Friday November 14, 2014

How much should you do?

There is a struggle that I face that some parents don’t, and that is being the parent of an only child. In the absence of a neighborhood with plenty of children and siblings, my son has to create a lot of playmates and maintain a lot of school friendships even out of school. But what happens when inevitably, someone moves away or just moves on from that friendship?
In the first case, we have had a few friends move away, and my son has been slightly upset over it. We have been able to maintain these friendships, and we are in the same town we always plan playdates, and this has helped Lucas see the world in a bigger light. Too often, kids only think they can play with the kids that are regularly in their lives. It is great to teach my son that the world is a smaller place, and if you really like someone and want to stay friends, you don’t have to live in the same town to maintain that friendship!
Now, what happens when you outgrow friendships? Or other friends outgrow you? This is a difficult situation for most adults, so it has been fascinating to watch my son go through this. Moving classrooms this year, he is seeing a lot of new faces regularly and a lot of old faces not so much. We have discovered that Lucas is great at making and keeping old friends through this school year (through no pushing from us). Lucas is also great at making sure that the friends he does play with at school don’t take advantage of him or push him around. He is not a tattle tale, he is simply a boy who knows what he wants, and if kids are not playing with him, he finds other kids who will.
I love watching him grow up and decide who are his friends and who aren’t. Somehow, this kid already knows which kids will be there for him when the chips are down, and which ones are not. In the end, these little things are no big deal, but this is a great skill to develop as you get older. I have always thought that you really know who you friends are when you are in a desperate situation…and boy, my son knows this lesson and I never taught it to him.

In the end, I find myself in awe of my son, as I want to protect him from so much and yet he knows how to protect himself. When I see kids not wanting to play with him, or overreacting to how he plays, I typically would step in. What I have realized this year is that I don’t have to. Being the parent of an only means you have to be so much more watchful in situations, yet my son amazes me every day with how much he has learned to get by on his own. In the end, children are so much more resilient than adults give them credit for.

Wednesday November 12, 2014

Feeling sick? How about some chicken soup! - Guest blog from Jackie Tortorello!

Chicken Noodle Soup for Your Children
As the temperature drops and wind starts to blow, it’s best to serve your child something special. By making a homemade batch of chicken noodle soup not only will your child have a full belly, they’ll enjoy a meal full of nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.

Check out these 5 reasons to serve this delicious meal on a regular basis.

Five reasons to eat chicken soup:
1. Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine. This thins out the mucous in the lungs making it easier to cough.
2. During times of infection, mucus can thicken into a moist, nutrient-rich environment that encourages growth of viruses and bacteria. Hot chicken soup vapors have been proven more effective than hot water vapors in cleaning the gunky mucus out of your nose.
3. Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene. The body converts this into vitamin A, which helps prevent and fight off infections by enhancing the actions of white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.
4. Onion, garlic and ginger are powerful immune-supportive spices. Onions contain quercetin, a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory. The active ingredient allicin in freshly crushed garlic works like a natural antibiotic. The major active ingredients in ginger are terpenes and oleoresin, which have antiseptic, and lymph-cleansing properties and also help improve circulation.
5. Snuggling up and sipping on warm, chicken soup when you’re feeling sick can really lift your mood and help you feel better. This may actually be the most healing property of all!
To Make Soup:

Place a stock pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock, recipe follows
8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Monday November 10, 2014

Friday November 7, 2014

Save this for next year! - Guest post from Jackie (o'lantern) Tortorello

10 Tips for Perfect Jack-o'-Lanterns

holiday, marker, pumpkin, decoration, designs

So you went to the store, picked up the pumpkin, but you're stuck on where to move next. Check out this article on 10 tips for storing, craving and creating the perfect jack-o'-lantern.

1.   Never carry your pumpkin by the stem.  If it snaps, it can accelerate the pumpkin's rotting. Always use a sturdy grip on the base.
2.   Store your pumpkin in a cool, dry place. Once pumpkins ripen, they will deteriorate fast—heat and light speed up the process.
3.   Before you carve it to pieces, wash the exterior of the pumpkin.  Use a solution of 1 gallon water and 1 teaspoon vinegar. This will help prevent mold and improve freshness.
4.   Draw your pattern on paper or use a pumpkin-carving template. This is easier and cleaner than drawing right on the pumpkin and makes revisions much easier.
5.   Don't forget to think out of the box. Designs like moons, stars, cats and witches are all fun and easy to do. You can even use a drill to make patterned holes.
6.   When carving pumpkins with kids, always make sure they are under adult supervision! Severed fingers should only be used for decoration.
7.   Consider buying a pumpkin-carving kit to improve the results of your work. Kits usually contain small scoops and serrated saws that aren't commonly found in the typical toolbox. They're great for detailed carving work.
8.   When cutting out your shapes, always use a sawing motion. Go slowly and gently and encourage your kids to do the same. A small serrated saw is best for the detail work.
9.   The more pumpkins in your display, the better, especially on Halloween night. Not only will it help light the way for trick-or-treaters, it will give your house more visual appeal.

10.         If scraping out a pumpkin is too much hassle for you, consider buying a hollow acrylic or craft pumpkin. They last forever, meaning instant jack-o'-lanterns for next year!

Wednesday November 5, 2014

Guest Blog from Jackie Tortorello - Leftovers from Halloween?

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes
In the mood to utilize leftover pumpkins after Halloween? Try making some pumpkin pancakes for breakfast or a midnight snack!
*The following recipe is gluten free.
Original recipe makes 2 servingsChange Servings
·       1/4 cup pumpkin puree
·       2 tablespoons almond milk
·       2 eggs
·       1 teaspoon maple syrup
·       1 tablespoon vanilla extract
·       2 tablespoons coconut flour
·       1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·       1/4 teaspoon salt
·       1/2 cup almond meal
·       1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
·       1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste
·       1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, or to taste
·      2 teaspoons vegetable oil, or as needed
10 mins
10 mins
25 mins
·      Mix pumpkin puree, almond milk, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together in a bowl until smooth.
·      Whisk coconut flour, baking soda, salt, almond meal, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together in a separate bowl.
·      Stir pumpkin mixture and flour mixture together in a pourable container until well incorporated. Allow batter to sit for 3 minutes.
·      Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over low heat. Pour silver dollar-sized circles of batter into the hot oil. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side.

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