Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Basket Rescue: Organic Candy

It is easy to succumb to the commercialization of Easter-- the push of Marshmallow Peeps and all the standard candy coming in Easter themed wrappers and shapes.

But you can make a choice. A choice to give your kids less chemical laden candy. Less artificial food dyes and flavorings.

Many of the candies I suggest are available at higher end grocery stores which contain an Organic Section. Wegmans and Whole Foods are especially helpful here. You can also order many organic candies online. Amazon carries a wide range. There is also Pure Fun with a wide selection.

Green and Blacks Chocolates are wonderful and offer large bar like chocolates. Godiva is almost all natural on their basic chocolates. Yummy Earth makes the yummiest organic lollipops.

There are organic gummy bears and m & m like candies. Seek them out. Avoid the toxic food colorings and flavorings such as vanillin. Most of us don't want our kids feasting on candy, but for those special times like Easter, at least it could be natural.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Feathered Friends: Building our Backyard Flock

(Plymouth Rock 10 days old)

A few weeks ago I wrote about our desire to raise chickens in our backyard, for egg purposes. Well now that we are well underway I figured it would be a good time to fill you in on the details of our choices.

We are currently raising 6 chicks, which we purchased through My Pet Chicken. They were wonderful with a big selection and a healthy arrival of 6 chicks. We chose Plymouth Rock, Buff Orpinton, and Red Sex-Linked. I have to say that the Plymouths are the sweetest and just really want to be held all day long, which my daughter has no problem doing.

During the first week, we housed them in a 110 quart clean Rubbermaid tote with pine chips as the base. It worked well. But as we entering week 3, they needed more room so we built a cardboard coop for a more spacious habitat for them until they can go outdoors. We also let them get some extra exercise free-ranging on the kitchen floor.

So far we have had no issues. The kids love them. They aren't that messy or stinky but I am on top of keeping the coop clean. My cats are scared of them-- which is kind of funny.

We are still in the midst of figuring out the backyard coop situation. Our thoughts at this point are to get a roughly 8x6 shed to house them in and build an enclosed pen roughly 6x4 attached to it. I am not one to skimp on space as my first concern is their human treatment. I have read that the recommended size of the total coop plus pen should equal a minimum of 4 square feet per bird. Well this is more than triple that which makes me much more comfortable. Especially here in Syracuse where they will spend much of the winter in the indoor coop for weather reasons. Inside the coop I will also have perches and several "shelves" they can walk on to further maximize the square footage. I will get up some pictures once construction is underway.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Heart Faces: Angles

Here's my entry for I Heart Faces Angles. Go check out other entries here.


Its one thing to be 6 turning 7 and have a crush on a girl.

You offer to pull her chair out, you partner up with her when you get the chance, you even ask her to dance with you. You hold her hand during a party.

She is sweet and kind. She dances with you, partners with you when you ask, and holds your hand back.

But then one day, she makes you smile like never before when you get a birthday card from her and she tells you in her way-- that she likes you too.

Since his party, I have noticed him several times, pick up this card and look it over with the sweet sweet smile on his face.

Check out other Tuesday Moments Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reliving The Past

Today begins a hard week, actually month for me. Seven years ago, I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. It was my first official day of maternity leave and I reveled in my new found freedom while mopping my kitchen floor midday.

The day itself was uneventful. I remember eating a bowl of hot oatmeal while sitting on my front porch watching the school busses go by--thinking I should be at work already. My only physical complaint of the pregnancy was my swollen ankles. The air was warm and it was sunny. The windows were open and I was in nesting mode.

It was shortly before dinner that I received the phone call. It was my OB and she had a very strange tone in her voice as she spoke with me. She asked if I was home alone. She asked if I was ready to listen to something important. I was loading laundry while we had this conversation as she had my latest sonogram results from a few days earlier and I kept loading while she talked not fully grasping what she was saying. Then I remember sort of dropping the handful of laundry and asking her to explain it again. We had already lost the twin of this pregnancy. How could this be getting worse?

I remember walking into the nursery while waiting for my husband to get home to take me up to the hospital as the doctor ordered and looking around. It was painted but not fully decorated. I looked at the layette outfit waiting on the dresser. I noticed the lack of diapers and wipes, bottles and equipment. I was no where near prepared for a baby--I still had 9 more weeks.

The hospital visit was a blur. IUGR was mentioned several times. My baby weighed 2lbs 12 ounces and was not only not growing, but it was shrinking. The size of a 25 weeker, the baby for some reason was below the 3rd percentile and failing.

They ordered bed rest and continued daily bio-physicals and ultra sounds. They added a team of specialists from a hospital with a advanced NICU. My days blurred into nights laying on the couch eating as much food as I could while wishing the baby to grow.

Four days later, due to signs of extreme fetal distress a C-section was ordered immediately. He was born in a near standing-room-only OR in a blur of controlled chaos.

He would spend the next 28 days in the NICU and I would spend those same days mostly split between the hospital and on my shower floor crying.

Last week I read a study where mothers of premature babies, especially those who had extended stays in NICUs, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. It make so much sense to me now.

So here I am, as I always am on March 17th feeling like I am trapped in the movie Groundhog's Day. Reliving every moment. Seeing the clock and knowing exactly what I was doing 7 years ago to the minute on some days. I can hear the sounds and smell the smells. And this will stretch into April, as it does every year.

He will turn 7 on Saturday. He is healthy and fine, argumentative and strong willed. Brilliant and funny. But somehow I get stuck right back in this place every year.

And each year I expect it to be different.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dispelling Homeschool Myths

Today my article on Dispelling Homeschool Myths is featured on Go check it out!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Interview with Cricket Azima- Child Nutritionist and Chef

I spent my morning chatting with Cricket Azima, Child Nutritionist and Kids' Chef and author of Everybody Eats Lunch. First of all, she is delightful :) Seriously. We spent last week with her cooking on Bridge Street on 9WSYR. She's super smart when it comes to kids nutrition and cooking and a fellow mom, so we love her. Read the interview and you will too become a fan.

What made you decide to write Everybody Eats Lunch?

For about 10 years I had been teaching kids cooking classes while getting my Masters at NYU in Food Studies and Food Management. I saw how to teach traditional curriculum through food and saw how it could translate to any age. Teaching Science and Math through food really engaged kids. I am a big fan of Montessori learning and saw how children, when using all of their senses retained more information.

What is your favorite or most popular recipe from the book?

It is the yummy Pumpkin Fritters. Kids love them.

Which "camp" do you belong to-- the "hide-the-veggies-in-the-food" or openly offer them?

Don't hide the veggies!! Foster a healthy relationship with fruits and vegetables by frequent exposure. When cooking with kids, I often use repeat ingredients. So maybe on the first time they don't want to try the green peppers, but the third time they are more likely to give it a try.

What are your suggestions for the moms of super picky eaters who feel they have tried all the "tricks" with little success?

Get the kids involved from the beginning of the process. Have them help plan the menu. Take them to the grocery store and give them a simple task like locating some of the ingredients. Offer them a choice- but without setting yourself up. For instance, offer the choice of broccoli or cauliflower. Let them help in preparing the meal- washing the vegetables, tearing off leaves, or cutting up fruits depending on the age of the child. What I have found is the more invested the kids are in the meal by planning and cooking, the more likely they are to eat it.

You have become the Spokesperson for Fruit Simple. What made you make that decision?

The sad fact is less than 10% of kids are getting the proper amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Fruit Simple is great because it is 100% all natural with no sugar added. Sometimes it is more convenient that fresh fruit, its portable, and often more economical. If you were to make your own smoothies it can be pretty costly and often you would end up with some waste. Fruit Simple is great because you can throw it in a bag whereas a pear isn't always as conducive for that. Its also a "treat" for kids. All of my desserts are fruit based and Fruit Simple can be used the same way, as a easy and healthy treat.

What are the two messages you want parents to take away from this conversation?
  1. Balance. Balance is key-- for kids and adults.
  2. Get the kids involved and start forming that healthy relationship with food while they are young.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

$50 Target Gift Card GIVEAWAY

Everyone could use $50 at Target right??

Ok so here is the giveaway. On March 20th I will select one person randomly from the comments to win a $50 Target Gift Card. You can enter several times. Here's the rules for entering:

1. Leave a comment for an entry.

2. Become a follower for an additional entry.

3. Follow me on Twitter for another entry.

4. Tweet this giveaway for another entry. (Feel free to tweet each day for additional entries--add the tweet to your comment)

5. Add me to your blog roll or add my button for another entry.

6. Become a fan of our Facebook page for another entry! Fan box is in the side bar

Be sure to leave a comment for each entry that you do above.

Good luck!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Arrivals

They will surely have sore legs after sitting on the floor most of the day inspecting our new arrivals in the brooder.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our Date with Cricket Azima, Chef and Child Nutrition Expert

We spent on morning over at the local news studio filming a live cooking segment with Cricket Azima. It was fun and exciting and she was fantastic! I'll be featuring a full interview with her here later this week as well as a Fruit Simple Giveaway! Stay tuned...

Until then here are the behind the scenes photos I managed to squeeze in.

What are they making? Her amazingly yummy Fruit Simple Fruit Salsa. I'll post the recipe later this week with her full interview.

Wanna' see the full video? Watch it here

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