Category Archives: PARENTING for HEALTHY KIDS

PARENTING for HEALTHY KIDS

Tips for Being Fabulously Frugal!

piggy bank

Money just doesn’t stretch far anymore.  It seems like I can’t leave the house without spending at least $50 – and that’s when I’m just going out for fruits and vegetables.  My average Costco bill runs around $200 – $400 a WEEK and a light sushi lunch with my husband and 2 small children is NEVER under $60.  Even something like going to a movie or taking the kids bowling somehow runs us around $100 after a few snacks!  It’s frustrating because I don’t want to stay home all the time but I need to find a way to have a little fun while avoiding sinking into debt.

That’s why I try to ‘pinch pennies’ wherever I can.  It’s not about being ‘cheap’.  It’s about being mindful of my spending in order to save money whenever possible.  Being mindful of where my money is going, and making small changes in my habits in order to save it, has been a huge step in having more money so I can treat myself (and/or my family) to something special once in a while.

It might seem like tiny changes in your habits won’t make a difference but it DOES.  Even small savings add up to big savings over time.  EVERY.  PENNY.  COUNTS.

Below are a few suggestions on ways to be frugal that are really working for me!

  • Split your coins up into separate jars for nickels, dimes, quarters, etc. and put all your spare change in them.  Every six months or so roll all your spare change and take it to the bank.  You’ll be shocked at how much you have!   TIP:  Involve your kids so they can see first-hand how even small amounts of money can really add up over time!  (My kids both have piggy banks and whenever they get/find money, they put it in there to save for something special.  It really helps teach them about the value of a dollar).

money in jars

  • Whenever you can, buy items in bulk instead of pre-packaged.  Some items I buy in bulk that saves me TONNES of money are rice, quinoa, pastas, dried fruits, nuts, seeds (such as pumpkin or sunflower), granola, chocolate chips and pretty much everything for baking – and most importantly, SPICES!!!!  Buying spices from bulk bins will save you HUGE amounts of money.  (I buy clear jars and containers from the dollar store to store everything in!).

bulk bins

food in bulk

  • Buy yearly memberships (to the gym, for instance).  The more you pay up front the more you save.  (If I bought a monthly gym membership it would cost me $55.80 per month.  If I buy a yearly membership, the cost is $515.84.  I save $153.76 buy paying for a year up front).
  • When looking for something you need (such as gardening equipment, kids bikes or sports equipment, items for your pets, etc.), try looking for good quality USED items instead of buying new and you can potentially save a LOT of money.  For certain things Craigslist and other second-hand stores (Once Upon A Child is Coquitlam is one of my favourites) can offer amazing deals.  (For example, when I needed a new dresser for the kids room, I found a beautiful and well-built one for $40 at the Salvation Army!  With a little love and some paint, it looked brand new and I saved hundreds of dollars).
  • Shop around for the best deals.  Buy things like pop, chocolate bars, candy, holiday supplies, kitchen gadgets and gardening equipment at the dollar store.  You’ll save a LOT of money.   (The cost of a chocolate bar at Dollarama is around .75 cents.  You’ll pay $1.50 for the exact same thing at 7/11).
  • Wait until after holidays to stock up on things like wrapping paper, Christmas lights, Halloween decorations, cards, etc.  You’ll save 40% – 70% and have everything ready to go for the following year!
  • Keep your freezer bags to reuse them (if you’ve frozen something on a tray ahead of time and marked the bag, just keep using the same bag over and over again.  I’ve been using the same freezer bags for 3 years now!
  • wait for things to come on sale and grab non-perishable items whenever you see a good deal.  (I found a case of 12 cans of mushrooms soup the other day for $4.99!  That’s $0.41 per can.  The average cost is $1.29 – $1.69 per can)!
  • Buy meat and fish in large quantities, then divide into individual meal portions and freeze.  Buy anything you can in large quantities to save money (toilet paper, canned goods, rice, etc) as long as it won’t go off/bad before you use it.
  • Zest your citrus fruit before you use the juice – even if you don’t need the zest in the recipe.  You can use this zest in everything from dips to salads to a topping for fish!   If fresh herbs are starting to rot, puree them in the food processor with olive oil and freeze them into ice-cube trays.  Then pop them out as needed to use in soups, stews, sauces, etc.  Do the same thing with older fruit.  Then pop into smoothies right from the freezer!
  • When buying roast chicken from the Super Market, always save the bones.  Also, save your onion, carrot, celery scraps and parsley stems in a zip lock bag in the freezer and just add to it each time.  When you have enough scraps, you can make a homemade chicken stock to use in everything from soups, to cooking quinoa/rice/beans, to reducing and deglazing a pan for a nice sauce.
  • Always use a spatula to scrape out the last bits of sauce, or whatever your using, from jars/containers.  Those little bits add up to a lot and will save you money over time.  (See my blog post about using a spatula to save money).
  • save water by not running it while brushing your teeth and ensure you don’t have any leaky taps/faucets.  Also, get a ‘rain catcher’ of some kind and use the water to water plants (I use my extra garbage can and keep it in the backyard to catch rain which I use to water my gardens).
  • Shop for items in places that offer rewards/points.  For example, where I live in British Columbia, Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart for hygiene and beauty products.  Super Store has a points reward system for President’s Choice products.  Costco has a membership fee but you get a rebate check in the mail that ends up being more than the cost of a member ship.
  • when your shampoo, body wash, face soap, hand cream or anything in squeeze bottles seems empty, just add a few teaspoons of water and shake.  You should get 2 – 6 more portions out of it!  If it’s in a plastic container with a pump, cut the bottom off with scissors.  You’ll get another few WEEKS worth of product that you would have otherwise thrown away!
saving money on hand cream

hand cream at bottom of container that seemed empty!

These are just a few ways I practice being frugal.  As I mentioned above, it might not seem like you’re saving much money at the time, but over a year the savings add up to THOUSANDS of dollars.  

Being conscious of your spending will also encourage you to really think about how much you need something before purchasing it and hopefully will make it easier to avoid impulse buying.  It’s also setting a good example for your kids to follow.  Lastly, it’s often much more environmentally friendly to be frugal.  Recycling, reusing and wasting less is always a good idea (:

 

 

 

 

Sneaky ways to get kids to eat more vegetables without them even noticing!

 

no veggies for me

I’m always striving/struggling to ensure my family gets enough fruits and vegetables in their diet.  In a perfect world my kids would joyfully eat whatever vegetables I serve, but unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.

I find it so much easier to get my kids to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the summer when the Farmer’s Markets are overflowing with colour and beauty.  Everything is less expensive and perfectly ripe and my children are much more eager to experiment with new tastes and textures.  The cold weather months are another story, however.  I find it amazing (and frustrating) that my son couldn’t wait to eat the zucchini he picked from our backyard garden this past summer but when I presented the same thing from the grocery store the other day he proclaimed that he ‘hates zucchini’.  Ugh.  Another vegetable currently on the ‘no bueno’ list.

Despite my boys whining and complaining when they have to eat vegetables other than corn and raw carrots, I make them eat them anyway because I know they need the vitamins and nutrients from a wide assortment of vegetables during the cold winter months more than ever.

To make it less of a ‘chore’ for them – and for me (I CAN’T STAND whining at the dinner table), I try to ‘hide’ vegetables a little better when they’re more inclined to complain about them.  They stay healthy.  I stay sane.  Win win.

vegetables

Below are some of my favourite and sneakiest ways to incorporate vegetables into their meals without them blinking an eye!  (;

  • I have found that zucchini and cauliflower are two of the easiest vegetables to sneak into just about anything without kids noticing.  As long as you grate/shred/puree it so they won’t notice the texture, they can go practically unnoticed because they really don’t have much flavour to begin with.  I shred zucchini on a cheese grater and/or puree raw cauliflower in a food processor and add it to quinoa or rice.  I Just garnish with feta or parm cheese and the kids never even know it’s in there.
  • I make homemade tomato sauce and instead of just using tomatoes, I sneak some mushrooms, carrots, mixed bell peppers and/or zucchini in which turns it into more of a marinara sauce.  The tomato completely overwhelms the taste of the other veggies and if you puree it all, they’ll never know it’s not just tomatoes.
  • I dice very small pieces of bell peppers into everything.  My kids don’t mind bell peppers so this is an easy one for me.  However, if I try to add large chunks or strips they seem to pick at their food more.  I cut peppers up into teeny-tiny pieces to make it nearly impossible for them to detect them or pick them out.  I add peppers to soups, sauces, wraps, quinoa, rice, farro, pasta and anything else I can think of.  I especially like to add them into cream sauces where they don’t notice them at all.
  • I puree broccoli/cauliflower and/or peas and add it into the cheese sauce in a casserole.   When I make casseroles, or even lasagna’s, I puree green veggies into the cheese sauce (or tomato sauce).  My kids will eat anything with enough cheese on/in it!
  • I make zucchini and parmesan fritters – just tell your kids they’re cheese fritters with herbs.  The zucchini is just a side note to the cheese so the kids love this recipe.
  • I make Turkey burgers with sautéed veggies added into the mix (mixed bell peppers, cauliflower, corn…).  They can’t see the vegetables so they have no problem eating them.  I even do this with beef burgers when I want to add extra nutrition.  Again, add some cheese on top and you’re good to go!
  • I make delicious homemade chili LOADED with vegetables.  My kids will eat just about any vegetable mixed in with ground beef.  I top it with cheddar cheese and sour cream or Greek yogurt and they love it when it’s cold outside.
  • There’s nothing more comforting in the cold than a nice hot bowl of homemade soup.  I puree the veggies into the soup broth of homemade soup then add pasta and chicken to it because my kids don’t like eating chunks of stuff in their soup.
  • I puree spinach with basil to make a pesto and add to their favourite pasta.  My kids absolutely love this pesto with linguine.  I add fish or chicken to it and it’s a delicious and simple meal filled with tonnes of spinach.

Slow down and live in the moment – before the moment is gone

hourglass

I’m an admitted control freak.  I like to be in control of everything including everyone around me.  I make lists for lists and plan everything way in advance to ensure everything goes exactly my way.  Being in control helps me cope with obsessive compulsive tendencies and anxiety.  But the problem with trying desperately to be in control of everything is that when something or someone veers from my idea of how things are ‘supposed to be’, it sends me into anxiety overdrive and I become antsy, irritable, sad and even angry.  I HATE not having control.  But I’m realizing that in order to enjoy life more, I’m just going to have to learn to give some of it up and stop trying to control the uncontrollable.

Recently, I stepped back and began to see things differently (like most people, I’m always striving to become a better, happier and more enlightened person as I go through life).  I began to see how much I was trying, in vain, to control everything and make everyone, including myself, ‘perfect’ much to the frustration of myself and my family.   It was MY ‘idea’ of perfect.  Not anyone else’s.  All it was doing was giving me more anxiety and making me feel helpless because I was trying to achieve the unachievable.  NO ONE is perfect.  There is no such thing.  I wasn’t being a fun and enjoyable mother or partner.  I wasn’t giving my kids (or my husband) what they needed most – my full attention and happiness.

Every day my husband comes to kiss me goodbye before he leaves for work.  I’m almost always busy doing something.  I don’t bother to even look up most of the time.  Then a while back I did look up and I saw a sad look on his face.  I thought about it for a minute and suddenly I wanted to run up to him and wrap my arms around his neck and kiss him hard and tell him I love him.  I ran down the stairs and opened the front door.  It was too late.  He was gone.  I felt tears well up in my eyes.  What had I been doing?  Was whatever I was busy with every day (laundry, cooking, dishes…) too important to pause for ONE MINUTE to give a genuine good-bye and show my appreciation, admiration and love for my partner?  What if that was the last time I ever saw him?    So I’m going to try and do better moving forward.  Now I stop whatever it is I’m doing to let him know I not only want those hugs and kisses before he leaves me, I need them.  I long for them.  They make me feel loved and nurtured and safe.  I want him to know that and I want him to feel the same way, so I look him in the eye now.  I tell him I love him.  It only takes a moment but it means everything – to both of us.

Every night I make dinner and then call the kids to the table to eat (my husband leaves for work at 4pm Tuesday – Saturday).  I’ve always felt a compulsion to finish all the dishes before I sit down so that I don’t have to ‘worry’ about doing them after dinner.  The kids always ask me to come eat with them and I always say I’ll be there as soon as I’m done.  But by the time I finish up they’re half way through dinner and mine is cold.  I was literally doing this up until a few days ago.  Then the other day I overheard a conversation my boys were having at the dinner table.  I was missing it.  I wasn’t there for them.  I realized I was being completely ridiculous and selfish.  I was missing part of one of my absolute favourite things in the world EVERY night – dinner with my children.  The damn dishes could wait.  Now I’m trying something different.  I still try to tidy things as I go along to minimize my anxiety about the clean up after dinner, but I sit down WITH them.  I push all the thoughts about the stuff I have to get done away from my mind.  I take my time and eat my meal while it’s still warm and we talk about our day and our dreams and our life.  Every night. I can see a noticeable and amazing change in both the boys when I’m at the table with them and we have our best conversations there.  It’s our special time together and I’ll never take it for granted again.

I just want to give them my best self before they no longer want to talk to me for hours on end and cuddle me at night and kiss me and hug me 20 times a day.  Before they’d rather be somewhere (anywhere!) else than snuggled in with me for movie night.  Before they don’t want me to help them get dressed and brush their teeth and tuck them in to bed.  Before I never get to watch them play at a park or ride their tiny bikes again.

I was walking my 6 year old son to school the other day and he asked when it would be okay for him to walk alone.  It was an innocent question asked as he watched other kids walking to school without their parents.  I nearly burst into tears right then and there.  He’s slipping away, I thought.  Each day he needs me a little less.  Suddenly I felt the urge to grab his hand in mine and hold it tight; and never let go.  But that’s the thing with life.  Eventually you have to let everything go.  So hold on to every precious moment for as long as you can.  Don’t rush them.

Some days I look at my kids and for a brief moment I imagine my life with them all grown up and gone and my heart nearly explodes and I find it hard to breath.  The thought is unbearable so I quickly push it away.  But in those brief moments I realize how amazing they are and how lucky I am and how I never want to take a single minute of it for granted even though I do.  I take so many of those moments for granted.  I wonder how and why I get so angry about the dumbest things.  I wonder why I’m always in a rush to get everything done when there’s always going to be something else to get done anyway.  I wonder why I always nag at them to hurry through dinner or pull away first when they hug me because we’re running late.  (Is there such a thing as a hug from a child that lasts too long?)  I need to STOP.  Just stop trying to make everything be neat and perfect.  Stop rushing through the best part of my life until it’s a complete blur.  Stop trying to control these wonderful, amazing perfect little things to a fault.  Stop trying to turn them into ME – because I truly don’t want that for them anyway.  The last thing I need is more of me around!  Haha.

I don’t want them to remember me with my frowning, disapproving face or stern voice.  I don’t want them to remember me rushing them out the door or threatening to withhold dessert if they don’t get something done the way I want it done.  I want them to remember me dancing and smiling and laughing.  I want them to remember my patience and empathy and compassion.  I want them to remember me hugging them and tucking them in and listening to them and loving them.  Loving them so much.  Because I do.  I do with all my heart.  I don’t ever want to lose sight of that.

Some day this messy, crazy, unpredictable, beautiful life will all be nothing but a memory so I want as many good memories as I can possibly cram into my head.  I’m no longer going to try to control everything and move through life at breakneck speed.  I’m going to take deep breaths when things don’t go my way and just go with the flow.  I’m going to embrace imperfection.  I’m going to try to worry less about things that are out of my control.  I’m not going to be angry or upset because things don’t go my way and my kids don’t want to do things exactly the way I would do it.  They’re their own people and their way is okay too.  (Same goes with my husband!).  I’m going to try to be nicer, calmer, gentler, happier and more optimistic.  I’m going to try.  I don’t want to reach my destination and realize I didn’t take the time to enjoy the journey.  I don’t want to live with regret.

Now if I could only figure out how to still my mind long enough to meditate for even a minute…. I’m going to work on that too.  Baby steps… Haha.

Tips to help ensure you, and your kids, are eating enough healthy meals!

veggie & fruit plate with dill yogurt dip and homemade caesar dressing

veggie & fruit plate with dill yogurt dip and homemade caesar dressing

It’s that time of year again! (Already?!?!) The kids are heading back to school and the various sports and activities are starting up.  This means everyone is about to be shorter on time and energy 🙁

It’s not always easy finding the time to eat right, never mind finding the time to cook a balanced meal 7 nights a week (or at least 5 – the other 1 or 2 nights, for my family anyway, are for splurging on ‘treat’ food!).  Not to mention the nutritious breakfasts and school lunches we have to make all week.  I don’t know about you but during the school year, despite setting the alarm and getting up on time, I/we seem to be running late a lot and I’m caught trying to figure out what the heck I can throw together for breakfast and/or pack my kids for lunch that will be filling, healthy, tasty AND take under 5 minutes to make.  Haha  (I really wish peanut butter wasn’t a no-no at school!).

The key to making healthy food choices (and life easier for yourself) is to do a little planning ahead.  Just a bit of extra work on the weekend will ensure things run much smoother for the following week!

Below are some tips that have really helped me (I hope they can help you too!):

STOCK UP ON HEALTHY FOOD – for breakfast and packed lunches

  • I stock up on a few pre-packaged, healthy snacks that I know my kids like.  These come in handy when I’m running late and need to grab something quick for them.  I don’t use these all the time.  I Keep them for when I’m ‘in a pinch’.  Examples are granola bars, dehydrated fruit (which I buy from the bulk aisle to save a lot of money), whole grain crackers, pre-packaged cheese (like Babybel).  Obviously, choose things your kid enjoys.
  • I stock up on yogurt, cottage cheese, fruits and lots of veggies (I ALWAYS have apples and bananas on hand, at the very least).  I also always have peanut butter, jam, frozen fruit for smoothies, hard boiled eggs, instant oatmeal and healthy NON SUGARY cereal (such as whole grain cheerios), so the kids can get a quick, but healthy, breakfast.

MAKE FOOD IN LARGE BATCHES AND FREEZE – for dinners 

  • There are certain foods I always make in large batches so I can pull them out at any time for a quick, nutritious meal, snack or dessert.  Having a few frozen ‘go to’ items that are still healthy ensures you can make healthy choices and don’t end up eating fast food, without having to sacrifice time (pizza, chicken fingers, fries, etc. also don’t count in our house.  Those are considered ‘treat foods’).  Some examples of things I make in bulk are meatballs, lasagna, pizza doughcasserole, tomato sauce, hamburger patties (or turkey burger, quinoa burger, etc), and pesto.  I also always make healthy muffins in large batches and freeze so I can grab a one for breakfast, lunch or just a snack whenever I want!

PREPARE FOOD FOR THE WEEK ON SUNDAY

  • I cut up some veggies that will last several days such as peppers, carrots and celery.
  • I ensure I have everything ready for several kinds of sandwiches.  I pull out English muffins, wraps, bread and even a few buns from the freezer to ensure there is variety for breakfasts and lunches for the week (I keep ALL my bread products that I’m not using within 3 days in the freezer to keep everything fresh!).  I make tuna salad or salmon salad and egg salad (I love egg salad because I can use it for breakfast OR lunch) and I ensure I have some deli meat such as lean turkey, chicken and/or ham in the fridge at all times.  As long as I do this prep on Sunday, I know it will only take me seconds to make great sandwiches all week!
  • Prepare a few starches ahead of time.  Too often I’ve been short on time and turned to Kraft Dinner or instant rice as a side dish.  While there is nothing wrong with this once in a while, I try to avoid ‘instant, pre-packaged’ foods whenever I can.  Now I make a large batch of brown rice, quinoa and sometimes even pasta (like rotini or bowtie) all at once.  I keep it simple because I can add vegetables or sauce to any of these starches when I’m reheating them.  If I haven’t used some of them within a few days, I add whatever I have leftover into a salad or soup.  There are endless options for using these things up so I never worry about them going bad before I get a chance to eat them!  I also defrost the meat and/or fish I’ll be using for the next few days on Sunday so I don’t have to remember to defrost/buy it later.

WRITE A WEEKLY MEAL PLAN!

  •  Some days just feel so busy that the last thing you want to worry about is what to make for lunch and/or dinner.  Take the guess work out by making a weekly meal plan!  If you do this, you’ll know exactly what to shop for for the week and you can defrost/buy whatever meat and fish you’ll be using for the next 5 days so don’t have to worry about doing it each day.  You’ll also know what starches and how many you’ll need and can pre-make them accordingly.   It saves a LOT of time and mental energy.

I hope some of these tips help you!

 

Want to raise adventurous, healthy eaters?! Involve your children in the shopping and cooking process!

deciding which corn to choose

deciding which corn to choose

checking for ripeness and quality!

checking for ripeness and quality!

Two years ago (when my boys were ages 4 and 2) I started growing herbs in pots on the balcony.  I had always been trying to sneak herbs and ‘green stuff’ into their food and it was usually met with a sour face and a lot of whining.  Until one day I was watering the herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, etc) and my son asked if he could taste them.  ‘Of course!’, I practically shouted.  I was excited – and a little nervous.  Would he dislike them all, solidifying his ‘nothing green in my food’ stance?  To my surprise, and sheer joy, he liked every single herb he tried, and after watching the older one, my younger child started eating the herbs too.  After that day they would randomly go out to the balcony from time to time just to smell, pick and taste the various herbs (:

They soon knew all the different names of the herbs and could differentiate between them.  I began letting them water the plants, and even pick them, to add into whatever I was cooking.  Never again did they complain about the ‘green stuff’ in their meals because I had given them knowledge about what they were eating and involved them in the ‘farm to table’ process.  They felt empowered and informed at meal times instead of being ‘force fed’ the ‘green stuff’.

I decided to apply the same idea to fruits and vegetables.  Instead of telling them to ‘sit in the cart and behave’ when we went fruit and vegetable shopping, I started letting them grab everything for me.  Soon they could identify almost every fruit and vegetable in the grocery store.  Even the more exotic ones.  They started to get more and more curious about what things were and what they tasted like.  So I started a game of sorts.  Every time we would go shopping I would have them pick out one or two fruits and/or vegetables they weren’t familiar with and together we would figure out a way to use it in a recipe (or just try it on its own).  I also started giving them choices of what they would like to eat for dinner. ( “Would you like cauliflower, carrots, broccoli or peppers tonight?”).  By giving them the power of choice, they no longer complained when they were served vegetables because they were part of the decision making process.  They were in control of what they were eating and no longer felt the need to rebel against it.

Now that my children are a bit older (4 and 6) I let them pick vegetables from the garden, send them on a hunt for fruit and veggies of their choice at the store, and let them help prep in the kitchen.  (They husk corn, nib beans, peel carrots, etc).

I also try to show my kids that even though you might not like something one way, you shouldn’t give up on it!  I tell them a child’s palate will change a lot over time so something they don’t like one week, they might love the next.  I strongly encourage them to keep trying new things.  I like to prepare something a bunch of different ways and let them decide how they like it best!  My youngest son can’t stand cooked carrots, but if I serve them raw with dip, he’ll eat 2 cups; and he’ll only eat cucumbers if I pickle them for him (I usually just pour a little vinegar on them!).  My oldest won’t go near raw tomatoes but loves them in tomato sauce.   Just keep trying new things in new ways and involving your kids in the process until you find something that works for them!

Empower your children.  Educate them on what all the different fruits and vegetables are and where they come from.  Show them what to look for when choosing good quality produce.  Let them handle it.  Smell it.  Squeeze it.  Let them help shop and prepare food with you!  It’s quality time spent together and it’s setting them up for a lifetime of healthy food choices and great cooking skills.  You’ll be shocked at how much more willing they are to try new foods when they feel respected and involved.

inspecting a piece of watermelon

inspecting a piece of watermelon

picking kale from the garden

picking kale from the garden

The family that plays together stays healthy together!

playing at park with Cassius

A while back I was at the park with my two kids and I noticed something that made me pause and take note.  As I looked around, I realized that almost every single adult there was on their phone instead of engaging with their children.  Unfortunately, I have been guilty of this many times as well.  Usually a trip to the park is a chance to get my kids out for some exercise and fresh air while I get some much deserved time to myself.  After all, the park can be  incredibly boring for an adult.  There’s only so much watching my kids go down the slide I can handle.  So I turn to my phone to keep me entertained.

But that day I had left my phone at home by mistake.  So when my kid saw me looking at him instead of looking at my phone, he took the opportunity to ask me to help him on the monkey bars.  That turned in to me trying out the monkey bars, and that led to a 20 minute game of tag with both my boys – and about 6 other kids who had seen us playing and spontaneously joined in.  It turned out that once I was up and moving I didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would.

Before I knew it, over an hour had passed and I had spent the entire time engaging my children and laughing AND GETTING EXERCISE.  I’ve never seen them so happy at the park and when we got home they were content and relaxed and left me alone since I had already spent so much quality time with them.  I was able to make dinner in peace!

I didn’t know who had gotten more out of our day at the park; them or me.  I felt great.  I realized that in the future I could either sit around where ever we were and be disengaged and bored, or I could join in to whatever they were doing and be fully present.  And so, the next time we went to the park, I decided to wear my gym clothes so I could play with them without caring if I got sweaty or dirty; and I brought water and healthy snacks to ensure I had enough energy.  (Doing this really helped put me in a mental state where I was ready to move).  I even brought a yoga mat so I could sit under a tree and do some stretches before we played.  I felt content and in the moment.  It was a beautiful summer day.  I was with my kids.  I felt happy.  I felt proud of myself.

Once I got moving, I wanted to keep moving.  I was doing planks, push-ups and lunges at the park and the kids were joining in!

Now lots of times when we go out for ‘play time’ I bring balls, skip rope, a frisbee, or even bubbles, so we have different fun things to keep us busy while we all play TOGETHER.

Lately I’m managing to fit a lot more exercise in without it really feeling like exercise – or sacrificing family time; and my children are seeing me being FUN and happy and engaged.  They have become more active and adventurous themselves because of this.  The best part is, they are less whiny and needy at home because of our little ‘play dates’ together.  It really is win win.

Don’t get me wrong, there will still be lots of days when I’m ‘that mom‘ at the park staring at my phone, because every day isn’t going to be a ‘super mom’ day.  I just don’t have the stamina or mental energy to run around like a carefree child all the time.  But I’m going to make the effort a lot more often.  For them and for me.

 

 

Saving Money – go berry picking!

 

family

It’s that time of year again where fruit and vegetables just taste better than any other season.  Now that summer has arrived in full swing the berries are ripe and delicious!!  The other day I decided to look up local farms where you can pick your own fruit and found one about 20 minutes away!

We brought our own buckets (left over 4L ice-cream buckets with the handles.  You can also purchase them there for a round $1) and spent about an hour picking blueberries and raspberries (we’ll be going back again when the strawberries are ready!)

Not only was I SHOCKED at how much better the fruit tasted coming right off the plant (my 6 year old won’t eat berries except for the ones in season that he’s picked himself!), but the cost was about 60% less than in a grocery store.  We literally filled a 4L container with blueberries and the cost came to under $6!!

Lastly, it is an AMAZING experience for the kids.  They absolutely LOVED berry picking and could eat as much as their bellies could handle FOR FREE while we were there.  I can’t express enough how great it felt walking through the fields with the kids and watching them excitedly grabbing berries for their buckets while stuffing their faces at the same time.  And now they know exactly where berries come from  (:

As soon as we got home, I made delicious blueberry muffins.  The next day it was blueberry pancakes and blueberry banana smoothies….

I laid the rest out on a sheet tray in batches and froze them.  Then I put them into a zip lock bag and now we have blueberries on hand for the rest of the year at a fraction of the cost.

In the fall, it will be on to apple orchards!