Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Review: Stolen Children by Peg Kehret

Amy, a 14 year old girl, is asked to be a nanny for a day to a wealthy family with a sweet 3 year old daughter.   What starts off as a dream job turns into a nightmare as she and her babysitting charge are kidnapped.  The kidnappers videotape the girls and send the DVD’s to the girls’ parents to torment them before they ask for ransom.
Amy remembers the lessons from her father that she can always make any situation better and that she should never give up.  She decides to leave clues in the videos to help her family and the police find her.  She manages to outsmart her kidnappers and get away in spite of the odds being stacked against her. 
One important parallel in this book is the difference in the choices people make.  Amy and her kidnapper both lost their father at 10 years old.  The kidnapper uses this as an excuse to be a criminal while Amy chooses to honor his memory by living the lessons he taught her.  She strives every day to make him proud.  Amy ends up a hero and the kidnapper ends up in prison.
The message in this book is that your choices are what influence the outcome of your life, circumstances do not control you.  I think this is an important concept for everyone, children and adults alike.  Once you realize you have control of your own life nothing can stop you from realizing your dreams.  It’s so important for every child to be empowered to determine their life’s direction.
I would highly recommend this book although it may be scary for some children and there is mention of a gun.  It is recommended for children in grades 5 to 8 but I thought it was a fairly easy read.  I think the content is what makes it more appropriate for older children, not how challenging the writing is.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Healthy Snacking and Your Children

I’m so excited to introduce my guest blogger this week:  Kim Corrigan-Oliver is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner. She has appeared on Rogers Daytime, is a regular contributor to Lakeridge Kids Magazine and a variety of blogs across Canada, US and UK. She has a passion for health, wellness, real food and cooking and is dedicated to helping parents raise happy healthy babies. 

I love her website and she inspires me to make healthy food choices for myself and my child.  Her ideas are simple and delicious and she makes eating healthy easy, which is not always an uncomplicated feat.  If you’d like to see more of her writing and recipes, this is her website and twitter.

Healthy Snacking and Your Children

Snacking is very important for your children; their busy bodies need a constant supply of nourishment and calories.  Small healthy snacks between meals mean lots of energy, better health and happiness.
So what do you give your children for a snack, my suggestion is always to stay away from the products in the snack aisle, they are processed, have added ingredients your children do not need and usually have too much sugar. I always suggest real food, food with nutrients to support growth and development, food with fibre to support digestive system, food in its natural state, food that has not been processed by man – real, good food.
So here goes a list of healthy snack suggestions for your children:
Blueberries – fresh or frozen, blueberries pack a nutrient punch and are perfect for tiny hands.  If you choose to try the frozen route, be warned it can be very messy J
Banana slices – sliced banana with almond butter or pumpkin seed butter and a sprinkle of chia or hemp seeds is a nutritious snack and lots of fun to eat
Rice crackers or rice cakes – these are a standby in our home.  You can spread anything on a rice cake – we use hummus, black bean hummus, nut butters, seed butters, apple butter, carrot spread, mashed avocado – the ideas are limitless, experiment and see what your children like best.
Dried fruit – the perfect snack and most provide a good source of much needed iron, and fibre.  Favourites in our home are dates, cranberries and apricots.  I sometimes mix chopped up dried fruit in a bowl with Barbara’s O and Brown Rice Crisp cereal for my take on a toddler trail mix – disappears every time.
Smoothies – you can squeeze a whole lot of goodness in a smoothie.  Throw a banana, strawberries, blueberries, some rice or almond milk into a blender and blend until smooth. 
Any kind of fresh fruit cut up into bite size pieces
Pieces of steamed vegetables with dip (we use hummus) – children love to dip
And here is a brand new recipe for healthy homemade cookies.  These cookies are gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free. Enjoy!
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup quinoa flour
½ cup tapioca flour
3 cups oats
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp nutmeg
1tbsp baking powder
1tsp xanthan gum
¼ cup ground flaxseeds
¾ cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup almond or rice milk
1 cup maple syrup
1tsp vanilla
1 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine flour, oats, spices, xanthan gum and baking powder in a large bowl and mix well.
In a separate bowl combine coconut oil, maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla, mix well. Add apple sauce and ground flaxseeds and combine.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, mix until well combined.
Using a spoon place balls 2 to 3 inches in size on a greased cookie sheet, flatten slightly with back of spoon.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then place on cooling rack.
I hope that gives you some ideas for healthy snack ideas for your children.  Nutritious snacks will not only provide nourishment for your children but will make you feel good about what you are feeding them.
What is the favourite go to snack in your home?  Please share, I love getting new ideas too!

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Encouraging Honesty

Honesty is something that can be difficult to cultivate in children since they have endless imagination and it’s easier to lie than to tell the truth in order to stay out of trouble.  I know my son went through a stage when he was lying all the time!  I never knew when he was telling the truth and it made me nervous because one of the virtues I value most in myself and others is honesty.  I was so scared I was raising a kid who would end up a pathological liar!  It’s very hard to encourage honesty as well as discipline.  On one hand you know the child lies to avoid getting in trouble so you don’t want to punish for honesty but on the other hand you can’t let them beat up siblings without consequences just because they tell the truth after.
First of all, make sure you aren’t being too harsh with them.  This requires really taking a look at yourself.  Don’t feel bad!  We’re all trying to do our best and pretty much every parent I know has been too harsh when they should have been more lenient and been too lenient when they should’ve been tougher!  That line in the middle is usually a tough one to walk.  You just want to make sure your child doesn’t really have a reason to be so scared that they’re lying.
Second, make sure you’re not setting your child up to lie.  If you’re angrily asking, “Did you just hit your sister?” when you know they did it can be tempting for them to lie.  Instead say, “I saw you hit your sister” and then handle the situation. 
Third, practice what you preach and point it out to them.  If you receive too much change make sure you give it back.  Let your child know what happened and why you did it.  Make sure you’re not fibbing and not realizing it.  For example, saying “I don’t want to take this call, tell her I’m in the shower”  is a great way to show your kids it’s okay to lie to get out of a situation.
Another idea is to role play with pretend situations.  Act out situations where it would be tempting to lie and show your kids how to handle the situation instead.  One idea would be to have the child pretend they saw a twenty dollar bill fall out of your pocket.  Ask what they would do.  If they don’t know make sure you tell them.
Give them opportunities to confess when you suspect they are lying.  You can say something like, “I feel as if I’m not getting the whole story.  Is there a reason you feel you can’t tell the truth.”  This gives them a safe way to be truthful.
Catching them being honest will reward them for honesty.  When they tell the truth when it would be more difficult to lie make sure you point it out.  “Honey, you could’ve told me you didn’t eat that last cookie but you chose to tell me the truth even though you knew you might get in trouble.  I am so proud of you!”
Let them know your family values honesty.  One of the most powerful things you can say to a child is “In this family we…” In this instance you would say “In this family we always tell the truth. We do not lie.”  This lets them be a part of the family by telling the truth.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Pink Halter: Two Looks

      So I'm all about finding pieces that I can get a lot of use out of.  When I saw this pink halter I fell in love an knew I could get a lot of use out of it!  First of all, it's pink and girly which I love.  Second, it's a halter and I have been working my butt off in the gym since November doing tons of arm and shoulder workouts so I can rock out the halter this year.  Finally all that hard work will pay off!  The first outfit is a daytime outfit.  This could be something you wear out to lunch with the girls or carting the kids around.  When I was putting it together I was imagining myself looking hot running errands and then going to a baseball game.  The flip flops are so my heels won't stick in the dirt as I'm walking across the field.  The jeans so nothing will show up if I get something on my butt from sitting on the benches.  The watch is to keep track of the time for when those games run soooo slow.  The sunglasses to keep the sun out of my eyes.  The bag is big so I can keep extra snacks, water, and whatever else my son asks me to hold onto while he's playing.  I included some small earrings because what mom wants to wear big earrings while hanging out on a field?
     Now here is the second look.  I went for a glamourous look with a lot of gold and I based this outfit on things I normally don't do it mommy mode.  First of all, wearing white pants for obvious reasons.  I would never in a million years wear white pants within a mile of my son so it feels so good to get an opportunity to wear them.  Second, wearing dangly earring when you have a boy is a mistake because you never know when your going to have to go chasing after a frog or throw a ball around or dodge a soccer ball that was accidently kicked at your head.  These things cause dangley earring to get all tangled in your hair.  So I'm going to enjoy them when I'm off duty.  Third, a clutch purse that only holds things for you, such as lipstick, money, and keys is a luxury because most of us have gigantic purses to hold all of our kid's stuff.  Fourth, wearing delicate high heels is something I only do when I go out away from kids.
Which look is your favorite?  Do you have special pieces of clothes that you can dress up or down for lots of different occasions?

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