Balancing the “Magic” and “Magestic” of Christmas with Kids

I have often been asked how we handle the concept of Santa in our home. The reality is that up until this year it was not much of a discussion point. We focused on Christmas as Jesus’ birthday and although my dad dresses up as Santa for the children, we have not really spent time speaking about Santa. This year, the twins are 5, and the questions have begun.

“Is Santa real?”

“How does Santa get across the whole earth in one night?”

“How does Santa find what everyone wants?”

“is Santa always watching me?”

The list goes on and on.

I had thought a lot about how we would handle this when the time came, but in the end I wasn’t really prepared. I found myself unable to lie to my children but also not wanting to take away from the “pretend and play” that is so important in childhood.

So, in the end, we have found balance….time in the “magical pretend” and time speaking about our Magestic Lord.

We have asked what is on their wish list…they each get to pick one thing to ask for. We had fun writing letters to Santa for the first time this year too. But we acknowledge that it is part of pretend play and they do not need to be concerned that a random man is “watching them” to see if they are good or bad. And what is fascinating to me about this is that they have not asked where the gifts come from since Santa is pretend. They just go with it and have found it all to be very fun.

Within our conversation about gifts, we also talk about the greatest gift of all…baby Jesus. We talk about how we give gifts as a reminder of the gift of His birth and love and also in celebration of his birthday. We have always had a Birthday cake on Christmas as part of the dessert selections and we will do so again this year. We sing happy birthday to the King of All Kings and it is a true celebration.

We also have focused on that fact that it doesn’t matter if we are “good or bad” for God…He will always love and accept us.

This is not meant to be persuasive or seen as passing judgement for doing things in any other way. It is just to simply say that this is how we have chosen to do things in our home. And I would encourage you to always be true to what you feel is best for your family in this and all situations that arise. It is my hope that we are models to this next generation of people who love and accept rather than judge and tear down. If you have other ideas, comments, or are willing to share what you do in your home, I would truly love to hear them below.

Thanks for reading.  And in case you are wondering…the gorgeous Jord Reese Watch is pictured on my wrist in the photo above. You can get 25% off your own via the link: https://www.woodwatches.com/g/motherhoodandmeals until December 12th, 2017.

 

 

Small Shop Gift Guide

Last week I shared my SMALL SHOP STOCKING STUFFER GUIDE  This week I want to share some latger small shop products that I know you and your little ones would love

1.The LITTLE PARTNERS LEARNING TOWER will give the gift of joy for you and your children all year long! It is an incredible means for getting kids involved in the kitchen which has been proven to help increase their interest in food. It is also great for craft time and for homeschooling through experience and conversation. For my full review as well as locations to purchase it with in Canada, click here.

2. The MIFOLD BOOSTER SEAT gives your child a more independent and “big kid” feel in the car while creating space and ease for you. For my full review of this innovative option for booster seats, you can look here.

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3. Travelling this holiday season? Pulling out a brand new REGALO TOT COT could be a neat way to announce the trip or surprise your child when you arrive. I think pairing with a new pair of Christmas pajamas would be a neat touch too! We love to travel to see family but we have grown tired of taking play yards, blow up mattresses, and bedding in tow everywhere we go. The REGALO TOT COT came in super handy this year and relieved us from the extra hauling. Not only that but the kids absolutely love them. They call them their travel beds and sometimes ask to hang out in them for weekend quiet time at home! You can find more information on our experience with them working this post from the summer.

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4. We have been using our PLANET BOXES for a few years now and the twins love them. They like to help me pack them. They find them easy to open. And they enjoy seeing all food options at once to be able to go back and forth between foods instead of choosing one container at a time. I like that they are super easy to pack and clean. They cut down on our use of packaged foods. And they offer a variety of food colours, textures, and flavors all at one sitting. We purchased two Rovers a few years ago and that is what is pictured here. This is Clay’s and has a “no dairy” label from Mabel’s Labels in it since he is allergic to milk. MABELS LABELS personalized name labels would be a cool “bow” on top of a wrapped Planet Box. I also mentioned these in my Stocking Stuffer Guide.

 

5. DYLBUG PERSONALIZED PLATES are a perfect way to make your child feel special at meal time while also inspiring creativity with food and boldness to try new things. This is a wonderful approach to eating and establishing a good relationship with food and meal time. The alphabet series takes learning during meal time to a whole new level. We love to use our “L is for LION” plate at LUNCH time. See what I did there 😉😉

6. I fell in love with the look of OS AND OAKES shirts and beanies the first time I saw them but it wasn’t until I felt the quality that I wanted to overhaul my entire children’s wardrobe with this line. My boys love the little ostrich on the back and the slogan “catch me if you can” will make any child’s eyes light up. Honestly moms, this is a clothing line worth investing in!

6. A VEGGIE BUDS CLUB SUBSCRIPTION would be a great gift that gives all year long. Each box is full of recipes and activities to do with your children. It is a subtle and fun way to engage your child more with foods that they are less familiar with. This past month Rhett and I had a wonderful time making the Broccoli Nuggets from the November Broccoli Kit on a few occasions.

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8. Learning can be so fun when the approach is creative. Use of the KINDERGARTEN TOOL KIT has supported incredibly fun learning in our home for a long time. From letters to site words to numbers to shapes…this tool kit has it all! My older boys love using the white board, marker, and eraser for fun “spelling bees” and math games while Rhett likes to find shapes in the house that match the shape flash cards. We also love to use the letter cards when we bake to make our kitchen time learning time too.

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There are many other wonderful shops that I would like to highlight, but I will stop here for now. I hope this has given you some ideas for your little ones of gifts that will be useful for you and exciting for them at the same time while supporting a mom entrepreneur. Later this week I will be sharing my “Expectant/New Mom Gift Guide” and next week you can watch for “This Mama’s Favourite Things”.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Balance Between “the Cookies and the Carrots” of the Holiday Season

I am often asked how I handle holiday treats with my children so I decided a post was in order. The reality is that my main goal to create a healthy relationship for my children with food. So the choices I make surrounding food always go back to that. Here are a few things we consider when it comes to this topic.

  1. We want our boys to remember that their bodies still need the same base of nourishment that they need in all other seasons of the year. Treats are special and cannot cover the nourishment their bodies need. They are not to be consumed all day everyday. We talk about the fact that a treat is something “extra” we choose to enjoy. We encourage them to savour and enjoy treats rather than rushing through them. We also remind our chidren that they may not feel well if they have a lot of treats as they are not the main fuel for our bodies.  I often use the phrase “having more of that may cause your head, tummy, or teeth to not feel well”.
  2. Our boys are not given a treat or restricted from a treat based on if they are “good” or finish the food on their plate. The treat food is planned from the start as long as they feel like it. They are also given full option to save it for later if they are too full at the time it is served. It is not a “now or never” but rather a “when you wish to enjoy this”.
  3. We use “Division of Responsibility” to determine when and how much of a treat will be offered. The boys can decide if they will eat it and how much they will eat of it. If we are at a social gathering we chat about all the treat options and we let them know that they are welcome to choose one favourite OR share a few favorites with each other.
  4. We love to make and offer healthy, fun treats. Red and green fruit and veggie platters, berry cakes, green (spinach) waffles with red berries and yogurt, and snow men made out of pancakes and yogurt can be really fun and exciting for young children and yet still offer great nourishment. Involving them in the preparation takes it to a whole new level of excitement.
  5. Creating a fun food craft is another way that our children enjoy Christmas treats. They love to bake and decorate gingerbread men and cookies and although they have been known to take a few bites here and there, they tend to enjoy the decorating more than the eating. The reality is that creating joy from experiences rather than food sets them up much better in the long run.

These are just a few thoughts on the topic that I have. I hope it is helpful. Thank you for reading.

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Feel free to share your thoughts below. I would love to hear your ideas on this topic.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Small Shop Stocking Stuffers

I love finding stocking stuffers that will truly be enjoyed all year long. And while a small toy or book is wonderful to include, I also wanted to give you a few other ideas for your children’s stockings this year that would support small shops and be of use to both your child and you throughout the year.

1) Baby Buddy
The Brilliant! Kids Sonic took dental care to a whole new level in our home in 2017 and we could not be more thankful. You can read more about them here. Our boys absolutely love these toothbrushes…especially the fact that they light up and offer more autonomy in tooth brushing. They are the perfect size for any stocking.

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2) Mabel’s Labels
We use these phenomenal labels on everything from sweatshirts to lunch boxes to backpacks to boots to hockey helmets. There are several kits to choose from depending on your needs. You can find one of the kits we have here. Our boys LOVE helping to add a new label and call that item their very own. Sticking a personalized booklet out the top of a stocking would be very special on Christmas morning.

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3) Kiddo Bloom
As you know, I am all about supporting autonomy in children. We love how Kiddo Bloom cutlery does exactly that in our home. This stainless steel cutlery looks the same as the adult cutlery at the table but is the proper shape and weight for little hands. I also LOVE that they are one piece making for a more sanitary option compared to two piece cutlery.

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4) Kindergarten Tool Kit Flash cards
If you have a child between the ages of 2-5 these flash cards would be a really special gift that includes time together as you help your child learn their letters, letter sounds, numbers, shapes, and/or site words. In out home, we use the flash cards as part of cooking/baking as well as games and set learning times.

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5) Meals with Milton
Milton arrived at our home this summer and has been a welcome part of family meals, baking time, and more. Most recently he enjoyed watching us do some Christmas baking. We have Milton participate in the fun times AND in the “food trial” times so he is not anxiety provoking but rather a friendly face at all times. If you have a fussy eater or a child who struggles with trying new foods, I would consider having Milton peak out of your child’s stocking on Christmas morning.

6) The Original Squeeze

It’s not a bottle, its squeeze! And it is the perfect, mess free, easy to clean option for smoothies and purees for school lunches or on-the-go snacks. These come in a variety of colours and sizes. I chose my kids favourite colours when ordering and they use them almost every day. You can see my fill review here.

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I hope that this gives you some fun new ideas for stocking stuffers this year. Watch for my Small Shop gift guide for young children coming soon!

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

The Perfect Learning Tower for my Little Partners

Growing up I always loved helping my mom in the kitchen. I have memories of cracking eggs, stirring muffin batter, and placing cookie dough balls on the baking sheet. One of my fondest memories relates to Christmas time. Every Christmas Eve Day I remember getting up very early to make cinnamon buns from scratch. We would make the dough and wait for it to rise. My favorite part was to punch it down after it rose! Then we rolled it out and created decadent breakfast buns which we delivered to our neighbors on Christmas morning. To be honest I don’t know if I’ll ever master all of my moms baking skills, but I know the memories we created matter more than any of the actual food.

When my boys were born I wondered if I would be able to pass any of these experiences and traditions on. Would they have interest? Could I do it safely with more than one child in the kitchen? Well the answer is that they have been VERY keen and interested but the safety factor has been an on-going concern for me. I wasn’t comfortable with them sitting on the counter or a high, open stool so we often baked on the floor. This was not perfectly sanitary, usually lead to a huge mess, and totally full of chaos all the time. I longed for a way to make baking a little more peaceful and manageable and also more of the “learning experience” I had growing up.

That is why when I found out about the Little Partners Learning Tower I nearly cried with joy. The Little Partners Learning Tower is a very sturdy structure that has several height options allowing for kids of all ages to come right up to the counter level. It is large enough for more than one young child at once which has been very useful for me as well. This would be the PERFECT way to have my kids in the kitchen. I could embrace them participating in daily cooking and baking activities and incorporate homeschooling at the same time!

 

We have had ours for about a month and it has become part of our everyday routine. Rhett and I work on counting, letter sounds, shapes, and textures while creating recipes. He loves to experiment with ingredients and see how they will taste together. We have had some successful ventures and some flops, but no matter how the baked good tastes, he has always learned something new.

The twins have been really excited to help with supper. After being at school all day they have often asked if they can help prep dinner when they get off the bus. I have taught them more about measuring and following a recipe. I feel confident letting them to cut up vegetables or help make a salad.

Young children long for autonomy, independence, and to contribute to valued work. The Little Partners Learning Tower allows for all three to be met with the bonus of fun and time together. I truly cannot imagine our kitchen without it.

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In Canada, the Little Partners Learning Tower can be found at Babies R Us, Amazon.ca, and Wayfair.ca. As always, please let me know any questions you may have.

Until next time…stay healthy!

SUPER RHETT OATMEAL FLAX PANCAKES

Happy Monday! Super Rhett’s breakfast costume today is made from oatmeal flax pancakes (recipe below), peaches, banana slices, and blueberries.

Oatmeal Flax Pancakes

1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar or honey or agave
1.5 cups coconut milk (or alternate milk of your choice)
1 egg
1 Tbsp. canola or coconut oil
Mix all dry ingredients together and then all wet ingredients together and then combine without over mixing. Cook on your favourite frying pan for 3-5 minutes per side. 💜

Until next time, stay healthy!

Thankful for Kids in the Kitchen

During the holiday season life can be hectic and it can be easy to ask children to step aside and find something to do while we make holiday recipes and meals. The truth is that they LOVE to be included and truly can help woth many things. Here are five ideas of ways that your children can help prepare holiday goodies around your home.

1) Prepare Vegetables. Children can husk corn, pull the ends of beans, pull romaine lettuce apart, add ingredients to a salad, and wash any vegetable in the sink that you ask them too.  I like to use our Little Partners Learning Tower and put it right up to the sink and let them wash potatoes, beans, broccoli, and more! And you might be surprised how often they want to try what they have helped prepare…yes even vegetables!

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2) Pour, Mix, and Stir. Children LOVE to combine and mix. Try measuring out the ingredients for a recipe and then ask your child to come over and pour them altogether. And then allow them to mix the ingredients together. This is great for can sauces, casseroles, cookies, salads, and more. Sometimes they may mix more than needed, but a little extra mixing of mashed potatoes never hurt anyone;)

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3) Sprinkle. Are you adding grated cheese, hemp hearts, raisins, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice, diced apples, nuts, seeds, or coconut to any dishes? If so, this is a really awesome activity for children. It may not seem like much to you, but to them it’s really special!

4) Knead. If you are making any recipes that require kneading or separating of dough, this is a great one for sensory play and development. Children love to explore new textures and get their hands dirty. So whether it’s gingerbread or your old family Christmas bun recipe, get them right in there. Baked goods made with the love of a child’s hand ALWAYS taste better.

5) Pull Apart. If you are making a turkey dinner, you are likely making stuffing. Children can pull bread apart so easily and will love that they are actually allowed to do so! Lol. Once you have a big bowl of cubes bread, this is a great teaching moment as you can show them the other ingredients you add in. Then as children get older, they can help with that part too and eventually can declare that they made the holiday stuffing! This is something my mom has always done a wonderful job of. She let me help out from a very young age and I know my confidence in the kitchen stems from that.

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This is just a few ideas for you as you create new memories and traditions with your little ones this holiday season. At the end of it all you will likely feel a touch more frazzled than if you had worked on it alone, but your heart will be much fuller and the memories you make will last much longer than any of the food you bake.

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Until next time, stay healthy!

Peanut Butter Hemp Cookies

When your three year old suggests making peanut butter cookies you can’t say no. But if you are like me, you try to think of a way to make them a little bit healthier than your gramma’s old fashioned recipe. 😉

From that exact scenario this recipe was born. And if you have a peanut allergy in your family then Almond Butter would work or if want to send these as a treat in your child’s lunch then WowButter or SunButter would be just great too!

Ingredients

1 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup melted Garden of Life coconut oil

1/3 cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts

2 eggs

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. baking powder

Instructions

1) Mix together peanut butter, coconut oil, eggs, hemp hearts, coconut sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.

2) Once this is a smooth mixture stir in baking powder and whole wheat flour.

3) Take 2 Tbsp. portions and roll into a ball then flatten the dough down a bit onto a baking stone or sheet

4) Bake in 375 degree F oven for 18-20 minutes.

5) Once cooled, serve with a glass of choice of milk or yogurt and a sliced banana.

Note: Because these cookies have hemp hearts in them they should be stored in the fridge or freezer. And trust me that this is a good thing. If these little goodies sit out on the counter they  are WAY to tempting to overeat.

Hope your family enjoys these as much as ours!

Until next time…stay healthy!

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One Pot Zucchini Noodle Bruschetta

In case you missed it on my Instagram today, this amazing “one pot meal” had on 4 ingredients and took about 5 minutes to make.

Here is the recipe:
Sauté Spiralized Zucchini (aka #zoodles) with bruschetta mix. Once warmed through add a handful of Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts and a handful of pine nuts. Then serve. You could also make this with any other spiraled veg.

This is a veggie packed meal, high in flavor, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids!

Tip for little ones: I like to cut the zoodles up for my kids and add shredded cheese (Daiya Foods cheese for Clay since needs Dairy Free). It helps everything stick together a little easier. Hope your family loves this one as much as we do!

 

 

The Innovative and Amazing MIFOLD Booster Seat

This post was made possible by a collaboration with MIFOLD. The thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% mine.

This past summer my husband and I were chatting about how hard it is to travel with large car seats and how expensive rental cars are. We wished there was a way to take an uber or a taxi when we arrive on holidays but it seemed unrealistic to take car seats in and out all the time. We wondered if there was a more portable booster seat for our twins to at least to cut down on all we need to carry. We started researching and came across the mifold. This genius invention would meet our desires perfectly. The only issue that we could see was that it was certified for the USA and we live in Canada. With a few more minutes of research, we found that the mifold had recently been approved for use in Canada too. This meant that it would work for travel as well as everyday life at home. So now that I have explained how we became interested in the mifold, let me explain what exactly it is.

The mifold is a booster seat that allows for your child to be securely buckled into the car without the traditional bulkiness that a traditional booster seat brings. The mifold is a booster seat that weighs 1.6 pounds (yes, you read that correctly…the same weight as a small water bottle) and is about the size of large book (folds up to 10” by 5”). It easily fits in a backpack or large purse and can conveniently be transported from vehicle to vehicle.

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How does something so light and small and transportable keep your child safe? It’s quite simple actually. The mifold securely holds the seatbelt down to the child’s level. It rests on the bones of the hips, off the delicate stomach area, and on the shoulder, off the face and neck. This varies from traditional booster seats which raises the child up to be in a position of an adult.

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We have had our mifolds for about a month now and even though we have not gone on holidays with them yet we have used them several times for “everyday life” activities.
Here are three things that love about the mifold so far:

1) Easy to move/creates more space. In our van the bucket seats can now be used for the twins or adult passengers without the fuss of lugging heavy car seats in and out. In our car, we no longer need to jam the back seat with three car seats. We can fit the mifolds on either side of one car seat leaving more breathing room. Also, we can use those outer two seats for other things very easily between times that the children are in the vehicle. Once our youngest meets booster seat requirements then we will be able to have all three in mifolds across the back seat. The MIFOLD is designed for children 4 and over and is for the weight category of 40 to 100 pounds and height range of 40” to 57”.

2) Easy to transport. If we need someone to pick the twins up from school, we send the mifolds in their backpack. They easily fit and are light weight so are realistic to add to the twins load. We no longer need to add a car seat to anyone else’s car. Installation of the mifold can be done by the alternate caretaker and only takes 1-2 minutes unlike a car seat which can take 5-10 minutes (or more if it’s me installing!).

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3) Easy to clean. We like to give our children snacks on the go to ensure that they are well fed when arriving at various activities. Crackers, raisins, and other crumbly or gooey snacks have been banned from car seats in our home because of the awful mess they create. With car rides with the mifolds, we are back to offering these types of snacks. The mifold does not have little pockets that food can get caught in and are easy to wipe down with a little mild soap and water if needed.
Whether you have travel plans or just day to day booster seat needs, I would definitely recommend checking out the mifold for your child.
In Canada the Mifold is available for purchase at Canadian Tire (www.canadiantire.ca/en/mifold-booster-seat.html) and on the Mifold Canada website (www.mifold.ca/en/products). For addition information about the Mifold, please see the Mifold Canada website (www.mifold.ca) or the Mifold Canada Facebook Page: (https://www.facebook.com/mifoldcanada/).

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