Dance Party Parenting

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

The Pre-tackle Face!

I’m fairly certain there will be a fair amount of posts in this carnival that talk about how the parents have learned to diffuse toddler tantrums with play.  And how play has helped in some of the most stressful times in their families.  These are wonderful topics, and since that’s what this carnival is about, it’s wonderful these contributors stuck so closely to the theme.  But I want to take this opportunity to talk about how play can be transformative for the parent.  

I’m talking about myself, of course.  I’m not what you would call fun.  Prior to having children, I babysat a lot.  I was good for potty training, bandaging skinned knees, homework help and tidying up after the kids went to bed.  But I never had a reputation for being great at hopscotch or dress up. When I got pregnant with my first child, I bought every book
on pregnancy and childbirth.  I wanted to
be prepared.  I researched, I questioned
and I made my choices. If parenting were all about statistics and theory, I’d be
set.  However, no matter the shear
perfection of your schedule and how organized your routine, there are days that
everything is just thrown to the wind and you have to just deal.  My son was colicky and grumpy.  Everything he does, he takes seriously.  He’s intense about life and the level it
should be lived at.  

I read all my books and followed the suggestions for “playtime”.  I felt awkward and uncomfortable as I tried to sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider to him.  I tried to teach him Pattycake and it just wasn’t even remotely amusing to him or I.  I had high expectations for myself as a parent, and I felt like I wasn’t even connecting enough with my son to have all this fun we were supposed to be having.  For several months I felt like a failure as a parent until one day I discovered the Black Eyed Peas and how much Liam enjoyed the beat of their music.  I had put him in the doorway jumper to see if he could bounce at all and I was shocked at how excited he got!  So there we were, in the kitchen bouncing like nuts to the music and having fun.  Real fun, not scheduled, age appropriate, APA approved fun.  

When my husband came home that night, I think he had thought I had gone insane.  Suddenly, I realized that my parenting wasn’t all about schedules and organization, it was about my son.  We started to play with trucks and I learned how to make silly noises.  I taught him how to splash in the bath water irregardless of the amount of mess it made.  Now we have laughing contests, dance parties, and wrestle.  Liam is still relatively high needs as far as his personality and what he needs from me on a daily basis.  Because we can play together, I can use our physical play to deal with his toddler temper or his over-excitement towards his baby sister.

For myself, I’ve found that when I’ve been too long between play days, I’m a stressed out parent.  I’m not as patient and understanding as I should be.  Just as children need play to work through their stresses and learn how to deal with life, we adults still need play for the same reason.  Liam and I connect far better when I can set aside my to-do list and draw with him or play soccer.  Quite frequently, the answer to the tantrum is to play tag.  He needs the endorphins from the run, just as much as I do!  And never, ever underestimate the power of building a train track masterpiece not only for the sake of your child, but for your own mental health!

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon September 13 with all the carnival links.)

The end of the tomatoes!!!

I had fully intended to do a lot more blogging this summer.  I have a whole list of topics and several posts started.  I do, however, have a wonderful excuse: canning!  In between having a toddler and a newborn, I started working in May and haven’t stopped.  As I type this, the last 6 jars of salsa are processing in the water bath.  I can’t say that I’m sad.  4 bushels of tomatoes as a solo effort is rather overwhelming, but I know how much effort it will be in the years to come.  I only have apples and squash to do yet this year.  I have plans to do at least 4 dozen quarts of applesauce since I’ll have another mouth scarffing it down here pretty soon.  I want to make some apple cider jelly and lots of pumpkin butter.  Then, I’ll be freezing pumpkin and butternut purees.  I’m thinking that I’ll try to make one of Farmer’s Daughter’s pies for Thanksgiving this year!
Just in case you’re interested, here’s the Canning Tally so far this year:
  • 30 pts. medium salsa
  • 6 pts hot salsa
  • 5 1/2 pts spicy ketchup
  • 6 qts tomato puree
  • 18 qts tomato sauce
  • 20 pts diced tomatoes
  • 20 qts diced tomatoes
  • 1 qt freezer jar of roasted tomatoes (recipe below)
  • 16 pts dill pickles
  • 8 qts dill pickles
  • 12 pts strawberry jam
  • 22 1/2 pts blackberry jam
  • 18 pts pickled peppers
  • 20 pts corn kernels
  • 15 pts. sliced peaches
Yesterday as I was elbow deep in tomatoes and floundering for motivation to finish, I decided I couldn’t stand to dice or puree one. more. tomato.  I had flagged recipe for oven roasted tomatoes in my Pinterest account and decided that I was for sure going to do it.  Even if it only saved me from doing 2 dozen or so tomatoes.  I woke up this morning to the amazing smell of garlic and tomatoes and was smug that I’d been productive, even in my sleep.  
Oven Roasted Tomatoes:
  • Roma tomatoes
  • garlic
  • herbs
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Wash the tomatoes, cut out the stem and slice lengthwise.  In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and the herbs of your choice (I used herbes de Provence).  Toss the tomatoes in the mixture and then place them, skin side down on a baking sheet covered in foil.  Then, place the tomatoes in a 200 degree oven at night before you go to bed.  The next morning, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool before putting them in a freezer safe container.  Tomatoes done this way can take the place of sun-dried tomatoes in most dishes.  I did 2 full baking sheets of tomatoes and will admit that I’m wondering if I should do more.  All I can think of are the possibilities!

I’m a Concervative Christian and I want CLEAN AIR!!

Cross Posted at Moms Clean Air Force 

As a new mom, I was excited to visit play groups and moms
clubs to meet other mothers.  I wanted to
connect and be a part of something.  My
diaper bag was full of cloth diapers, a reusable water bottle and homemade
snacks.  When asked, I was honest and told
them my ecofriendliness isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.  As always, this raised eyebrows in my circle
of friends; conservative and Christian. 
Somehow, being environmentally conscious and possessing any religious
affiliation has become impossible.

When I surveyed the moms in my area about the level of
importance environmental issues played in their lives, the primary answer I was
given is that they just don’t consider themselves environmental.  They try to teach their children not to
waste, but when it comes to taking a stand for something like cleaning up the
air we all breathe, they’d rather leave it to the “non-conservative leftists”. 

I understand that not everyone will have the same interests
or the same convictions, but in my opinion, if anyone should be above the curve
when it comes to protecting the Earth and our children, it should be those who
claim to have a personal relationship with God. 
If God created the Earth and all that inhabit it, isn’t it being
disrespectful to pick and choose what we are going to protect?  We spend so much time focusing on human
rights and yet gloss over the conditions in our world that silently threaten
the quality of our lives.

This is my Father’s world, and to
my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.  ~  Maltbie Davenport

If you believe that God created the Earth, then you believe
that when he created our human bodies, He had a reason for everything he
did.  Take a moment and think about
respiration.  The respiratory system is a
delicate balance between the intakes of the air around us, the cleaning of said
air and the expiration of the CO2 our bodies don’t need.  Our breathing is not only vital our survival,
but also part and parcel of balance here on Earth.  Living animals (including humans) must intake
the oxygen in order to survive, expelling carbon dioxide as waste.  In the meantime, plants are doing the exact
opposite.  In doing so, we have a
constantly renewing balance in the atmosphere. 
Because of this balance, the oxygen is simply renewed and never
consumed.  This would lead one to the
conclusion that we’re essentially breathing the same air that the Earth was
created with, except now, through the years, it’s collected other chemicals
that no matter how hard our lungs and the stoma on plants work, never fully
gets scrubbed out.

I don’t want my children breathing air that is intentionally
polluted.  I can’t imagine any mother
wanting this.  But if we insist on
calling ourselves conservatives who have no interest in environmentalism, we
are signing away our voice by our inactivism. 
And when we make the decision to throw away that vote because it’s not
popular at church or the moms group or the grocery, we have no one to blame but
ourselves for wasting this chance we have to stand up for our children’s
future, regardless of our creed.

The air we breathe

this holiday weekend, I know many people in my area are heading up to
Lake Erie to celebrate with their families and friends.  There is an air
show and a few food festivals to enjoy.  I can’t help but wonder how
much local fish will be served at those food festivals, though. 
Recently, I wrote a guest post for Moms Clean Air Force
about how the air pollution around the lake has effected the fish I
grew up eating on sandwiches throughout the summer.  Even though I
really do strive to eat local foods in my daily life, I make a huge
exception when it comes to fish from Ohio’s lake.  

election season is gearing up here in Ohio, I’ve decided to ask the
hopefuls who knock on my door asking for my support some questions.  I
want to know why when I search for ways to get involved in my community,
there are very few ways to be involved in cleaning up our environment. 
There is an outstanding lack of clean energy in my area, a few solar
panels and wind turbines excepted.  So when the gentleman showed up on
my door a few nights ago asking for my vote in his bid to be mayor.  I
asked him point blank why we don’t seem to care about the air quality or
our carbon footprint.  He didn’t have an answer for me.  That was the
tipping point for me.  Since then, I’ve been on the phone with the
health department in my county, emailed the state’s health department,
the EPA and written several letters to my representatives.  I want my
children to be able to enjoy the air they breathe and the Earth we live
on, so I’m taking a stand and fighting with mothers across the country
better EPA standards and pure air for our babies. 
This holiday weekend as we celebrate our troops and the freedom they
fight for, I’m asking you to join us and fight for clean air for our
children.  Will you?

Beautifying the cash system

This week, I was reading a blog that had a cute idea for making pretty cash envelopes.  And then, I thought: I must do this.  You see, I have the theory that no matter how badly you want to do something, if you don’t like what it looks like, you won’t.  Seriously.  Why else do you think they make cute exercise clothes or fun note cards for homework?  We as humans are visual beings and if we can just tap into it, we can really use this to our advantage.  I read through the instructions and then realized that I had no envelopes that  were the correct size for a dollar bill, so I began “the scrounge”.  The scrounge consists of me rifling around in my stashes of crafting things and finding what I need so I don’t have to spend any money.  It makes the hubs proud.  Anyway, I realized that I had a some card stock left over from a project that I just loved and also I had  small plastic box that I could use to keep all of my envelopes and coupons and the check book together.  I could hardly wait for naptime!
I used 12 by 12 inch papers and cut them lengthwise so that I had pieces that now measured 12 inches by 6.5 inches.  
Then, I trimmed and folded the paper up so that it was now only 6.5 inches long.  (I should mention here that I wanted to make sure the envelopes would also fit in my wallet and the wallet could be zipped.)
I sealed the edges with simple scotch tape and then folded the lip down so it was now in the shape of an envelope.  I wanted the envelope to close, so I added the feature of photo corners so it can stay just so.
And then… well… my cricut machine was already out from a project I had worked on earlier in the week, calling my name from the far end of my craft table.  I made cute little labels for the front of the envelopes with contrasting paper, you know, for a little flair.  While I was at it, I made little labels for my coupon envelopes and the dividers for my box.  I made the dividers out of chipboard and just taped them to the insides of the box walls.  I just needed something to keep my envelopes separate, so sturdiness wasn’t a huge concern.

After that, the only thing really left to do was to label the envelopes!  Since my husband takes care of all the bills through our bank’s online bill pay feature, I didn’t have to set anything up for that.  I did, however set aside envelopes for groceries, stock ups (this is for bulk foods, soap nuts, anything I’d need to purchase online), kids clothes, donations, fun money, crafting(this category includes all projects for myself, the family and my MOPs girls) and gifts.  I have a few extra envelopes in case I come up with more categories, but for now, this is all I really split up my part of the budget for.  I’m absurdly excited to take them out for a spin, but since I don’t have my grocery list made out yet, it’s going to be a few days.  My next project is going to be a new check book cover.  I saw an idea on etsy to applique the words “spend wisely” on it and am currently searching for the “perfect” fabric.  Can’t wait to see how that turns out!

Spicing up our weeknight recipes

I’ve been looking for some new recipes that can be made in advance and have some options built in.  As I’ve mentioned in practically ever post that includes beef, this is the easiest ingredient to ensure Liam will eat supper.  Soooo… back to the drawing board with that.  I came up with a mini-meatball recipe that was inspired by a fantastic Remoulade sauce that Matt brought home from the store last weekend.  We shaped them with a small ice cream scoop and then fried them like you normally would.  These mini-meatballs were then turned into 2 recipes: Spicy meatballs over rice and Cajun meatball subs.  I loved them both ways and so did Liam!  I think what really made these fun was the addition of Adobo paste to the meat mixture for an added flavor and kick.  I made the full recipe and then froze half for use this week.  I must say… I’m really beginning to love batch cooking!
Spicy Meatball Recipe:
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried mustard
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. Adobo Paste
  • 1/4-1/3 cup flour (used to bind the meatballs together)
Mix all the ingredients together and then shape into whatever size you’d like.  I chose a mini size to add to the novelty, but that was just for me.  Fry them in a pan with hot oil until they are cooked through and a brown crust as formed on the outside.  Serve in either of the 2 suggestions below.
Spicy Meatballs over Rice:
  • half a recipe of meatballs
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 Tbsp Adobo paste
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
Mix together the puree, Adobo paste, garlic and onion powders and pepper flakes.  Heat through.  Serve the meatballs over the rice with the sauce and garnish with cilantro.
Cajun Meatball Subs
  • Half a recipe of meatballs
  • 4 Hoagie buns, sliced lengthwise
  • Remoulade Sauce
  • Shredded cheese
  • shredded lettuce, tomato slices and diced onions (optional)

Warm the meatballs thoroughly and toss with the cheese.  Remove a small amount of bread from the inside of the buns to form a small indentation.  Place the meatballs and cheese in this space.  Generously spread the remoulade on the bun.  Top with lettuce or tomatoes or onions if desired (or just make a salad on the side).