Raising a sensitive cloud child.

Last night, I lay in bed with my 5-year old, waiting for her to fall asleep.

“Anna,” I whispered, “Are you awake?”

“No,” she whispered back.

I smiled to myself. I had wanted to chat. But I knew she needed her sleep, so I kept quiet.

Instead, I stared at her eyelashes in the dark and started thinking. Thinking about how amazing she was. How much she had changed and learned in her 5 years in this world. How well she handled having two little sisters join her family. How hard the transition to JK has been for her and her sensitive little personality. Still. In January.

Change is hard for her. When things are different, she gets easily upset. She regresses a little. She doesn’t seem so grown up anymore. Every time we overcome one little hurdle at school (‘Mommy – why is show & share different at big school? Why aren’t I allowed to keep my toy behind my back after I’m done showing it?’) another one seems to come up.

But then there are moments like earlier that day. When her eyes got wide as she told me excitedly about the dinosaurs they learned about today. And when she watched me making popcorn… her belly laugh at the sight of the kernel actually turning into a piece of popcorn.

“Did you see that??” she laughs. “How awesome!”

My grown up little baby girl. She straddles the line between becoming a kid and still needing her Mommy and Daddy for almost everything.

She wants to take the long way to school – stopping to pick up sticks and talk about the stream we pass. Which is great. But then we get to school, and she also wants me to come into her class and stay with her just because she’s not ready to go in when the bell rings. She wants to learn to print all sorts of new words. But even when she needs help, she wants to do it all on her own, because she’s still uncomfortable with her teachers. She wants to bring a stuffy to hold onto during quiet time. But she also wants to put it away when she’s good and ready – not when she’s told to.

After one day when she was having particularly rough time at school (and I felt like a failure), I updated my Facebook status to “How do you solve a problem like Anna?” It was meant as a joke – but a friend left this comment:

“How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?”

And I had a moment of clarity. The answer is – you don’t.

Anna is the first kid, so she has to be the “tester” – she needs to break new ground and figure this brand new world out – paving the way for her two younger sisters. And if she’s going to do it her own way – all the better.

I realized I can’t pin Anna down and I shouldn’t want to. I realized that every time I lose my grown up Anna for a little bit, I’m going to remind myself that I’ve got a cloud on my hands.

And I vow to do my best not to try and pin her down.

 

About the Author:

Heather Dixon is a copywriter at Mabel’s Labels, a smoothie aficionado, a runner and a Mom to three highly advanced little girls (according to her husband and her).

Your Weekend Superfood Prep Plan

What if time is the barrier between you and your superfoods? Maybe it isn’t that you don’t want them or don’t like them but that you don’t have the time to work them into your routine. Your schedule is stretched to the max and it just won’t allow you to eat well, though you know that you should and believe in the benefits of a better diet.

What if I told you that there is a way to have it all at your fingertips when you need it? And that “way” would take you less than an hour on a weekend? If you knew that it would help improve your health, kick start weight loss and shrink your waistline, decrease stress levels and ease your schedule…would you do it?  Read on to discover how.

Here is the superfoods list of the top 10 performers in the category of anti-aging, anti-cancer foods:

(chicken bones)

Onions

Sweet Potatoes

Beets

Fennel

Red Pepper

Broccoli

Leeks

Watermelon

Kiwi

Blueberries

It is simple to have them at the ready as the foundation for every meal you will have this week. You are about to embark on a one hour journey of readiness and healthy meal plans using only your slow cooker and your oven. Store everything in the fridge and watch them all come together into multiple meals with minute effort.

Slow cooker:

(or stovetop but you have to watch it simmer for 3-4 hours)

  1. Place chicken bones and one onion halved (skin and all) into a slow cooker, cover with water, set on high. Walk away. 8 hours later, divide into 2-3 cup portions and place into fridge or freezer.

Oven:

Turn oven on to 400 F and pull out two large cookie sheets:

  1. Rinse sweet potatoes and beets under cold water, poke with a fork and place them whole into the oven on the bottom shelf for 45-60 minutes. (rinse and reserve greens)
  2. Chop two onions, spread onto cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp grapeseed oil. Place into oven on top rack for 30 minutes, stir once. Store empty into containers. (do not wash cookie sheet, reuse for bread croutons)
  3. Cut fennel in half, remove core and discard fronds. Slice bulb into strips and lay onto second cookie sheet.
  4. Chop or rip 3-4 slices of day old whole grain bread into crouton sized chunks, sprinkle with dried herbs and 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Empty onto onion cookie sheet and place back into the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature before storing. Use for salads or soups.

Fridge:

Wash and chop and store in the fridge:

  1. Red peppers, broccoli and leeks. Store each in separate baggies to use as veggies and dip or within meals as below.
  2. Carve watermelon into cubes to use as a fruit snack or in smoothies.
  3. Peel and slice kiwi as above.
  4. Rinse and store blueberries likewise.

Now. What to do with all this prepped super food?

Chicken broth:

  • Sauce: simmer to evaporate into a jus for grilled fish or chicken. Stir in 1 clove of garlic and 1 tsp fresh herb as desired
  • Soup: 4 cups broth + 1 cooked sweet potato +1/4 cup cooked onion +1 tsp curry powder or 4 cups broth + 2 cups chopped broccoli + ¼ cup cooked onion + ½ cup cream
  • Pasta Sauce= ½ cup broth + chopped cooked fennel + can white beans + ¼ cup parmesan cheese

Side dishes:

  • Salad=Cooked fennel + sliced leeks + red pepper + balsamic vinaigrette
  • Mashed sweet potatoes = 2 peeled sweet potatoes + 1 tsp butter + salt and pepper
  • Pan fried beets with beet greens = peel and chop 3 beets, warm in a skillet with 2 tsp butter + chopped leeks + chopped beet greens.
  • Vegetarian= Leeks + oil + canned lentils pan fried

Healthy snacks:

  • Broccoli and Red Peppers with hummus
  • Fruit salad of kiwi, watermelon and blueberries + vanilla yogurt + cinnamon
  • Smoothie blend above ingredients
  • Freeze fruit on a cookie sheet to preserve for future smoothies

 

You want to be ready for anything that the week throws at you! Having all of these items prepped and in the fridge makes those decisions that much easier.  Do you do something similar? What tips can you share to get healthy foods into your diet easily and quickly?

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

The poopy little puppy.

When I got talked into getting a dog almost 2 years ago, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Growing up, I had never had a dog. Heck, I don’t think I had ever properly petted a dog.  But I signed up, got our puppy and, honestly, I can’t imagine our family without him now.

One problem. I recently discovered he has a lot of feelings and responds to them in ways I never anticipated. THAT, I didn’t sign up for.

Our family just returned from a month overseas. While away, we had wonderful friends move into our house and provide Ozzy with the best doggie care possible. Our dog was spoiled with treats, walks and attention. By all reports, he was on his best behavior the entire time we were gone.

Upon our arrival home, I thought we returned to a very sick dog. He had chronic diarrhea, but strangely it only happened when our family was out and he was alone in the house. We kept returning home to a house full of doggie diarrhea. It was absolutely disgusting, but I couldn’t decide whether to feel sorry for the dog, or kill him. Dog friends suggested that he was responding to our absence – that he worried when we left the house, we wouldn’t be coming back and that was what caused his poopy issues. I had never heard of something so ridiculous! After all, he’s a dog – not a human!

The last straw was when I returned home from work to find he had crapped down a heating vent. I booked a vet appointment, proving that I am more likely to get medical attention for my dog than my children. His diarrhea was so bad; he had to have something physically wrong with him. Or so I thought. The vet confirmed what the dog friends had said – it was behavioral. We were dealing with puppy separation anxiety!

So dogs are a little more human than I realized. I have been shocked to learn that his response to our absence is not rare. Many friends relayed similar horrifying stories involving dog poop. Have you ever left your dog for an extended amount of time? How did pup respond? What’s your experience with separation anxiety in dogs?

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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