How to get your kid to eat (in our case, drink) vegetables…

I’ve been giving out our smoothie recipe lately because, as it turns out, I’m friends with lots of women who have toddler-aged children and we’re all struggling with how to get our kids to eat the things we don’t even like to eat (sometimes).  I’m talking about vegetables.

Since I got pregnant with Case (almost 3 years ago) we’ve been making these smoothies and have tweaked and re-tweaked the ingredients until we’ve gotten it down to a recipe that we both (and now Case) can agree is both delicious and nutritious!  Case drinks about 12 oz. of it daily  and we both get about 8-10 oz each.

A couple of years ago, my parents gave us a Vitamix (actually, I believe the card was only addressed to Brian, but I digress), which has significantly expedited our morning smoothie-making.  If you have some extra change lying around and can afford a Vitamix, we highly recommend it as it’s pretty awesome.  The thing can make peanut butter from peanuts in seconds – neato, huh?

Ok, back to the SMOOTHIE INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups of baby spinach (we buy the big bags from Costco then transfer them into the boxes (plastic) from the grocery, as the spinach keeps longer in the boxes)

3 large carrots  – cleaned and chopped into manageable blending sizes (no real need to do this with the Vitamix, but for other regular blenders its key to have the carrots blended evenly so it’s not lumpy)

3 bananas

2 1/2 cups orange juice

After we add these top 3 ingredients, we blend until smooth and then add the following:

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries

1/2 cup of apple juice

Then we blend it again for  1 minute until smooth ,it should look a little ripply on top with some bubbles (similar to those that appear when making pancakes).

When I was pregnant with Case and Claire we added flax seed, but otherwise we’ve pretty much stayed true to this recipe as it’s consistency is pretty near perfect and it lasts in a nalgene for at least two days in the refrigerator.

Case slurps it right up and Claire (as of today, after she stole the straw cup from her brother and gulped it down) likes it too!

We do still try to get Case to eat vegetables (he doesn’t mind them if we put a pinch of sea salt on them!) and of course Claire eats mostly veggies as that’s all I’m really making for her (thanks to the Baby Bullet my MIL got for $15 at Big Lots!). But on the days that I don’t push the veggies, at least I know they’re getting something from our smoothie.

How do you get your kids to eat veggies?

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Working Weekend

Claire loving the splash park

Case avoiding the splash park

Sleepy Claire with Daddy at Walmart (no one really likes grocery shopping…)

For stay-at-home-moms with young children (my only experience is with children 2 1/2 and younger) Saturdays and Sundays are often very similar to the other days of the week.  We wake up, not when our alarm goes off, but when one of our children’s content babblings turn into full-blown screaming.  We put on our ‘work’ clothes or what I refer to as my uniform (also it’s not hot) – nike running shorts, a sports bra and a tank top.  And except for the presence of our significant other there  to <perhaps> participate in childrearing/keeping one eye on child while also browsing the internet while sitting on the couch, these days off are like most every other day.

Since Brian has been living in DC during the week however, our Saturdays and Sundays have definitely been more special and different.  The weekends have turned into a time for us to reconnect as a family unit and for Brian to get as much lovin’ in as he can on these kids before he leaves for five more days.  Also, I allow him to get as much lovin’ in on me as he can too.

The weekends have become more special and different, but also pretty trying too. Mostly because, and I feel bad even thinking this, let alone actually writing on here for the world to see (but I’m doing it anyway…)- I just want to be alone! I miss my husband and our family time, but  I don’t want to reconnect as a family unit for two days straight .  I want to disconnect (for at least two hours) and be alone.  Come Friday afternoon,  I ache for someone who shares (equally) the responsibiltiy for our children, so, for example, if I have to pee, I don’t have to leave the door open and hope that no one falls and gets a concussion or worse while I’m relieving myself!  Or, if I need to shower I don’t need to plan it days in advance and write it down on my to-do list (alright people, I can sense judgement brewing and yes, you’re right, hygiene should probably be higher on my priorities list – maybe when my husband lives with me it will be bumped up since, as many of you know personally, he does not have a filter and will certainly let me know if my odor or greasy hair is bothering him).

Brian, I have to admit, is very understanding of my need for alone time now (now that he’s moving home in less than two weeks!) and tries to offer it to me when he can.   He wakes up at 6 a.m. with Claire and offers to ‘babysit’ while I go run errands (by myself). [Side note – when you’re watching your OWN kids, it’s not called babysitting, it’s called parenting.] But, since he’s only home for a short time I feel guilty not being with him (also, I like hanging out with him ’cause I picked him to spend the rest of my life with, ya know). But I get overwhelmed when I layer in all that we try to accomplish with Case (while one of us is giving him our undivided attention) on the weekends and my accompanying mommy guilt about not working enough with him and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some prime self-loathing. This balancing act of trying to be a good wife, mother and oh, yeah, just be myself, you know, Caitlin? – It’s hard!

So, although my weekends are no longer a ‘real’ break from my ‘work week’, at least in the same way they were when I worked outside the home and didn’t have kids, they are special and they’re really good when I get both my alone time AND my family quality time.

Anyone else sympathize with the ‘working weekend’ rut?  What do you do to mix it up on the weekends and find balance?

<<P.S.  Yes, Brian is done with his work in DC and is moving back to Yorktown to work on his next steps for his entrepreneurial pursuits!  He will be home by the end of next week.  And just in the nick of time too as Case has taken to picking up anything that looks even remotely like a phone (like the TV remote), holding it up to his ear and saying, “Daddy”. I’m so looking forward to a time when Case doesn’t associate Daddy with phone calls!>>

He’s fine

We’ve had a lot of people concerned about Case given my second to last post that included all the gory photos of his head wound (I’ll stop wondering, now, why people perhaps may have been worried).

He’s fine.  Fine like when we tell him he’s fine when he accidentally trips in the grass and falls on his cushioned bum and doesn’t hurt himself, or wakes up in the middle of night for no reason and cries, or fine like when his sister takes whatever toy he has in the weak grip of his hands.  He is just fine.

He’s also handsome, as ever.

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Ok, so two things of note in the photo above:

1.  His wound is on the left side of his head (on the right in the photo) and is covered very well by his long hair, but it is small and has healed perfectly!

2.  He’s wearing big boy undies!  We’re in the midst of potty training.  Good news is I can’t remember the last time I changed one of his poopy diapers.  Bad news is I can very vividly remember (ahem, yesterday) when I took him upstairs to take off his wet undies and get on a new pair.  And since he’s not so great with  communicating, I’m doing a lot of just sitting him on the potty and….. waiting……….

Patience is one of the highest virtues.

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The Happiness Advantage

Lately I’ve found myself thinking like a glass-is-half-empty-kind-of-girl and that doesn’t really jive with my normally sunny disposition.

After all, friends (and my husband) are always telling me how much they miss my laugh (me too!).

Brian sent me the this link to a podcast: The Happy Secret to Better Work  a few days ago and not only did I laugh out loud while watching it (Shawn Anchor has some pretty good comedic timing for a Harvard guy!) but I found myself thinking about it afterwards and making yet another  fake-lent-resolution to practice at least one of his steps in creating lasting positive change.  Those steps are:

1.  Three gratitudes – At the end of the day writing down at least three things for which you’re grateful

2.  Journaling – spending time writing to yourself daily

3.  Exercise –  of the physical kind – enough to work up a sweat and feel like you’ve accomplished something

4. Meditation – having more than a moment when you’re disconnected (from everything!)

5.  Random acts of kindness – even if it’s writing a coworker an email on a job well done

The key to practicing these exercises is to do them every day for at least 21 days (you know, however long ‘they’ve’ found it takes to form a habit).  So my goal from this post forward is continue practicing the  physical exercise step (perhaps making it even more regular with doing something active EVERY day) but also adding another step (i.e. gratitudes, or random acts of kindness) to the mix.

As soon as this Shawn Anchor spoke of the random acts of kindness I immediately  thought of my good friend, Lea, who practices many of the steps already.

She’s been known to swing by my house (when we lived close (big sad face!)) and bring me a Starbucks (grande soy salted caramel mocha, no whip (ahem, there’s a reason my husband is concerned Claire might be high maintenance)) and a new pair of earrings, or I’d come out to my car from grocery shopping and there’d be a note on it saying she’d been at the bank and seen my car and just wanted to say hi or constantly paying for our big girl’s nights out (and not just me, but for all the girlfriends) and yes she’s got the bucks to do it, but she’s no millionaire and it’s that kind of random kindness that seems to give her her happiness advantage, but also makes the people around her happier too.

And I’d say, one of the biggest things I struggle with with my kids every day is trying to stay positive so that they’re positive.  If you’re a mom, you get it.  When I’m frustrated that Case is taking an inordinate amount of time to get out of his bed or get down the stairs, he senses my frustration and lack of patience and it makes it more difficult for him (not only is it hard to do that stuff but now Mom’s frustrated that I’m taking too long and I don’t want to do it anymore so I’m going to sit down and cry (I assume is what’s going on in his head)).

But I know that even if he were a normally developing kid I’d get frustrated with him (he is in his terrible twos!) and my lack of patience/frustration would have the same affect.  Both he and Claire are so attuned to my mood that it’s imperative I give myself the skills to not get so frustrated because at the end of the day I’m not the only one that’s affected by my unhappiness.  And especially for Case,  I believe when he feels like he’s got a momma who’s (more times than not) positively motivating him,  it really makes a difference is his progress.  For a kid who’s not self-motivating (yet!), my positive energy goes a long way.

So in order to ensure I keep this gig up (of being a positive force and source of motivation), I’m going to start writing down three things I’m grateful for each day (even if one of those things is my  grande soy salted caramel mocha, no whip) as well as practicing one random act of kindness (just like my friend, Lea) and emails to coworkers, as Shawn suggests, won’t do here as Case doesn’t check his email too frequently and Claire doesn’t even have a smart phone, pfff.

I’ll keep you posted.  Literally.

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One more photo

I had to share this one last (auto setting) photo of Case at Bluebird Gap Farm (a free ‘zoo’) in Hampton, VA, just a few minutes from Brian’s parents house.   Brian and I  took Case and Claire there a couple of weekends ago (when it was actually really cold here in Virginia not like now when it’s 80 and sunny!).

You get what you pay for I guess (as the place wasn’t all that impressive, note I did not include a link to their website), but we did get to show Case a REAL cow, and sheep, and llama (not that we’re quizzing him on identification of llamas and their sounds these days, but the others we are) and so it was nice to be able to show him that those ‘things’ that we’re painstakingly making him identify over and over again in his books and puzzles actually do exist in real life.

He got a kick out of the goats especially and in the photo below he’s just been nibbled by the sheep behind him.

 

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[Look at the happiness on his face in that photo.  If I could bottle up the joy he exudes I definitely would (mostly so I could give it back to myself when we’ve had a hard day or we’re practicing going up the stairs for the upteenth time!).]

 

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My birthday present and a trip to the ER

As a birthday present to ‘me’, Brian did the research and bought us a new camera.  The kind where the lens’ cost more than the actual camera itself.  The fancy kind.  He bought a Canon Rebel T3i/EOS 600D with a really big hunkin’ lens.

We have been spoiled by our resident  (‘amateur’) photographer, Erin, my sister-in-law, who dubiously photographs all of us with her own fancy camera every time we see her for holidays or visits.   But we decided, especially after a particularly memorable trip to the swings, that we’d like to be able to capture those moments beautifully too (the ones in between visits with Erin!) and however handy the iPhone is and however remarkable the camera is, it’s really got nothing on our fancy one (although the fact that I would never refer to my iPhone as ‘hunkin’ makes it a tad bit easier to always have around, besides the fact that it’s like an extra limb and IS always around).

And you’d think that a post about getting a new camera would be filled with lots of lovely photos of all those most recent beautiful moments.  Well, below are a few but I’ve taken them by purely relying on all of this camera’s fancy Auto setttings that make it pretty much impossible to take a terrible photo, while I try to make the time to watch the dozens of video tutorials my husband has loaded onto my iPhone, iPad, and computer (he says, so if you have any spare moments you can just pull them up and watch them – ahem, he really does NOT understand what I consider ‘free’ time).

Case at Long's ParkCase looking through tunnel at Long's ParkClaire in her activity thingy at Mor Mor's HouseClaire with Mor Mor at Gigi'sCase with GigiCase scared on mowerCase tickled on mower with DaddyClaire with momma at Bluebird Gap Farm

But, in his defense, I do want to learn about all of this cool new toy’s capabilities – because it has LOTS, and I can’t seem to find my way with just the 230 page manual (that I’ve been reading in my ‘free’ time).  Mostly because I really love looking back at them and knowing now that I’ll be able to capture the real joy (and fear) on Case’s face as he races around on the riding lawn-mower with his Papa or his Daddy, or capture Claire’s ear to ear grin and practically hear her belly laugh when her Aunt Erin throws her in the air, or see the love in the eyes of my Mom and Grandmother as they spend some rare quality time with their grandchildren/great-grandchildren. Being able to more accurately (and beautifully) capture all those moments makes watching those damn (dry) video tutorials worth it.

In the meantime, I’ll share some more dramatic photos that weren’t taken with the new camera.   Because when you’re headed to the ER holding an ice pack to a screaming two year old’s head so he doesn’t bleed everywhere, you’re not really thinking about grabbing that big ass new camera.  You’re mostly thinking,”self, please don’t pass out”.

Case with Momma at the ERCase with stitches (right after - note the sweat from being restrained!)Case the party boy in the ER waiting room (yeah, I'm pretty sure he's over his fall)

Case (inevitably) fell on Monday night and split his head open.  He didn’t trip over anything (just his own feet, as per usual) and didn’t get his hands out in time (as per usual) and hit the the sharp part of the TV speaker on the floor (all of this right before bath time).  So after a whirlwind trip to the ER with me and Papa (Omi stayed home with Claire and Aunt Erin)he was back at home in bed by midnight with four stitches.

As you can imagine, Case gets a little worked up around anyone looking even remotely medical (especially after our big stay in the hospital in January and emergency ear tube surgery) so having company (in Papa) to help distract/restrain Case was really REALLY nice.   In general, Case was a good sport (saying hi to any and all of his fellow ER mates) and now he’s got his first of probably many scars!  Let’s hope his hairline doesn’t take after his father’s and we might be able to cover it for a while.

‘Til something else dramatic happens, or I get my act together and start actually planning my blog posts – may the luck of the Irish be with you!

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“Lent”

I’m not Catholic, and I’m not even remotely religious (probably more on that later, too),  so the idea of me giving up anything for Lent is something that I didn’t really even think about until I paid attention to a few of my friends (who are religious) who are practicing Lent this year but aren’t giving things up.   They’re making Lent about just plain old giving, and changing yourself for the better.

They’re turning Lent into a time for self-improvement (perhaps they didn’t quite stick to their guns on 2 January, I don’t know) versus a time to sacrifice.  And, although some religious folk out there may argue that that’s not what Lent is about,  I think self-improvement is always a good thing.

So, in honor of my religious friends practicing Lent and trying to better themselves, I decided to take on a couple of similar challenges for the next forty days:

First – I’m going to write every day.  Maybe not post things on here everyday, but write  (and not just my ‘to do’ list). And my hope is that that will be good for not only me, but lots of other people too (including my children who will benefit from a mommy who’s doing something for herself).

Second – I’m going to floss.

That’s it.

I debated including showering on a daily basis as a third here (as hygiene is big these days), but knew that I’d really feel guilty when I broke that little self-promise-fake-lent resolution on day 2.  [Although it is nice to hear, “Hey babe, you smell clean today, ”  on a regular basis (yes, he’s actually said that to me – what a doll, right?)]

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