Toddler Tuesday- Say Yes

Tonight I want to impart on you one of the greatest lessons I have learned when it comes to taking care of children.

Say yes.

That’s it. Super simple and super effective.

Now that’s not to say you should let them eat ice cream for dinner and jump off the roof. But if it is safe, not destructive, and will do no harm to anyone else (which I realize is all the same thing), then by all means say yes.

Children nowadays are constantly told no. They can’t do finger painting because it will get on their clothes. The toys can’t leave the playroom because it will ruin the aesthetic of the house. Well I say pooey. Let kids be messy. Let them explore. And rid yourself of the power struggle that comes when you say no too often. Yes is a beautiful powerful word to children. It tells them you trust them, believe in them, and will honor their true needs and desires. It tells them you love them.

smallblessingsinc.com

smallblessingsinc.com

While I was cooking lunch today Little Miss started creating this very detailed roadway system throughout the home utilizing, I kid you not, almost every toy in the house. This thing was massive. Now I could have made her clean it up before eating… and the clean freak in me really wanted to, but she asked to be able to play with it later. And I said yes. Of course I did not let her do anything that would destroy the toys or home. And what did I gain? Almost two hours of her playing by herself. I even got some time to do some cleaning of my own. Little Miss also learned a valuable lesson in putting away what she takes out. 🙂  mwahaha

Play and life lesson all on one? I think so.

Love!

Small Change Saturday: #2

Welcome to the second installment of my small change year. How did last week go? Did you floss? How did you feel, doing something so good for yourself? Personally, I only missed a day, which I’m pretty proud of.

Please remember, change is hard. Don’t beat yourself up over slip ups or mistakes. We are human. It happens. Just pick yourself up, tell yourself that it’s worth it, and move on. You are fabulous. You can do it. You can make the changes that will change your life.

So, on that positive note, small change #2. 🙂

Go Outside!

That’s it. It’s that simple. Go outside.

Have lunch outside. Take the dog on a long walk. Take a book outside. Are you surrounded by snow? Have a snowball fight with your kids. Go snowshoeing. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get outside.

You may not think that being outside can make any change in your life, but really it can make a HUGE impact.

Being outdoors has actually been linked to reduced stress, and depression, faster healing time, and less need for pain medications. In 2008, the University of Michigan found that after just an hour spent outside, attention spans and memory increased 20%. Last April, the University of Kansas found that those who were “steeped” in nature for a few days increased their creativity by 50%.

Want to know more? Read Richard Louv’s “The Nature Principle: Reconnecting With Life in a Virtual Age”Have kids? Read Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods”. A-mazing! He has really changed how I view the outdoors. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

So friends… let’s be good to ourselves. Let’s go outside.

wildnatureimages.com

wildnatureimages.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love!

The Right Choices Make all the Difference

As a lot of you know I am working on getting back in shape. I’ve been Paleo for a few months now and I have to say, it’s getting easier. I am feeling better,  lost 10lbs in the first month, and am starting to really love eating healthier. I’m focusing on loading up on vegetables, using protein and fiber to stay full longer, and using fruit as my “sweet reward”. I’ve found that if I get into a routine it tends to be a lot easier to make the right choices. I wanted to share with you what my routine is.

thekitchn.com

thekitchn.com

 

 

Morning: Vegetable egg scramble

1-2 cups veggies (depending on if they cook down or not) sauteed in 1 tbsp butter with 3 eggs (optional: sausage and/or potatoes)

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Pumpkin Pancakes with 1 tbsp butter, 1 drizzle of real maple syrup or honey, and fresh fruit

 

Mid-Morning: Smoothie

2 cups mixed frozen fruit, 1 cup coconut or almond milk, 2 tbsp flax seed (optional: 2 tbsp nut butter); blend till       smooth

or

Homemade ‘LaraBar’ 

Lunch: Salad with Protein

2 heaping cups of raw vegetables, 1 cup grilled chicken, steak, fish, shrimp, hard boiled eggs, etc. Top with homemade salad dressing (optional: 2 tbsp nuts or seeds)

or

2 cups steamed vegetables with 1 cup protein

Mid-Afternoon:

Apple, Banana, or celery with nut butter on top

or

2 hard boiled eggs and a piece of fruit

Dinner: Whatever is on my plan (check out PaleoPlan.com or Emeals.com for options)

Evening: Hot Tea (my newest obsession is chai vanilla tea with coconut milk- yum!)

 

That’s it! Not that hard, no weird ingredients, and full of amazing paleo goodness. Plus, it’s so much nicer not having to think about what I’m going to eat.

Do you have any amazing quick and easy whole food recipes? I’d love to hear about them. 🙂

 

Love!

Toddler Tuesday: 2013 Education Calendar

I’ve been working on building a calendar that charts the themes and lessons I teach Baby Miss (2 years old) throughout the year, and I’m ready to share it with all of you. Now you will notice there are a few changes from my previous “themes” post back in November. This is due to the fact that I found out Baby Miss’ parents decided to start her in preschool this June rather than September. I want Baby Miss to already be on track, knowing her letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc. So, you will notice that for each month, I have a theme. And each week has a letter, number, color, and shape. By the end of June, we will have gone through one cycle of the alphabet. That’s when Baby Miss will start preschool. I have finished the calendar for you though (meaning through December) and will be posting the activities I do throughout the year. And in fact, I think I like this calendar much better then my last one. Always striving to improve. 🙂

2013 Education Calendar

I have also created a list of songs, felt board games, books, crafts, and activities for each month’s theme. I currently have January and February up, and will finish it soon. I’m also working on creating videos of each song on my list so you can hear how it goes and see the motions… I’ll let you know when I figure that out. 🙂

Theme Activities

For Christmas, I bought Little Miss and Baby Miss a felt/magnetic dry erase board. I started this week using it for “circle times” with Baby Miss. On days when we have no place to be (gymnastics, music class, etc.) circle time can consist of many parts: songs, books, art, felt board activities. On busy days, it may only include going over that week’s letter, number, color, and shape; and one song and book. I’m not very strict about it, but I am working on making it a habit to sit down and do some type of structured material with her everyday around the same time.
image

Yesterday, we created our first letter and number signs. For each new letter and number, we will be making a sign and posting it on the wall. Soon, Baby Miss will be able to see numbers 1-10 and the entire alphabet each and every day.

Our number signs consist of a large number cut out from construction paper. Then she puts a corresponding number of objects on that number. This week, for the number 1, she decided on one dog sticker. We will also be using buttons, dry pasta, beans, yarn, etc. for the different numbers.
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Our letter sign consists of a large letter cut out of construction paper, which I first let her color on; then we will add something that starts with that letter. For A, we did apple prints. Just cut an apple in half, stick in paint, and use them to stamp the paper. Both girls really liked this activity.

image

Each week I will be sharing with you the various activities that I do with each girl. You can join me by following along on the 2013 Education Calendar and using my themed activities.

I would love to hear any feedback you may have: different activities, challenges you faced, anecdotes, or just “hello” all work for me. 🙂

Love!

Small Change Saturday: Week 1

Hello all!

As promised, each week I will be offering you a small change. Hopefully, by the end of the year, all of these small changes will add up to a huge difference in our health, happiness, and wellbeing. Sounds like fun huh? 🙂

The first small change is (drumroll please….)

Flossing.

I know I know, not that exciting.

And personally, I really don’t like to floss. It’s uncomfortable, it’s an extra 5 minutes between me and my bed, and it’s not exactly  immediately gratifying.

But, the more I research flossing, the more I realize how absolutely important it is.

We all know that brushing is necessary, but toothbrushes are only meant to clean the tops, bottoms, and sides of our teeth. But what about in between? Think about everything you eat, and all that food that gets stuck in your teeth. Without flossing, that food can stay stuck in your teeth, start to rot, and lead to gum disease, tartar buildup, bad breath, and expensive procedures.

Plus it’s not just about your teeth.

Did you know that without flossing, bacteria can flourish which studies have shown can lead to whole body diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses?

So as much as I don’t like flossing, it really is necessary. Make it a habit, and in a few months it will feel like no big deal.

I recommend flossing before bed so that there are no food particles in your teeth overnight.

Follow up with mouthwash, and you’re golden. 🙂

Love!

The Art of Making Friends

I have a confession.

I am terrible at making friends. or keeping them for that matter.

But it’s not all my fault, I swear. I’m in my early twenties, but don’t like to stay out late or go to bars or clubs. I don’t wear the latest fashions (I much prefer to be comfortable then “on trend”). I don’t like crowds. Plus, I have very specific interests; and don’t like spending time on activities I don’t like. So needless to say, there are very few girls my age, that share my interests, that I could actually befriend.

Now a lot of what I have described above is due to my low level Asperger’s. I know I’ve never discussed it here before because it’s not a major factor in my life. I don’t like to dwell on it too much; but it is a big part of the reason I have trouble making friends. Those with Asperger’s have lower levels of social skills, don’t like being put in unknown circumstances, and can get overwhelmed by too much stimuli. I have a huge distaste for small talk, I need to know exactly what will be happening when I enter a social situation, and I do a million times better one on one then in a crowd. Have I said I hate crowds… cause I really do. 🙂

That said, I really like the idea of being a people person. I’ve always wanted to be able to go out on a Friday night to a crowded restaurant with a huge group of friends, loud music, and be…ok. I want to be the type of person that has gobs of friends and can carry on a conversation at any time with anyone (and to like it).

But as it is, I have a handful of friends; and to be honest, I’m a pretty terrible friend. I love spending time one on one with them (if it’s previously planned); but I don’t do well with spontaneity. If a friend calls up just to talk, I have to be “in the mood”. I can get drained very quickly from social interactions, and really need to be “in the right place at the right time”- if you know what I mean.

And it really feels like I am the only person who deals with this. I know it’s not true, but it feels like it.

thebump.com

thebump.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I’ve taken it upon myself to figure this whole friend thing out. I want to know how to make friends and to keep them.

One of the ways I’ve thought to make friends is to join a Meetup group. Meetup is a website where you can create a club of any type and make it available to any other meetup members in your area to join. It’s actually really neat. I thought perhaps that if I join a group of people who share my interests it would give me an easy way to start a conversation and to get to know someone.

So I joined a choir. I have a very long musical background (I come from a musical family), but it’s been a long time since I have had an outlet to sing. I’m pretty excited about it. They meet March-June and Sept-Dec. I can’t wait for it to start.

I also thought about joining a book club. I am a voracious reader and thought that would be a great fit too. But I couldn’t find any book club that met at a day or time I could make; plus a lot of them read books that just didn’t interest me;  so-

I Started My Own Book Club!

I’m really nervous. So far, 7 people have joined and signed up for the meeting at the end of the month. That’s a lot of people for me. But, I figure I’ll have the discussion to focus on; so that’s something. And I was able to give the club a focus that really interested me; children’s literature. I’m excited to meet people who love reading kid’s books as much as I do… but…it’s new people. Ah scary! 🙂

Any tips?

New is frightening. Change is hard. Adjusting is difficult.

But

New is necessary. Change is not an option, and adjusting is the only way to deal with.

So cheers to new years, new opportunities, and (hopefully) new friends.

Love!

What I have learned from a year with a child

As a nanny (or parent, or caregiver of any type), I’m always thinking about what knowledge I can impart upon Little Miss and Baby Miss. My brain is always attempting to use each moment to teach them something; be it education, spiritual, a life lesson, etc. But after reflecting on this past year, I must say, and I know it’s a bit clique; I think I learned more from them then they have from me. Children have a way on making everything simpler and more concrete. Through their eyes, one can really see a world full of wonder, curiosity, daily challenges, and fun. I wanted to share with you the top 5 lessons that I have learned this year.

1. Sometimes all you need is a nap.

As adults, we are expected to constantly be doing something. Our society praises people that stay up late to finish a report, miss dinner to go to a meeting, and spend their weekends catching up, or running errands. All that busy work can cause us to be (obviously) tired, cranky, and unproductive. Instead, I say, let’s do as the “babes” do. After lunch, when we all tend to get sleepy anyways, let’s take 45 minutes to close our eyes, count some sheep, and give our bodies and minds a much needed rest. And you know what? Studies have actually shown that those that take a mid-afternoon siesta are more productive, feel more refreshed, and are actually smarter. Check it out here!

2. Being silly is ok, and actually necessary

I don’t know what it is about being an adult and being on automatic serious mode, but I hate it. Sometimes all I want to do is blow bubbles in my chocolate milk, jump on the bed, and make a huge mess with finger paints. And you know what I’ve discovered? Being silly is ok. In fact, it’s good. I’ll take Baby Miss to a music class and all the other grownups are being so serious, but when I allow myself to sing and dance along, I and Baby Miss enjoy ourselves so much more. Who cares what other’s think? Who cares if I look dumb, or immature, or unsophisticated? Fun is good. Silly is good. Laughter is good. In fact, laughter has been shown to relieve stress, increase immunity, decrease pain, strengthen relationships and so much more. So go ahead, read the comics in the newspaper, watch funny Youtube videos, and join your kids when they are pretending to be a rock band. Be silly. You’ll thank me for it.

3. Go outside

Has anyone ever noticed that kids tend to crave time outside? It doesn’t matter what the weather is or the time of day; when given the opportunity kids love the outdoors. And yet, when you become an adult, it’s all you can do to get a few minutes during your lunch break to soak up some sun. Why is that? Is it that we have forgotten how great it is to be surrounded by nature. Have we just not given the outdoors it’s dues? In fact, many studies have shown the positive affects that nature can have on us; including but not limited to reducing anxiety and depression, better sleep quality, and immunity. So be more kid-like; take a recess, walk your dog, spend lunch outside, play touch football with friends at a local park; anything, just get outside. It’s good for you! 🙂

4. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full

You know the old saying, “Clean your plate!”; well it’s wrong, and it’s time we stopped it right here and right now. It’s so funny how old sayings like that can come out of you so automatically. Both Little Miss and Baby Miss are huge “grazers”. They eat a few bites, want to play, a half hour later, come back to eat more. It used to bug me to no end; but I’ve come to peace with it. In fact, I’ve decided it’s a great way to eat for myself. I always feel such guilt at leaving food on my plate that I usually just plow through it; but if I slow down and take a moment, I realize that there really is no reason to feel guilty. In fact, I should feel proud for listening to my body. As adults we get so out of sync with our bodies that sometimes it’s hard to tell when we really are hunger, or full, or just perhaps bored. If we eat like a child, we spend more time enjoying the food and in turn have an easier time listening to what our body is telling us.

5. Enjoy each other.

If there is one thing that I could say my years with children has taught me, it would be that what children crave most often is time with their parents. Most of a child’s learning actually comes from unstructured time spent with family members. When they are surrounded by family, they feel secure, loved, trusting, and have a higher self-esteem. That connection goes the same for us; when we are surrounded by family and friends that love us we are better able to handle the stresses and complications that life brings. Just like children, when we have strong relationships with others we feel more secure, loved, trusting, and have a greater self-esteem. But, and that’s a strong but, that does not mean just connecting with people of Facebook, through email, or even over the phone. That means face to face connections. Make family dinners a priority. Join a book club. Meet up with friends once a month for dinner. Spend time with others, and enjoy their company.

Have any other lessons that your kids have taught you? I’d love to hear about them.

Love!

PS. If you’re in my area (Northern CA) I’ve started a children’s literature book club through Meetup. Email me if you’re interested. 🙂

The day after Christmas

Today is the day after Christmas. If you’re like me, you are recovering from your overindulgence, your lack of sleep, and your over enthusiasm. If you’re like me, all you want to do is take a nap. But I digress.

 

I always feel like the week after Christmas and before New Years is the time to prepare my heart and mind for what the next year will bring.

My next year will bring the greatest moment of my life up until now, my wedding. I am so excited; and so stressed all at the same time. I never realized there was so much to plan for, and we aren’t even hosting 100 people. It will be small and intimate, but still there is a lot to do.

This year also continues my journey with Paleo. My goal is to be in the greatest shape of my life by the time my wedding comes. And that means work. And work is hard (duh!). That means getting up early, and avoiding the foods that I love, but you know; I think I’m finally ready. I think I’m finally ready to make that commitment to myself and my body. I deserve it. I deserve to be comfortable in my own skin. And yes it takes dedication, but I’m ready for the fight.

This year also brings a change for my finances. I will be joining Mr. Right’s bank after our wedding, and I want to have my finances in order by then. It’s not that they are totally out of whack, but I do want to pay off all my debt so that I can start my marriage on a clean slate. So that’s another discipline to take care of.

And you know, there are other things that I would love to accomplish this next year- say writing a children’s book, going back to school, moving into a house; but I know that I can’t do everything in one year; so this is what I propose.

Each week, starting the first week of January, I will be sharing a “small change” that I will be conquering for the next year. It could be anything from walking 30 minutes a day, to flossing, to taking time to do nothing. Through all these small changes, I’m hoping to make a large difference in my health, my mind, and my general well being by this time next year. I invite you to join me on this journey. The small changes won’t be anything too difficult, but if we keep it up all year, we may be one step closer to becoming the person we know we were meant to be.

Will you join me?

With Love,

Amy

Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man.  ~Quoted in Benjamin Franklin’s 1755 Poor Richard’s Almanac

 

from google images

from google images