16 March 2018

Simple Kale Apple Smoothie

"St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time, a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic."
Adrienne Cook

This post was originally created for Babiekins Magazine

I'll be honest, I actually had several ideas for a St. Patrick's Day post and so many yummy treats that I wanted to create, but that little thing called life just got in the way. We just started our spring outdoor soccer season, and despite the cold and snowy days, we are outside practicing. This weekend, St. Patti's day to be exact, kicks off the start of our season for both boys. Over the winter, our other son decided to try out for the same club as his older brother, Internationals Academy, and after receiving word he made the roster, he decided to make the transition. This season brings double the games and double the travel, and it starts on Saturday with a quick trip to Michigan. Despite the cost and commitment, we are extremely proud of both of our boys for their dedication, discipline and passion to play sports at a premier (national) level.

As you can imagine, our days are hectic and chaotic and every spare second I have I dedicate to my children. So no fancy recipes for St. Patricks Day this year, but you're in luck! I am excited to share a recipe that my son created all on his own. In order to maintain his Crohn's disease, it is imperative that he makes wise decisions when it comes to what he puts inside his body. I'm starting to feel like all my hard work is paying off; he must be paying attention to everything I do and say since these are the snacks he is creating. I hope you enjoy it as much as he does! And did I mention it is super simple to make and definitely kid approved!

Kale Apple Smoothie
SCD, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free
yield: 1-2 servings

1 green apple, peeled and cored
1/4 cup kale
1/2 cup plain yogurt (we use homemade yogurt)
1 banana
1/2 cup apple juice
optional: collage, l-glutamine, avocado

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix.
2. Blend until fully combined and smooth.
3. Pour and enjoy!

"Luck is believing you're lucky."
Tennessee Williams

07 March 2018

Blueberry Breakfast Bake | SCD, Gluten-Free

SCD Blueberry Bake
SCD Blueberry Bake
SCD Blueberry Bake
"All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast."
John Gunther

There is something so special and so significant about gathering as a family to enjoy a casual breakfast together. Our family has created many memories over the years and several of those memories are based around our weekend breakfasts. From prepping the food, to baking together and, of course, sitting as a family to enjoy the feast. If I close my eyes I can almost smell the sweet scent of vanilla and hear the sound of my daughter's subtle giggle as she lifts the wooden spoon from the mixing bowl and spreads a shower of dust over the counter. I don't need photographs to document this memory. I don't need to share it on social media. This memory will always be with me, as will many others, in the back of my mind and in the front of my heart.

We still share these special mornings and we still take time to sit down as a family for a breakfast feast, but the days are not as often as I would like. While our busy schedule doesn't always allow time for these moments, we do the best we can. I have found prepping foods the night before drastically helps. It allows me to focus, one-on-one, with my children in the morning and it alleviates the stress of trying to get out the door on time. Well, mostly alleviates the stress.

Recently, a friend of mine shared a recipe with me, and while it did not meet our dietary needs, I knew I could create something similar that would. I am so excited about this recipe because it is SCD friendly, very easy to make and can be prepped and baked ahead of time.

Blueberry Breakfast Bake
SCD, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free
yield: serves 6-8

1 small loaf bread, any SCD bread will do but we like to use banana bread, about 2 cups cubed bread
1 dozen eggs
1/2 cup almond milk (I'm sure you can substitute legal coconut milk)
½ cup honey, we actually use less since the banana bread is sweet
1 cup farmers cheese
1 pint blueberries
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

1. Grease a 9x13 inch dish with coconut oil.
2. Preheat oven to 375.
3. Cut the bread into small cubes and place in the bottom of the greased pan.
4. Evenly distribute the farmers cheese over the bread. Don’t spread the cheese, just place the dollops of cheese on top of the bread.
5. Put the blueberries on top of the cheese.
6. Mix together the eggs, milk, vanilla, honey and salt. Pour over the bread mixture.
7. Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting into squares.

03 March 2018

Parenting In A World of Technology

When I first started this blog, I never imagined that I would be writing on topics like parenting, simple living, healthy lifestyles and clean eating. When I first started this blog, my goal was to find my voice as a new stay-at-home mom. While I was grateful to be home with my children, I didn’t want to lose my identity. Hence, the birth of my blog. And then things changed; my oldest got sick and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and my blog was put on hold. When I finally decided it was time to share my words again, I had changed. Suddenly, talking about children’s fashion and our daily life didn’t seem so important.

And here I am today, talking about parenting.
I am not an expert in parenting, my degrees are not in family and parenting services. These are just built up thoughts and feelings I have observed over the years. As a blogger, I am involved in social media, and for my own personal reasons, have decided to take a giant step away from these tools because I was afraid I was falling into the trap. I saw that I was falling into the trap. I can’t tell you how many times I jump on Instagram and scroll through fabulous feeds by other influential bloggers. But then, I always think, how on earth do they spend so much time on social media?

Last week, as tragedy struck our town, we realized that we are not invincible to the alarming issue of guns being brought into the schools and shootings within the schools. I won’t go into detail about what happened because that is not the intent of this post. Neither is the issue with gun control. But my intent is very clear, we need to turn around and look at ourselves. We need to look at ourselves as parents and leaders to all the children who look up to us and follow our example. Our society has changed and we need to start talking about parenting in today’s society, and we need to start talking now.

Technology can either be a valuable tool or a destructive trap. I know I’ve fallen victim to the trap and I’m guessing you have to. But you know what changed me? My children. How on earth am I supposed to teach them the limits and balance with technology when I don’t follow my own advice? When I tell my children one thing, but do another they won’t follow my words, they’ll follow my actions. The steps to controlling your children’s technology starts with YOU, the parent.

It starts in the home.

Parent Aggressively
Parenting is challenging and parenting today is extremely challenging. We’re faced with kids who are consumed with technology and iPhones and video games, and it’s all in the palm of their hands to use whenever they want. Our kids have access to violence, profanity, indecency and adult material. And we gave this to them. If you gave them the technology then you must follow through as a parent and monitor it. Be in their business, ask questions, check their phone, and check it thoroughly. Will they get mad at you? Sure, they probably will. But you’re doing your job as a parent. They have friends at school, they don’t need another friend, they need a parent. They need someone to set boundaries and limits and they need someone to be in their business.

Set Limits
Technology is now a part of our culture. Cell phones have become the main source of communication in today’s society ad we need to change that. Our children can spend endless hours texting and using social media apps but have a difficult time with face-to-face interactions and basic communication. We can now have an entire conversation in emoji’s and it is mind boggling!

If technology is such an integral part of our children’s lives, then we need to dedicate equal time and effort to parenting this issue. According to a study by Common Sense Media (2016) “Seventy-two percent of teens and 48 percent of parents feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social-networking messages, and other notifications; sixty-nine percent of parents and 78 percent of teens check their devices at least hourly.” And “One out of every two teens feel addicted to his or her device, and the majority of parents (59 percent) feel that their kids are addicted.”

Parents, we have an epidemic! We are addicted to technology and it has changed the way we live, the way we parent, the way we think and the way we act. It has changed our society. As I mentioned above, technology can either be a valuable tool or a destructive trap. Don’t fall into the trap! Our children are extremely vulnerable and we are handing them a tool that their minds cannot fully process. It is a tool that can cause over-stimulation, addiction and detachment. It desensitizes their minds and thoughts, and personally, I feel it is a factor into why our society is at a turning point and it is not necessarily turning in the right direction. And it’s not just the phones, the same goes for video games.

These are a few steps we have taken to limit our time on technology. Again, the kids won’t always be happy with you, but I guess that just comes with the territory.

1. Use a timer and set limits. When I say half-hour I mean a half-hour, not 45 minutes or an hour. I set the kitchen timer and when it goes off the screens, the tv and video games are off. I am very clear, if they can’t follow those instructions then there is no device at all. In our home, technology is a privilege that is earned after you have done all your work; homework, practice sports, chores. Our children are not entitled to it, they must earn it.

2. Limit where devices go. We do not allow any technology in the bedrooms or the dining room. Before we get ready for bed, all devices go on the island in the kitchen and remain there. Some articles have mentioned that exposure to blue light from electronic devices may have a negative impact on our eyes. "Blue light is concerning because the cornea and the lens don’t filter it out, so it goes right to the back of the eye," says Anam Qureshi, MD, clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology at NYU Langone in New York City. She says some experts think it might damage the retina and lead to conditions like macular degeneration—though there isn't any research to back up those concerns. And, according to a report by Common Sense Media, “Nearly half of children 8 and younger, 49%, watch TV or play videogames in the hour before bedtime and 42% of parents say the TV is on "always" or "most of the time" in the home, according to the report.” Sleep is so important to our children, especially if they are active or battling an autoimmune disease like my oldest. Don’t let those pesky devices deprive your children, or yourself, of valuable sleep time.

3. Check devices daily. This has actually become a part of my morning routine. Every day I thoroughly check all devices. I check text messages, emails, the camera roll, recently deleted photos, the internet history and Instagram. When checking social media, I check who follows my child, who they follow, what they post, what others are posting and private messages. Since all our accounts are linked with apple I can set up restrictions with downloading new apps and everything has to get my approval.

4. Be consistent. Whatever your rules are with technology, be consistent. The rules don’t change just because we’re having a sleepover. In fact, I feel like sleepovers are when it can get out of control and that’s when the parents need to be most watchful. Stick to your rules and stick to your punishments.

5. Do your research. Get familiar with the games they want to play and the apps they want to download. We love Common Sense Media. You can research games, apps, movies and books. I also use the IMDB website to search movies that are family and age appropriate. Once you click on the movie, scroll down to parents’ guide and you will find a detailed outline about the movie. When it comes to monitoring your children’s devices there are a several resources out there: Net Nanny, mSpy, Kid Logger, Phone Sheriff and Disney Circle to name a few. Right now, we are using Screen Guide which can be found in the app store. But the main way we monitor is by physically checking the phone, limiting screen time and watch the movies and games they play.

Communicate with Your Children.
We have always been very open and talk with our children about various topics. We even talk about why we have strict rules with technology. By keeping the lines of communication open, our kids feel they can come to us to ask questions and inquire about what apps and games they want to download. Together, we then research to see if it is appropriate. Even outside of technology, it is so important to communicate with your kids. Ask open-ended questions so it forces them to engage in a dialect. I feel like my kids are fascinating and so interesting, I always want to know what they are thinking and what is inside those minds. Get to know your kids!

Keep Them Active.
By engaging our children and keeping them active with sports, school and extracurricular actives they have less time to sit around on their phones or play video games. Yes, our schedule is crazy and chaotic. But I believe it has taught our kids to be organized, manage time, stay focused, prioritize and manage responsibilities.

Be A Positive Role Model.
Be a leader. We can’t lead our children in the right direction if we aren’t following that path ourselves. Get off your phone, because believe it or not, your kids are always watching. They know how much time you spend on your phone, and the computer, and the tv. How on earth can you manage their screen time if your actions send a different message? Lead by example and be a positive digital role model.

Be there For Them.
We can do all of the above and it will never matter if we don’t show our kids just how much we love them. Family is everything. Hug and kiss them every single day. Make them laugh. Stop cleaning and go play a game. When they ask to play tag stop what you are doing and play tag. When they want to shoot hoops, go shoot hoops. And have fun, let them see how much fun you have hanging out with them.