Hooray for National Ice Cream Day!!!

This afternoon we decided to venture to a local creamery in honor of National Ice Cream Day (we will take any excuse we can get to eat ice cream!) Traders Point Creamery is everything that they advertise…fresh…simple…organic goodness. Although we didn’t get to stay for dinner, The Loft Restaurant looked amazing. We did make time to see a few cows and to hit up the Dairy Bar.

Diptic

 

Nothing says “fresh” like a bunch of dairy cows! Surprisingly, it didn’t smell like manuer at all. They must keep some clean stables.

DipticAyla got to have some extra special daddy time! But then we were off to the important stuff…ICE CREAM! DipticAyla and I sampled (devoured) the strawberry and chocolate with raspberries. Yum!!!
DipticDaddy opted for the vanilla and chocolate with toffee. DipticAnd, although this was the perfect place for a family adventure…Dave and I decided that our next visit to Trader’s Point Creamery will definitely be date night. Can’t wait for dinner at The Loft Restaurant!!!

Although many of you don’t live in the Indianapolis area, find a local dairy farm or creamery near you. This is such a great way for your kids to learn about animals, farming, and organic food. Besides, the ice cream is always to die for!

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

Healthy Meal Ideas for Toddlers: for moms who are tired of the same old thing

Happy Toddler Boy Eating StrawberriesI love the fact that my daughter can finally feed herself, but I often have mental blocks when it comes to creating new healthy foods that are toddler friendly. I want my daughter to eat more than the same four options listed on every kids’ menu. I want to entice her palate and help her appreciate the wide variety of flavors that healthy food has to offer. Starting this process at a young age is an imperative part of  preventing her from becoming a picky eater down the road. Before we get into the healthy meal ideas, I wanted to give you a few tips on how to introduce new foods and how to prevent a picky eater.

1. KEEP INTRODUCING THE SAME THINGS OVER, and Over, and Over again (times 12) and then Over again

Toddlers are actually willing to try new things if we will let them. They may act like they don’t like something on the first try, but it can often take up to 12 or more introductions of a food for a child to truly form an opinion. And, while some foods (such as ice cream and chicken tenders) will always get the finger licking sign of approval, you may be shocked by the vast amount of healthy and diverse foods your toddler will grow to love.cute toddler with finger in mouth

2. NEVER TELL YOUR CHILD THAT HE/SHE DOESN’T LIKE A FOOD

So, instead of giving your child a taste of a new food, seeing a wrinkled nose and a tongue thrust and saying, “Oh, you don’t like that,” try telling your child what they are experiencing. For example, if they taste a lemon let them know that it is sour. If they eat a pickle let them know that it is salty. If they try a new texture, identify the texture by saying that it is crunchy or slimy for example. If you tell your child what they are experiencing rather than assuming that they don’t like it, they will be much more likely to try it again in the future.Business Concept

3. DON’T FORCE FOOD

If your child has tried something new and doesn’t want any more of it, save yourself the grief of a food war. Praise your child for at least trying the new food, and then let them know that they can try it again on another day. Forcing them to eat a new food that they haven’t yet acquired a taste for, may actually cause them to revolt and dislike the food in question. Force feeding is never a good idea…no matter what the age.

4. DON’T INTRODUCE NEW FOODS COLD TURKEY!

When introducing new foods to your toddler, make sure that you are also giving them foods that they know and like. In this way, they won’t feel like you are sabotaging their mealtime or taking away their favorites. Introducing the new food at the start of the meal when they are most hungry may also lead to a better outcome.

kid eating healthy foodNow, for the healthy meal ideas for toddlers…Instead of listing my favorite recipes I decided to direct you to some GREAT ONLINE RESOURCES for toddler recipe ideas. These websites are always coming up with new and exciting recipes for little ones. Don’t be afraid to try the ethnic foods! My daughter loves Thai, French, and Mediterranean foods. If you cook for your FAMILY with your toddler in mind, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy. It’s not a bad idea to have some back up options in the pantry, just in case your little one’s taste buds aren’t up for Thai quite yet. I always keep a supply of organic squeezies like the ones made by Ella’s Kitchen in my pantry. That way, if mealtime starts to be a battle over new foods, I have a healthy alternative. Your toddler will get there eventually; you just have to be patient. Check out these four recipe idea sources by clicking on the hyperlinks. Not only are the recipes delicious, they are healthy and fun!

1. Weelicious

2. Cooking Light for Toddlers

3. Super Healthy Kids

4. Wholesome Toddler Food

IMG_7672From The Mom in Me, MD

If you can pee on a tree…I can breastfeed on a park bench!

mother breast feeding her childMen always seem to have this innate desire to be one with nature. Camping, chopping wood, and yes, even peeing on a tree seems to top their list of liberating activities. And, while peeing on a tree should probably be reserved for certain times and places…breastfeeding should not! Nothing is as natural as a mother nursing her newborn baby. And, while I don’t endorse an exhibitionist lifestyle for men or women, sometimes a little boob is gonna show!

As a first time mom (to a preemie), and a first time breastfeeder I was determined to make it work. Nursing without any additional complications can be challenging enough. Add in a tiny mouth that needs a lot of help latching correctly, and what should seem natural becomes a production. At home, I had my routine…a zillion pillows in just the right positions, my Boppy angled at just the right degree, and my feet propped to just the right height. But, nursing in public was a whole different story! My daughter hated the nursing cover. Actually, she despised it. I tried to convince her that Petunia Pickle Bottom was all the rage for covers (only the best for her), but every time the cover went down her scream reached new heights. If I was finally able to clam her down, I then had the complicated job of getting her to correctly latch so that she would get milk without biting off my boob in the process. Trying to stay covered while getting a preemie to latch correctly is like playing Twister naked with only a towel for cover…good luck!Happy Mother Breast Feeding Her Baby Infant

Since nursing with a cover always ended up with my baby (and me) in a meltdown, I resorted to finding “private” places to nurse such as bathrooms, designated nursing rooms, and the car. I quickly crossed bathrooms off of my list! Disgusting! I don’t ever eat in a bathroom…why should my baby have to? With limited options, and my frustration rising, I came to the conclusion that I just couldn’t leave the house, or if I wanted to leave I would have to pump and give her a bottle (pumping is no mother’s preference). My baby just wouldn’t breastfeed in public!

Looking back I now realize that my baby wasn’t the problem…my comfort level with openly nursing my daughter was the problem. If I had been willing to show a little boob, she would have nursed just fine. What was it that made me feel so uncomfortable breastfeeding without a cover? Was it my own sense of modesty? Was it my concern that I might offend someone or cause a vulnerable man to have “inappropriate” thoughts? Was it our culture that promotes larger than life Victoria’s Secret advertisements but is appalled by a breastfeeding mother showing any part of her breast? Honestly, probably all of the above.Young Mother Breastfeeding A Baby In Nature

Whether or not I will ever have another infant to breastfeed, I’m not sure; But, I’ve decided to change my opinion and my regard for what is currently, culturally acceptable and what I’m comfortable with. Most cultures around the world are comfortable with open breastfeeding. Many cultures rely upon breastfeeding as the safest source of nutrition for infants since clean water is scarce. Although the United States has established laws guaranteeing that nursing mothers can breastfeed in public, the fact that laws are necessary to ensure that a mother can feed her infant is disturbing. Isn’t it a little ironic that many developing countries are more advanced in their view of breastfeeding than those of us in the “first” world.

As women, our bodies were made to breastfeed. What could be more natural? Breastfeeding isn’t a sexual display or even a women’s lib movement. Instead, it is one of the best ways that a mother can nourish, protect, and bond with her infant. While I don’t think that nursing moms should walk around in public completely topless (although I’m all for it at home), I do think that breastfeeding moms should have the freedom to feed their babies where, when, and how it works best for their infant. If that means you need to plop down on a park bench with an exposed boob, so be it! If anyone has a problem with that…you can tell them to, “Go pee on a tree!”

P.S. For all of you mom’s who couldn’t or chose not to nurse, you are still amazing moms! Although I advocate for breastfeeding, every mom has to choose what works best for her and her infant.

From The Mom in Me, MD

Mini-Pedi for Your Baby’s Little Piggies

We all know about the mani-pedi, but what about the “mini” pedi for our little girls tiny toes! My daughter is at the age where she copies everything that I’m doing. Recently, she started noticing my pretty pink toenails, but she was disappointed when she saw that hers weren’t like mommy’s. I’m all about keeping little girls, little girls, but a little bit of nail polish never made a munchkin grow up too fast, right? Besides, painting our toenails together created some extra fun mommy-baby time.Baby feet in mother's hands outside in grass

Ayla is old enough to have an opinion so I took her to the store to pick out her own color. She knew exactly what she wanted (I even tried to trick her by swapping out her color choice with another. She caught on and exchanged it right back! Bad Mommy!) Although I let Ayla have the final say on her polish color, I had the final say on what products were safe for us to use on her precious toes.

Babies put their fingers and toes everywhere! How they manage the toe mouth maneuver I’ll never understand! Ayla is so good at it that I think she has a chance for joining junior Cirque du Soleil. I digress. Back to safety. Since our little girls may be tasting their polish every now and again, it is important to choose products that are non-toxic and as close to nature as possible. Several brands are made specifically for kids such as Piggy Paint and Hopscotch Kids Water Colors. These are non-toxic Water Based options that work well. Both companies have nail polish removers that are acetone free! Yay! No nasty odor! I highlight water based because many organic/vegan nail polishes are solvent based rather than water based. They may not be toxic but they do still have chemicals in them. For my little one, I’d rather be on the safe side and opt for water! (if you are pregnant these are a great option as well)Cute Baby Playing With Mothers Manicure Cosmetics

However, if you are looking for organic or vegan brands made for mommies with busy hands and toes, here are some other great companies! These aren’t water based like the baby polish, so they do last a little longer for active mammas, and they are still non-toxic. I went to the organic grocery store to purchase my own nail polish and ended up choosing the Pacifica brand. Sparitual and Zoya are two other natural/non-toxic brands that work well. These all come in an array of colors. They aren’t cheap, but neither is Revlon anymore!

Yes, painting your little girl’s nails isn’t a necessity, but it does make for some fun memories and special mommy-daughter moments. It’s okay for your little one to feel pretty on the outside, as long as she knows that being beautiful on the inside is what matters most!

For more safe options for your toes and hers check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This will allow you to search any and all products on the market!

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

Rub a Dub Dub Ayla’s Playtime in the Tub: bath time must haves and safety tips

Ayla LOVES bath time. Who wouldn’t with a bath full of fun toys? Time to share our favorite bath time picks from toys, to soap, and towels! Let’s get splishin’ and splashin’! What to Sit In? When looking at baby … Continue reading

Pizza on the Grill: even the Italians approve!

Pizza with grilled courgette, mushrooms and pine nutsLooking for something fun to grill this 4th of July weekend? What could be more fun than Pizza On The Grill! Last summer a friend of mine invited me over for pizza on the grill. My response, “Huh?” Not only did we have a blast making gourmet pizzas, our tummies were ecstatic. Since then, I’ve made several different pizza concoctions and all have been delicious. If you are planning on having people over, one time saver is to ask each guest to bring their favorite topping pre chopped up. You can provide the dough, sauces, and cheese. Let the party begin!

For the Dough: If you don’t want to make your own dough or don’t have the time, you can purchase pre-made pizza dough at the grocery store, local pizza shop, or at many local bakeries. If you have the time, making your own dough can be fun and pretty easy. I am including one dough option that I have used and which I have taken from The William and Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook, but you can substitute different types of flour if you would like something a little healthier.

1 tsp sugar

1 scant cup warm water

2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) dry active yeast

2 4/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Start by dissolving your sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle your yeast on top and leave it for about 5 minutes or until foamy. Then add in your flour and salt, mixing in small amounts slowly with a wooden spoon (you can use a food processor on the pulse setting as well). Next, add your olive oil and the yeast mixture. Your dough should now be soft and sticky. Create a flowered work surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until it is smooth. Add little bits of flour into the dough if it still seems too sticky. Roll it into a ball and place it in a bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and set it aside for 45-60 minutes. When you uncover the bowl you should have twice the amount of dough! Take it out and give it a beating…literally punch it down with your fist and then let it stand for 5 minutes. Again, place it on your floured work surface kneading it for a few minutes. Grab your rolling-pin and get to work. You should be able to roll out a 12 inch wide circle. Brush the top of your dough with olive oil and place it on your hot pizza stone. You can also make individual sized pizzas by simply splitting the dough into four equal sections. 10308878_10152174251682572_2874243425992620293_nFor the Grill: Get your grill fired up! Make sure that you use a pizza stone directly on the grill for this dough. Follow the instructions on your pizza stone for pretreatment/prep before using. Once your pizza is loaded with toppings, cover the grill with the vents left open and then let the Pizza Grilling begin. It only takes about 8-10 minutes for the dough to cook. Make sure to turn it once half way through. Presto! Eat up!

For the Toppings: Get creative with your toppings. If you have a lot of veggies, you may want to cover these with olive oil, throw them into a grilling basket or even on the stove top to grill or sauté them a little before putting them on the pizza. Choose your sauce and cheese. Load everything on and then get the grilling going.10414570_10152174286507572_7579444340403216807_n Some of Ayla’s Favorite Topping Concoctions:

1. Pesto for the sauce, garlic stuffed olives, freshly sliced Roma tomatoes, feta cheese, rotisserie chicken breast, and spinach

2. Sauceless, prosciutto, pear slices, goat cheese, caramelized onions and Herbs de Province sprinkled on top

3. Figs, prosciutto, gorgonzola, arugula, with balsamic drizzle on top (add the arugula and balsamic after grilling)

4. traditional veggie with three cheese tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and every veggie under the sun 5. Any red tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, sliced carrots, cauliflower, apple slices, and italian sausage (make sure to brown the sausage before putting it on the pizza-it needs to be fully cooked ahead of time) with some rosemary sprinkled on top.

On a side note…I love to use Newman’s Own Tomato Sauces for pizza and pasta. Not only do they taste good, but this company gives ALL of its profit away to charities…over $400 million over the past 30 years! I’m okay with joining that charitable band wagon! Anyway, make grilling a fun family event or social get together excuse with Pizza on the Grill! Gone are the days of deep dish!Pizza with grilled courgette, mushrooms and pine nuts

From The Mom in Me, MD

Frozen Yogurt Bites for Babies: A healthy, fun, and easy summer treat!

I’m always trying to come up with fun, healthy treats for Ayla. But, because I’m a stickler for limiting her sweets, the neighborhood ice cream truck usually gets a thumbs down from this momma (Sorry, Mr. Ice-cream man! Nothing personal). Instead of ice cream, my mom used to freeze our yogurt cups in the summer. Although this tasted delicious on a hot day, it was a pain to dig out of the cup. Ayla is pretty good with a spoon these days, but working on a frozen block of yogurt would probably lead to a frustration melt-down! Solution…frozen yogurt bites! Great for little hands and little mouths. Frozen yogurt bites are easy to make, fun, and delicious! There are tons of great variations on how to make them. Don’t be afraid to get creative!Frozen strawberry yogurt on a stick with missing bite, isolated

Let’s Get This Frozen Yogurt Stand Up and Running!

1. Yogurt

I love using either organic Greek yogurt, but any yogurt will do. Choose an assortment of flavors and colors. This way you can make a rainbow out of your yogurt bites!

2. Mix In Options

You don’t have to mix anything into your yogurt, but if you want to make them just a little fancier consider these mix in options: Diced fruit such as fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or banana. If you want to use pureed fruit instead, purchase some of the organic fruit squeeze packs like the ones made by Plum. Mix these in with either plain or vanilla yogurt.Blueberries, summer, child - Lovely girl with fresh blueberriesBerries on Wooden Background. Summer or Spring Organic Berry ove

3. Cookie sheet (One that will fit in your freezer! Double check the size first. Hmm, wonder how I know to suggest this?)

Cover your cookie sheet with either plastic wrap or parchment paper

4. Small Plastic Ziplock Bags (choose the kind that fully seal-much less messy!)

Fill your ziplock bag with your yogurt. Seal the top. Then smoosh the yogurt into one of the corners. Cut the tip of the bag. Voila! You have a DIY piping bag. Now squeeze small dollops of yogurt from your bag in rows onto your cookie sheet. They shouldn’t spread too much so you can space them pretty close together

5. Freezer

Stick them in the freezer for about 2 hours. Then take them out and quickly pop them off of the cookie sheet. Place in another freezer safe container with a lid. Eat some now, and stash the rest in the freezer for later. Yum! Yum!

6. For All of You Fancy Moms Who Want to Take It Up a Notch

If dollops of yogurt don’t impress you…pull out your mini bundt pans, petite four molds, or chocolate molds. You can pour or pipe your yogurt mixture into any of these molds, put them in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then pop out Martha Stewart worthy snacks!

Try them out and let me know what you think. Feel free to comment with other fun, healthy, summer snacks ideas that you love to make!

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

Sun Safe Activities for Your Kids

Little girl with bottle of sun cream sitting at tropical beachMy almost 2-year-old daughter usually rips off her hat, swats at the sunscreen bottle, and  tolerates her sunglasses for less than 5 seconds! Sun safety is a daily challenge in our house. Instead of making sun safety a battle, I decided to find some ways to make it fun and educational. Plan a morning around these activities, or choose one daily for a week to keep your kids excited.

1. Set up a coloring station with pictures of the sun, sunglasses, the beach, or anything related to the sun. While your kids color educate them on how powerful the sun can be and on the importance of protecting themselves from its powerful rays. Focus on the positives of the sun as well, such as its ability to help plants grow. Here are a few free coloring sheets that  you can download and print to get you started.

2. If your kids are a little older let them work through these Sun Safety Activity Sheets that include crossword puzzles, word scrambles, mazes and more!Mother And Daughter Under Beach Umbrella Putting On Sun Cream

3. Print off this poster and tell your kids you are going to have a photo shoot. Take pictures of your kids wearing their sun hat and sunglasses, sitting under a tree for shade, and putting on their sunscreen. Get them involved by letting them find the perfect shady spot or tree! Print the pictures and let your kids paste them onto the poster. They will feel like stars! Put it in a visible location in the house to remind them how “cool” it is to protect yourself from the sun.

4. Take a trip to the Zoo! Animals have to protect themselves from the sun too. Let your child guess how each animal is able to do this without sunscreen. Then provide them with the answers (Cheat Sheet for You About Animals🙂 and have them work through these fun animal worksheets. 

5. Take a trip to the craft store for some UV changing beads (or buy them online). Let your kids make them into bracelets or zipper pulls for their backpacks. Then take them outside into the sunlight and watch them change colors! Although they can’t see the ultraviolet rays, this will help your children see that they are real. If you are still in a crafty mood…decorate sun hats with a glue gun and flowers, ribbon, etc.

6. Let your child raid their closet and dressers. Have them pull out 5 items of clothing that they think would protect them the most from the sun. Then see if they are right. Clothing that is darker in color and more tightly woven/heavier material is more protective.Hand heart

For more ideas check out the full Children’s Toolkit from The American Academy of Dermatology, the activity sheets and ideas from the Maryland Department of Health, and 52 other ideas from The CDC. These resources are Free and Fun! Let your kids have fun in the sun this summer, but don’t forget to teach them about sun safety too!

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Green” Toys Come in Pink Too!

IMG_2355Inspired by the desire to shop locally, buy green, and find some darn cute toys, I stumbled upon Green Toys! Don’t be fooled by the rather unimaginative name…the toys are super cute and creative. This company manufactures all of its toys, which are made from 100% recycled plastic milk jugs and other environmentally friendly materials, in the United States. They are all BPA, PVC, and Phthalate free. So, no worries when these toys end up in your little one’s mouth!IMG_2360

I first met Green Toys when a dump truck introduced himself to me in the toy aisle at Homegoods. Yes, toys have a tendency to speak to me! My rule of thumb…if a toy is rude enough to ignore me, it can stay on the shelf!  This little red and yellow dump truck wanted a home. And, although I’m okay with Ayla having “boy” toys, when I saw that the same dump truck came in pink and purple… it was love at first sight (sorry, little red and yellow). Soon after I purchased the girly dump truck I hopped on Green Toys’ website in search of more treasures. This time I zoomed away with an adorable pink race car.IMG_2362

Next on my list to buy is the vintage cooktop! It comes in either pink or a pale aqua. So cute for a playroom, and it won’t take up much space. I know that I highlighted the girly toys, but Green Toys has tractors, train sets, ferry boats and more. Check it out and see what you think.

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

Is it a Toy? Is it a Book? It’s Both!

519xma2+zSLMy mom is the best! As a reading specialist, she finds some of the coolest books for Ayla. This weekend, we were introduced to the Whizzy Winders collection from Igloo Books. Not only do these board books have great illustrations, they also have an attached fold-out track for characters in the story. Simply wind up the included cars or fire truck, place them on the track, and let them go! This is such a fun way to get kids excited about reading. It is also a perfect travel toy. I can’t wait to use it during airport layovers!51f412d3jXL

My mom gave us Old MacDonald Had a Farm, but this series also includes Little Fire Truck’s Busy Day, Little Tractor, Little Train, Little Racing Car...You get the idea! My only warning would be that the book is designed for ages 3 and up due to the size of the trucks and cars. Ayla is almost two, and loves it, but we do have to supervise just to make sure that little parts don’t end up in her mouth! You can find these at the Igloo Books webpage and on Amazon. The images all come from the Amazon webpage. Make reading an interactive and fun experience for you little one. Check them out and let me know what you think!

From The Mom in Me, MD

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