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My view for the majority of my vacation…yes please!

I just returned from a lovely kid-free weekend with my husband. We had an amazing time. We pretty much ate, slept and lounged our way through two and a half delightful Southern California days. But we have also been on a major health kick for the past two months and we didn’t want to blow all our hard work. Here are a few things that help us enjoy ourselves and stay on task.

1. Have an eating/splurging plan– My husband and I would try to think ahead each day about how we wanted to enjoy our meals. We knew we want to have a nice dinner with wine to celebrate our anniversary one night, so we had hard boiled eggs and fruit for breakfast that morning. Then the day we did the buffet brunch, we had salads for dinner.

2. Pick Your Poison- Decide what is important to you, then eat that. While my husband was looking forward to poolside cocktail service, I was looking forward to being a little looser with my food. I stuck with water at breakfast and thoroughly enjoyed 3 pieces of bacon, where as he ordered a Bloody Mary, but skipped the breakfast meats.

3. Drink More Water- If you are on vacation chance are you; flew in an airplane, drove a long distance, you are eating richer, saltier food, drinking more alcohol and/or are in a different climate than you are used to. All of these are reasons to increase your water intake. (Plus, water helps you feel full and sated and may help you from over-eating)

4. Wear More Sunblock Than You (think you) Need– I was wearing 45, but it was my first time in the sun since last summer and I still got fried!

5. Pack Healthy Snacks– An apple, a healthy bar or some nuts pack easily and can take the edge off until you make that later-than-usual dinner reservation. Then you don’t inhale the whole bread basket when you sit down.

6. Fit In Fitness– We were on a (delightfully) kid-free vacation, so we were able to make it to the gym both mornings. But even if you have the little ones in toe, try to take the whole family for a walk, or trade off gym time with your spouse, or a few laps in the pool. Or make your fitness FUN, my husband must have climbed the stairs to the resort’s waterslide 25 times in a row…that’s better than the stair master any day!

Way more fun than the stair master!!

7. Don’t fall for peer pressure– If you don’t want another drink, don’t have one, even if other’s in your party are. Or if the waiter asks if you want a second basket of chips, you can say no.

8. ENJOY YOURSELF– Vacation is all about having fun, relaxing with the one’s you love and enjoying a change of pace. I came home feeling like I enjoyed the food, the drinks and the lounging around immensely and was still proud of the steps we took to stay on our healthy track. But remember, your vacation will end and you will get back to your routine. So if you order a Bloody Mary AND the bacon, you’ll be fine…just be sure to enjoy every vacation-y bite!

ENJOYING date night!

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Eye-Hand coordination with hammering out side

We are surviving amazingly well on very little TV for the kiddos.  He still likes his morning cartoon.  I liken it to my morning cup of coffee, he’s not quite awake until he’s had an episode of Phinnes and Ferb, and I am really fine with that.

I cleaned Brady’s room yesterday (I’m convinced my child is a hoarder, but that is another post).  His clean, better-organized room opened up a new world of play opportunities.  He can now easily access more things, allowing more independent play and sparking more ideas other than “can I watch a cartoon?”  Last night after dinner, he built a marble ramp with dad and played two board games before bed.

I am still always looking for ideas and suggestions on things to do to keep my littles entertained, I came up with a list a while back.  But when I need new ideas, I am lucky that I never have to look further than Brady’s amazing preschool teacher and her lists of suggestions from her facebook page or articles she writes for our local mothers’ club newsletter.

Here are some of my Cookies N’ Dirt favorites:

  • Adult Sized Paintbrushes or Foam Roller Brushes: Give your child a bucket of water and send them outside to “paint”.
  • Birthday candles:  Let your little one to put them into play dough- you will be surprised how long they will play with these!

    Play Dough and Candles

  • Tongs and Cotton Balls. Have children move cotton balls from one bowl to another with the tongs. They can also tong tissue, plastic eggs, sponges…anything. This activity is great for hand eye and fine motor skills.
  • Baby soap or regular soap: Soap can be so much fun for children to pump out and play in! Use the dish tubs to set up a “baby bath” with a plastic doll, or a dino bath with plastic animals.
  • Potato Sprouting: Stick toothpicks in the side of an organic potato and put one end in water with the other sticking out. Watch your potato grow a plant.
  • Hammering: Go to a local hardware store and buy the smallest hammer you can find along with some protective goggles. Have your child do some hammering into an old piece of wood or stump. You can start the nail for smaller children and let older children do it themselves. This is great for hand eye coordination as well as cognitive development. Let them know the rules for safety before you start.

    Keeping busy and focused

  • Plant seeds:  lima beans and snap peas are the easiest!! Birdseed is also great.
  • Peel Eggs: Boil some brown eggs and let your little one work at peeling the shell off. It is good for children to struggle a little so don’t be too quick to step in. You can also get an egg slicer and let them slice when they are done peeling.

    Look at the concentration!

  • Color shaky bottles: Fill 4 used water bottles ¾ of the way full with water.  Add a few drops of food coloring to each bottle so that you have one of each color. Put glitter in one, beads in one, soap in one, and cooking oil in one. Now screw the cap on tight and tape the bottle tops. Let children shake and roll the bottles.
  • Fishing: Fill a plastic baby pool with water and plastic animals, fish or bugs. Give your child a net and let them “catch” the animals. If you don’t have a net use a colander or old baseball cap!

What are you favorite activities to keep your kids busy without TV, or what resources do you go to??

Listening to Cat In The Hat on CD in his fort

Day 2 of our modified National Turn Off Your TV week.  I offered Brady 20 minutes of TV before bed, as is his normal routine, and he chose to listen to his CD story of Cat In The Hat inside the fort he built for that purpose.  I guess we are doing ok at the “no TV” thing…maybe this will stick?

Glitter Glue Nails Instead of TV

This week is National Turn Off Your TV Week…or maybe it is next week. (A few different sources say different dates.) I posted on Facebook to see who was “in” for the challenge.
Fellow parents wondered if it meant all screen time; lapsers, iPods, youtube?
Was it just for kids or did it mean US too…I mean, who really can go without SMASH for a whole week??
I had long been thinking that Brady’s TV time had been creeping up over the last few months and I had been wanting to slim it back down.   So, I took this suggestion as a chance to re-examine how I use TV with my preschooler and was their some room for improvement.
This is not the first time I have written about TV and my kids.
And I have tried to cut his TV viewing back before too.
What I realized this time, is TV viewing is just like our health in other ways. We can have normally good eating or exercising habits, but then life sneaks up on you and all of a sudden you realize you are eating movie thither sized boxes of Junior Mints on a regular basis and skipping your morning workout to do laundry (or lets face it, sleep in).
I think every healthy habit needs a reset.  So I decide to take this week to reset our TV viewing.
So did I keep the TV off all day yesterday, day 1 of Turn Of Your TV Week??.
No.
Did he watch 20 minutes in the morning while he woke up with his milk, instead of leaving the TV on all morning?
Yes.
Did he protest when I said it was time to turn it off?
Yes.
Did we get out playdoh and art supplies instead and did he entertain himself for at least 45 minutes while I got his sister down for a nap and did a little work?
Yes.
Did he get one time-out for hitting me after I denied his request later that morning to turn the TV back on?
Um…yes.
But we both recovered and we spent the rest of the day;

  • Building a ‘house’ out of boxes in the recycle bin (which he did at the table next to me while I worked)
  • Painting his toe nails with glitter glue
  • Playing Go Fish
  • Had a picnic lunch in the living room
  • He pretended to be a garbage man while collecting every scrap of garbage all over the house (score!)
  • Went to the library
  • Went to the grocery store
  • Had a rousing game of see how I can make my sister laugh while trying to ride in her stroller with her.

At the library, we checked out some books on CD. When it came time for quite time, he didn’t even ask to watch a cartoon first (as is his normal routine). He just went to his room to listen to his new cd. And when I went to check on him about 20 minutes later….asleep.
We’ll keep this up the rest of the week.  My husband is out of town next week and there is NO WAY I am going TV-free then without a co-parent to carry the load.
But I think both Brady and I realized we can survive with a lot less TV.

Now…my next challenge is getting the adults in the house to give up smart phones for a weekend. I’m not sure I could do it? Could You?

AH…nothin’ like a sleeping baby!  We have had a bit of a nap boycott in our house.  At 14 months, I know she is getting close to dropping her two nap a day routine, but I thought it was a bit too soon.  Most experts agree that between 15-18 months is a normal time frame to drop that second nap, and frankly I wasn’t ready to give it up yet!  So we pushed on through, trying to adjust her morning nap time a bit later and still convince her to take an afternoon nap.

We had about two weeks of her protesting at least one nap. Some days she’s refuse to go down in the morning, but still take a good afternoon nap, other days she’d take a long morning nap and protest the afternoon rest.  And on the darkest of days…she’d boycott BOTH naps…ARGH!!!!

But I persisted and just put her down twice a day, even if she just fussed in her crib for 45 minutes.   My husband managed to get her down twice on Saturday (I think sometimes a change in scenery helps) and she has taken two naps for me yesterday and today.

She may still be close to dropping that nap for good…and in some ways that will be fun too!  But right now, I am going to stretch out the two naps a day for as long as I can!!

What age did your baby drop the second nap??  Did you push it or just let it go?

Help me celebrate my dad’s birthday by donating to his fundraising efforts!

My dad is a pretty dedicated guy.  He is a dedicated father, husband and an amazing grandfather.   He seems to always have the best advice, that one line that puts everything into perspective.

For the last 8 years, he has also been dedicated to raising funds and completeing the almost 600 mile bike ride to Los Angels to participate in the AIDs/Lifecycle .   ALC is a 7 day ride from San Francisco to Los Angles to raise money and awareness in the fight against AIDS/HIV.

My dad spends countless hours logging countless miles on his bike to prepare for this ride (not to mention stay in great shape and enjoy his retirement).

He has also become very active in his local bike community and has become an advocate for bicycle safty.  He writes articles for his local paper, speaks at bike club meetings and has even had sit down meetings with others in the community on how to better share the road between bicylists and drivers.

I cannot think if a better birthday gift than to help him reach his fundrasing goal.

It’s easy to think that HIV/AIDS is no longer a problem. Medications have come a long way, and people are living longer, healthier lives. This is why the work of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is so vital. These agencies continue to provide the critical services and education needed to meet the growing needs of our community. We ride to raise awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among participants, their donors, and the general public. We ride because—in the current economy—our agencies need these funds more than ever. Ultimately, we ride so that someday, we won’t have to.

So please, considered donating to my dad and his ride this year. Remember, even $5 will help him reach his goals and help 2 great organizations reach their goals! You are supporting a great cause and a great man.

Go to his personal donation page here 

Happy Birthday Dad!

ALC is an amazing, fun and ‘different’ kind of fundraising event!

Hummus and avocado on a rice cake makes a great afternoon snack!

My husband and I have been working very hard (and pretty successfully!) to loss some of our post-baby weight.  I call it post baby weight, because most of the extra weight that we both gained was not during my pregnancy, but in the year after our second daughter was born.
 
 

As I mentioned in last weeks Fit Tip Friday post, Cauliflower Pizza Crust, we had become too reliant on take out, sugar and caffeine to fuel our days with two young children.
 
 

I noticed that a big part of my healthy eating breakdown would come during this late afternoon time.  I’d get the kids down for a nap, and I’d be ready for a snack, or a treat.  I found myself always raiding the candy stash, making my self a second vanilla latte or toasting up a big piece of sour dough bread smothered in cheese (or lets face it, sometimes all three).
 
 

I realized that a big part of this afternoon snack was  just the habit I had gotten into.  By thinking of some healthier options ahead of time, I find that I make better choices when I get to that time of the day.
 
 

One of my current favorites now is  a brown rice cake, with roasted garlic hummus (1 TBSP) and slices of avocado (about 1 oz).
 
 

This snack comes in at about 135 calories, 6.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of protein and 22 grams of carbs.  In addition it is packed full of healthy fats and over 20 vitamins.  The protein and the fat help you feel full and sated.
 
 

I have found so much of cleaning up my diet is just rethinking the way I normally do things!
 
 

What are your go-to healthy snacks??

I just received a first birthday party invitation.  I love first birthdays!  They are such a fun celebration!  They are as much a celebration or the parents, as the kids.  “Hey!  We survived the first year!!!”
 
 

I have a few go-to gifts when it comes to First Birthdays (click on the pictures to see the products on amazon)
 
 

1.  Plan Toys Wooden Blocks- $20

This is a great set of small blocks.  Perfect for little hands, and both my kids loved to chew on them as well.  And my 3.5 year old still loves to play with them.


 
 

2. Green Sprout Organic Bath Toys- $24

These are a little pricey, but they are SO cute and they are machine washable.  Everything in the bath goes in my daughter’s mouth and other bath toys can get really grimy.


 
 

3. Battat Hug Links- $15

This is a favorite toy in our house.  Its actually many toys in one! Each ring is a rattle by itself, they link together to form a chain and (my daughter’s personal favorite) they can be taken in and out of the container!  And, like everything else at this age, they are great to chew on!


 
 

4. Wood Ramp Racer- $35

This is another toy that still gets much love in our house well past the one year mark.  I find myself playing with it when ever we play cars.  I love to watch the hypnotic rhythm of the cars going down the ramp.  I love the simple wood design too.


 
 

5.  Radio Flyer Classic Tiny Trike- $70

If you’re looking for something that is a little more of a keepsake, classic kids toy, you can’t go wrong with Radio Flyer.  Again, this toy has gotten use well beyond one year.  And it is just so darn cute!


 
 

6.  Green Toys Vehicles- $20

Green Toys are VERY popular in our house.  We own the pink dump truck, the garbage truck, the boat (as well as the sand toys and kitchen set).  Its a local company that makes their toys out of recycled plastic.


 
 

7. Doll Stroller- $30

Regardless of gender stereotypes, both my kids love to push around their dolls and stuffed animals (and sometimes each other) in this little doll stroller.  It folds like a real umbrella stroller for easy storage.


 
 

8.  Cardboard Stacking Blocks-$12

In my experience, kids under the age of 4 love toys they can stack, knock over safely, and fill up with other treasures.  These cardboard blocks fit all of those criteria!   Its great for eye-hand coordination and no one gets hurt if the stack goes flying!


 
 

Oh…now to decide what to get the birthday girl!!  What are your go to toys for this age?

If I have learned anything while being a parent, it is that things usually don’t go as planned.  And for a planner by nature, this has proved to be challenging for me.  Right now, one child is home from school sick and the other is in her crib boycotting her nap.  This was not how I had planned this day to go! But I have been working really hard to embrace the chaos and even enjoy it!

I had already thrown in the towel on this week, that nothing was going to “get done.”  I reminded my self that my children are the most important thing in my life and making sure they are happy and healthy is my main goal every day.  That means that everything else I have planned on any given day, just might not get done.

Then, while flipping through my favorite blogs, I saw this post on Babble about Parenting Mission Statements.  And I decided a mission statement was exactly what I needed to put this crazy days (which is really every day, right??) into perspective.
So here is mine;

 

To say “I love you” to my children every day.  To raise them to be kind, accepting, contribution members of our community and to always lead by example.  To learn to embrace the small moments and not sweat the small stuff all at the same time.

So, that is what I am going to do today, and tomorrow and the day after that.  And I hope somewhere in there I can go grocery shopping, get some work done and maybe clean up the cheerio explosion.  But only after I build a block tower.

What is your Parenting Mission Statement?

Ahh…Pizza

As I mentioned earlier this week, I am addicted to Pinterest.  I love browsing and have found some pretty great ideas.  Like organization tips, crafts for the kids and most recently, recipes.

Last week, I tried this recipe for cauliflower pizza crust.  And let me tell you…it was delicious!

My husband and I have working hard to clean up our diet over the past month.  In the year of having two kids we had become way too reliant on coffee house pastries,  take-out for dinner and dessert with wine to relax after the kids were in bed.  We were (and are) in the trenches, but we weren’t taking care of ourselves.  (More on our journey back to health later.)

One of the efforts we have been making is to eat more vegetables and less carbs.  So when I saw this cauliflower pizza crust, I was excited to give it a try!

The version on Pinterest is from this website.  Her recipe is an adaptation from this recipe “the original cauliflower pizza crust”.  And I modified the recipe a bit more!

I wanted to make two individual pizzas and I wanted to cut down on the overall cheese used, so I upped to amount cauliflower used and decreased the cheese.  I also wanted to up the veggies used for the toppings. We used pizza sauce, fresh spinach, caramelized onions, roasted cherry tomatoes and one Aidell’s Sausage (1/2 a sausage per pizza). You could use anything you wanted for toppings.

Bump Life Version of Cauliflower Pizza Crust

adapted from an adaptation of an adaptation

Crust

  • 2 cups ‘riced’ cauliflower
  • ¾ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • Olive oil (to brush on crust)

Toppings- All the topping must be precooked, since you only broil the completed pizza

  • Pizza Sauce
  • Spinach
  • Roasted Tomatoes (halve cherry tomatoes, put in baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and roast in oven while backing the crusts for the same 15 minutes)
  • Caramelized onions- I love the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe.  I like to cut the onion with a mandolin to get them thin, It takes a while, so I always cook a whole onion when I do it. You can keep the extras in the fridge and they are great in scrambled eggs in the morning!
  • Aidell’s Sausage:  We wanted the flavor, but to also keep the totally calories low, so we just used 1 sausage (split between pizzas), cut it thin and sautéed it in a pan.

“Rice” the Cauliflower

Add 1 large head of cauliflower (or I used 1 bag of prewashed cauliflower) through the grater attachment on your food processor (or you can grate it by hand). Don’t over pulse, it should look like a grain (or I thought it looked like fine shredded cheese).  Placed riced cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minute.  There is no need to add water.

I used all the cauliflower I microwaved, but the original recipe said to just use 1 cup and save the rest.

Pizza Crust:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix all the crust ingredients together and divide into two piles on the cookie sheets.  Pat out to two 8” circles (about ½ inch thick).  Brush with olive oil (or spray with olive oil spray).

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes

Baked crusts

Remove from oven, top the crust with sauce, cooked toppings and a sprinkle of cheese (we used a pretty light sprinkle of cheese to keep the total cheese used to about 1 cup).  Broil for about 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted.

Dig In!!

*Depending on what toppings you use, this recipe comes in at about 300 calories per pizza.  If you used more meat or cheese than we did, it would be higher.  The crust by it self is about 300 calories for the whole recipe.

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Bump Life is a place to support moms and families across all aspects of our lives. A place for tips, expert advice, parenting resources and entertainment. A great place to come for information, support or just a break from our crazy lives. From fitness to finance, from diaper bags to diaper duty, for everything bump, babies and beyond, you'll find it all here at BUMP Life!