Leading By Example

This morning I told Clay that I was leaving for a race soon and I would see him this afternoon. He immediately had a huge smile on his face and said “oh mommy! I hope you win!!!” I thanked him but also said that I wasn’t doing it to win. But rather to spend time with a friend, support a great cause, and overcome my fear of running in a race. He asked me why I was afraid. This was a great question. I don’t really know why I have been afraid, but the thought of a running race has always made me feel suffocated. But despite that, today I ran in my first race, and when I came home I was able to tell him all about it and how it was wonderful and I truly had nothing to be worried about. I hope so very much that Clay remembers our conversations the next time he is nervous to participate in something.

Part of the reason I run is to be an example to them. I hope they grow up knowing that making time for physical activity is important and doable. It has not always been that way for me. I didn’t start running until I was in my 20s and even then it was sporadic. After becoming a mom at the age of 31 and gaining 65 pounds in my pregnancy, I wanted to get back in shape but had such a hard time finding time for activity with twin babies. So I started walking briskly with the kids in the stroller. Over time I wondered if I could do more. I added small 1 minute jogs into our walks every 5 minutes and then every three minutes. I would make it a fun game going fast and slow and fast and slow and the twin loved it!  Eventually I was alternating every minute and after a few weeks of this, all the minutes were spent running one day!

My first true 5 KM stroller run was HARD! I remember wondering if this was something that would ever seem doable as a regular thing. So I kept at it and by the time the twins were 18 months I was running 8-10 km with them in the stroller 4-5 times each week. I made sure we always had snacks and toys for them, a park destiation at the end, and music to listen to. We were in a great routine for a bit.

Then I became pregnant with Rhett and after gaining 55 pounds in that pregnancy I felt back at square one. And this time I was post VBAC and truly had to pee every 5 minutes. I decided that pelvic physio-therapy was the answer. It really worked well and when Rhett was about 9 months old I decided to once again start towards adding minutes of running into my walks. By the time he was 1 year old I was back to running 8-10 km 4-5 times each week. Sometimes I went on my own, sometimes with just Rhett in the stroller, and often with the twins in the stroller during Rhett’s nap time if my mom could be in the house with Rhett. It was a wonderful way to get fit again. But even more than that I found it helped with my mental health. It helped to clear my head from the noise of life. It allowed me time to pray and think and just be. Rhett is now 3.5 years old and this pace hasn’t changed. I still run 8-10 km 4-5 times each week and I love it! I find that if things come up to prevent me from running I feel almost suffocated. I love the fresh air. I love the quiet time or conversations with him about what we see in nature while running. And I love the way my energy levels are after I have run. Also, the boys love coming with me. I hope that soon they will be running along side me. I hope my example of making time for activity and finding a way to fit it into our busy life will stick with them  I hope they find their chosen type of activity and find a way to fit it in too at all life stages.

Our kids watch every single choice we make…

• TV time or activity outside

• Handful of crackers while supper is cooking or carrots and hummus

• Standing at the counter while eating or sitting down to enjoy

• Coke with your meal or a glass of milk or water

• Sitting on the sidelines or getting involved

So all this to say three main things…

  1. If you are looking for a great way to be active while being with your kids…brisk walking or running is a great option.
  2. If you are a runner and have never run a race, I would encourage you to try it. You may just find it isn’t so bad after all!
  3. Making choices that seem “selfish” may actually be a great way to model “self care” and healthy living to your kids!

Until next time…stay healthy!

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Our New “Main Squeeze”!

Did you know that we are all recommended to eat one dark green vegetable and one orange vegetable every single day? I don’t know about you but some days that is a hard goal for my kids to meet. Some days they gobble up their meal and other days they aren’t fussy on it. Smoothies and purees are a great ways to fill that gap. A handful of spinach or the addition of a little roasted sweet potato is easy when blended with other tasty foods. I love to offer them with a whole grain muffin at breakfast or for a refreshing after school snack. I have wanted to send them to school with my twins but up until recently I haven’t had a means to do so.

Over the past few weeks I have been making smoothies and purées in the evening, then filling our Original Squeezes and freezing them overnight. I add them to the twins lunches and according to my son Wes (who would live off smoothies if I let him) “they melt just enough to eat but not enough to be messy”. Yay! That is exactly what I was hoping for. I have included Wes’ favourite smoothie recipe near the end of this post.

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Other days I have been sending various combinations of applesauce/fruit purees including the most amazing apple/sweet potato/date blend which is Clay’s favourite. More on that soon. But first, if you haven’t heard of the Original Squeeze before let me tell you a little more about it. Then I have a few yummy recipes to share with you! 

The Original Squeeze was the first portable Squeeze container on the market. It’s sleek design allows you to pour your choice of smoothie, yogurt, or purée inside for your child to enjoy. I am fascinated by the fact that they stand up straight!!! This was huge for me…no spills! They are freezer and dishwasher safe and free of toxins, BPA, pthalatea, PVC, and lead and are dishwasher safe. Not only are these incredibly useful, they also have a cute design and helped us cut down on the environmentally unfriendly applesauce pouches we had been purchasing. 

I have been looking for something like this for a long time and am thrilled to share it with you. If you have been on the hunt for a way to take veggie and fruit packed purees and smoothies to the park or school, look no further! The Original Squeeze is perfect for the task. The Original Squeeze is available on well.ca and Walmart.ca .

Now, as promised, here are a few of my kids favourite smoothie and fruit/veggie purees that help them meet those goals for green and orange vegetables. Keep an eye on my Instagram page for a giveaway coming soon and over the coming weeks for more smoothie and puree blends my boys love to enjoy from their Original Squeezes.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY COCONUT (aka Black Forest Cake Smoothie when I serve it to adults)

2 cups coconut milk (or less if you want a thicker smoothie)

1 cup chocolate coconut milk yogurt (I use the Yoso Brand)

1 banana

2 cups frozen cherries

1 large handful baby spinach

Blend and enjoy!

APPLE/SWEET POTATO/DATE PUREE

  1. Peel sweet potato and dice into small cubes (about 1/4″ thick) and place on baking stone or pan.
  2. Dice or thinly slice 2 apples and place on same stone or pan.
  3. Sprinkle with tumeric and cinnamon.
  4. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes and apples are softened.
  5. Place in food processor and blend with 1/4 cup pitted dates.

Note: If you have a Baby Brezza or another kitchen appliance that steams and blends, you can steam and blend all at once and skip with roasting process.

The addition of turmeric and cinnamon to this recipe are optional. They add antioxidant and blood sugar balancing benefits in addition to flavor; however, the puree is great without them too if you do not have them on hand.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment here or send me a message through my Instagram feed. You can find out more about these squeezes and other amazing products from Elfe Juvenile Products on their website (www.elfe.com), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/elfejuvenileproducts/), and Instagram feed (https://www.instagram.com/elfejuvenileproducts/).

Until next time, stay healthy!

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Five Tips for Travelling with Young Children

We have had the opportunity to travel with our children several times since they were born and each time there have been things that stood out to me as significant in our success. I have chosen to share the top five tips that seem to hold true in all vacations that we have taken, whether for 3 days or 3 weeks, by flight or by car.

 
1. Be as efficient with space and time as possible.

  • When packing, have 1-2 back up outfits that are for the actual travel days stored in Ziploc bags at the top of one of your bags so they are easy to locate. Make up a complete one for each child with a diaper/pull up/or underwear and socks. The reason for the Ziploc is to prevent you from rooting through your child’s main bag to find a diaper or underwear and new clothes if they have a diaper blow out, accidentally can’t wait for the next bathroom break, or get car sick along the way. You need a new option as fast as possible. Also if room permits, pack a towel that can be sued to clean up any bodily fluid that has come out of the child at a less than opportune time.
  • When packing your child’s main bag, pack in outfits so that you aren’t bringing clothes that you won’t use. Bring one outfit per day with 2-3 extra tops in case one gets dirty mid-day with a spit up for babies or at a meal for older children. I plan on sleepers or pajamas to last for 2-3 nights. If these get soiled, then they are easy to wash in a sink and hang to dry if needed. For bathing suits, it is nice to bring two so that you have a dry back up.
    Side note: Bring a small container of clothing detergent just in case there are laundry facilities or if you need to do a sink wash for anyone. If you do not bring detergent, you may be left without a good cleaning option OR using one that causes a reaction to your child’s skin. Children get used to the detergent we use and vacation is not the time to play with that.

2. Set yourself up for successful sleep.

  • Ideal beds: Determine ahead of time where and on what your child will sleep. There have not been enough beds for whole family in most places we have visited. For several years we travelled with three play yards which worked well. Then when our older two outgrew them, we started bringing air mattresses. They were time consuming to set up, took up a ton of space, and Clay slipped off of his several time each night making a huge THUD on the floor. I was determined there had to be another way. Recently I found the Regalo Tot Cots. I was thrilled when they sent me two cots earlier this summer and we have used them on several occasions over the summer including sleepovers at grandparents, “camp” nights at home, and most recently a two week vacation to a family cottage. The boys honestly LOVE them. They find them comfortable and very special to sleep on. They have slept over 12 hours each night that they have slept on them and truly no complaints going to bed. Wes has had a few mid-day naps on his as well. Each cot comes with its own sheet and we let the boys use their favourite blankets over them. I have washed the sheets and dried them on low heat and they came out really well. No change at all! My husband and I were also incredibly thrilled with the compact carrying case and the 3 minute set up and take-down. The cots accommodate up to 75 pounds so we will be using them for years to come yet and will be investing in one for Rhett soon too!
    If you have any questions about these cots, please feel free to comment below or email me. I would be happy to answer them.
  • White noise: Houses/cottages/hotels all have their own unique noises. Children are used to the ones in their own home, but may find foreign noises alarming. Using an app such as NoiseBox on your iphone or ipad works well to help drown these out. I actually use it when I am away at my bedside too!

3. Young children like “the familiar”. It is beneficial to bring along a few things that remind your child(ren) of home. For example, have them choose 1 stuffed animal, 3 small toys (and I mean small!), 1 book, 1 blanket, and 1 cup. When they are involved in this process, they can feel secure knowing they will have these things from home in less familiar or completely unfamiliar surroundings. Depending on the age of your child you may also consider bringing their usual bowls, plates, and/or cutlery. This is something that I always do.

4. Bring toys and books for the travel time and the “down times”.  This tip will not eliminate the “Are we there yet?”, but hopefully it will help reduce them. A few days before you leave, head to your local dollar store and purchase several small toys/activities that your child will enjoy. Wrap them up individually and offer a new one every 20-30 minutes. It takes them a few minutes to unwrap it, and then they enjoy playing for a while. It helps to occupy them and keeps you feeling sane. These are also great for down times on holidays between planned activities or when you are trying to keep children quiet in the morning before other people are awake. When we are visiting the boys grandparents I find the mornings to be on the long side and this is one activity that I use to keep them quiet. I usually take wrapping paper and just re-wrap some items from the car/plane ride. I also like to visit the library either before we leave or at our destination to offer the boys new and exciting stories.

5. Be prepared for adequate nourishment. The tips for this point vary based on your vacation. Here are a few ideas:

  • For a road trip, pack plenty of bulk snacks with small containers on hand to distribute little bits at a time. These small containers can then be used on the remainder of the holiday. I also always take our PlanetBoxes with us. I can use them in the car if we travel over a meal time or as a picnic option as part of the holiday. For a plane trip, space is a little more limited, so packing each child with a small multi-section container works well or a trail mix in one container. KIND snacks are a great compact option for travel as they are lower in sugar than most other packaged snacks, shelf stable, and offer satiety for children and adults alike!
  • When you are arrive at your destination, head to a grocery store to pick up healthy snacks that are ready to eat such as whole grain crackers, almonds, yogurt, Babybel cheese, apples, grapes, baby carrots, baby tomatoes, snap peas, etc. If you do not have access to a fridge, then investing in a “plug in” cooler is a great idea. We have one that we use in the car and in most places we stay that are part of a road trip. If you do invest in one of these, you can also do more grocery shopping at home which saves money if you are heading to a cottage/tourist town which can save a significant amount of money and also ensure you have any specialty items that you need. For our most recent trip, I made up a two week meal plan and purchased most of the groceries from Costco before leaving. We transported them using a plug in cooler and one additional cooler bag. I will be sharing this meal plan and the grocery list that goes with it in my next post.
  • If you need to eat out as part of your vacation, seek out any Groupon deals or “kids eat free” nights at local restaurants. There are several sites for this information. Here are two that we have used:
  • If you are at an all-inclusive, then that part is a little more straight-forward.

As I said at the start, there are many other tips that have worked on various vacations we have taken, but these are ones that really stand out to me. I hope that they are helpful for you on your next trip with your children. If you have other ideas, please share in the comments below. We are all in this together and I love learning from you too!

 

 

 

 

 
Until next time…stay healthy!