, with everything. Even though he is an only child, we do not cater to him nor are there for his beck and call. I often times tell him that "he is a big boy and can do it on his own." He asks for assistance on such things as feeding him a bite of toast or picking up his train that fell down or that he threw. He refuses to do things on his own and wants my coaching for everything. The times he does without wanting me right there is far and few and doesn't last but all for a few minutes. The kicker is, he is only like this when I am around. If I am gone and not an option, he is a happy-go-lucky, independent boy. Both my husband and parents can account to this.

I am hoping that getting him out and around other children on a consistent weekly basis will help his confidence and promote some independent play (around me). Do you have any advice or any input?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crunchy Tip #1 (Heartburn)

With all my internet research, book reading, and being on a Crunchy Mamas discussion board, I gain a lot of information and learn about a lot of different things. I thought it'd be fun and helpful to share quick and easy crunchy tips. They're tips that I use and can account for their effectiveness.

So, for numero uno, I wanted to share natural ways to fight heartburn. I never had heartburn until I became pregnant but get it now a handful of times a week. It's painful and I always get it at night when I go to bed.

  • A spoonful of raw honey. Not only does it taste delicious but it works really well for me. Trader Joe's sells affordable raw honey. Y.S. Organic Bee Farms also has great honey. There are also local beekeepers who sell it.

  • A cup of hot ginger tea. I drank a lot of ginger tea when I was pregnant. The ginger in the hot water was really soothing and comforting for me. I like Yogi's Organic Ginger Tea.

  • Swig of organic apple cider vinegar. I usually don't go this route. It doesn't taste all that great to me but nonetheless, it really works! I like Bragg's Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. It's sold at my local grocery store but it can be purchased online for a reasonable price at vitacost.com.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Two Year Old Eats Salad?

Lately, my son has been wanting salad for dinner. He doesn't want pizza or his favorite, spaghetti. He wants a plate of salad. Don't you have to beg toddlers to eat this kind of food? I feel lucky that I don't have to talk my son into eating his vegetables.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Immune Boosters and Natural Cold/Flu Remedies

It's been a tough cold and flu season this year for our household. I've had both the cold and the flu, all in a matter of 2 months. Mine had a lot to do with my insomnia and lack of sleep causing my immune system to weaken. My son had a cold a few weeks ago that consisted of a sinus infection. He woke up this morning with a deep chest cough. My husband had a cold a few weeks ago. Two natural ways we've been working on preventing and fighting the cold and flu includes Vitamin D3 and Elder Berry Syrup.

Vitamin D is known to boost the immune system and there is plenty of scientific evidence that it enhances your immunity and inhibits the development of autoimmunity. Our bodies naturally produce this vitamin when exposed to sunlight but during the Fall and Winter months, I make sure that we load up on Vitamin D3 supplements. You'll often times see Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 supplements on the shelves but it's important to chose the right one. D3 is naturally occurring in the our bodies. D2 is not and is derived from plants and enters the body through the diet.

Everett takes Rhino Gummy Vitamin D3/800 IU per serving (2 gummy bears). He loves taking them!

My husband and I take the Naturally Preferred brand (found at Fred Meyer) Vitamin D3/1,000 IU.

The Elder Berry is widely known to be effective against 8 strains of influenza. It is as effective as vaccines, if not more superior, because the vaccine only covers known strains and strains mutate continually. One of my older brothers visits Israel several times a year and he informed me that doctors there are more likely to give sick individuals with the flu Elder Berry instead of the flu vaccine. It can also be useful for colds as well.

I have been purchasing 4 oz of Elder Berry syrup for $18. It is quite spendy. I finally decided to save a bit of money and make my own. Thanks to Brittany at The Pistachio Project, I used her recipe:

½ cup dried Elder Berries or 1 cup fresh Elder Berries
3 cups water
½ cup honey (raw is preferred)

Bring water to boil in a saucepan, add in Elder Berries and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until liquid has reduced by half. Let the syrup cool and then strain through a fine mesh sieve, cheesecloth, or muslin. Add in the honey once cool and stir. Store your Elder Berry syrup in a jar in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can make large batches of Elder Berry syrup and can them in mason jars.

Keeps for 2-3 months

Usage Instructions
Daily Maintenance: Take 2 teaspoons daily for adults. Take 1 teaspoon daily for children

For Intensive Use: Take 2 teaspoons four times daily for adults. Take 1 teaspoon four times daily for children.

*Can be given to children over the age of 1.

I called my local Whole Foods to see if they had dried Elder Berries but they didn't so I purchased a pound for $10.50 from Mountain Rose Herbs. I don't often times buy things online in my attempt to buy locally and to support my local economy but Mountain Rose Herbs is a local company down in Eugene, Oregon!

My mom and I made our first batch of homemade syrup today and it turned out fantastic!

Dried Elder Berries

Simmering for 45 minutes

We used some mesh material that my mom had. You can buy 2 square yards of cheesecloth at Mountain Rose Herbs for only $3.50.

Strain syrup

Add in raw honey (my mom gets her honey from our Naturopathic Doctor. He's also a Beekeeper!)

We tripled Brittany's recipe and made 4 1/2 pints.

Everett and I both had a dose when we got home this evening. It turned out great and tasted delicious.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Good Day

Today was a good day. I felt relaxed and got a lot accomplished. I owe a little bit of thanks to my little brother for that. As of a few days ago, he's staying with us indefinitely; until he can get things figured out on his end. Everett doesn't take well to unfamiliar faces. He becomes very shy and timid. My nephew was the complete opposite. As long as I can remember, that kid was friendly to anybody and everybody and made himself known to just about anyone. Everett got my calm, shy disposition. Anyway, surprisingly, after 2 days, he willingly played with my brother. This freed me up and allowed me to put away the load of clean dishes in the dishwasher, get last night's dirty dishes done, bake a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, complete all laundry (folded and put away) and go for a 3.2 mile run. On most days, I do bits and pieces of this between his nap and after he's down for the night. Have I mentioned before that I have an extra-clingy child? It is so hard for me to get anything done during the day. I can hardly leave his side to go to the bathroom without him getting upset. But of course with a face like this, how could I possibly be annoyed of the fact that a son loves his mother so much that he doesn't ever want her to be out of his sight?!

I also tried out a new recipe and had one of my older brothers (I have 4 brothers!) over for dinner. No-Stuff Cabbage. I don't know many people who consciously choose to eat cabbage but we ate it often growing up so everyone in my family enjoys it. I think we had lots of it because it was an easy vegetable to grow in the garden.

1 pound lean ground beef (preferably from grass-fed cows)
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (I used Spikes Seasoning. Can be found in Natural Foods Dept.)
1/4 salt (preferably sea salt)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt (preferably sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes, diced)
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon onion flakes
3 cups cooked brown rice

Heat oven to 350. Coat a rimmed baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Meatballs. In a bowl, combine ground beef, onion flakes, parsley, allspice, salt and pepper. Form into 28 meatballs, using about 1 tablespoon of mixture each. Place on prepared baking pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Sauce. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. (I used grapeseed oil.) Add cabbage, salt and pepper; simmer over medium-high heat 8 minutes, stirring often. Stir in tomatoes, raisins, sugar and onion flakes. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add meatballs and simmer 5 minutes.

Serve meatballs and sauce over rice.

PER SERVING 497 CAL; 7g FAT (3g SAT); 33g PRO; 72g CARB; 8g FIBER; 793mg SODIUM; 70mg CHOL

It was delicious but tasted a bit tomatoey to me so I'd probably but in 3/4 of what the recipe recommended next time.

It's been an adjustment having my brother live with us and having to be concerned about my privacy but I've enjoyed the fact that he can lend a hand with Everett so I can get some of my to-do list completed during the day; and this allows me more free time in the evening. I can relax and have some "me" time instead of doing dishes and cleaning up. It was a good day. And little brothers aren't such a pain in the butt after all.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Advantages of Buying Used

Growing up in a family of 9, I was very fortunate to have been blessed with everything that I had. My dad worked extremely hard to provide for us and to give my mom the opportunity to stay at home and take care of all 7 kids. Looking back, one thing I admire about my mom was her way of making use of the things that we already had. She rarely bought anything new. With 7 little bodies to clothe, she shopped consignment stores from time to time. Back then, I hated the idea of wearing someone else's worn clothes but now that I'm a mom and have realized the benefits and importance of using pre-existing resources, it makes me more appreciative of this aspect she instilled in me.

Some great reasons to buying used includes:

  • Lower price
  • Recycling (the more we all recycle, the less pollutants in the air from manufacturers producing more products. I'd say that's green and lessening our carbon footprint!)
  • Reduces waste (buying something used saves it from being added to a landfill)
  • Finding things that are discontinued and no longer made (I don't know about you but I love vintage finds!)
  • Items are often unique (such as home decor, dishes, furniture)
  • Supports local economy
  • Gives connection to the community (shop yard and garage sales and meet those that are in your surrounding neighborhoods)
  • No sales tax
  • No buyer's remorse (you can't feel bad if you bought something for $2 and later decide you don't like it. $2 beats $20. You can easily donate it without feeling like you wasted your money)
I don't buy everything used but I make a conscious effort to do so. If we are in need or want of something, I initially ask myself if it is something I could find on craigslist, at Goodwill, a thrift store, or a consignment shop. Most often times, I can most likely buy it used. The main reason I take advantage of used items is to preserve our planet. Buying used items eliminates the production of new resources and the generation of pollution. Anything plastic is produced by pumping oil from the earth. It also saves carbon emissions, pesticides, and toxic chemicals from being put into our environment. That's enough reason for me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Spinach and Three Bean Enchiladas

With the beans I soaked and cooked, I used half of it to make Spinach and Three Bean Enchiladas. I froze the other half. I obtained the recipe from last month's Family Circle magazine. They have delicious and healthy recipes every month! I'll share the original recipe but I modified it by using home cooked beans instead of can beans, and instead of a can of tomato sauce, I just cut up a few fresh tomatoes, crushed them and added a little bit of water. I have yet to find tomato sauce in a jar for an affordable price. Instead of vegetable oil, I used grapeseed oil. Again, I would encourage you to use all organic ingredients to avoid pesticides, preservatives, and other unnecessary additives.

Makes 6 servings
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 9 minutes
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 0z) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (80z) no-salt added tomato sauce
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bag (6 oz) baby spinach
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
6 whole-wheat fajita-size tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican-blend cheese

Heat oven to 350. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans, tomato sauce, chili powder and cumin; simmer 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Gradually stir in spinach until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro and lightly mash bean mixture with a potato masher. Spoon about 3/4 cup of the bean mixture down center of each tortilla and tightly roll up; place seam-side down in prepared dish.

Sprinkle cheese over enchiladas; cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve warm with tossed salad, if desired.

Per serving: 373 CAL; 11g FAT (3g SAT); 23g PRO; 52g CARB; 19g FIBER; 757mg SODIUM; 20mg CHOL

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Soaking Your Beans

Since I quit buying can foods, I started buying beans in bulk. I love love me some beans! I don't eat a lot of meat so I get my protein in tossing a variety of beans on my salads. Fred Meyer has organic beans in bulk for a great price. You get a whole lot more than what you would pay for in a can.

To prepare my pinto and black beans, I began by soaking them overnight. Why soak them, you ask? Here are some benefits:

  • Better digestibility
  • Minimizes gas
  • Preserves nutrients
  • Shortens cooking time
  • Removes contaminants
  • Reduces phytic acid effects

Begin by rinsing the beans thoroughly.

Cover them in water and place a towel over the bowl overnight. I would suggest not soaking pinto or black beans more than 8 hours. I soaked mine for 8 hours and it was too much. {Other beans with harder coverings will require longer soaking though.}

In the morning, rinse the beans and place in crock pot on high setting for 3-4 hours.

Because I soaked them overnight too long, my pinto beans turned out a little mushy and the black beans broke apart. Thankfully, they were still edible.

My first time soaking the beans didn't turn out so well but there was a trial and error period that I went through until I figured out the right soaking and cooking times depending on the bean. This batch was one of my better ones. Here's a helpful link if you'd like more information on soaking beans: Nourished Kitchen.

I used these beans to make Spinach and Three Bean Enchiladas. They were delicious! Even my meat-loving husband loved them. I'll post the recipe soon!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Blog Design

I decided today that my blog needs a new design. I'll be working on revamping my blog so bear with me while I try out different layouts.

I'm not very tech-saavy so it may take awhile. It took me weeks to set up my last one.

Please share with me what websites you use for tutorials and where you get your designs. Thanks!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Answered Prayers

Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His Commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. I John 3:22

I racked up a pretty big medical bill from my uninsured emergency visit back in December {mentioned in this blog entry}. I applied for a bill reduction and fervently prayed that God would find a way for the money owed to be minimized. Today, I received a letter from the hospital that they wrote off 90% of the bill. God is good! He saved us thousands of dollars and in realization of my answered prayer, I broke down. I felt relief and overwhelmed with thankfulness.

And it gets even better....

I haven't had health insurance since I had Everett {except for 3 months of coverage that I was temporarily approved for} and He has blessed us and financially provided a way for me to be insured effective next month.

God will never, never, never let us down if we have faith and put our trust in Him. He will always look after us. So we must cleave to Jesus. Our whole life must simply be woven into Jesus. -Mother Teresa

On another note, here's a short, random conversation I had with my husband today:

Husband: "Hey, what do you think about having another baby? Would you like to have a little girl you can cuddle?"

Me: "Uh...whaaat? What?!"

Husband: "Yeah, another baby."

Me: " Uh...no. Ok, how about we just pray about it?"

Husband: {laughing} "Ok, babe."

Where did that come from?! Last time we talked, which was less than a month ago, he was completely opposed to having another one. So was I. Evidently, he had a quick change of mind.

This little dude...cute, but keeps my hands very full these days...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Quick Post

I have quite a few things and pictures I want to blog about but it seems like there's sometimes not enough hours in a day to do everything that we want. I'm sure as a parent, you can relate. Anyway, I wanted to quickly share a photo of Everett from the other day. His naps are hit and miss these days and he often times spends the 2 hours in his crib talking to himself, playing around, and who knows what. The other afternoon, I heard him repeatedly saying "uh-oh" over and over again. I waited until his nap time was over to go see what the uh-oh's were about and sure enough, they were legitimate uh-oh's and not a tactic to get mom into the room for a shortened nap time.

You've got to really wonder sometimes how these things happen. I wish I had a video monitor. What silly things have you discovered after getting your child after nap time?