Suppertime Stress – a Solution

Suppertime was getting to me. My two older kids get home shortly after 3pm, and I want to intentionally connect with them each day when they get home. We’ve got commitments and activities happening a few nights a week which means that supper has to be ready at 5pm so that we can all sit down together each night – something that is a priority for us. This meant that I was feeling the stress of wanting to play and connect with my girls and the necessity of having supper ready on time, and not just anything ready for supper; something yummy and nutritious… this was driving me crazy!!! I realized that I needed to come up with a better solution than just frantically preparing supper each night.

A couple of weeks ago I spent some time writing a three week menu plan that involves four nights of slow cooker meals a week (which are used on our busiest nights). So far, this has been AMAZING. My only deadline is getting the food prepped and in the slow cooker before it needs to start cooking, sometime between 9am and 12pm. The afternoons at our house have been stress free and fun! I can just enjoy the kids and rest easy knowing that supper is already taken care of. And, I have been able to try out some new recipes which have turned out really well. We have decided that we love our slow cooker. I have decided that I never want to look in the cupboard at 4pm again trying to decide what to make… because although I was fairly consistent with making a menu each week, I wasn’t consistent enough. The problem was that each week I went through the work of making a menu again and again. Why was I doing this unnecessary work????

Slow cooker in action!

Does this all sound too simple? Here are the main things that have eliminated suppertime stress for me:

1. I have a menu for every day of the week, that I never have to change or come up with again, unless I want to
2. I now know exactly what groceries I’m going to need for each meal, making grocery shopping much easier and exact
3. I can get all my food prep done in the morning, when I have more time to do so
4. I can get all the supper prep dishes done early in the day, eliminating piles of dishes after supper
5. I even have time to make a salad or add a steamed vegetable to the meal, if I want to, and if time allows
6. I have more time with the kids, and while I’m enjoying them I am not feeling torn about what I need to be doing!

Did you know that “families that share mealtimes at least four times a week see improved communication and healthier eating habits?” And interestingly enough, “children of families who regularly have dinner together also develop a protection factor against all important risk behaviors (focusonthefamily.com).” Sitting down for a meal together as a family has been a priority for us since we’ve been married, but knowing these things solidifies our commitment to do so.

What do you do to make the time before supper stress free? Has anyone tried making meals in advance for the month and freezing them?

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25: 4 & 5

Pouch Style Baby Carriers

Handmade in Leamington, Ontario, Koala Pouch Baby Slings are made from quality fabric as a comfortable, stylish way to carry your baby. They are compact, easy to use, machine washable and babies love them! No fussing with buckles or extra fabric, Koala Pouch Baby Slings are the perfect size for your body every time with no adjustments!

Koala Pouch Baby Slings are made from two layers of beautiful preshrunk cotton fabric with a touch of spandex, allowing your sling to form to your shoulder and to baby providing the ultimate in comfort. Every sling is fully reversible, with one side being a classic solid, and the other a stylish print. To care for your Koala Pouch Baby Slings, simply machine wash cold, and tumble dry low.

Pushing Your Baby Away

A few months ago we watched the movie Away We Go – an artsy movie (quite tasteful except for the first 20 seconds of the movie…) that documents the journey that a couple goes on to find the perfect place to raise their first child. In each place that they go, there are interesting people that they visit and in one location there is a weirdo couple that is what I would describe as hippy-new age EXTREME. One of the things that this couple has chosen is to only use baby carriers and never to use a stroller. They are in fact, extremely offended when a stroller is presented to them as a gift because they think it is absolutely awful to push your baby away from you.

This scene made me laugh very hard, because in a way I empathize with this couple. I feel bad for the babies who seem to be pushed around in their strollers very frequently (especially when they are very little) – I think that I would be lonely in there, unable to see my mom or dad, unable to feel their warmth and their heartbeat… you get the point I think.
That being said, I can definitely appreciate my jogging stroller. Especially now that Karis is getting heavy and I no longer wear her for many extended periods of time in the sling or carrier. Lately I have been taking all of the kids outside often – the older girls ride their bikes (and Zoey tells every person that we come into contact with that she knows how to ride a two wheeler with no training wheels – she is just slightly excited about that), and I run behind them with Karis in the stroller. Karis loves going fast while watching her sisters hooping and hollering in front of her! It is moments like these that I appreciate my stroller. But I do connect with hippy extreme from the movie. It’s all about balance right?

Everyday Toxins

Over the past couple of weeks I have been reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects our Health, by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie.

In this book Smith and Lourie experiment on themselves with different everyday chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis – the results are VERY interesting! At the risk of turning into a paranoid mama, I think that it’s important to be informed and to make the best decisions possible for my girls.

This compelling book gave me some simple, practical ways that I can reduce the toxic load in our household which will hopefully help us all to stay healthy.

-Avoid whenever possible plastic and rubber toys and dishes for babies and young children as well as all personal care products that list fragrance or parfum on the label – these contain phthalates and almost all mainstream baby lotions and body washes contain it!

-Eat a very limited amount of tuna and other fish due to mercury levels (although there are some safer options if you know what is safe to consume).

-Avoid teflon cooking pans as well as stain repellant furniture, carpets, and clothing. Teflon and it’s chemical relatives called PFCs, or perfluorinated compounds are very toxic.

-Avoid kids pajamas and furniture that are coated with fire retardants.

-Avoid all antibacterial products containing Triclosan.

-When possible avoid canned food. Virtually all cans used for food are coated with a lining containing BPA. We know it’s toxic – this resulted in the mass baby bottle recall, but it’s leaching into all canned food including baby formula (yet another good reason to breastfeed)!

I’m not going to go into all of the evidence showing why these chemicals are so toxic and nasty, but if you want to know more this is a great book that is worth the read!

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Fun things that we do.

I have got some wildly creative kids. They make us laugh all of the time with their excitement and crazy ideas. One of the things that I love the most is when we sing together. I don’t just mean have a little sing a long with the guitar and other rhythm instruments (we do this too and we do enjoy it). I’m talking about our life as opera singers! We regularly have entire hour long chunks of time where we communicate entirely in song – this is some serious fun!!! My husband works from home so he is witness to this craziness and I think that most of the time he thoroughly enjoys it (the rest of the time he probably wishes that he has a nice quiet office to go to… I better add here that he does not participate in these singing fiascos).

Another thing that we love to do is to bake and cook together. Every time that I start something in the kitchen the girls pull up their little chairs on either side of me, and if we’re baking we all put our aprons on so that we can get a little dirty as we create masterpieces in the kitchen. There are times when I just want to be alone with my thoughts and my ingredients in my kitchen, but I wouldn’t trade the time we have together mixing, tasting, smelling, and laughing together for anything.

Reading is one of our favorite things to do. Each week we head to the library for storytime with a huge stack of books that we have read, and we leave with an equally huge pile. Storybooks are the favorite for my girls – they love to imagine and to read all about different adventures. Its fun listening to them when they come up with their own stories as they incorporate different plots and ideas that we have read together into their own tales.

Doing crafts is right up there on the top of the list of favorite things to do for my kids. It doesn’t really matter what it is… it could involve tape, scissors, glue, paper, yarn, pom poms, feathers, or paint. They will make a big mess, and they will have a ton of fun. I must admit that huge messes totally stress me out! A couple of times a week I have to let this go so that my girls can create some really cool art projects. Afterwards I can clean up the kids, clean up the area around them and take a deep breath. The smiles on their faces always let me know that it was worth it.

What’s the craziest or most fun thing that you do with your kids??? I’d love to hear about it! Hopefully some new ideas will inspire myself and others.

Teething and Necklaces???

Karis has two teeth now, and we knew that they were coming before we actually saw them…she is not a good teether.  Throughout the teething process she still had a good disposition, but we could tell that she was in quite a bit of discomfort, and needed a lot of cuddling (which we happily gave to her). But, in the middle of the night we would prefer to be sleeping. So, what do we do about this? We like Hyland’s homeopathic teething gel when she’s having a tough night. We can put a pea sized amount into her mouth when she’s really fussy and it seems to alleviate her symptoms so that she can get back to sleep.  But lately we’ve been hearing a lot about amber teething necklaces too. My sister in law was the first one to tell us about them (thanks Katie!) and she’s had great success using one with our nephew. Since she told us about them we’ve been hearing about them quite a bit – it turns out that they are a very common remedy for teething in some European countries!

How do they work? Apparently the warmth from baby’s skin releases succinic acid from the Baltic amber which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. This improves immunity and the balance of acids in the body. It is said to relieve teething pain without resorting to any type of drugs – homeopathic or otherwise. Sounds good to me! I am continually amazed at all of the natural remedies out there that are so uncommon in our culture. Will it work? I don’t know, but I’m sure willing to give it a try – we picked one up for her today so we’ll see if her symptoms are milder with the next teeth that come in.  And, if it doesn’t help Karis feel better, it sure is a cute accessory!

What other natural remedies for baby do you know of that work for you? I’d love to hear about them.

Thanks for reading,

Karen