Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Healthy Halloween Treats

Since we have been making smarter, healthier choices at home, I decided that we shouldn't  make the upcoming holidays any exception. That means the norm of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and bags of mini-fun-sized-sugar filled chocolate candies are not going to cut it this year. I've been reading all the health food blogs about their ideas of healthy giveaways and it got me excited. Then I looked into preparation for some of these ideas and they are obviously thought up by either stay-at-home moms or parents who don’t need sleep. So I've concocted my own little list of treats that we are going to give out at both our Pumpkin Decorating Party and at our church Truck’n’Treat…

#5 - Draw a pumpkin face on something orange!

This takes a little time, I'll admit... and it's one of the more expensive options I have listed here, which is why it is #5 on my list. But it's so stinkin' cute. A bag of 12 tangerines at Walmart is $3.99 and a box of 16 Mandarin orange cups (no sugar added) is $7.99 at Sam's.

#4 - Spider rings… seriously, do these ever get old!

These are just old fashioned fun. Kids and adults love putting on these plastic spider rings. But they aren't just for handouts, they are a super easy way to decorate cakes and cupcakes for parties. Not to mention, CHEAP! A bag of 125 spider rings are only $5 at your local party store.

#3 - BUBBLES... Tell me what kid doesn't LOVE bubbles?

I found 12 packs of these little multi-colored bubbles for $3 at a local Party City. This is a cheap, fun gift that you can give to all the kiddos. Bonus, imagine the magical atmosphere with all those kids blowing all those bubbles...

#2 - Halloween stickers!

You can purchase a pack of Halloween stickers and hand out individually... It's super easy to find these at your local party store for cheap! 

#1 - Candy… DUH!

Believe it or not, there is healthy candy out there folks! And if you buy in bulk, it's much cheaper... I got this bag of 325 YummyEarth lollipops (tasted one, actually really YUMMY!) for only $30! This candy is crazy... organic; allergen-free; gluten-free; GMO-free; egg-free; soy-free; nut-free; casein free; dairy free; no artificial dyes or flavors (they use purple carrots and red cabbage for coloring); and they come in 8 awesome flavors. I know these will take me all the way through our Pumpkin Decorating Party and Trunk'n'Treat... and maybe a few to take to work to satisfy a mid-day sweet tooth.

I would love to know what your favorite Halloween treats are for this year. Tell me in the comments below or post your ideas on my Facebook Page! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

50 Shades of Gray

She gently patted the beaded moisture from the creases in her neck, and gazed at her naked body in the mirror. She bent over the sink slightly, holding the damp towel between her bosom. There she stared into her own eyes, glimmering with fantasies, as the gentle sound of the water drained from the bath tub. Clusters of bubbles still gathered on her milky white hips and dangled from the ringlets of hair at the back of her neck. As she examined herself, she noticed a shimmer… a glowing tress. Her insides filled with heat and the glass began to steam from her warm breath. Could it be? No, this was not the right place, not the right time… She fingered it softly and to her repulsion she did confirm that it was true, it was all true. Her head began to spin as she realized what she had just plucked from herself was…

A f*cking gray hair!!! What the hell is it doing there? I’m not a person who has gray hair. This is ridiculous. The only reason I’m accepting this with any dignity is because my husband has come down with the symptoms as well. Gray hairs litter his chest and chin and 3 spots on his head (I know, because I cut his hair).

Needless to say, I will be calling an exterminator (or my colorist) to remedy this terrible incident. Since the hubs has a far worse case than I do, I will blame him for the infection. By Friday, my 50 shades of gray will be 50 shades of beautiful coffee. I'm quite sure that one day I will embrace the silver fox, but that day is not today. Today I am a VERY young mother of a 7 month old baby. Today I am everything but gray...

Is life turning you gray?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

FINALLY... No more maternity clothes!!!

How long where you in maternity clothes AFTER you had your baby? 2 months, 4 months, 9 months...

Okay, this is one of those subjects that I think women just never talk about, even though it's more common than I thought. It’s a sad, pathetic subject that only makes us more self conscious about our post-baby bodies. So why talk about it, why hide the fact that we still sport our stretchy maternity pants 6 months after your baby is born? Because it’s TOTALLY NORMAL, that’s why! {Anyone want to tell me different, come tell me to my face}

I’ve been really self conscious about my body ever since I gave birth to my son. Every part of my body has changed and shifted, and lord knows it will probably never be the same. It is not exactly a bad thing, just really different. My body has changed so much in the past 10 years, but it was gradual. This was instant, and along with everything else that was going on, a shock for some reason.

"39 weeks pregnant"
Yeah, you hear women talk about how “you’re body will never be the same after you have the baby” and “good luck getting back into your pre-baby jeans”… But when you are pregnant, you don’t want to hear that crap. You don’t want to read a post like this. You don’t want to think about anything but good thoughts, and you want people to keep their negative feelings and insecurities to themselves so you can bask in your pregnancy glow.

I sincerely thought that keeping myself in good shape during pregnancy would enable me to succeed in all my goals: natural vaginal birth and easing back into my pre-pregnancy body (and hopefully better). I had myself convinced that I would be able to pick back up walking at least a mile every other day and swimming laps in the pool within a couple weeks of birthing my child. But this, my friends, just didn’t work out the way I planned.

The funniest part is those “negative” and “insecure” women were so right! My body is forever changed. My son is 7 months old and I’m finally (officially) out of maternity jeans and back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. However, I had to lose an extra 10 pounds to fit into them without looking like a stuffed piece of sausage or an overflowing muffin top. Technically, I could have started wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans a couple months ago, but I would have ended up on one of those Bad Walmart Photo websites. Ugh!

Finally, I’m here… and I’m the better for it. It’s taken hard work to get this far and I don’t plan on slowing my progression any time soon. I am eating better now than I have in years, my son is happy and healthy and I’m finally at the psychological stage of accepting my post-baby body! I’m truly in bliss right now. I know that I will never have the body I had 10 years ago, but I’m slowly paving the way to a much healthier place than I have ever been.

What have I been doing, you say? While I have not been overloading my already hectic schedule with tons of cardio, I have been doing some strength training. Thanks to the open-mindedness of my dear friend and co-worker Dar-Dar, I “workout” at least twice a day 4 days a week AT WORK (sometimes we do our routine up to 4 times a day, depending on work). It only takes about 5-7 minutes. We put a song on in my office and do the following:
-          20 Desk Push-Ups, feet together (harder than they sound)
-          20 Squats & 10 Low Pulse
-          20 Calf Raises & 10 High Pulse
-          60 Small Arm Circles
-          30 Second Stretch (including pot stirrers and thigh stretch)

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s better than nothing, and I feel the difference. If I have a couple minutes, I do a couple passes of walking lunges across my office, or 20 jumping jacks to get the blood flowing… I fit it in where I can and it makes me feel better mentally and physically, especially when my job is mostly sitting at a desk all day. The last thing I want to do with the couple hours I have in the afternoons with my son is a workout session. However, I do walk him outside to show him all the trees and garden and grass and things. Also, I’m trying VERY hard to motivate myself to walk him in his stroller in the afternoons more often since the weather is getting cooler, and he is inside all day long. But sometimes we just sit and watch the sky on the back porch. Friday through Sunday is much easier to be constantly active with him, so we stay outside most of the time if we can on the weekends.

I wonder sometimes if my son will ever know how much I have learned because of him. I have never seen the world in such a light. I am amazed every single day because my 7 month old son is teaching ME… about innocence, about appreciation, about humanity and about how wonderful this life really is. It was amazing when I buttoned up my jeans last week and actually felt comfortable. I looked up and my son just started giggling at me. I showed him my zipped up jeans and leaned in to kiss him on the forehead in celebration, and he grabbed my face with his little hands… He was happy that I was happy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Do you know what's in your baby's food?

I knew from the beginning (before I was pregnant) that I would be making baby food from scratch when the day came… and that day is here! Actually, Tuff has been on a palate party for about a month. He’s already gone through some major food assemblies:  a rainbow of squash (including yellow, pumpkin, spaghetti and zucchini), avocado, prune, banana, apple, pear, peach and carrot. He also loves yogurt (Yo-Baby Organic). All of his food so far has been made by my husband and I, and it’s all been organic. When our garden was producing some these veggies (squash and zucchini), we thought this food would last us till the end of the year… eh, not so much. Apparently, he’s a little human now and he wants to eat food like all the other humans do. LOL!

**Steamed Granny and Delicious apples and left over steamed peach puree, frozen into 1 oz. cubes**

**Tuff's treat for his 7-month birthday**

In my relatively small circle of mommy friends and acquaintances, there are only a fair few (let’s count 2-3 moms) that make their kids’ food. Some are eating McDonalds French fries before the age of 1. I’m not mommy-bashing, so don’t take this personally (or do if it’s necessary for you to go about your day), but I’m not trying to give my little baby French fries from a funky fast food chain that not only was fried in vegetable oil that has been sitting there all day, but has also been sitting under a heating lamp for 30 minutes. Plus, it’s loaded with salt and lord knows where the potatoes came from. Don’t even get me started on all the other food at these joints.

Yes, I think about these things all the time. I’ve worked in the fast food business, and stay away from that food as much as I possibly can. I completely understand the convenience of driving through a fast food place and then being on your way, especially with kids. I have a couple weaknesses, I’ll admit. I indulge maybe once a month, but then my face starts feeling oily and my stomach jerks and turns and growls at people in public and I’m reminded of why I stay away from these places. The fast food industry makes it super easy, but they are having a terrible time making it the least bit healthy. Even a salad from one of these places can cost you about 1,000 calories and who knows where the vegetables have come from. They are definitely not organic, because they wouldn’t stay that fresh for so long. Yes, it takes a little extra time to prepare food and snacks before going on a trip… and who doesn’t love a good donut hole every once in a while… or maybe a Little Debbie snack to hold you over until dinner is ready. Thirsty, li’l one? Here’s a Coca-Cola to quench your thirst… This is what we are teaching our children are good eating habits. Then they taste real food with healthy ingredients and they are put off, screaming for another zebra cake or they will never eat food EVER AGAIN!
**Small McD's French Fries: 230 calories; 0% Vitamin A, 8% vitamin C, 2% Calcium, 4% Iron**
(% of daily value)

**Homemade Sweet Potato Fries (20 ct): 180 calories, 80% vitamin A, 65% vitamin C, 8% Calcium, 8% Iron**
(% of daily value)

Like I said, I’m not mommy-bashing. This comes from personal experience. This is how I remember growing up and what was burned into MY brain. I would open up the pantry, and it would be full of boxed treats and cereal coated in sugar and candy bars. The freezer always had frozen pizza bites, and Hot Pockets, and processed food. At my dad’s house, it was more interesting… chocolate chips would often be found in our cornbread and Vienna sausages in our spaghetti. My Granny’s house was probably the most healthy food that we ate. Yes, my PawPaw made me coffee-milk every morning, and took me to McDonalds to get an egg McMuffin some days, and then there are the bear-claws that the Ralph’s Market used to make in their pantry (yum, just drooled). When I was growing up, it was all about convenience. Everyone was too busy to worry about what was in our food, or didn’t think it was anything to be concerned with. I mean, we’re alive and healthy today, right, that’s a good thing…

Here’s where the problem is… I’m 32, 70 lbs overweight and desperately trying to re-train myself when it comes to healthy food options and IT'S FREAKING HARD! Having to teach yourself at this age about portion control, and learning what foods help your body perform at its best is an exhausting process. THIS is why I am taking the time to start my kid’s journey into food the best way I can, and the only way to really know what is in his food and where it comes from is to make it myself. And I must say, his food tastes so much better than any baby food I’ve ever tasted (and yes, I’ve tasted several baby food brands and flavors).

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the upcoming GMO proposition 37 in California (November). I know this is not our state, but if it is decided in California that manufacturers are required to label their products with the words “May contain genetically modified foods”, it will spread like wild fire across the US. I will not go into detail about this subject in this post, otherwise I may be typing forever. However, click on the links provided to read up on a few recent articles concerning GMO's (genetically modified organisms) and labeling.

The reason I’m mentioning the upcoming GMO proposition is because during my research into this subject, my desire to offer and prepare my family healthy organic food has become my new obsession. I’ve been really getting into reading our labels and it’s freaky how much we put into our bodies that we can’t even pronounce. My son’s baby formula is one of the scariest things that I give him. Reading the label on the back of the formula box blows my mind. I know he has to be on this formula for at least 5 more months, and I cannot wait till the day we can start giving him cow’s milk. At least then we have the option of offering him organic milk and can get away from this over-processed powder. This also deepens my passion for feeding him fresh, organic food from the very beginning. This way I know at least part of what he is consuming is natural and from the earth and free of pesticides, additives and growth hormones.

In the short time that we have been decreasing his formula, and increasing his solids, we have noticed a huge change in him. His bowel movements are more regular (and he has stopped straining and crying when he has a BM). He had a touch of eczema on his face and his skin would flare up when he would get upset or hungry or hot, this has completely cleared up. He has had some pretty bad allergies which affected his nasal passages and breathing; both have been getting better by the week. It can’t be a coincidence that these things cleared themselves up at the same time we began introducing organic purees high in antioxidants and vitamin C (I chose to introduce the veggies highest in these categories first to help promote his little immune system).

So I bring this question to you… Do you read ingredient labels before feeding it to your baby/child? Would you want to know if your food contained genetically modified organisms? Do you believe it’s worth the extra money to buy organic, or do you trust conventional produce?