Thursday, July 28, 2011

Healthy Living: Exercise with Your Children

Has cabin fever set in at your house yet? We are in the full swing of it over here and 4 kids with cabin fever = 1 mentally exhausted mommy.  It's always nice to find a few new tricks for my mommy arsenal so I thought I would share a few of mine with you, please (PLEASE PLEASE) feel free to share yours with me too.

Currently at least 30 states in the US alone are in the grips of a heat wave and winter will be here before we know it (plus it's currently winter in other areas of the world). Because of this I was inspired to share a few things I have learned along the way to help the kids release some of that pent up energy.   Bonus, mommy burns a few calories too.  It's a win-win.

We do not do every single one of these every single day, kids (or at least my kids) get sick of the same things day in and day out.  We do each of them at least 2 times a week though and at least 1 per day.

I wish I had some awesome pics for this but its hard to take pics while you are in the moment.  I need the lady from Parenting, Illustrated With Crappy Pictures to come guest draw some great pics for me! (I LOVE that blog!).

Vacuum Tag, aka Peep Attack
This activity was born out of our dogs strange obsession with attacking the vacuum.  No idea why, but she sees the vacuum as a real threat.  Perhaps it's because, as a baby, Teddy was terrified of it.  It did start when he was a baby.  Oddly, as he got older he became fascinated with vacuums, even inventing his own word for them that has been passed down to each of our kids and is still used to this day.  That word is "Peep".  No idea where it came from, he came up with it shortly after he turned 1 and still calls it that on occasion.  Therefore, in our house this game is known as 'Peep Attack".

How to play-
Each kid gets some sort of soft (foam pool noodles are great) sword to use.  Turn the peep (vacuum) on and go at it.  Chase the kids around the room, let them "beat up" the peep.  Watch little ones around and the cord so they don't trip on it.

This activity is a threefer, meaning you get 3 things accomplished all at the same time.  You get your floors clean, you get some exercise in for yourself (I am always breathless after a good round of Peep Attack) and you help your kids expel some energy all at once.
If you are the OCD Type A personality who loves those pretty freshly vacuumed lines in your carpet this may not be the activity for you.  You go in all sorts of crazy directions while the attack is on so the lines left behind are definitely not uniform or remotely straight.  I like those straight lines too, but in our household we have so much foot traffic they never last more than 10 minutes anyways so it doesn't really matter.

Marching Band
My kids love music and we have a lot of toy instruments in our home.  Teddy came up with this activity 1 day, influenced by the show "Fresh Beat Band" (gag me!!).  He asked me if I would help him form a marching band so we did.

How to play-
Give each child their own instrument, don't forget 1 for yourself.  If you have no toy instruments it's ok, grab some pots, pans, lids, spoons, etc from the kitchen and bang away.
Once everyone has their instrument, which in our house sometimes involves tears and compromises, line up and begin to play,
I am normally the leader although Teddy and Kimmy enjoy taking turns as the leader as well.  We march all around our house banging and playing away.  Sometimes we sing, sometimes we do silly different walks like going really slow, really fast, stepping really high, tip toeing, skipping, let your imagination do the "walking" for you.  Sometimes different rooms have different themes, the living room may be the loud room so we play loudly as we go through there and the bedroom is the quiet room so we have to try and play softly while in there.
After only 10-15 minutes of this we are all tired and breathless from laughing so hard and running all over the house.  It has got to burn some calories!

Dance It Out
Sometimes we all just have too much energy and not enough focus to do anything really organized.  At times like these I just turn on some fun, energetic music and start dancing like a crazy lady.  The kids don't even have to be asked, they just automatically join in.  This is also a great activity to distract if someone is having a meltdown (mom or kid).

How to play-
Find some fun music, turn it up and DANCE DANCE DANCE.
We usually do a minimum of 4 songs. 4x5 (average length of a song)= 20 minutes of some good cardio for you and your kids.
Not only do we dance but I also encourage the kids to do actual exercise moves including squats, lunges, side twists, jumping jacks, etc.  The kids love to mimic me.  Even Sariah dances around like a maniac and has been since she was 6 months old and could really sit up and get into it.
Pandora is my favorite place to find the music for this, I have some great kid appropriate stations on there.

I really wanted to try yoga with my kids but thought I had to pay money for a fancy DVD to really get them into it.  It was watching them mimic me during our dance sessions that inspired me to just look up some child friendly yoga poses.  Then I just started doing them on the floor.  At first they didn't know what I was doing but they quickly joined in.  Unanimously the favorite pose is Downward Dog, even Sariah can do this one (and has been able too since she turned 1).

Sariah kind of doing Downward Dog this morning.  It was hard to take a pic
 because every time I moved out of the pose to try and snap 1 she came out of the
pose too, this was the best that I got.

How to play-
Go online and find at least 4 kid friendly yoga poses.  Put on some calming music (if you want, totally optional) and simply start doing the poses yourself.  Your kids will naturally be curious about what you are doing and will want to try and join in.
Some of our favorite poses include (and our names for them may not be the technical names since we do it on our own w/o any books/DVDs):
Tree Pose: start out standing with your feet slightly apart.  Reach your arms up high in the air, palms touching.  Tell your kids to pretend they are trees growing big and tall.  Traditional Tree Pose also says to draw 1 leg up so that the sole of your foot is resting in the inner thigh of the opposite leg.  You can try this with your kids if they are able to stand on 1 foot fairly well.
Downward Dog Pose:  Start from the standing position, reach your arms down and plant your hands firmly on the floor, point your tush towards the ceiling, you should make a triangle.

Karma doing a perfect Downward Dog Pose

Cat Pose: great pose to follow up downward dog.  Have your gets get on all fours on the floor and gently arch their back up like a "scared cat"  while dropping their heads down to look at their "tails".  Hold for a few seconds and have them gently lower their back and raise their head.  Repeat a few times
Cobra Pose: another great pose to transition our of downward dog or cat pose for that matter.  Lay face down on the ground with your arms laying flat beside you.  Gently arch your back and stretch your head and neck upwards so that from your bellybutton up your body is off the floor.  You can easily go back and forth between this pose and downward dog.  I usually tell the kids "we are a snake, hisssssssss" then transition and say "now we are a dog, woof woof" and go back and forth like that.
Happy Baby Pose: Lay with you back flat on the floor, draw your knees into your chest, point your feet upward and let your hips fall open.  Grab the soles of your feet and hold.

If you make it fun your kids will do it.  If you are listening to music aim for 3-4 songs, otherwise strive for 15-20 minutes.

This website has some AWESOME routines and child friendly poses on it:
and I just learned from this website that we have another pose that we do called "Cow Pose" its the opposite of the Cat Pose.  When we let our back go back down and look up it's called Cow Pose.  Gonna have to start mooing while we do this, the kids will love it.

There is even an iPhone App for that!  99 cents and comes with 24 animal related yoga poses for kids.  I may buy it myself.

I have recently tried to end our yoga sessions with sitting in the floor, legs crossed and arms at our side while breathing in and out slowly.  The site above suggests letting your kids "Roar like a lion" in this pose and even call it the Lion Pose so I think I will try that next time as they usually don't want to sit still too long.

Sometimes our yoga sessions turn into tumbling sessions as the kids love for me to somersault them out of downward dog pose.  Then Teddy asks me to help him do back bends/flips on my arm as well.

How to play-
Just show your kids how to do simple tumbling moves such as somersaulting or doing back bends/back flips braced against your arm.  Aim for 15-20 minutes of this.  You may not burn many calories with this particular activity but your kids will and you will help give them confidence to try these moves on their own.

Yo Gabba Gabba Dancey Dance
Sort of like the Dance It Out activity above only we do it to an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba instead of just music.

How to play-
Put on an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba and tell your kids not to stop moving/dancing until its over.  If someone stops moving or sits down they are out.  The last person left standing "wins".
Yo Gabba Gabba is full of silly little songs so its easy to dance a lot.  In between the songs when there is just talking I encourage the kids to march, high step, jumps, skip, do jumping jacks, etc.

Hot Lava
A fun little game originally invented in our home by Teddy but I am sure you will all remember playing some form of it as a kid yourself.

How to play-
Randomly place pillows, blankets, stools, throw rugs, etc on the floor and declare that the floor itself is hot lava.  The object is to jump from item to item without falling into the lava.  If you fall you are "out" and have to go sit on the couch until the next round.  Last person standing "wins".  You can even have a "caller", someone (usually mom) who sits on the side and calls out directions to person telling them where and how to go.  We have a caller when mommy is feeling lazy.

That's all I have got in my personal bag of tricks.  I hope we have inspired you to try a few new fun activities with your kids.  They are all great activities to help mama and kids stay in shape and have fun together on rainy/hot/snowy/cold days.  They are also great ways to build happy memories with your kids and instill confidence in them.

I feel like, in my attempts to better my mothering self and to be 100% brutally honest with myself and all of you I tend to concentrate only on the negative areas of my parenting.  It was nice to write a blog about how much fun we can have in our home and to show it is not all screaming/yelling/tantrum throwing around here.

this dancey dancin' mama,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Having a Smoothie on The Sparkle Mama

Do you know who The Sparkle Mama is?  Do you follow her?  If not you don't know what you are missing!!

The Sparkle Mama is a wonderful blogging mama who, if you have to put labels on it, would best fit the parenting labels of Instinctive, Natural, Green, and Attachment.

By far, my favorite thing about The Sparkle Mama has GOT to be her altruistic nature.  She is the epitome of Random Acts of Kindness!  She actually has a budget she sets aside each month to fund these random acts of kindness.  For 2 months in a row she single handedly funded Spreading The Fluffy Love either paying the shipping costs to get donated diapers to mama's in need or outright buying them diapers herself.  I want to be just like her when I grow up!

I love The Sparkle Mama, I think she is awesome.  I thought she was awesome long before she ever started helping with Spreading The Fluffy Love and we became friends.  Never, in my wildest dreams, did I EVER expect to be on the receiving end to one of her random acts kindness.

Saturday, I was just that!  I don't know how she did it or why she did it but she sent me a blender with a cute little note attached to it that said "You gotta be able to make green smoothies!"

If you follow The Sparkle Mama, you know she has been into making green drinks and trying to find one that her daughter would accept.  I left a comment that a blender was definitely on my list of kitchen must haves to buy.  The next thing I know, I'm getting a blender in the mail!

Katie, YOU ROCK!  I  ♥ you so much!  I really do admire the person that you are and I hope that one day we will have the financial means to do exactly what you do!!

For the rest of you, Katie (aka The Sparkle Mama) does SO MUCH for SO MANY I really feel inadequate that I have no real way to give back to her, other than to write this blog.  If anyone would be willing, I would love to try and organize a "Let's give back to The Sparkle Mama" event.  I hear she likes Piggy Paint Nail Polish, fun sparkly lip glosses and any yummy smelling natural body product.  If you want to help out, please let me know.

We made smoothies today and toasted to The Sparkle Mama!

Teddy requested a Banana/Orange/Pineapple smoothie.  I made it with some Simply Orange Juice, a fresh banana and frozen pineapple.  I slipped some frozen spinach in too when he wasn't looking, shhhhhhhhh!

Kimmy, Karma and Sariah enjoyed a Mango/Orange/Strawberry/Peach smoothie made with Simply Orange Juice, and a frozen medley of mango, peaches and strawberries.  I also slipped some frozen spinach in when they were not looking.

Mama had a Cucumber/Strawberry/Orange/Blueberry smoothie made with frozen strawberries, fresh cucumbers from a neighbors garden, fresh blueberries and Simply Orange Juice, I also added a bit of frozen spinach to it.

They were so yummy!  Teddy is already thinking up flavors for us to try next.  He wants to try watermelon and strawberry he says.

this smoothie makin' mama,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Popcorn Brain

AH!  I have at least 4 blogs bouncing around in my head right now, not to mention 3 that are in various stages of being written on the blog itself.  This morning I really wanted to write a blog about the restaurants banning kids under age 6 and how America (and the world) seem to treat kids like second class citizens to go along with my blogs Crying Babies Will Be Charged Extra and Sisterhood of The Crying Mommies

At the same time I really wanted to blog about an awesome documentary I watched the other night on Netflix about the intelligence of dogs and their relationships with humans  There was an interesting connection they made about breastfeeding a baby and petting a dog and the similarities that occur in the brain (for both the human and the dog) that I really wanted to focus on.

Then there was the blog idea swirling around in my head last night about the Epic FAIL parenting lines we all find ourselves using- think lines like "Don't make me come over there!"

All of these lead me to decide to finally write the blog post I have wanted to write for over a week now about Popcorn Brain, because obviously I have a serious case of Popcorn Brain going on right now so it was fitting.

What?  Never heard of Popcorn Brain?  Neither had I.  Once I heard of it though I knew that not only do I suffer from it but I am passing it on to my kids.

So what is Popcorn Brain?
Popcorn Brain is a real condition that plagues most Americans (and many in the world).  In a word it just means Overload.  We are overloaded with technology in our society and a new study form China shows that this overload, mainly from Internet and Smart phone usage, causes what has been termed as Popcorn Brain.

David Levy, a  professor with the Information School at the University of Washington,  was quoted as saying "It’s (Popcorn Brain) defined as 'a brain so accustomed to the constant stimulation of electronic multitasking that we’re unfit for life offline, where things pop at a much slower pace.'"

Too many in America are literally addicted to the constant stimulation that online activity gives, I am no exception.  You most likely have Popcorn Brain if any of the following apply to you:
- You know you should clean the house but the computer/smart phone seems to literally beckon you to come sit and play.
-You feel the urge, a need, a MUST to check your e-mail/facebook page/twitter acct constantly (dang easy smart phones, I check FB ever hour on it!  not to mention the handy dandy updates it sends me whenever anyone does anything on my page).
- You have multiple electronic devices going on in your house at the same time.  On any given day I will have the TV going (mostly as background noise), the computer on and my phone in my hand.  I have been known to be on the computer doing 1 thing (like blogging) and on my phone doing another (FB updates most likely).

To quote an article on CNN...
"This is your brain on technology"
-Does life online give you 'popcorn brain'?
"The human brain is wired to crave the instant gratification, fast pace, and unpredictability of technology"
The article above talks about the study in China which determined that over use of Internet/Smart Phones can actually  "activate dopamine cells in the nucleus accumbens, a main pleasure center of the brain."  The study also showed that, overtime, those who abuse Internet usage actually have less grey matter, the thinking part of the brain.

It's literally like a drug, several other recent studies have also shown that computer/smart phone usage, as well as watching TV, stimulate the pleasure area of the brain.   These are the same areas stimulated by many addictive drugs.

Have you ever told yourself  "Today I am not going to get on the computer/smart phone!"?  What usually happens shortly after that proclamation?  For me I actually start to feel anxious, like I just NEED to do it.  I can't help it.  It's like going on a diet, as soon as I tell myself I can't have a certain food I really want it. 

I didn't used to be this bad.  When we just had a computer I would get on once or twice a day, check my emails and FB (or Myspace, remember Myspace?!) and then get off.  That was it.  Enter iPhone and it was all over for me!

It was really fun at first, the constant access that the iPhone gave me but it didn't take long for me to realize it was also consuming me.  I told myself it was ok though, everyone else was doing it.  It has only been in the last few weeks that I finally admitted to myself that maybe, possibly I have a "slight" (HUGE!) iPhone addiction. 

What changed?
I realized my iPhone addiction was hurting all efforts towards gentler parenting.  SERIOUSLY!  Again, it's like a drug, your brain acts just as it would if you were on drugs. Like anyone else on drugs when someone, even your own child, comes between you and your drug usage you lash out.

So, this Popcorn Brain that seemed so silly and almost humorous when I first learned about it suddenly took on a new meaning to me in the last few days.  I put two and two together and it was like a fog lifted and I could see things clearly.  Every single time I failed, every single time I let myself go there, loose it with the kids, yell, scream and threaten I had the phone in my hand.  Or, in the least I was sitting at the computer.

My brain was on overload and I was checked out of life.  As I looked back I could see clearly why such small simple things that should not bother me at all would irritate the crap out of me.  Like when the kids run around playing, screaming and laughing loudly.  Sadly I would allow myself to get all worked up and yell at them to stop. 

Anytime the kids would ask for even simple things I would lash out, act as if they were so rude and demanding of me.  It was because I was preoccupied, I was "busy" as I told them.  Busy on the phone doing what?  I don't even know.  I can't even tell you WHAT it is I do most of the time. 

They would ask for things and I would yell back that I would "do it in a minute, I am almost done" Sometimes "almost done" would easily stretch 30 minutes or more.  Kids, who have even less patience than me, cannot wait 30 minutes for anything. Obviously they would come back and ask for whatever it was they wanted several times and each time I would yell even louder setting us up for failure day after day after day.

I excused it away as my "adult time".  I told myself (and anyone else who would listen) that I needed adult interaction and this was my outlet.  I am stuck in the house with four kids age 5 and under after all.

Yes, if used properly, it is a great outlet to vent on occasion and help myself feel sane but I was abusing it.  I was treating it just like a drug, my iPhone was my own personal addiction.

I have serious family history of addictions.  Growing up every single adult member of my family on both sides had an addiction to something whether it was "minor" addictions to cigarettes or more major things such as alcohol, prescription drugs and basically every illegal drug you could fathom.  This is not an exaggeration, I honestly wish it was.  It was because of this that I never even allowed myself to try any sort of drug, EVER!  I have never put any sort of addictive drug (legal or illegal) in my body and have a serious fear of using even over the counter pain medication because I do not want to become addicted.  I knew I had a predisposition to addiction and I guess mine has manifested in the form of the iPhone/technology addiction.

I also get this way with books, I have not read a book (except kiddie books to my kids) since Kimmy was born because they consume me.  I get so into them that I close out the world around me.  I don't eat, sleep, shower, nothing.   I just read and read and read until I am done.  Is there a such thing as reading addiction? 

Passing it on to my kids!
I know I am passing this addiction on to my kids because they all, even Sariah, are obsessed with my phone.  I have some kid friendly/educational games on the phone that I let them play and they are obsessed.  They fight over it, refuse to take turns and flip out when I take the phone from them.

Not only that but they are also addicted to TV, something I was as a kid (hence my need to have it constantly on all time as background noise).  Excessive TV watching was one of the things I swore I would never let my kids do (I was one of those "perfect parents" before I had kids).  Recently I have been trying to turn the TV off more during the day, something made easier now that we no longer have cable but I can see the the addiction is already there.  Even Karma will say things like "oh no, TB broken" when the TV is simply turned off.  When Teddy wakes up before me, the first thing he does is turn the TV on.  They assume if it is turned off there must be something wrong with it.  The very first day that I turned it off just because Teddy asked me if the power was out.

What can you do?
In the last few days I have set a time limit for myself.  I get 2 hours a day of Internet time.  Once I hit the 2 hours that's it, I am done.  So on days like today, when I am blogging, I pretty much use up all of my time in the morning. 

I have also set times to check my phone for emails/FB updates.  I allow myself to check it in the morning when I first get up.  At 2pm when we have quiet time and at 8pm when the kids have gone to bed.  I basically try to limit it to when the kids are sleeping now.  I have been doing this for a few days now and it works out really well.  I don't find myself walking around so anxious with a constant need to check my phone every 30-60 minutes.  There has also been a lot less yelling, tantrums and meltdowns in the house from everyone, myself included. 

Lastly, I have decided to declare 1 day a week Internet/phone free day. I chose Sunday because I do not get on as much on Sundays as I do other days anyways.  So that means no more Sunday Surf/Sunday's With Grandma posts from me.

A great little side effect has occurred since I started cutting back on the iPhone/Internet time, my house is REALLY clean!

Do you suffer from Popcorn Brain?
If any of this sounds like you, most likely you do.

There is a test online you can take to determine if you have a problem: virtual addiction test
Seems a little bit of an oxymoron to have the test that determines if you have a problem with online usage online though.

Now, I need to cut the txting too!  I used to never txt.  I resisted it for years but we recently added unlimited txting to our plan this Spring and POOF, total txting junkie over here.  I seem to become addicted to technology rather quickly, maybe that's why I resist using it.  I am technology intimidated, I don't like learning how to use new technology so I just resist it.  I never wanted a smart phone to begin with.  I even refused to learn how to use Netflix forever, only learning when we shut our cable off as I needed to be able to put things on for the kids during the day. I better never give in to video games, they annoy me right now and I have never tried playing them.  I am sure I would become addicted rather quickly if I changed that.

this technology obsessed (but working on it) mama,

P.S. Hmmm, what blog should I write next, it's only been about an hour, I still have time......  KIDDING, KIDDING I swear!

P.P.S. If you see me online for a long time, feel free to say something and kick me off!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mostly Wordless Wendesday: Art

This weeks Natural Parents Network WW topic is ART!  Oh man do we have that covered in this house with our resident little artist Teddy!

Teddy- age 4

Teddy- age 4

Teddy- age 4

Little artist at work- Teddy, age 4

Painting- Teddy, age 4

Kimmy- age 2

family coloring time

Christmas card 2010

Teddy, age 4

Such an artist, he even expresses himself through his
clothes, he dresses himself daily and comes up
with some "interesting" combo's- Teddy, age 4

more art expression through wardrobe- Teddy, age 4

this art lovin' mama,

My Breastfeeding Journey in 95 Words

I came across a blog last night, shared by a friend on FB, that invited people to write about their breastfeeding journey in 100 words or less.  This was an exciting challenge and I wanted to be a part of it but I tend to ramble on and on, as many of you know.  How in the world could I ever keep my story to 100 words or less?  My journey includes 4 kids, difficulties nursing, tandem nursing, adoption, unexpected pregnancies, forced weanings.  It is a very emotional journey for me. 

In the end I decided to focus on the emotions I felt in the up and down ride and this is what I came up with.  I will be submitting it today and I really hope that they use it.  I also hope it's ok that I am sharing it here, I didn't see anything that said I could not share it on my own blog too.

A Breastfeeding Journey of 4....... First time mom, new baby boy..... Nervous, unsure, flat nipples, poor latch, pumping, finger feedings, frustration, trying so hard..... Triumph, he's got it, we're doing it, success...... New life, baby girl, latches on immediately, easy peasy, joyous, content, uneventful..... Surprise, baby girl, adoption, tandem nursing, bonding, comfortable, amazing, bliss..... Unexpected pregnancy, forced weaning, sadness, guilt..... New life number 4, baby girl, breech, emergency c-section, will she get it, fear... Strong latch, no worries, beautiful, blessed, complete.....  Ups and Downs, Joy and Sorrow, Hope, sacrifice, attachment...... through it all LOVE!

95 words, WOOT WOOT, I still had 5 to spare, that has to be some sort of record for me!

What would your story look like, in 100 words or less?

If you are interested in reading my complete nursing journey (thus far) you can check out my guest blog The Breastfeeding Rollercoaster: 4 babies, 4 years over at Natural Parents Network

this content mama,

Monday, July 11, 2011

Manic Monday Meals- Ravioli and Spinach Lasagna

I kind of skipped 2 weeks with the Manic Monday Meals.  The first week I just honestly forgot, then last week Monday was the 4th of July which is also Kimmy's birthday.  Not to mention I was doing the Parenting in America blog Carnival here and participating in the Freedom of Cloth Carnival over at Natural Parents Network.

This is a family favorite, we haven't ate "normal" lasagna since I first stumbled upon this idea 8(ish) months ago.  Since I already posted it on 3 Moms and a Kitchen back in December I decided to be lazy and just repost here.  This is a great way to sneak some spinach to your kids.  Teddy, self professed hater of all things green (except green apples and Lemondrop melon-which he will specify when asked if he likes "green foods"!) LOVES this lasagna.

An even EASIER (and lazier) meal is to just make the ravioli, add sauce and cooked spinach and top with Parmesan cheese- VIOLA!

Ravioli and Spinach Lasagna

Ravioli & Spinach Lasagna

I usually make the basic lasagna that everyone makes with sauce, noodles, meat and cheese but recently I tried this ravioli/lasagna hybrid and we all love it so much that this is the only way I make lasagna now.

What you will need:
2 bags frozen (or refrigerated) ravioli's, thawed out.  I get 1 bag of cheese and 1 bag of meat.
1 bag frozen spinach-you can use fresh if you like
1 lbs hamburger cooked and drained
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (more or less depending on taste)

Step 1: Prep Spinach and Cook Meat-
You will want to thaw out the spinach and rinse in a colander. 

Then scoop it all up into a clean, dry kitchen towel (a sturdy paper towel may work but most likely will break apart).
Make sure the spinach is nested into the center of the towel, wrap around and squeeze ALL the water out..  You have no idea how much water is in there.  I use twisting, wringing motions to get it all out.  Don't panic if it turns your towel slightly green, this will wash out.

Spinach after al water has been
squeezed out.

Cook hamburger meat and drain grease-Hamburger can be optional, my hubby is a total meat eater so I include this but you could easily leave it out if you wanted/needed.

1st layer of lasagna
Step 2: Assemble Lasagna-

In a 9x13 pan spoon a couple of tablespoons of sauce in the bottom-I like to add a drizzle of olive oil as well but that is optional.  The favorite (and usually only unless its sold out) type of sauce we use in our house is Ragu Sweet Italian Sausage & Cheese.-gives a very unique sweet and tangy taste to this dish.  Any sauce will work but if you can and want, give this flavor a shot.  When I cannot find this kind I use Ragu Sweet Sundried Tomato & Basil
Spread sauce (and oil) around the bottom of the pan with the spoon to evenly coat.  You do not need a lot, just enough so that the ravioli's do not stick.
Layer ravioli's 4 across in rows.  I like to alternate mine 1 row cheese, 1 row meat.  You can also just use all cheese or all meat ravioli's if you want.
Once there is a solid layer of ravioli's all the way across the pan take 1/2 of the spinach and sprinkle on top.

Lasagna all done and ready to devour

To this add 1/2 of the shredded cheese.
In a separate mixing bowl combine hamburger and 1/2 of the sauce and mix together.
Spread ALL of the hamburger/sauce mixture on top of the 1st layer of the lasagna.
Repeat with the rest of the ravioli's, remainder of spinach, sauce and then the rest of the cheese.

Step 3: Bake Lasagna-
Cover lasagna with foil and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly on top.
Top with shredded Parmesan if desired.

This goes great paired with cheesy garlic pinwheels or Tanya's garlic bread and a side salad.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Guest Post: Parenting in America - The Parental Civil War

Today's Parenting in America guest post comes from Leah who is new to blogging, check out her blog Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.  Be sure to follow her blog while you are there as I am sure she has more great posts to come

Also be sure to check out these great posts in today's carnival:
Hybrid Rasta Mama's post Parenting Approaches

Leave a comment and show them some ♥

Parenting in America - The Parental Civil War

When I became a mom, I instinctually sought out other moms.  I wanted advice, encouragement, and apathy.  I wanted to know I wasn’t alone.  As a stay-at-home-mom, I was definitely craving some adult conversation.  Since I am shy and kind of a homebody, I decided to jump on the internet and see what the world wide web had to offer.  This is when I first came across CafeMom. 


At first, it seemed like a great find.  Moms supporting other moms in every single category your mind could imagine.  There really was something for everyone.  But then came my first experience with mom bullying.  It was horrible! When a mom would excitedly talk about how much she loved breastfeeding, the formula moms would jump on her for thinking she was superior to them.  When a mom talked about the fact that she liked formula feeding her baby, the breastfeeding moms would attack her for not doing what is best for her child.  Vaxers and anti-vaxers, circumcising moms and intactivists, the enemy lists go on and on.  After about a month on the site, I realized this was less a place for support and more a battleground for the ongoing parental civil war.  And CafeMom is certainly not the only parent chat site that has been sieged. 

Now that I am attuned to the sounds of the parental civil war going on today in America, I hear the battle cries everywhere I go: the moms at the park afraid to breastfeed in public because they will be shelled with hurtful comments; the dads at the grocery store afraid to baby wear because their manhood could be amputated; the parents at daycare who are shunned as traitors for not vaccinating their children; the vaccinating parents shunned by the antivaxers for poisoning their children; the laboring woman who surrenders to her doctor and submits to an unnecessary cesarean section who is crucified by natural birth supporters.  No one is immune, neither side is showing signs of retreat, and everyone is suffering from heavy casualties.

As I have been watching the battles rage on for five years now, I often find myself torn, not sure on which side I should be fighting.  I certainly have strong convictions about all of these topics, but most of the time I just try to wave my little white prefold, signaling I don’t really want to fight at all.  I find myself defending everyone.  After all, this is America.  We all have a right to our opinions; we all have our individual freedoms to parent the best way we see fit, right?

On the other hand, what about the common good? If one way really is better than the other, shouldn’t we be trying our hardest to make sure most of America is practicing it? As parents, doesn’t the fact that we are responsible for the children of America mean that we are also responsible for the fate of the country?

I certainly don’t have all the answers.  Just as I could never tell you which of my children I love more, I cannot tell you which freedom is more important - the freedom of individual rights or the freedom to make a positive difference in your country no matter your race, creed, gender, or economic status.  But the more I look at the issue, the more I see I may not have to choose at all. 

A Gentler Approach

When I was a child, I was bullied into going on my first roller coaster by my family (Dad, aunts and uncles).  As we stood in line for an hour, I was terrified. I knew I wasn’t ready to go on this ride.  But my family dismissed my fears as childish (um duh, I was a child!) and said once I got on, I would be fine.  Well, I wasn’t fine.  I was frozen in fear through the entire ordeal and the minute the ride was over I broke into tears and was inconsolable for the next hour.  The experience traumatized me.  For years I refused to go on any kind of ride or water slide and I refused to listen to anyone’s opinion on the matter.

A few years later, my mom took me to the local street fair.  I rode the merry-go-round, jumped in the moon bounce, and ate cotton candy.  It was comforting because I knew what to expect.  It was fun because it was all things I had done before, things I knew would be fun.  Mom looked bored though.  I watched her eyes as she peered longingly up at the Rainbow.  That’s the ride where a big flat group of seats starts slowly swinging back and forth until at last it starts going all the way around in big circles.  It is by no means an extreme ride.

“Would you like to try the Rainbow, Leah?” Mom asked excitedly.

“No way!” I cried, the fear of my last roller coaster experience already bubbling up in my sensitive gut.

Mom took a much different approach at convincing me to try out this new, terrifying ride.  We sat down on a bench and watched others go on the Rainbow.  We watched it make its passes back and forth and listened to the riders scream as it finally made its inevitable loop all the way around.  As we watched, Mom told me about her first experience with the Rainbow - how she had been frightened too.  But once she gathered the courage to go on, she experienced wonderful things: the butterflies in her stomach waiting for the ride to begin, the anticipation in her fingertips that gripped the safety bar as the ride floated up into the sky, and the feel of the wind lifting her hair away from her shoulders as she descended towards the ground.

After about 15 minutes, the ride looked different to my inexperienced eyes.  It was no longer new and unpredictable.  I could see exactly what was going to happen, I could count how many times it would swing back and forth before it finally plunged over, and I could hear the sheer delight in the shrieking voices that once had only sounded like petrified screams.  I could also see that nobody was walking off in tears.

I fixed my face with the bravest look I could muster and stood up. 

“Ok, let’s do it.”

And the rest is history, of course.  I went on the Rainbow at least 10 times that night.  The next night I went back to the fair and rode it another 20.  I’ve been on at least two dozen other new and thrilling roller coasters since that day.  And I will admit freely, that I am still terrified every time I’m standing in line.  But instead of trying to avoid the fear like I did as a child, I find that the fear is as thrilling and as useful as the new experience that follows it.  And every once in a while, I find the experience less than thrilling.  Some roller coasters really are no good - they hurt your neck, upset your stomach, or lead you down a path you realize you never wanted to go down.  But one bad ride doesn’t stop me from testing out others.  Every journey has a lesson to deliver.

You Do What?

The first time I heard of ideas like breastfeeding to four years old, elimination communication, and extended rear-facing car seats, I had the same terrified feeling I did the first time I looked at the Rainbow.  For one, these were brand new experiences I had never heard of, and the unknown can always be a little scary.  But even more, I was scared of what it meant if I considered these new ideas.  If I pondered these new and different paths, did that mean the mothering I had been doing up to now had been wrong? And if I actually decided to incorporate these ideas into my parenting style, did it mean I was somehow a better mother than I was before? If I changed the way I thought about parenting, would it change the way I loved my children?

Insert the best quote ever: “You did then what you knew how to do.  Now that you know better, you’ll do better.” - Maya Angelou

The very tools used in the “gentle parenting” method are the same ones we need to use on each other and ourselves.  If we don’t expect our children to always know the right thing to do, why do we expect it of ourselves? If we say its ok for our kids to make mistakes, why do we expect our fellow moms to be perfect? If we have to show patience to our children to teach our children patience, why are we so impatient with each other? Why can we be so tolerant of our children’s shortcomings and so demanding of ourselves? If we would never say it to our kids, we shouldn’t say it to each other or ourselves.  How much I love my children is not congruous to how much knowledge I have of different parenting techniques. 

So what’s the moral of my incredibly long blog? Parenting in America does not have to be some kind of civil war.  We don’t have to kill the other side in order to prove our side the victor.  And we don’t have to run away in fear.  Instead, we can all take a long hard look at each new and sometimes scary path presented to us and listen with anticipation to the exciting tales other parents have to tell us about those paths.  We can relate our own tales of our own paths to other parents with just as much excitement and compassion.  We can sit on benches and take our time pondering which new and exciting roller coaster we want to ride today.  Sometimes the journey other parents love will just not have the right fit.  Other times, we will find ourselves gleefully over the rainbow.

Leah is a wife, mother, and hippie.  She works as a stay-at-home mom to two daughters and has recently begun writing for Yahoo!.  She started her blog, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance, to write about family, natural parenting, and trying to live a more holistic, chemical-free, and organic life.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...