Archives For August 2013

When I was a kid, I didn’t always love lunchtime. My dad had a habit of getting bread with nuts in it, slapping on a piece of meat and too much mayo. By the time lunch came around the sandwich was a gross mess with gray lettuce.

More often than not, it got tossed in the trash. Even if that meant I went hungry.

I have a very real aversion to mayo which I am convinced is related to those sandwiches.

Now that I’m a parent and in charge of lunches I want my kids to not just eat their lunch but to enjoy it. With all of our special requirements, making lunches can sometimes be a challenge but I like to use it as an opportunity to think outside the box and make fun meals.

There are so many options that don’t include bread, meat and mayo.

Mini-peppers, cucumbers, baby carrots, orange slices, Sea Snax, freeze dried fruit, Cliff’s Fruit Rope, organic grass-fed beef hotdog over lightly sauteed tumeric broccoli slaw

Our lunches have a basic format that includes:

  • Fresh Veggies: I always include more than one veggie. It may be sliced Persian cucumbers, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, mini peppers, raw broccoli, and even salad. Yes, my kids actually ask for salad for lunch! (Insider Tip: For kids who aren’t veggie fans including a dipping sauce (mustard, BBQ sauce, dressing) can make veggies fun.)
  • Fresh Fruit: I don’t shy away from fruit although I know it’s sugar. I still think fruit has many health benefits and it’s an easy snack.
  • Main Dish: Sandwiches are played out. Instead, we have wraps with lunch meat (organic meat in lettuce or kale), or shredded chicken over sauteed veggies. Sometimes we have deconstructed nachos with meat over veggies, and use crispy veggies as “chips”. Organic grass-fed beef hot dogs are always a winner. So is spaghetti with zoodles (zucchini for noodles) or quinoa noodles. While it’s not always super warm come lunchtime the kids don’t seem to mind one bit.
  • A Treat: I always include a treat. It’s usually something like a Cliff’s Fruit Rope, or dried fruit with allergen free chocolate chips, or a homemade trail mix for the allergy-free kids.
  • An Extra Snack: I admit it. I’m guilty of over packing. Not just for trips but for lunch too. I often pack an extra snack or two just in case. That way I know my kids won’t be hungry. Snacks include SeaSnax and freeze dried fruit (yes, I know, more sugar!). Brother and Stari can have chips or crackers

I try to pack the night before so I don’t have to stress out in the morning rush. I usually make lunches while dinner is cooking since I’m already in the kitchen and it saves time.

What is your favorite thing to pack for your kids for lunch?

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As a busy mom, it’s easy to get caught up on the everyday humdrum things. There is just so much to do!

When you throw together a handful of kids, a full-time job, chores and bills, and sleep deprivation – oh my! – it’s a lot for anyone to handle.

It’s no wonder that so many of us feel overwhelmed, overworked, undervalued and may not be enjoying our lives as much as we could be (and in all honesty were born to).

There are days when I’ve woken up and  thought, “It’s time to get up already,” “Work is going to suck,” “I’m sooooooooooo tired,” or immediately started crossing off the many things that I needed to get done that day.

Obviously, starting the day like that is not only bad for the psyche but pretty much assures that you’ll have a shitty day.

This is not the way to start a day, the way to live, and is in opposite of having a happy life. It is, however, quite possibly the quick road to depression, burnout and physical and emotional ails.

When Lovebug wakes up she’s pretty much always in a good mood.

Even if she hasn’t slept well, she opens her eyes with a smile, as if to say, “Hello world, I’m so happy to see you again! I am here and I am ready for you!”

She usually rolls over to hug me or pat “Dada” a loving good morning and often starts to clap. Sometimes she calls out for one of her sisters to tell them good morning too.

She is laughing and giggling and happy with joy that is pure. She is living in the moment.

Sure, her diaper may be soaking wet and if it’s been a really bad night her jammies too. She may have tossed and turned due to teething pain, or growing pains, or whatever. She may have fought going to sleep the night before, or had a not so hot day.

But she wakes up everyday with a smile.

In that moment, everything in her life is okay. It’s actually better than okay – it’s great because she woke up and it’s a new day!

She’s just so damn happy. Just to wake up.

Children truly are our teachers. They remind us of the little things, like the fact that waking up is something to be happy about.

Lovebug’s clapping reminds me that I should have gratitude for the day, for the moment, for the love that surrounds me.

Her laughter tells me that I should be mindful and live in the present because it’s a gift. (So cliche but so true!)

I don’t need to start worrying about all the things in the future that may or may not come to be, or immediately start focusing my attention (energy) on things that will be there later. In fact, I shouldn’t focus on those things.

Instead, she tells me to wake up and be happy just because I woke up.

With her sweet baby laughter she reminds me that a new day is reason enough for excitement.

And she’s right.

The great thing is that when you start your day with mindfulness, feeling fully present, you set your intention for the rest of the day. No matter what comes your way, even the not so fun crap that’s out of control like missing your train or burning breakfast or whatever, when you start the day the right way it’s easier to shake it off.

Since we are all energy it makes sense that what we put out we attract back into our lives.

By starting the day with a smile and goodness, you’re attracting positive energy back into your life. All “hippy woo-woo” talk aside, it really is true.

Not only that but it feels so much better than waking up feeling like Oscar the Grouch (even if your bed-head makes you look like him!).

There are a few things that you can do show yourself a little self-love and help get your day started out right:

Meditate

Before your feet touch the ground, take a moment to center yourself and just breathe in silence. I actually try to wake up before Lovebug so that I can have 20 minutes to meditate. I have been doing a Chakra Cleanse meditation (unguided a.k.a. free version) but there is also the mp3 guided version.

{There are lots of different guided meditations available for free on YouTube if you want something to help you along the process.}

When you meditate you’re not only clearing your mind and starting the day in a calm way, but you’re raising your unique energy field which helps you feel good, attract abundance in your life, and keeps toxic things and energy that you’d rather not have around from crashing your happy party.

{Before you tell me you can’t sit still, don’t have 20 minutes, or you can’t quiet your mind – TRY IT! I had a hard time in the beginning (and sometimes still do) but it gets easier with time and I always am happy and feel great afterwards.}

Give Thanks

Express gratitude for five good things in your life out loud or say them quietly to yourself. Write them down or thank the Universe, the One, God, Goddess or whatever higher power you believe in. By expressing gratitude for what you have, you’re welcoming more groovy vibes into to your life.

Cause we are the mirrors of our life, right? Whatever we’re putting out we get back.

Sun Salutation 

Now, I am a pretty newbie yogi but doing a simple Sun Salutation can help get your blood flowing and get your body singing. It’s also a good warm up before meditating so if you do this and then meditate you’re really setting yourself up to feel great.

Journal 

Keep a journal by your bed and write your first thoughts, your dreams, your intentions for the day, or anything you want. Take the moment for quiet reflection and allow your inner creativity or intuition to come to the front.

Listen to Your Favorite Jam 

If you have a song that just gets you going, throw it on while you shower or cook breakfast. Dance around while you get dressed. Feel the music. Feel the love!

Is there a lesson that you’ve learned from a child? Tell me about it in the comments! This is a place to share and learn from each other, so please get involved.

School House Rock

August 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

Last week was the first week of school! Parents everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.

The kids were excited, especially Macaroni who started a new school this year – a school without uniforms!

The weekend before school started both girls carefully picked out the outfits they were going to wear and hung them neatly on hangers complete with accessories.

Since they’re going to the same school they coordinated outfits.

Even Lovebug got in on the action and picked out her very first backpack!

Unfortunately, Brother wouldn’t let me snap any pictures of him.

I think our conversation went something like:

Me: Hey, let me take a picture of you before you leave.

Brother: No.

Me: Aw… c’mon, it’s the first day of school.

Brother: (sighing) Mom, no.

Sometimes teenagers can be somewhat of a buzzkill.  And sometimes they just don’t want their moms putting pictures up on their blog.

Anywho… there were three girls who were more than happy to pose for pictures…

Macaroni went to a summer program with some kids from her school and also there are a couple girls from ballet in her class, so the first day wasn’t quite so scary.

This year will be the first time Macaroni has a male teacher. When she discovered her teacher was a man she was bummed but so far he’s a lot of fun and “weird.”

Weird in the good way – not in the call the PTA and get a petition started way.

When they were brainstorming their ideas and mixing and matching their outfits and accessories it was such fun to watch – especially their outfits that they planned to wear on Kitty Club Day.

The Kitty Club is a club they created and planned on inviting their friends to join. Kitty Club members wear clothes with kitties on them and all the members bring cupcakes on their birthday.

They are also going to start having Kitty Club meetings because, you know, clubs need to have meetings, they told me.

Even though I don’t own any clothes with kitties on them, I’ve still be granted membership in the club.

Both Macaroni and Stari have the same Kitty Club jacket and shirt. Ironically, the day they wore their Kitty Club stuff I ended up wearing the same color pink and also gray.

Coincidence or Kitty Club magic?

Of course the focus on school isn’t about what you wear the first week but it is a fun way to help the girls get excited about school and to stimulate their imagination muscle through fashion.

What kids wear can not only be a form of personal expression but also a learning tool for everything from matching, to how many different ways you can wear one piece of clothing, to learning about colors.

It’s time for school and school rocks!

Cousin L., Macaroni, and Cousin M.

When my daughter was born she was a large, healthy baby. I breastfed her and she hit all her milestones. Towards the end of her first year, I jumped for joy at the idea of weaning my sweet baby girl and starting her on real big people food.

The first attempt with cereal was unsuccessful and, like many babies, she didn’t want to eat.

We tried cereal again another time, and she continued to refuse even the smallest of tastes so we tried other things, but she refused to eat just about anything. She also refused to take any type of formula – dairy or soy. I was unable to wean her.

We tried all types of fruits, vegetables, meats and she refused to eat or would take one bite and spit it out.

The doctors weren’t concerned and she was just labeled a “picky eater” and one to watch as she was slowly falling towards the low end of the growth scale bordering on failure to thrive.

Doctors encouraged us to just feed her food with butter and lot of fat to help her gain weight, patting us on the back as they rushed us out of the door after visits not lasting more than 15 minutes.

They ignored the fear in my eyes or the fact that my mommy instincts were screaming that something was not right.

As a parent, it was stressful that something that should have been natural – feeding my daughter – was such a big challenge. She would rub her face, stick out her tongue and denied food no matter how many times or ways we tried to introduce it.

Meal times were met with stress, anxiety and frustration for all of us. “She’s not going to starve to death,” one doctor assured me.

Eventually we were able to coax her to eat spaghetti and that was all I can remember her truly eating for the first two years of her life.

My daughter also had rosy patches on her cheeks which we were told was eczema and that it would go away. Again, the doctors were unconcerned, prescribed us steroids and creams and sent us on our way with instructions to come back if things didn’t improve.

One day my daughter, being a curious toddler, grabbed a piece of sushi off my plate and wanted to taste it. I didn’t see the harm and, quite the opposite, was overjoyed that she was interested in eating food.

I smiled with delight hoping that she would love sushi as much as her older brother who, at three years-old, proclaimed “squishy” was the best food in the world.

Not so long after eating the sushi my daughter seemed off. She crawled onto my lap and was lethargic and just sat there not smiling, not making baby noises, and her eyes were glassy as she stared off into space. Her breathing was labored.

When I lifted up her shirt and looked at her chest, her breastplate caved in moving in a way that I didn’t know bones could bend.

The internal alarm system that moms have went off with lights and sirens, and I knew she needed to get to a hospital and fast.

When we arrived at the emergency room and were triaged we were immediately rushed to the back and my tiny baby was given a max and started on breathing treatments. They gave her Benadryl and a steroid and told me she was having an allergic reaction to something she had come into contact with.

They strapped her tiny arms to a board an inserted an IV into her arm as she lay there not fighting as much as I would have expected.  A shot of epinephrine sat on the table near us in case she got worse.

By the end of the night, we were discharged with instructions to watch her breathing, bring her back to the hospital the next day for more steroids and breathing treatments, and to call 911 if things went downhill fast.

I didn’t sleep a wink that night counting every rise and fall of her chest until the sun rose high into the sky.

The next day we went back for the additional treatments, and received a referral to see an allergist. And just like that a switch was flipped and the room that was dark suddenly became flooded with light. We could see!

After extensive allergy testing we learned that my daughter was highly allergic to seafood, shellfish, all dairy, all nuts, soy, and wheat.

My daughter didn’t want to eat many of the things we gave her because she was listening to her body.

She was not “picky” as the doctors had told us the first two years of her life; she was fighting for her survival. Their suggestions of butter, milk, and Baby Ensure only made things worse.

I think too often the term “picky eater” is thrown around by parents and doctors without any further thought into why a child may not want to eat. Sure, sometimes they just don’t like the way something tastes or are doing typical toddler things, however sometimes it’s more than that.

If you have a picky eater some things to consider are:

  • Do they reject certain types of food consistently (e.g. things made with wheat)?
  • Do they seem to have frequent gas/constipation?
  • Do they have eczema or other skin issues?
  • Is there a family history of food allergies?
  • Do they scratch at their mouth or belly after eating certain foods?

If you notice any of the above, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor to see if allergy testing is appropriate.

While adults may be out of tune with our bodies, our children are not. Sometimes a picky eater is trying to save their own life.

We’re still figuring out what is and what isn’t working for Macaroni in terms of food. I wish I could say it was easy but it’s really not.

She’s still eating a mostly Paleo/GAPS hybrid diet and it’s healing her but I still feel like something is missing. It may not be that she’s eating something inflammatory but rather that she’s missing a vitamin or mineral.

We’re going to see a Naturopath who will hopefully shed light on the situation, but in the meantime we’re still healing with just food.

gluten-free oats with water, unsweetened cocoa powder, cooked with filtered water and gelatin and topped with hemp seeds and frozen raspberries and sweetened with stevia.

I’ve started to allow her to have a little gluten-free oats just to see how she would react. So far, we haven’t noticed anything new or bad. It’s not going to be an everyday regular thing, but it’s nice to have something new in her diet.

eggs scrambled with broccoli slaw, chicken apple sausage, and kale served with zucchini fritters.

Most of her breakfasts look something like this.

egg fritatta with spinach and chicken apple sausage and kiwi.

She’s having lots of eggs in different forms. We’re not scared of eggs in our house.

sweet potato bun, organic grassfed burger topped with spinach, side of organic green beans cooked.

I was happy to find an alternative to lettuce buns, which we’re both kind of sick of. Since Macaroni has nut allergies, a lot of the typical alternatives to make bread-like products are off the table since the base is often almond or coconut flour.

organic grassfed burger on sweet potato bun with spinach and organic feta cheese, and side of organic greenbeans.

Stari’s burger was topped with organic feta cheese. Both girls declared this meal the most delicious thing ever. I agreed. The sweet potato mixed nicely with the other flavors. To make the “buns” i just mixed cooked sweet potato with egg, lots of savory seasonings and baking soda and cooked on low in a pan.

Macaroni has a wicked sweet tooth and asks for dessert every single night.

Every. Single. Night.

To curb this I’ve been just saying no or offering one of these watermelon popsicles which are a treat but not that bad. I took organic watermelon and blended it until it was a juice and put into molds to freeze. So easy and so delicious!

What have your kids been noshing on? I’d love to hear some ideas for breakfasts!

I was born and raised in San Francisco. Although I often have Wanderlust and love to travel, San Francisco really is a very special place to live. For example, there is something called Sunday City Streets.

About once a month different neighborhood streets are closed to cars and vendors and groups can come out to share information, sell goods, and encourage San Francisco residents to explore and become active in their city and communities.

One of the downsides to San Francisco is that the city has grown less tolerant of kids. Schools have closed and when there are events they are usually not kid-friendly or have very little activities for children. When there are activities for children, they’re usually very expensive.

So when one of my BFF’s invited us to tag along with her. At first I was reluctant to go figuring that it would cost a small fortune for the kids to have any fun, or would be centered around buying things.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to spending money to have a good time but we often do things that cost money and kids are very into being consumers at such a young age that I like to try to do things that aren’t specifically “buy me, buy me” related. I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that good times = $.

To my surprise, there was so much FREE stuff to do.

No, Macaroni’s not giving the finger. She’s really throwing up a peace sign.

There was a carnival area with a jumper and games that were all free, including cotton cotton candy, popcorn and pizza for the kids! We passed on the pizza and took some cotton candy but didn’t end up eating it.

(And, yes, that’s soda with artificial coloring and processed sugars, but sometimes you gotta live a little!)

We learned about kinetic energy and rode a bike to help power speakers. There were live bands playing music and DJ’s slapping dope beats.

We hoola-hooped and played games. We drew on the ground in colored chalk.

We ran into three different sets of friends from our school. We chased bubbles from a bubble machine, and truly appreciated the city. And the way it felt like community and the way it should always feel.

People were smiling and saying hello for no reason in particular. People were not rushing to and fro, angry or stressed out. People were enjoying the moment, and living in the moment.

And living.

Because, you see, too often we’re so busy doing that we forget about the moment. And that in that moment we are living and that moment is our life.

Sometimes we’re too busy doing and going that we forget to live.

I lost my head in San Francisco
Waiting for the fog to roll out
But I found it in a rain cloud
It was smiling down
Do you feel the love? I feel the love
C’mon c’mon, lets start it up!
Let it pour out of your soul

– The Mowgli’s “San Francisco”

But not that Sunday. That Sunday it felt like San Francisco. Like the city people think it is. Like the songs people write about it.

Days like that Sunday, I am reminded why I still live here. Even though every other day I say I want to move and I’m often suffering from a case of Wanderlust there’s just no place like home.

By the end of the day we were so happy and had such a great time that we literally almost got carried away by a huge thing of balloons that a stranger gave us.


What’s your favorite thing about your city?

Cancun, 2004

Cancun, 2004