Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life: September 2011

Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life is about paying attention to what it is that we do on a day to day basis and how we impact each other and the planet. We will talk about all of the things that we do here at home to make ourselves and the world a better place.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Holiday Season is Coming!

Thursdays around our home are cleaning days, these days. And Thursdays around the blog are going to turn to cleaning or greening for a bit. Tonight, I'm finding myself thinking about the upcoming holiday season, and what handmade items I'm planning on creating this year. At our house, there are Halloween decorations to make, Autumn decorations to make, Thanksgiving dinners to contribute to, and then, of course, the winter holidays with all of their decorations, gifts, and food!

I do my best each year to fulfill the handmade pledge by making all of the gifts we give by hand. It usually doesn't 100% work out for me (like the ugly slippers from last year that were simply NOT giftable, or the toys that Papa was set on buying for his brother), but we've made many a great holiday gift! We also make many holiday decorations each year, participate in a handmade ornament swap, and make some excellent food that we only indulge in over the holidays.

So, here I sit contemplating gifts for the littles, and handmade ornaments and decorations for this year. So far, I'm thinking hand puppets for the Bean and the Bug, some grasping toys for Squeaker, and perhaps this will be the year I actually make sets of rainbow dish cloths for the adults on my gift list.

What are you planning?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Evaluating Options

Allowing our children the room to evaluate options for themselves gives them room to learn about a situation, make educated decisions and figure out how they feel without an overload of information.

A trend that we have noticed at our house is that as Papa is serving up a steaming plate, he will often admonish to the children that the food is hot, and they need to wait to eat it. Quite a bit later, said child is chowing down on applesauce, salad, veggie sides, his or her drink, or whatever else is handy. All the while, his or her main dish has grown ice cold and sits untouched. The Bug is afraid that he will be hurt by a "hot" dish and won't eat something even after it has cooled. One must always refer to his food as being "warm". The Bean is afraid that it is still hot until she is told otherwise.

However, when they are left alone with their food and allowed to evaluate for themselves, they are quite capable of taking a very tentative bite, deciding the food is too hot, and testing it periodically to see if it has cooled enough. Of course, we do warn them if it is something that could truly be dangerous, like a very hot cup of soup, but most of the time, they do just fine when they are allowed to evaluate for themselves.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Acorn Hunt!

Today, we went hunting for acorns to add to our classroom and toy collection.

We don't have any oaks on our property, nor any on our usual walking route. Ok, there is one oak with the tiniest little acorns on our route, but I was really hoping for BIG ones. So, a quick "wanted" post on Freecycle yielded some good leads, with one being just a few blocks away from the house. We took our baskets and set off to find some good acorns! It didn't take the kids long to gather up a significant amount.

We took them home and added them to a basket on the shelf. These acorns will become many things - play food, people, decorations, money, even math manipulatives when the time comes! This is the joy of truly open ended toys - they can become so many things beyond what they are.

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 26, 2011

Healthy Recipes: Basic Casserole Formula

I'd like to start doing a series of recipes that I make regularly that are both healthy and inexpensive. Many of them will be made with items that can be purchased with WIC checks if your family qualifies for such. I'll tag these as WIC Friendly Recipes, so you can easily search for them. Many of my "recipes" are actually more of a basic formula than a specific recipe, but I will give a specific recipe as an example.

Today, we will do my basic casserole formula, using a tuna casserole as the basis. The entirety of the tuna casserole can be made with items available to breastfeeding mothers through WIC. Slight variations on the recipe leave it both allergen friendly, and costing little.

2 Cups Cooked Rice (or couscous, quinoa or pasta)
1 Can Tuna (or 1/2 to 1 lb ground beef, chicken, pork or ham, or beans for vegetarian)
2 Cups Frozen Veggies (I love to use a mixture of whatever I have in the freezer or use a pre-mixed variety. Frozen veggies can be replaced with fresh, but this is more time consuming and often more expensive and less nutritious. When mixing, I aim for a variety of colors for optimum nutrition, and a variety of textures as well. One of my favorite combos is peas, carrots, lima beans, green beans, and onions.)
1 to 1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth (or water to make it entirely from WIC food, or beef or veggie broth, or even milk or a milk substitute)
1/4 to 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheese (or cheese substitute, or omit altogether)

Stir all ingredients together in a casserole dish (I prefer my 9x13 rectangle, but this works equally well in a bowl, or other shape as long as it is big enough to hold everything).

A great step to add here is to make double the recipe and to pop half of it into the casserole dish and the other half into a zippered freezer bag, mark what it is and pop it in the freezer for a super fast meal another night. If you do this, when you are ready to use the freezer portion, thaw it completely then finish the recipe.

Bake at 350*F for 20 - 30 minutes. Tuna will take less time as you are only heating all of the ingredients and melting your cheese, so it will be closer to 20 minutes. If you use a raw meat, such as ground beef, it will need to be thoroughly browned so you will want to give it closer to 30 minutes. Don't worry, you will be able to tell when it is done as there will be a lovely crusty layer over the top and the meat will be browned and the cheese melted.

Let it set while you set the table and serve it up. Then watch the kids devour it!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hurry up! Hurry up! I mean it! Quack, quack, quack!

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.


I find myself, on many an outing, with a baby wrapped to me, a shopping cart in front of me, and two other children a growing distance behind me, no matter how slowly I am walking. Refrains of, "Come along, Littles!" "Please hurry up, guys!" "Really, come on!" issue from me every few moments as their steps grow slower. I've tried getting angry. That does make them grow surly, but not any faster. I've tried ignoring and just continuing at my own pace, but worried that I'd lose them altogether if I didn't remind them that they needed to leave with me. I've tried a constant litany of encouragement, but I get tired of hearing myself talk - and they don't walk any faster. So these days, after a few requests to keep up (because I am walking at a reasonable pace), I quack at them. A quick call of "Quack, quack, quack," brings two happy ducklings rushing up behind me to line up and follow through the store, merrily calling out "Quack, quack, quack!"

Sometimes, putting the fun back in the job is the easiest way to get the chore done.


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:

Labels: ,

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Warm Winter Wardrobe for Kids

Fall is fast approaching, here in the northern hemisphere, and that means a change of wardrobe. With children, it is almost essential to procure a larger size clothing every year. Even with hand-me downs, we still need to make sure that there is enough clothing to go round. I find that it is best to keep a week's worth of clothing for every member of the house, and that it is important to try on and inventory the clothing as the seasons are changing. I've had a time or two where I didn't do an inventory and had a child with no shorts when summer arrived, or with no jacket when a crisp autumn morning came along. I'm also very particular about my children staying warm and looking nice. So, I've developed the following list to use as a guideline when making sure the kids have enough clothing every year, without having too much or spending a fortune.

Each child should have:
2 Cotton Sweaters
2-3 Wool Sweaters
7 Pants or 3-4 Wool Longies (if still diapered)
7 Long Sleeve T Shirts
2 Dress Shirts (usually lighter weight fabric, can be worn over a solid color T)
7 Pair Socks (colors to coordinate with shirts)
7 Pair Underpants
5-7 Pair Pajamas
1 Pair Wool Slippers
1 Pair Snow Boots
1 Pair Rain Boots, optional
1 Pair Dress Shoes
1 Pair Play Shoes
1 Coat
1 Jacket
1 Pair Mittens
1 Warm Earflap Hat
1 Scarf

The Bean also usually has 2-3 jumpers. The kids also usually have a few sweater vests, just because they love them. The Bug is occasionally into wearing a flannel over a T shirt.

To keep the costs low, I tend to buy fairly gender neutral clothing, and save it for the smaller children. The Bug tends to be 1 size behind the Bean, so he often ends up with her clothes from the year before. I make their wool sweaters, slippers, hats, mittens, and scarves. I try to make most of these items sized so that they will last 2 years. I also sew a lot of their clothing - their favorites are corduroy pants with flannel lining. The pants are a pretty basic pattern with an elastic waist so that it easily grows with them, and they can put them on and off themselves. The pants, Ts and cotton sweaters that I don't make usually come from thrift stores and garage sales. The only things we buy new are shoes, socks and underpants (for the Bean. I make boxers for the Bug).

I try to pick a palette to work from that all of the clothing works with. I aim for basic pieces without a lot of logos or pictures. That way, most shirts will match most pants, and our odds of having crazy toddler outfits is pretty low.

At this point, I think that we are all set and ready for the approaching cool weather!

Labels: ,