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    Kids At Home

    Tips, Ideas, and Advice

    Friday
    Mar202015

    Happy Spring Equinox!

    The spring greens are showing, with colorful blossoms and buds not far behind.  The change of seasons provides just the opportunity to explore the natural world with your kiddos.  Or grandkiddos, nieces, nephews, the neighborhood children.

    Here is a short list of fun and educational springtime activities:

    Take a walk to find examples of all the different shades of spring green on the ground and in the trees.  Match them with crayons, paint, chalk, or colored pencils.  Talk about shades and hues, blending, and the color wheel.  End this spring color tutorial by drawing a favorite scene using the new color choices.

    In keeping with the spring colors idea – use colored paper (purchased or created by hand) to construct garlands or buntings or streamers of paper flowers.  Hang them around the house to bring spring color indoors.

    Provide a short tutorial on the equinoxes and solstices – orbital paths, the sun and moon, earth’s axis, hours of daylight, and, etc.  Draw pictures, make charts, or create a picture book.

    Using a field or identification guide (after a fun trip to the library!), compile a list of the newly sprouted wildflowers.  Maybe even take a photo of each one and construct a personal identification guide complete with description and notes.  **The field guides can also be used to find wild, edible greens and herbs; garden insects; or shoots of plants that will flower in the summer.

    Research and discuss the springtime habits of your area’s wildlife.  Which animals hibernate and which don’t.  When will the new litters of wild babies be born?  Where will they live?  What will they eat?  How long will they stay with their mommas?  What songbirds gather in your neighborhood – how does each build its nest, what color and shape are the eggs?  Don’t forget tadpoles, minnows, butterflies, and moths.  Gather picture books for the young ones and more scientific journals for older, school-aged children.

    Study the many religious and secular holidays observed during the spring months.  This would be a good introduction to cultures and religions not your own.  Older students can write a short report to be enjoyed by family and friends – younger ones could create a pertinent coloring page (and then post them on the fridge.)

    Bake cut-out cookies in the shape of flowers or baby animals.  Frost them using mashed fruits or juices for coloring, to imitate the many shades of spring.

    Read various passages from the bible on renewal, regeneration, and springtime.  Here are a few to get you started:  Deuteronomy 11:14; Psalm 85:12; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Song of Solomon 2:12; Hosea 6:3; Zechariah 10:1; Matthew chapter 28, Mark chapter 16, Luke chapter 24; John 6:40.

    Sources for coloring pages, information, research, craft ideas, and child-appropriate experiments can be found online or at the library.

    Whether your children are home educated or schooled away from home, seasonal activities and field trips will help instill in them an appreciation for nature and a love for learning.

    Tuesday
    Aug232011

    Right From the Start

    New parents can be overwhelmed with advice on feeding their bundle of joy — boxed baby cereal at five months, milk in a bottle at ten months, jarred infant food, toddler food, chunky food.  Doctors, grandparents, friends, the mail carrier.  Make-your-own, buy organic, flash frozen.  Books, pamphlets, documentaries, lectures.

    Whew!  There is as much advice out there as there are choices in the baby food aisle.  Well-meaning family and friends, as well as your thoughtfully chosen pediatrician (Surely you didn’t just go to the first doctor listed?), stand ready to advise, encourage, and instruct.  That is great!  Advice, research, and opinions help us make up our minds; help us develop our own philosophies.  Honing in on what we believe about child rearing, nurturing, and nutrition should begin before that wee one crosses the threshold.

    Whether breast fed or bottle fed”, your child deserves the best first-start you can give them.  Food wise.  When to offer solid food is a controversial subject.  Along with what foods are best first foods and what constitutes culinary no-no’s for babies.  Books have been written and research has been taken.  Your grandmother has her opinion, and your mother-in-law would love to feed her grandchild a bite or two of this and that.

    I, like everyone else, have an opinion.  Tried and true methods, with our own sons as guinea pigs.  We read books, studied research, and listened to our common sense (formed, we hoped, by discernment and intelligence).  This is the place for me to share that knowledge and experience — something that I love.  Rearing children, watching them grow, knowing that the best is provided them, in all areas (as far as is able).  Be thoughtful in the rearing of your children.  I challenge you to not go with the flow, to find out for yourself, and to stand firm against peer pressure (yes, even adults can exert pressure to conform to the society standard).

    To begin, here are a few book recommendations:

    The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League International
    Feed Me, I’m Yours, by Vicki Lansky
    Whole Foods for the Whole Family, La Leche League International, edited by Roberta Johnson

    These works are about first foods and feeding your baby, or have good sections on those subjects.  A great place to begin is reading and research; with these books available in your local library, through an inter-library loan system, or online.

    Food (ha!) for thought ~ breast milk and some infant formulas have complete nutrition.  Protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids/good fats (not so much in formula), vitamins, and minerals are part of their makeup.  If fed on demand, babies certainly receive plenty of calories.  Infants need nothing else…no ‘extra’ nutrition and certainly not added calories. 

    Healthy babies from healthy parents, fed properly, will thrive.  White rice cereals, canned peaches, extra feedings of mixed-up sludge, are not necessary.  And can be harmful.  Droppers of vitamins, for babies without medical maladies, are rarely necessary.  This is where thinking comes in.  You want to adhere to the advice of your pediatrician - your best friend with a newborn has many words of wisdom - family members may have reared passels of children.  However, this is your child.  Yours to rear, your responsibility.  Know for yourself how you want that rearing done.  Listen to the advice, glean what is good, and leave the rest.  Read updated material and the latest research.  Consider both sides of the baby food controversy.  Common sense and right thinking will win out.

    Next posting, we’ll look at making your own nutritious ‘first foods’, and talk about when that should begin.  I would love to hear from you!

    Tuesday
    Aug162011

    You want me to eat what?

    Here is the promised article on finicky eaters, selective eaters, or whatever you want to call your kiddos who will only eat Jell-o and boxed macaroni and cheese.  First things first, though; your children are, we are, what we eat.  With the reverse being true, as well.  Healthy humans require real food.  The occasional splurge, or ice cream run, is also part of human life.  A really, really fun part!  But not as the base for the beloved food pyramid.  As I hope you are learning, your philosophies of life should include beliefs about what you eat and why.  Which, for parents, also includes beliefs about what you feed your offspring and why.

    From the first moment that table food touches the precious lips of your precious little one, it should be just that - food.  Not processed, not mished-mashed with chemicals, fillers, or such and so by-products, and not “made especially for babies”.  Please don’t be offended if the reverse was true while your children were home.  If a healthy lifestyle is your goal, that can begin at any time, for any member of the family.  What you didn’t know, or didn’t do, then, has no bearing on what you choose to do now.  Or how you choose to manage a healthier life for your family.  It’s not too late, and irreversible damage has not been done.  Take heart!

    Okay, listed below are some recommendations for first foods for your finicky older eaters.  If your children do not eat this way now (no matter their age), it’s time to introduce them to the wonders of healthy eating!  Changing the family’s eating habits has to begin with the parents.  If you want them to eat their lovely steamed broccoli, then pick up your fork and do the same.  Start small, begin slowly.  One food at a time, introduced in a non-threatening way, as part of a family meal.  Have conversation first - let them know about the changes and why they’re happening - include them in the planning, shopping, and preparation.  Research good food and find fun recipes.  Don’t scold, punish, or make a big family fight out of it.  If your older children refuse to eat what is prepared, just keep serving it.  Don’t fix something else for them; don’t let them by with storming away from the table.  Stay calm and cool, knowing that these changes will benefit them in the long run.

    Vegetables:  green beans; white potatoes; sweet potatoes; cauliflower; carrots; salads (with few ingredients, at first).  Buy and prepare only fresh vegetables -  serve steamed, sautéed, oven fried, or baked.  There are great recipes online and I have some posted, and will continue to share recipes, on The Nourishing Home page.  Salads should consist of mild red, leaf lettuce (spinach and stronger lettuces can be introduced as they become used to fresh salads - no iceberg lettuce), mild chopped or grated fresh vegetables (carrot, zucchini squash, yellow squash, cauliflower), a drizzle of good salad dressing or olive oil, and maybe some grated cheese.

    Protein Sources:  chicken; turkey; fish.  Not fried, not coated with strong seasoning.  Plain meat, cooked well.  Beef and pork can wait until they are fine with real fish, and not fish sticks.  Leave off the processed meats for a while (if you eat them at all).  Prepare real eggs, feed them real dairy foods (not processed diary-like products), and introduce raw nuts (almonds and pecans are great beginners-for older kids only).  Learn to cook legumes; crock pots come in very handy here.  Mild beans, to help introduce them, are navy beans, red beans, pinto beans.  Wean them off chocolate milk, but continue to serve real milk.

    Fresh Fruit only:  leave off the canned fruit and excessive juice drinking.  Apples, pears, red grapes, and fresh pineapple are great ways to introduce real fruit.  Buy what is in season now and keep plenty of it around the house.  Fruit is the perfect snack; your children can really have as much as they want!  Prepare lovely mixed fruit salads.  Include unsweetened coconut and dark chocolate shavings for a fancy dessert.

    Whole grains:  here is where you will have to begin slowly.  Families, who are introducing healthier eating, tell me that they have the most trouble switching from white bread to whole grain bread.  White rice to brown rice.  Buy a non-threatening looking whole grain bread (☺) and keep it in the house along with your usual bread.  Serve both, slowly phasing out the adulterated bread.  Don’t make an issue out of it, but serve whole grain bread, first, as part of a sandwich.  Or toasted, with nut butter and honey.  Keep it up, don’t despair.  Do some research on cooking whole grains and start the family off with small introductions.  Barley and brown rice are the easiest whole grains to serve as a side dish.  Make them part of a pilaf or grain salad.

    The next few posts will include recommendations for feeding your older babies and toddlers.  Whether they are breastfed or bottle-fed, first foods are so important.  As is the timing of those first foods.  One of my passions is good food, real food, and its preparation.  Check back often and do share this site with other families with children.