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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Amazingly Simple Snack Using Very Ripe Bananas

Every week, because I follow the guidelines of the food program to which I belong, I end up purchasing way more than four little mouths will eat, and I always end up with bananas that turn black.

I hate waste and decided to try an experiment with the kids. But I wouldn't tell them exactly what they were eating. Not that I would lie to them, but if I introduced the item as, "old bananas you wouldn't eat," I might as well just throw the whole thing in the garbage.

So I mashed one of the bananas until it was creamy in consistency, dipped a fork into peanut butter, and pulled out as much as would stick to the fork, creamed it into the mashed banana, and spread it onto crackers.

The kids LOVED it. I tried it on toast, and they ate that too. Next I will try it on bagels and English muffins.

WARNING! Never let the kids watch you make this spread. If they see you using OLD bananas they probably won't eat it, and if you call it peanut butter with banana, the probably won't try it, either, but if you call it "Banana Nut Spread," they will be curious. They might even like it as much as the kids in my daycare did. (Obviously not for children with peanut allergies.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Trusting Others With Your Children

As parents and grandparents, we are all too familiar with guarding our children. The most likely cause for vigilance is the STRANGER, but more likely, the person you trust will be the one who will abuse your child, whether he or she is a neighbor, a friend, or a relative.

Guarding our children requires us to be vigilant but not overly protective, so how can we know if we can trust the people in whose hands we place our children?

The short answer is to PAY ATTENTION to our children. Even babies will give clues as to whether or not they feel safe. If baby cries EVERY time we hand over our infant, consider that a big red flag. BUT baby's cries may be because you are leaving him and NOT that you are leaving him with somebody else. 

A baby reaching for his mother or father is common. A baby who looks terrorized after having been placed in the arms of a trusted friend or family member is cause for suspicion.

Children whose behavior patterns change abruptly should cause sirens of alarm to go off in your head. The child who is told to keep secrets will be less likely to say anything for fear of revenge, but she will show changes in her behavior. As parents we must pay attention to those changes and, more importantly, ACT upon those changes. 

We need to empower our children, to let them know the difference between keeping a secret that will happily surprise someone and one that causes fear.
YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOUR BODY is a free downloadable book for parents of children between the ages of 2 and 8. This interactive book allows you to question your children as you read it and to pay attention to your children's answers. It was endorsed by the (now defunct) Child Abuse Prevention Speaker's Bureau. You can find out how to get it by clicking the link above (the book cover). You can also read about it HERE.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Inexpensive Stain Removal

First let me tell you what doesn't work (sadly, I must admit that I tried this method):

Never place your baby's stained t-shirt in a bowl of bleach overnight – unless of course, you want to see your baby's t-shirt hanging in strips. 

The stain removal method that always worked for me was something very simple. And it worked on every stain I tried. I got a bar of soap (Ivory, Dove, Caress – it didn't really matter what kind I used) and I placed a few drops of water directly onto the stain.

Then I took a pair of scissors and cut out the stain.

OK, I'm kidding. You don't need scissors.

Wet the soap and scrub it directly into the wet stain. Add more water until you can see the soap lather. Then take the stained item and rub the soapy stain briskly between your knuckles. Run the item under cold water and the stain should be gone. If it isn't, try the process again. 

This method worked on baby food, blood, and even spaghetti sauce. Word of caution, though: if the stain covers the entire outfit, you'll have to wet the whole thing.

Or – do what I did when my carpet got stained. I spread a mixture of chocolate and coffee all over it BEFORE I washed it.

Sorry – I'm in a silly mood today. Sounds like it would work though, doesn't it? But REALLY the soap worked! And, for a mother who had no money, it was CHEAP!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Never Lose Sight of Your Own Creativity

We spend our days dealing with the stresses of jobs, children, obligations, and so much more. Carving out time for ourselves is sometimes impossible, but it can be done. See what one mom of two does in her "spare" time HERE

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I accidentally placed a Help For Single Parents blog on My Heart Blogs To You blog, so click on the link and you'll find it there. Just another "what not to do" blog.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Putting YOUR life on hold

I considered myself to be a devoted mother. In the back of my mind I KNEW I wanted to express myself as a writer, but the amount of time my kids required was extraordinary. Blogs didn't exist when they were growing up. Computers were in their infancy. Everything was pen and pencil scribbled on paper, or, eek - the dreaded typewriter.

When the kids grew up, THEN would I devote myself to (and live off my earnings by) writing. Of course, that didn't immediately happen and I'm still waiting to live the life I expect I will live by using my writing skills. But in the meantime, I blog and write articles as often as I can when I'm not caring for children.

Sometimes I whine in my wordpress blog about how invisible I am, about how nobody knows who I am, blah blah blah. But last night everything changed. Read about it here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Discipline Techniques

For years I thought that discipline and punishment were the same thing. Years later I discovered that discipline = guidance = teaching. Discipline ≠ punishment.

I've witnessed several parents engaging in what they believe to be discipline, when, in fact, it borders more on abuse. And I'm not talking about the little spank or pat on the butt parents give children when they run into the street. 

I'm talking about parents who pick their kids up by the throats and throw them into walls. I'm talking about parents who scream at their children when talking to them would be less scary.

If we imagined children to be the little people they are, little people who will one day grow up to be big people, and if we can pretend for only a moment that these little people are our grown up friends, we have to ask ourselves, "would we treat our friends this way?"

The most effective form of discipline I've witnessed comes from parents who bend down to eye level with their children, take hold of their hands or put their hands on their children's shoulders, look them directly in the eye, and explain why their behavior is wrong, then ask if they understand.

Another thing parents tend NOT to notice is those times when the children are behaving well. Instead of punishing children for every infraction, instead of screaming at them every time they disappoint you, mention instead every positive action, and reward them EVERY TIME!

If that last statement seems like an impossible task, think about this – do you punish them every time they do something wrong? Change the focus from what they are doing wrong to what they are doing right, get down to eye level and talk to them like you would a friend you want to support, behave this way consistently, and you may discover a child who longs to please you (and him- or herself) – a child who will grow up to be a loving, compassionate, and engaging child – a child who fears no one – a child who believes in him- or herself.

The reward doesn't have to cost anything, except maybe your time. Read them a book, allow them to watch their favorite movie, fix their favorite meal, play their favorite game with them. They will look forward to those rewards and want more of them.

Isn't that the type of child we are all trying to raise anyway? Your child's self-esteem begins when your look tells that child you love him or her unconditionally. Yes, you are sometimes disappointed with their actions, but your children look into your eyes to find out if they are worth loving. Screaming at them and hitting them does not translate to them that you love them.

Children also learn how to love themselves by watching the interaction of their parents. Does Mommy SHOW Daddy she loves  him (and vice versa), or do parents treat each other they way they treat their children? For good or bad, children will learn discipline techniques from their parents. And if parents abuse each other, children will decide, based on experience, to treat their future spouses and their future children – your grandchildren – the same way.

By treating each member of our families with respect and love, and by nurturing every relationship within the family, we enable our children to respect and love themselves and others.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Single Parent's Success

As single parents we wonder if the way we are raising our children is benefiting them. The mommy of this little girl must be doing something right. Please read today's post (April 8, 2009): Great Story That Didn't Make The News – But SHOULD Have.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Soggy Days

Yesterday was my youngest daughter's birthday. I can't help but think back to the first day she was born. I counted her fingers and her toes, but I kept coming up with six, because I couldn't focus through my tears. 

I tried to memorize her face so I would remember her features in case the nurses decided to steal her (I did that with all my children). But all I could see were her enormous eyes. So when anybody asked me what she looked like, I had to tell them, "I honestly don't know. All I can see are her eyes."

It's the first thing people notice about Brittney. Her eyes are HUGE! And so expressive. 

Brittney and I used to engage in silly conversations. It wouldn't matter who started it – it always began with, "I love you," and continued with, "I love you more," followed by, "I knew you would say that." And it ended with, "You always do."

And then her brother discovered us saying it, so he teased us with his own version of, "I LOOOOOOVE YOUUUUUUU!" as he waited for my response. So, of course, I had to jump in with , "I love you more." And then Brittney would say, "Hey, that's what Mom and I say to each other." 

It has been 25 years since I first looked into those big beautiful brown eyes. And every once in a while, when I say to her, "I love you," she still says, "I love you more."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Poopy Day # Two

FOR THE FAINT OF HEART: Skip this entry.

Today was the most fun I've had since the day I crashed my car while driving three of my kids and one of their friends to what was supposed to be our destination, Six Flags Over Great America. Instead we, along with occupants of six (or more) other cars involved in a total of five accidents along the cloverleaf of the expressway that day, spent our day in the hospital.

On this day, the 2nd day of April, 2009, my morning started at 6:30 A.M. when the first of my little day troopers arrived, a 3 1/2 year old little boy. I rarely watch him and when I do, he usually doesn't arrive until at least 8:30. His mother told me that since he generally didn't awaken at 6 A.M., he would probably go to sleep right away. 

He didn't.

Instead, this little bomb left explosions of furniture and toys everywhere. He likes to rearrange my rooms by throwing everything around so that my house looks more like a garbage dump than a daycare.

Followed soon after were four more children, two of whom are babies. I rushed around fixing breakfast, snack, changing diapers...

And that's when it got interesting.

Trooper #1 pooped in his pull-up – not his diaper, which would have made it easier to change – his pull-up. But it wasn't your ordinary solid poop; it was liquified and soaked through his pants (which I didn't realize until after lunch). Nothing makes a house smell more aromatic than wet poop soaked in a carpet.

I needed to get out, to walk, to breathe in the fresh air, to clear my (now aching) head. So the six of us went for a walk, where Trooper #1 and Trooper #2 (a boy, almost 5 years old) fought the entire walk. Like cavemen marking their territory, they battle for the superior position in any and every situation they encounter. 

Today it was sticks. 

"I have more sticks than you." 

"Oh, yeah? Well, my sticks are bigger."

"Oh, yeah? My sticks are longer."

Then I have to referee. "It doesn't matter how big your stick is or how long your stick is or whether you have more sticks than anybody else. What matters is how you treat each other. So be nice."

By the time we got home, I was so eager for quiet time that I practically threw lunch together and started feeding them a full half hour before their usual time. The babies were crabby and my nerves were beginning to fray.

And that's when the lunch lady showed up. I belong to a lunch program and get unannounced visits. Today was one of those unannounced visit days. 

So while lunch lady was leafing through her encyclopedia of papers she wanted me to read and sign, the babies were crying and fussing and yawning, and Trooper #1 was hitting everybody, because he's practicing to be a battleship, and the kids are crying, and I'm signing and reading and feeding and washing up and filling the plates with more food and the cups with more milk and the lunch lady is sitting back with her feet up on the table.

OK, I'm kidding about that last part. But seriously? Can you not see what's going on here? Bedlam, I tell you! If I don't get some QUIET TIME RIGHT NOW, I WILL GO COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY INSANE!

And then the lunch lady left. And quiet time came. And three of the five kids fell asleep. It was a miracle.

And then ... Trooper #2's mom came a couple of hours early.

And then ... Trooper #1's mom came to pick him up.

And then three more miracles happened all at the same time. Parents were pulling into my driveway to take their children home.


I'm alone now. I'm trying to hear George Harrison's song play in my head, "All Things Must Pass," and tell myself, "Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is Friday."

As long as I tell myself that tomorrow will not, I repeat NOT, be a repeat of today, I can sleep peacefully tonight knowing I deserve a full night's sleep with wondrous dreams. My day is done!

Oh, darn, I just looked into the playroom. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Overwhelming Days

Some days are overwhelming.

Like yesterday. The baby in my daycare was happy ONLY when I was holding him. The second I put him down, he screamed. Every time I picked him up, he stopped. If he had been the only child in my daycare, I could have given him 100% of my time, but no baby needs to be held 100% of the time, and I had to attend to the other children in my daycare.

In my frustration, though, I remembered another little boy who frustrated me. I loved him with all my heart (still do), but for the first seven months of his life, when he wasn't eating or sleeping, he was crying.

And then he turned seven months. I remember the exact moment our lives changed. I walked into the bedroom after he had awoken from his nap. And there he was, gripping the railings of his crib with both fists, smiling so wide I thought his cheeks would split open. His arms and legs were shaking with excitement. 

He had pulled himself up. He was finally upright. Apparently THIS ONE ACTION was all he needed to become a completely different baby. He was happy. He was smiling. And he remained that way for the duration of his babyhood. 

James Hillman, in his book, The Soul's Code, discusses the destiny of a soul. The theory holds that every child is born with a destiny and that by staying true to the code, embedded in the core of who that child is supposed to be, the child will harmonize with the blueprint that is his soul's destiny. As parents or caregivers, we can either nurture that destiny or throw roadblocks in the child's path.

Often, when we feel helpless about our baby's frustrations, we have to hope and pray for a great deal of patience and understanding as they deal with things we can't understand. My son knew he was supposed to stand. He expected to stand. I think he was just impatient about how long the process was taking. 

I think the baby in my daycare is frustrated at his inability to stand too, and that when he can stand upright on his own, I will see remarkable changes. Like my son, he will want to be out of my arms exploring the world.

Today, my son is a United States Marine, still standing tall. Since he enlisted in March of 2001, he's been to Iraq four times, he got married, and he has blessed me with three more grandchildren – I rarely get to see him (and his family), though, and I miss him terribly. Now I'm the one who wants to be held.

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