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Kids in the Kitchen

Much like learning to drive a car, learning to swim, and learning how to read – cooking is a life skill.

Did you know that it is never too early to learn valuable lessons in the kitchen?  In fact, infants absorb everything that is going on around them.  They learn when you name foods aloud, and the whir of a blender can stimulate a baby’s learning ability.  A toddler learns by pouring and mixing, pre-school children learn fine motor skills by cracking eggs, grade-school children learn by chopping (supervised) and whisking ingredients, pre-teens can begin to follow simple recipes independently, and finally teens, who naturally seek to be more independent, can aspire to more complex tasks like preparing a meal for the entire family.

Before you begin, here are few basic rules:

  1. Until a child is old enough, an adult should always be present, to supervise in the kitchen.
  2. Hands should always be washed thoroughly before food preparation begins.
  3. Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to prevent unwanted accidents.
  4. Do not “sample” raw meat or uncooked eggs.
  5. Allow your child to practice cutting with a butter knife.

 

Cooking is a basic life skill that everyone should learn.  There are many excellent reasons for children to be encouraged to cook, one being that it gives them a sense of pride.  Below are several more reasons to get children of all ages involved in kitchen activities.

Children, who are involved in the cooking process, may not be finicky about their food choices.  Being involved gives children an opportunity to view all ingredients and taste different foods.  It has been proven, that children are more inclined to eat what they prepare.  They may even find a new favorite food.

Good eating habits are encouraged in the kitchen

When children are invited into the kitchen, a dialog of good eating habits is opened, such as how eating a rainbow of colors offers a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy.  In addition to discussing healthy eating habits, time together in the kitchen allows the opportunity for talking about other things, such as problems in school.

The value of planning is a benefit that is learned in the kitchen.  Cooking involves timing and planning.  For example, the potatoes should still be hot, when the meat is ready to be put on the table.  Also, you want to have all of the ingredients necessary on hand, to prepare a certain type of meal.  Time management is a skill that is used in all aspects of life.

Math skills are also built while working in the kitchen, as measuring ingredients is a practical way to show the use of fractions in everyday living.  For example, addition and/ or multiplication is going to be required if you want to double a batch of cookies.

In addition to honing math skills, cooking is basically a giant science experiment.  Children get a chance to view chemistry in action, by finding out what happens when vinegar is mixed with oil, or the results when too much salt or flour is added to a recipe.

Also, comprehension and reading skills are sharpened, as step-by-step directions should be followed and ingredients should be added in sequence, to prepare certain meals

Self-confidence is built in the kitchen

Children should feel good about creating something delicious and nutritious, and parents should feel good knowing that when children leave home, that they will not be dependent on frozen meals or vending machines for sustenance.

Besides all the great lessons that are learned while cooking, preparing a meal is also fun!  Spending time together in the kitchen with your children, not only produces good meals, but also builds positive memories.

Life Lessons Learned from Littles
Life Lessons Learned from Littles

Saying “please” and “thank you” are important life lessons we are taught at a young age by our parents, but have you ever considered that children are in the world, because adults have so much to learn also.  Adults may believe that because they have lived longer years that they are experts in all of life’s matters.  That is not the whole truth, because if we keep our eyes and hearts open, many of the greatest of life’s lessons come from the little ones in our lives.  Remember, a teacher learns a lot from their students.

The first thing we need to remember is that life is a process.  Today’s failures mean growth for tomorrow. So, don’t quit, embrace failure, learn from your mistakes, and keep trying.

Other lessons we learn from children include, but are certainly no limited to:

  1. smiling childAlways act with compassion.  The best way to reinforce this lesson is to watch children interact with an injured animal.
  2. Embrace Uniqueness.  Children do not know the concept of judging others or being judged.  They live life to the fullest, and walk to the rhythm of their own drum beat.  They know what they like and what makes them happy, and they go for it, without fear of embarrassment or judgement.  Individuals, who live within the confines of society’s definition of normal, rarely find their true pleasure in life.
  3. Smile.  Smiling is a free and powerful tool, and is also known as, “Mouth Yoga”.  Smiling is an instant mood booster, and children know how to use this valuable tool often.  Nothing is more delightful than the sound of children laughing.
  4. Live in Wonderment.  As adults, often this lesson becomes clouded and jaded, and we may lose our sense of wonderment.  The world is full of wonder, and we can easily learn this lesson from children under 2 years of age, if we learn to view the current world through their eyes.
  5. Live in the here and now.  Many adults look in the past with regretful thoughts, as they plan for the future, but rarely do adults stop and simply enjoy the present.  Children live mostly in the present, due to the fact that they do not have many past experiences, and they don’t really have a concept of the future.  Perhaps it is for this reason that children are happier than adults.  Cherish the current moments of life and always live in the present moment, as this is where you will find the opportunities to have fun, experience beauty, or try something new.
  6. Think outside the box.  Many children use a box to create forts and castles, and immerse themselves into the world of fantasy.  As we can see, thinking outside the box (or even using a box) expands our thought process.  We can form new ideas and see things from a new perspective.
  7. Be flexible.  Plans change, and being adaptable in a creative manner is a great lesson to be carried far into adulthood.  It is okay to have ice cream for dinner, on occasion.
  8. Keep up in our every changing world.  Children instinctively understand this, as they are always learning, and many adults understand this also, as their children can work electronic devices better than they do.
  9. There is always time for snuggling.  No matter how busy your day becomes, children are always ready for hugs and kisses.  This is a great lesson for adults to practice on a regular basis.

Love is a language.  Love is not defined by one word or one act.  It is a language to be understood.  Love means one thing to you and another thing to me.  Words of affirmation, quality time, acts of kindness, and affection are a few languages of love.  Learn to speak the love language of your children and those closest to you, and watch love blossom like a prefect rose.

Soda Pop Facts
Soda Pop Facts

If you survey your local supermarket, you may find a few different types of sodas. The truth is that Coca-Cola (a household name in soda manufacturing) alone has more than 3,500 different types of soft drinks.  It would take you 9 years to try them all.  Japan is known to carry many exotic flavors of soda, including green tea, cucumber, wasabi, yogurt, and cheese.

Soda has a dangerously high amount of sugar, empty calories and no nutritional value.  It has been documented, that consuming two cans a day of soda pop will pack on 2 pounds of unwanted fat a month.

In addition:

Soda suppresses appetite.  This means that children, as well as adults, are less likely to consume the proper nutrients that their body needs.  Soda drinkers will less likely consume the recommended levels of calcium, vitamin A, magnesium, and other important vitamins and nutrients.

Soda weakens growing bones.  Phosphorus, a common ingredient in soda pop, is known to deplete growing bones of much needed calcium.  This means that bones can fracture more often and more easily.

Soda is a dehydrating diuretic, and can hinder the proper function of the delicate digestive system.  The stomach has a fragile acid/alkaline balance, and drinking soda on a regular basis can upset this balance, as a prolonged acidic environment in the stomach can cause inflammation and severe pain.

Tooth decay is directly linked to soda consumption.  Not only does the excessive sugar found in soda contribute to cavities, but the acid in soda will eat way at tooth enamel.  Acid will begin to destroy tooth enamel in a little as 20 minutes.  Many dentists report that teenagers, who habitually drink soda, have no enamel on their front teeth.

Soda is addictive.  According to a Johns Hopkins report, caffeine is one of the most common mood-altering drugs in the entire world.  Consumption of caffeine causes physical dependence.  Many adults are unable to quit consuming caffeine, even if they wanted to, and children may become addicted quicker due to their smaller size.    A 12 ounce can of regular soda holds at least 35 milligrams of caffeine.   Thinking that diet soda is a better choice, because of the caloric reduction, they can expect to consume 56 milligrams of caffeine per can.

Soda consumption can negatively affect the natural balance of the brain’s neurochemistry.  Aspartame, an ingredient found in many diet sodas, is potentially toxic to the brain, and can disrupt the body’s endocrine system.  Citric acid, another ingredient found in sodas, may contain MSG (Monosodium glutamate), which is also said to be toxic to brain function.  These toxins, in high levels, have been linked to learning disorders, behavioral problems, brain tumors, and diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Rainy Day Fun Ideas for the Kids

kids in the rain

Rainy days are not much fun, especially when the kids are home from school.  We have the solution to keep the day fun and entertaining, even if the weather outside is not ideal.  Of course, this is a great time to pull out the puzzles, board games, and a deck of cards for family fun, but for something a little more interesting, try some of these suggestions.  You may find that soon your home is the place to be on a rainy day.

 

Indoor Treasure Hunt

The ideas for this indoor game are endless; you can make a general list, or make it themed, such as: “sports”, “princess”, “pirate” or “beach”.  Some general clue suggestions may include:

  1. Pen
  2. Cookie cutter
  3. Towel
  4. Toothpaste
  5. Phone charger
  6. Scotch tape
  7. Apple
  8. Photo frame
  9. Deck of playing cards
  10. Umbrella
  11. Paper clip
  12. Mug
  13. Stuffed animal
  14. Coins
  15. Key

 

Make Homemade Play-dough

Making your own Play-dough is fun, easy, and inexpensive.  You will need the following items:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • ⅓ cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • food coloring

Stir the first 5 ingredients together, in a 2-quart saucepan over low to medium heat.  Add food coloring once it begins to thicken.  Continue stirring until the mixture is very thick and begins to gather around your spoon.  Remove dough from pan, place on wax paper or a plate until cooled.  Enjoy!  Once completed, store in a sealed container or sealable plastic bag for next play time.

Make sock puppets and put on a show

Find some older socks and items to create eyes, mouth and noses (buttons for example).  Items can be sewn or glued to the socks.  Create of “Puppet Theater” from a cardboard box, and let the imagination of children run wild.  Remember to record this memory.

Create music with homemade instruments

To create a DRUM, you will need an empty oatmeal container (with cover), a pen, 2 pencils, 2 spools, yarn, crayons, and construction paper.  For a more dramatic and colorful instrument, the oatmeal contain can be decorated with crayons and the construction paper.  Using the pen, poke a hole in the center of the cover and the center of the bottom of the container.  Pull a piece of yarn through these holes (long enough to hang around the child’s neck and down to their waist).  Place to spools at the end of the two pencils (secure with glue) to be used as drumsticks.  Beat, to play this homemade instrument.

A basic HORN instrument is created by using a paper towel roll, a rubber band, pen, and some waxed paper.  Cover one end of the roll with waxed paper (secure with rubber band), and punch holes along the roll with the pen.  To use, sing into the open end of the horn.

For a XYLOPHONE, you will need tall glasses, water, and mixing spoon.  Fill the glasses with different amounts of water.  The less water in the glass will create a higher sounding pitch.  The more water will create a lower sounding pitch.  To create music, gently strike the glasses with the spoon.  (not recommended for younger children)

To create a COMB BUZZER, you will need an ordinary pocket comb and some tissue paper.  Simply fold the paper over the tooth edge of the comb and hum through the paper to make music.

Science Experiment

This is a great way to have fun and have the kids (and adults) be awe-struck by the wonders of science.  Here are some simple science experiments to do at home on a rainy day.

First of all, since it is a rainy day, measure the rainfall, by putting a large jar in the rain.  On an hourly basis, measure the height of the water and record the findings.

Another great experiment is turning shiny new pennies green.  For this experiment, you will need some copper pennies, white vinegar, a bowl and some paper towels.  Mold the paper towels to the bowl, put the pennies on top, pour the vinegar over the pennies until saturated, and watch the chemical reaction occur.

Also, try fishing for ice.  For this experiment, you will need a cup of water, a few ice cubes, table salt, and piece of string.  Put the ice into the water and they will float to the top, using the string try to “fish” for a piece of ice.  At this point, nothing will be caught.  Now, sprinkle some salt on the ice, wait a minute, then try “fishing” again with the string and see what you caught!

 

 

Be sure to schedule an appointment for your child’s next checkup or other dental needs.

Spring Cleaning
Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning!

Spring is on it’s way shortly, and to many in western society that means, for most moms: spring cleaning.

Although this idea is known commonly throughout the U.S., it is speculated that the tradition of spring cleaning has, surprisingly, Eastern origins.

The Iranian New Year falls on the first day of Spring (March 20th), and to this day “khooneh tekouni” is practiced during this time. It literally means to “shake the house” and is observed by most Iranian people today.

Another school of thought suggests that Spring cleaning comes from the Jewish preparation of the festival of the Passover, which takes place over the course of a week usually in late March to mid April. Jews are commanded by God in Exodus 12:15 to rid their homes of all small leavened bread remnants prior to Passover, so there is a traditional candlelight search for breadcrumbs (called “bedikat chametz”) the night before the festival begins.

So what is so significant about Spring cleaning in American culture?

Several factors could contribute to the expression of purging old belongings and cleaning house this time of year.

A motivator could be the abundance of extra possessions one may find themselves in after the intense gift-giving holiday season. Another is the warming of the weather that makes dust of surfaces more visible and outdoor cleaning more enjoyable.

All in all, when a house-wide purge begins, where do we usually begin? The closet.

Coat closets, storage closets, bedroom closets, oh my! Here are some tips for you to achieve your best springtime closet.

Designate Seasons

Many of us make the mistake of getting rid of old winter clothes that we will not need for another 7 months or so, because they tend to be bulky and take up too much space. Certainly get rid of clothes you did not wear all winter (or the winter before, especially), but place them in storage containers with the exception of a few sweaters or light jackets you may need on rainy days. This will free up space and make your morning selection a breeze. When autumn arrives, do the same with your summer clothes. This will help with not being overwhelmed by all that’s in your closet.

Decisions, Decisions!

Due to the weather getting warmer and the New Year well behind us, many have stuck to their resolutions have slimmed their waistline considerably (and are still in the process of doing so). If you found you have lost weight and many of last year’s spring clothes are now too big for you, keep at least a couple of pieces you like the most. There’s still a chance you could gain some of the weight back before the warmer months end, and you don’t want to be without clothes!

Don’t Forget Surfaces

While going through all the clothes in the closet, this is the best time to thoroughly remove all clothing and wipe shelves and surfaces that are normally concealed. Make getting ready in the morning the best time of day by shaping your closet into a work of art!

We hope you are inspired to feel fresh and clean this season with these ideas, and happy, happy Spring!

Everything You Need to Know About Amber Teething Necklackes
Everything You Need to Know About Amber Teething Necklackes

When it comes to the topic of child safety, every internet source has their own slanted narrative, and so does every individual mom who has done their research and experimentation. Just like every other baby product, Amber teething necklaces carry the weight of some controversy. They are said to be either the greatest teething craze invented, or, a grave threat to your child’s life, or somewhere in between.

Not familiar with the trend? Amber teething necklaces are a snug (not too loose or tight) strand of amber beads for children to wear during the painful season of teething. The warmth from their skin is said to activate the oil in the amber resin, which releases a natural pain reliever called succinic acid. This is then absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream and simply acts as a “helper” when teething toys, cold objects, or even baby tylenol isn’t quite cutting it.

If you’re not sure whether this product is right for your child, let’s get all the pros and cons out of the way.

Cons:

  • Needs to be removed before every nap (to prevent choking while unsupervised.
  • Even while supervised, events like strangulation can occur
  • If the strand breaks, a child may attempt to eat the stones or possibly block their airway in the process
  • Because of the above reasons, it is not recommended by most pediatricians.
  • Some skeptics say the beads have to be heated to at least 200 degrees fahrenheit to excrete the oils (two times over normal body temperature)
  • The releasing of succinic acid is seen as more holistic and ancient medicine and is not officially backed by science, despite very consistent claims that it does, in fact, work.

Pros:

  • Seasoned “natural” moms recommend putting the necklace on as early as two months, so that your child gets used to wearing it and it then just behaves as another article of clothing. Many mothers that start the use of the necklace very young and watch their child acclimate are more at ease when it comes to risks of choking.
  • Succinic acid not only supposed to relieve pain (and is helpful for adults too, suffering from arthritis or other joint pain) but is said to be immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and has a calming effect on the wearer.
  • Many moms swear it reduces drooling significantly. This may be due to succinic being an alkalizing acid, which has metabolic benefits.
  • Succinic acid is FDA approved, this being because it is an element that commonly occurs in our food. So while the benefits cannot be proven medically, the acid itself is not harmful.

For many, the benefits do not offset the possible risks. If this is you, it is definitely best to use your best judgement. Every child is different, and every mother knows what’s best for their individual baby. On the flip side, pro-amber necklace moms say they have little or nothing to fear because their baby adjusted to the wearing of the necklace, so they are aware of it but they never not attempt to remove, break, or eat it. They also notice a significant difference when the child is wearing it versus not, or have used it on one child but not their sibling. Thankfully modern technology has also provided us with more security measures for our children, such as video monitors and baby breathing monitors (like Snuza). This allows mothers to keep their eyes or ears on their babies 24/7.

For more information on this subject, as well as how succinic acid breaks down molecularly, please click the links below.
https://www.mamanatural.com/amber-teething-necklaces/
https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/ask-heidi/amber-teething-necklaces.aspx
https://www.healthextremist.com/amber-necklace-benefits-may-include-helping-thyroid/
https://hazelaid.com/pages/about-baltic-amber

Cooking with Kids: Baking Substitutes
Cooking with Kids: Baking Substitutes

Getting your kids involved in the kitchen is an easy way to expose them to the important life skill of cooking. Fortunately with baking sweets, most kids are more than eager to participate (being able to lick the spatula was always the best part when we were kids, right?).

Baking is always a fun way to have a sweet snack here and there, however much of the ingredients called for in baked goods recipes consist of unhealthy options such as Crisco or butter, bleached four or high amounts of white refined sugar. With the awareness of nutrition on the rise, there are so many healthier options out there to give you alternatives for each ingredient in your recipe to make them just as yummy but healthier at the same time.

  • Flour –

There are a lot of flour substitutes out there such as whole-wheat flour, which gives you more fiber than its bleached form. Nut flours are also very common. They have healthy oils in them and also more fiber.

  • Sugar –

There are so many alternatives for sugar it would be difficult to list them all. Natural honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or coconut sugar are just a couple options you can choose from when searching for a sweetener. These can be just as effective as refined sugar except they don’t have as high of a refined sugar content.

  • Eggs –

Not everyone likes to eat eggs or thinks that they are healthy for you, especially people who are committed to a vegan diet or have high cholesterol. Some excellent egg alternatives are chia seeds or flax-seed meal which still have emulsifying agents like eggs but are from plant sources.

  • Butter –

Butter can typically be substituted with any nut butters or unsaturated oils. Some other good options would be applesauce which has a low calorie content or ripe bananas which can still have the creamy texture of butter but are filled with nutrients and natural sugars.

Coming up with way to make your favorite recipes healthier for yourself and your family can be a fun exercise and is definitely worth it in the end!

Easter Ideas for Healthy Teeth
Easter Ideas for Healthy Teeth

Easter is the biggest holiday of the spring with so many children eager to dive into the fun. However with all the excitement and tradition of Easter, there is the downside of the amount of candy consumed. Easter is definitely a holiday that has morphed into a day of sugar and treats. As a parent, this can be a bit worrisome if you’re concerned for your children’s dental health. There are some good tricks though that can still give your kids fun surprises but cut down on the amount of sugar consumed.

Sugar-free gums which use zylitol or any other alcohol sugar, are excellent alternatives to still give your children something sweet to chew on but without the high sugar content. Alcohol sugars don’t cling to the teeth as regular sugars do and are not loved by the bacteria in the mouth.

Stickers are also always a favorite with kids. Its easy to find stickers with your child’s favorite Disney character or superhero that they will easily love just as much or even more than a piece of hubba bubba.

Trailmix with yummy nuts and some semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips will significantly cut down on the amount of sugar found in a regular amount of m&ms but is still a yummy treat!

Play dough is a super fun alternative as well. I don’t think there is a child out there who doesn’t like play dough! Pick dough in your child’s favorite color and they will be entertained for a much longer time than if you gave them jelly beans.

Baking some treats with half the sugar or alternative ingredients is always a healthier option than anything you would buy at the store. Baking with date sugar, coconut sugar or maple sugar can be some good alternatives that are still sweet but not hard on the teeth like cane sugar!

 

  • Creating coupons is always a fun way to make Easter baskets more interactive. Having a coupon for a trip to the movies, a local arcade, a theme park or just a fun outing with mom and dad can be a great idea. Kids love going on adventures more than getting piles of sugar to eat.

 

Mostly all kids love getting and eating candy. As a parent it can be very easy to want to give into these wishes but I think most kids would agree that is given some of these fun Easter basket alternatives, they would choose them any day over a bag of candy!

 

Not Sure What to Pack Your Kids for Lunch?
Not Sure What to Pack Your Kids for Lunch?

Choosing the best foods to put in your child’s lunch or give them as a snack can often be a challenging task. As a parent you want to choose something they will like but also something that is healthy for their body and their teeth. If a child is regularly eating candy or sugary snacks during the day, that sugar will just sit on their teeth until they brush them in the evening. Here is a list of some snack options that  promote children’s dental health as well!

  1. Oranges, sweet peppers or strawberries all contain the popular nutrient vitamin c. This vitamin is especially helpful in fighting certain types of bacteria in the mouth because they don’t like its acidic nature.
  2. Nuts or foods containing seeds have healthy oils in them which can coat the teeth and act a protective barrier to invading bacteria. Some examples could be peanuts, almonds, whole grain breads or hearty granola bars.
  3. Milk and Dairy products can also be healthy for teeth because they are an excellent source of calcium, which is helpful in keeping kids teeth strong and resilient. Dairy products also increase the acidity of the mouth and thus ward off any acid loving bacteria.
  4. Apples, Carrots or celery can be excellent choices because they mechanically clean the teeth. Their crispness acts as a kind of abrasive surface on the teeth, helping scrape off any plaque or buildup.
  5. Always give water. Children of course love juice and sugar drinks however the less you give these to your children, the better off their dental health will be. Always promote drinking water because it helps rinse the mouth as well as hydrate.

These are just a few ideas to help inspire healthy snacks, which are also healthy for the mouth. Limiting the amount of times your child snacks a day is also very helpful in keeping the sugar loving bacteria to a minimum.  Being a parent is never easy, but promoting and instilling healthy snacking habits in your child will always pay off, especially concerning their dental health.

Soothing Teething Babies
Soothing Teething Babies

Teething or the development of baby teeth is something every child has to go through during their early years of life. It is a process, which normally causes discomfort and restlessness and can therefore be an exhausting period for the child and the parents.

Teething typically begins anywhere from 3 months to one year when the primary teeth are finding their way to the gums surface. The soreness at this time is most often due to the swelling of the gums as the teeth begin to move. This discomfort can leave the child fussy and unsettled. Every baby is going to be different during this time however, here are some remedies, which will hopefully help, ease the process!

  1. A clean finger -moving over the surface of the gums can relieve some of the teething pain.
  2. A damp washcloth put in the fridge and then offered to your baby to chew on can offer some cool relief.
  3. Breastfeeding can be a simple and soothing option to help distract your baby and relieve some of the pain.
  4. There are also certain pain relievers or Tylenol  you can ask your doctor to recommend.
  5. Amber Teething Necklaces-are a trending holistic solution with the belief that the heat from your child’s skin warms the amber beads which then releases oils containing succinic acid which are then absorbed into the blood. Succinic acid is a natural pain-relieving agent.
  6. Mesh Teethers-can also be a good solution by placing frozen fruit inside and giving the baby something cold but yummy to chew on.

These remedies are not a solution to everyone’s teething baby problems. However, hopefully they offer some temporary relief or more sleep filled nights.