Friday, May 17, 2013
Not only do we feel like the only family in America without a dishwasher … we were also the only family without a bathtub. The family that owned our house before us, redid the main bathroom to only include a large bathroom stall (we don't know why!). I purchased a plastic little baby tub for when the boys were babies up until very recently, but it was awkward at best, and the boys have grown to the point where they can't fit in the tub together anymore. and of course ALL they want to do is play in the water Together. So, we had our bathroom redone a couple of weeks ago to accommodate a tub! This has been 5 years in the making (not sure what we were waiting for!) so, we are, of course, ecstatic with the results!! And the boys … in heaven. Do you know how much fun is in a bathtub? We play, we splash, we color on the walls with bath crayons, and the Bubbles. OH the bubbles! Bubble mustaches, bubble beards, bubble cookies and bubble tea … an endless array of bubble fun! Though, when going to the store to purchase bubbles the options are either limited, toxic, or organic but Super Expensive. So, we here at the House of Trout decided to make our own!
I was happy to find out that making your own bubbles is so stinking easy! I don't think I will ever buy bubble bath again … and you can make it whatever flavor you want! I tend to stick with your traditional lavender scents when it gets closer to bedtime … but I can imagine when the boys are sick and need some eucalyptus to help with congestion. Or peppermint to invigorate the senses if we adults are feeling tired or a bit rundown. I can't wait to experiment! But, for my first batch I went classic lavender and it smells wonderful!
Homemade Bubble Bath Recipe!
• 1 cup of mild shampoo (i used burt's bees bc I had some on hand) or 100% castor oil soap would work well too.
• 1/3 cup 100% vegetable glycerin or liquid glycerin. I found Vegetable glycerin at whole foods!
• 2-3 tablespoons of Water
• and 10-20 drops of Lavender Essential Oil or your favorite bath time scent!
::Mix it all together in a handy-dandy mason jar (of course!) and Shake well before adding to your running water ~ Enjoy!
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
My oldest son, Declan, has just recently turned three years old! And with all children's birthday milestones comes the annual well visit with your pediatrician. According to the doctors and their handy-dandy charts his vitals are great, his height, weight, and general growth is great - everything perfect and right on target. (a little braggy but as a mother you are always thrilled to hear how well your child is doing! :) But in our doctor's closing statements we were advised that Declan can now switch to low fat milk, it was even written on their visit handout … and I had to disagree. I understand that there is an epidemic of childhood obesity, and of course, I sympathize and would love to protect my children against obesity that could lead to diabetes, heart disease, etc. But I'm pretty sure that it's not the milk that is causing a vast amount of children to be overweight. I, likewise, told our doctor that we drink organic and local Whole Milk, not only because it tastes better, but also because it is much less processed. I listened to her points, she listened to mine, and in the end we parents are going to do what we think is best. But it got me thinking/researching and it appears that while organic Whole Milk is healthier than regular store bought, there is actually something even better …
First things first, there are several reasons why we should drink Whole Milk instead of low fat dairy products. Most important point being that our bodies can't absorb the calcium or digest milk proteins without the natural fats found in milk. Secondly, Vitamins A & D are fat soluble so they can't be absorbed from milk if the fat has been skimmed off (This included fortified skim milk, your body can't absorb the vitamins if there is no fat in the milk). Science has recently revealed that fat-free and low-fat diets will not prevent against heart disease. In fact, eating saturated fats has shown to raise your good cholesterol. And lastly, (my favorite new discovery) is that you want to drink non homogenized whole milk. Our whole foods carries local organic milk in glass bottles and sometimes when they don't have the regular (homogenized) Whole Milk, I will purchase the cream line whole milk. But as soon as the regular whole milk is back in stock I switch back, this is apparently not correct. Homogonized whole milk is Not whole milk. Homogenization is crushing the milk fat so that it is too small to rise to the cream layer. It allows the dairy industry to a) package milk in a more convenient, disposable container instead of traditional glass. and b) allows commercial dairy companies to calculate, and remove the fat from the milk and then add it back in at their desired proportion. Homogenized whole milk has had it's fat removed and injected back in at an amount less that what appears in nature. (3.25% as opposed to raw milk with milk fat between 4-5.5%)
Not only is it important to purchase non homogenized whole milk, but it is doubly important to by organic and local if you can. I know that that ticket price is a little bit of a shocker at almost double the cost of your standard grocery store gallon of milk. But when raising children, especially girls, regular milk is full of growth hormones, harmful pesticides, and antibiotics, where as organic is grass fed, free to roam, and everything in the cow's environment is harm-free. To read more on the differences between Organic and Regular Milk please visit Care2 and this article on HubPages. They are a wealth of information and can help you in your decision to choose Organic and Whole Milk products. So, at the end of the day, while I understand why the pediatricians recommend switching to low fat milk – I don't believe that it is the best choice for ourselves or our children.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
While your skin does need a bit of sunshine to absorb ample amounts of vitamin D, you should not be exposing yourself to the sun to the point of burnt. And with young children (or teenagers) that is a very fine line. I "try" and keep the kids in the shade or with a hat on at all times, but that doesn't keep All the sun away. I've considered making my own sunscreen but it is not water-proof and you would need to reapply several times a day. With my two little ones I'm lucky if I get them pinned down and lotion'd up ONCE before they are running out the door. So, while I Do plan on getting some zinc oxide and trying a little D.I.Y. Sunblock for myself, until I can experiment with it and see just how protective it is, and how tolerant my kids are of having sunblock put on them several times a day … we'll stick to store bought. But what kind??
In purchasing a sunblock form a store there are three important things to look for and avoid …
Retinyl Palmitate can be found in 1/3 of all sunscreens and is said to slow skin's aging, but with an increased amount of Vitamin D it is suspected to speed the growth of skin tumors.
Oxybenzone, known as a hormone disruptor, this hazardous ingredient has scientists warning parents not to use it because of the affect it has on children due to toxicity concerns and has been linked to low birth weight in babies.
Spray or Powder Sunscreens should be avoided due to the danger of inhaling harmful nanoparticles of the sunscreen. Apply a cream form of sunscreen and limit the risk.
In our house we lend towards the organic and all natural sunscreens. Two of our favorites are BabyGanics (affordable at $11.99 per 6oz bottle) and a personal favorite - Badger Balm Anti-Bug Sunscreen (a bit more expensive at $17 for 3oz bottle) My favorite thing about the Badger Balm is that it's got Everything going for it :: Safe, effective, Certified Natural & Organic and best part - it repels bugs at the same time! And if you are a "lake person" like I am, keeping the bugs at bay is uber important! But BabyGanics is perfect for backyard fun in the sun to keep the sun off of your back. I would love to hear what tried and true sunblocks you've used on your babies or if you've made your own! and Remember :: 'Pale' is the new 'tan'! ;)
Maybe my kids are just unusually sweet (ha!) but if there is a mosquito within a mile of where they are playing it will inevitably find them. And while mosquito bites are not enjoyable for anybody – children tend to have an especially tough time because they just don't know When. To. Stop. Scratching. From the moment I put them into their bed at night until they wake up the next morning … those small little ittybitty bites turn into red, painful, open wounds. So, I try as often as I can to stop them BEFORE they get to this point.
To rid the yard, porches and decks of biting insects, the boys and I have put together a big beautiful planter in front of our house filled with mosquito repelling plants. As well as several small planters wherever we could. A few Great plants that you can find at any farmer's market or even a home depot that will not only help to get those pesky bugs under control but can also be used in the kitchen (bonus!) ::
• maidenhair fern
This foliage will not all together cure the mosquito epidemic that is unavoidable in the summer months but it will help considerably. So, what to do when you or your family get those irritating little bumps... Most anyone will tell you to reach for the cortisone cream or calamine lotion - but since it's always better to turn to the natural way of healing before hitting the pharmacy where the creams and lotions are packed with steroids and antihistamines try a few home remedies first. The classic oatmeal bath (just grind up 1/3cup of oats) is always a winner. Have your child soak in an oatmeal bath for 15-20 minutes then pat the skin dry with a towel. At this point you can dry dabbing a bit of vinegar or lavender essential oil on the affected spot to dry it out and relieve the itch. A couple other options are chamomile baths (just a few teabags in the bathtub), aloe vera gel, and witch hazel.
Good luck with your bug bites and I'd love to hear what works for you and your family!
Monday, April 22, 2013
Now that the weather is warmer and we're outside more doing outside things – my boys love to play with sidewalk chalk. And by "play" I mean "eat" … the little ones will put just about anything into their mouths and that includes : crayons, colored pencils, markers of all kinds, and last but not least, sidewalk chalk. So whether I'm gardening, mowing the grass, or sunning myself with a nice book and a cocktail (ha!) I like to know that the boys are playing, having fun and creating masterpieces on the concrete - not ingesting them. So this mama came across a craft on Pinterest for Sidewalk Paint. And We LOVE it! I used sponges instead of paint brushes and let the boys go to town … and I didn't have to worry about my babies chewing on the chalk ~ not to mention that painting is So much more fun than drawing!
Sidewalk Paint (per color)
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 corn starch
• several drops of food coloring
~ mix together water and corn starch, then add food coloring! SO EASY!
I cut up sponges to paint with, and i think next time I'll cut the sponges into shapes and let them "stamp" the paint on the pavement rather than sponge it on. Of course the painting turned to science experiment when they started mixing up colors - but the paint is non-toxic, homemade, cheap, and fun! Looking forward to those 90 degree days when I can set them out in their bathing suits and let them go nuts! :)
... because this tends to happen ...
Monday, April 15, 2013
(ps: I love these babies and they were DELICIOUS!)
There is always an abundance of green growth and experiments on my kitchen windowsill at any given time. As I wait impatiently to take my foliage outside our windowsill staples are basil or other cooking herbs (chocolate mint at the moment! yum), maybe some scallions that have been regenerated from their stems, I'm growing some baby bok choy in a dish of water, and there is always a revolving cycle of ripening fruits. It always makes me happy during these grey winter months to watch as my little babies bloom and grow but even happier still when I came across Back To The Roots Mushroom Growing Kit. I had seen it as an ad ages ago and thought that it was so cool but never really committed to ordering a box online. And then during my weekly trips to Whole Foods, right in the produce section between cut up fruit and fresh mushrooms, there it was … and I immediately bought two.
Back to the Roots is an organization that two gentlemen began out of their fraternity kitchen during their last semester at UC Berkeley 4 years ago. They had learned in a class lecture that you could grow mushrooms from coffee grounds and so started the experimentation process with just a big ole bucket. Their findings immediately gained notice from Whole Foods and Chez Panize and their school was so impressed by their initiative that they offered them a $5,000 grant to further their explorations. The mission was for anyone across the country to be able to grow their own gourmet mushrooms in their own homes. And by golly, it works! The boys and I started our mushroom kit a couple of weeks ago, and after misting the mushrooms with a supplied mini water bottle, in 10 days we had a substantial amount of oyster mushrooms grown and ready for harvesting.
These little mushroom boxes are fantastic for families, especially for kids and when you are finished growing mushrooms on the one side, you can flip the box over and start again on the other side. We plan on starting our first vegetable garden this spring so these mushroom boxes have been a great start for them before we get into the garden. For the boys to be able to nourish and physically see the growing process is so exciting. Furthermore, the Back To The Roots company will donate a Mushroom Growing Kit to a classroom of your choice when you post a photo of your full grown mushrooms to their Facebook page. Please check them out at Back To The Roots and read about all of the good that they are doing for the environment. I know my local Whole Foods carries these adorable boxes, does yours?
This past weekend the hubs, kids and I drove across the state to visit my husband's family in Pittsburgh. I spent the week prior gathering healthy(er) snacks and putting together toy bags so that we would not have to stop at rest stops and the like where inevitably poor choices would be made. Organic fruit and vegetable squeeze pouches were a huge hit when we were on the run but Cullen was too young to eat it by himself in the car seat without making a total mess and they are expensive with not much sustenance. Same goes for organic juice boxes, expensive, messy for young ones - and go very fast. Try mixing a batch of juice yourself and putting it in a sealable pitcher. Whole Grain Pretzels (we got ours from Trader Joe's with only 5 whole ingredients) are great for older and younger toddlers. Bananas and Oranges travel well, but make sure you have a place to put the peels. The boys played with their toys, watched a movie on the portable DVD player and we were there in no time!
While we did especially well on the 5 hour car ride, upon residing in Pittsburgh we could have done better. We don't eat out very often at home because i like to know what is going into our meals so I was a little out of practice when it came to ordering at restaurants. And while visiting family and friends we ate out A Lot. I have learned that restaurants continue to not lend well to toddlers. Sure they have a kids menu, but I hardly consider fried chicken fingers, mac and cheese, or cheese burgers with fries a nutritious dish no matter how many sides of apple slices you serve with it. Here are a few tips to be more prepared when going out to eat …
• ask your server if they would make a baked option instead of fried - this would work for chicken fingers, fish sticks, and french fries.
• Another choice is to order a healthy dish from the adult menu - a nice baked chicken breast, stir fry, whole grain sandwich, that you could split between your children is healthy and cost effective. Or if you only have one child dining with you, order an adult meal and take the rest home with you for a quick lunch the following day.
• desserts are the hardest part, and I believe your best option is to skip it and pick up something healthy on the ride back to your home. Oatmeal Raisin cookie, sorbet, a small piece of chocolate, etc.
How do you keep your kids eating healthy when you go on vacation or out to restaurants?