Mother’s Day: A Reflection of Happy

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I wrap my new baby in my arms and feel an overwhelming sense of love –and fear. Since her arrival my life seems disjointed, chaotic, jumbled. I am thinking in circles. Round and round the clock goes. Tick. Tick. Tick. My house is an organized mess. My thoughts are exhaustively incoherent. Am I doing this right?

Months go by. And so do the gurgles and spit-ups and dirty diapers. Her first smile enthralls me. Finally, I think to myself, a nod of approval. And then comes a giggle. One, two, three more. Sitting up, crawling, first steps. I am flooded with encouragement.

Years go by. And so do pre-school and kindergarten. A new baby brother to love. I am standing in my kitchen and this blonde-haired, bright-eyed, six year-old beauty runs up, tugs at my skirt, and grins.

I smile widely. Right back at a ya little one.

And we continue on.

Happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy every second! Much love to you all… ~lisa

7 Ways to Live a Long, Healthy Life

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We all want to live a long, vibrant, and energetic life, right? Right. So the question is how do we do that? With the stresses of motherhood, careers, PTA meetings, extracurriculars, volunteer work, music lessons, and soccer practice – how do we keep ourselves healthy and happy while balancing the chaos that encompasses our every day?

Let’s first understand that health is not a guarantee. It is almost certainly a result of the choices we make. The choices we make not only for ourselves, but for our children as well. It is very important we lay a strong foundation of wellness within our families.

Here are some tips to get us engaged and active in creating and maintaining a livelier, healthier life:

1. Keep moving. Stay physically active. Walk, run, or cycle. Yoga, Pilates, Zumba. Whatever your preferred method of working out is (assuming you have one), continue doing it. And if you don’t have one, find one. Exercise not only improves mood, it also increases energy levels and boosts immunity.

2. Eat well. Know your food. Know your farmer. Eat the rainbow. When possible, choose local and organic. Organic fruits and vegetables are less likely to contain pesticide residues. Avoid industrialized meats and dairy. Instead opt for pastured/organic meats and dairy which are raised without the use of antibiotics and recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) which is a synthetic hormone used to increase milk production. Avoid empty calories, processed foods, and boxed junk. These foods contain many ingredients that contribute to weight gain and other diseases.

3. Surround yourself with positive people. It’s natural for human beings to feed off of each other’s energy. It only seems logical then that in order to be happy, you need to surround yourself with upbeat, optimistic, and encouraging people. There is no room in your life for the Debbie-downers of the world. Learn how to develop strong, intimate relationships with those closest to you.

4. Enjoy living in the moment. Live for today with what you already have. The grass is always greener on your side of the fence if you are willing to see it that way. What is the saying – Live. Laugh. Love.? Well there’s no better time to start doing those three things then right NOW.

5. Challenge yourself mentally. Never stop learning. For when we stop learning, we essentially stop living. Keep yourself involved in new things. Pick up an instrument, read something, take up writing or painting. Your passion and zest for life will stay alive and well if you remain open to new experiences and ideas.

6. Meditate. This is a great way to let go of stress, rest, and reconnect with yourself. It’s also a great way to relieve tension, anxiety, frustration, and fear. Mediation can be done anywhere at anytime. You can do it on the go with just the act of taking a few deep breaths or you can dedicate a specific time of day/night for a more intimate session.

7. Be thankful. Write down a list of things you a thankful for. And then? Be thankful for them. :)

Bunny Love: Ideas for a Healthier Easter Basket

I went shopping for my kids Easter baskets this week.  They are beyond thrilled that the hoppity hoppity bunny is on his way!  There is much bunny love going on at our house right now.  Except for the fact that neither of them wants to actually go see the Easter bunny.  Cracks me up!  I get so excited living vicariously through them.  Remember how fun holidays were when we were kids?  I do.  Easter was especially fun with all that yummy goodness I found in my basket!

Instead of mounds of chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, or marshmallow Peeps, I aim to live out a healthier Easter tradition with my kiddos.  A bit different from the way we celebrated Easter as a kid.  I try to be creative and avoid putting tons of candy in their baskets.  They each get one chocolate bunny sucker and that’s pretty much it for sweets.  Instead of sugary treats, I might bag up some healthy snacks or throw some organic fruit gummies in there.  My kids love when they get little ‘gifts’ for Easter and they don’t even notice the amount of candy in their baskets is practically zilch.

Ideas for healthier Easter basket treats:

  • Organic Granola
  • Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies*
  • Organic Trail Mix
  • Homemade oatmeal cookies
  • Organic Raisins*
  • Annie’s Gummy Bunnies*
  • Dark chocolate covered pretzels or raisins
  • Yummy Earth* lollipops, gummy bears, sour worms

Ideas for themed Easter baskets or Easter bags or Easter pails:

  • Garden Basket- Fill the basket with all things gardening!  Gloves, garden tools, seeds, small pots, sun hat, garden mat.
  • Dress-up Basket- Fill it with a tu-tu and wings, superman shirt, batman mask, lady bug costume, etc.
  • Outside Play Basket- Jump rope, chalk, jacks, beach gear, sunglasses, shovel and pal, sunscreen, etc.
  • Arts and Crafts Basket- Paints, crayons, coloring books, art pads, markers.
  • Doll Basket: You can buy a small doll or fill the basket with accessories for a doll your child already has. There are so many doll clothes, shoes, hats, bottles, and bags to choose from.  If you have a daughter, you already know this.
  • My Favorite Color Basket- Use your child’s favorite color for inspiration and fill, fill, fill!
  • Sports/Hobby Basket- Chess lover, make-up artist, dancer, singer…endless possibilities.
  • Book Basket- Your child’s favorite author and an array of new books to read.

There are countless ideas to make this Easter happy and healthy for your family!  All you have to do is think outside the box!

What are you putting in your kids Easter baskets this year?

*A little FYI:
  • Yummy Earth is certified organic, gluten-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, and has no chemical colors, artificial flavors, or high fructose corn syrup.
  • Annie’s Gummy Bunnies are certified organic and made with no added preservatives, vegan, gelatin-free, gluten-free, and absolutely NO artificial colorings.
  • Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies are non-gmo and no sugar added.
  • Newman’s Own Organic Raisins are USDA certified organic  and high in antioxidants.

“Bunny Love” was originally published in April 2012 by Mommy OM.

the real spring

Today is the Spring Equinox in this part of the world. A time for renewal and joy as the earth awakens from its winter slumber and life begins again. Spring is the season of rebirth. The smell in the air and the warmth from the sun brings us all a sense of peace and nostalgia. We are reminded once again of the wondrous beauty nature has to offer. The flowers are in bloom and the sounds of birds tweeting, twittering, and chirping bring music to our ears. There’s just something about the way spring rides in and changes the minds and moods of everyone it touches. It’s magical.

This magic also brings with it a long list of things that need to get done (you know, more to add to our never-ending list of mommy duties and whatnot), but it’s okay because it’s spring. Spring cleaning makes me happy. Dusting, vacuuming, digging, bagging, junking, watering, weeding, spraying, cleaning, and washing just seem easier to accomplish in the springtime. I don’t know why, but as long as my windows are open and the sunshine is rolling in, I can clean every toilet and bathtub in the house with a smile on my face. The same goes for rounding up dust bunnies from under the couch, giving the pantry a makeover, and sorting through the kids sock and underwear drawer. And when it’s all said and done (if ever), the celebratory dance I do in praise of my now organized and rejuvenated home could not be more justified.

Spring is also a time for cleansing our inner souls. A time for change. A time to look within ourselves, to be conscious of who we are and who we want to become. A chance to focus on what really matters in life and to reinvent ourselves as mothers, as daughters, as sisters, as aunts, as friends, as women.

Here is my “real” to do list this spring:

Happy Spring!

ps. It’s freezing and snowing where I live, but I am telling myself to embrace it. Hey, at least the sun is was shining today.

“The Real Spring” was published on March 22.2012 by Mommy OM.

Encourage Your Kids Fashion Personality

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Children are naturally expressive. Their diverse personalities are reflected through their voice, body movements, imaginations, and teachings. We learn more and more about our children as they grow: What makes them giggle. What makes them cry. Their favorite foods. Favorite colors. Blocks versus Legos. Crayons versus paint. More importantly, children too, learn to identify with themselves through the choices they make as they continually strive for independence.

One great way to encourage personality development and expression is through clothing. From early on, it is essentially ‘we the parents’ who define our children through their clothing. The clothing we choose for our infants and toddlers usually reflects our own sense of ideals, beliefs, and style. But soon, even younger children begin to show signs of fondness for certain colors, textures, and patterns in clothing. Long sleeves versus short. Stripes versus polka dots. Skirts versus pants. Most often, children will naturally gravitate towards apparel which reflects how they are feeling in that particular moment.

You may have a child who loves to wear tutu’s and princess crowns all day long. Or one that wears his favorite blue t-shirt every single day no matter what. A superhero who needs a red cape. A little one who won’t go anywhere without flowers in her hair and mismatched plaids and prints. Rain boots in winter and snow boots in summer. Sunglasses, hats, knitted scarves, etc. As long as they are safe and dressed in what is deemed “appropriate,” I say let them get creative.

By allowing our kids the freedom to decide we are instilling and encouraging not only sense of self, but critical thinking, positive assertion, and problem solving skills. And along with our guidance and love, these kids are destined to be little rock stars in their own right.

baby, it’s cold outside

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The winter blues are in full swing here at my house and this family is in need of some sort of “lifting of the winter spirits” exercise. You know, maybe something where we all get together in the morning, stand holding hands in a circle, and chant for the sun gods to shine some light and send some heat and bathing suit weather our way. I don’t know about where you live, but winter can get pretty damn depressing in the northeast. Every day is like groundhog day. Get up, look outside- cloudy. Make breakfast, get the kids dressed, start the car- freeze my ass off. Run back into the house, bundle the kids up in winter jackets-boots-hats-mittens, and scoot them out the door as quickly as possible- would you look at that it’s raining/sleeting/snowing/a blizzard. And pretty much every morning, I have the same conversation with my kids as we leave the house. Here’s my end:

“Hurry up and get in, I need to buckle you my head is getting wet.”

“Yes, you have to wear your hat, it’s cold.”

“Because I said so.”

“No, you can’t open your window.”

“Your boogies will freeze.”

“Sorry, but we can’t play outside today.”

“How are you going to roller skate in slush?”

“Your bike is put away for the winter.”

“I’m pretty sure your training wheels wouldn’t make it through that snow bank.”

“The park is closed.”

“Because they took the swings down.”

“No, we can’t go swimming.”

“Baby, it’s cold outside.”

As a mom of two very active and energetic young kids, the best way to keep them happy and thus maintain my sanity is to open the door and let them go, go, go. In spring, we throw on our rain gear and stomp in muddy puddles. In summer, we ride bikes, run through sprinklers, and picnic under a shady tree. In fall, we take hikes and go on nature walks.

Then comes winter.

It’s great in the beginning because the holiday season is in full throttle and the kids are preoccupied with Santa and sleigh rides. But then comes January, February, March. Can you say boring? After I’ve exhausted every do-it-yourself craft activity, book reading session, puzzle time, watch-mama-cook-dinner-fun, and the kids are still bouncing off the walls, it’s time to bundle them up and brave the cold.

My kids are desperate to get outdoors in the winter even when it’s 6 degrees and I can’t say I blame them. I’m desperate, too. Being cooped up inside (home, work, school) for months on end starts to take its toll. Any sign of sunlight and 30+ degree temperatures and my family is hitting the front yard like it’s an 80 degree beach day.

The benefits of keeping kids active during the winter are key to their optimum development and overall well-being. Outdoor exercise builds strong bones and muscles, reduces stress, strengthens immunity, releases endorphins in the body, increases much-needed Vitamin D levels, and allows for an overall better mood and night’s sleep.

So get outside with your kids even if it’s just for a brisk walk. And the next time you find yourself hauling out the Radio Flyer wagon and trudging through six inches of snow and slush in late January – take a deep breath, smile, and know that I am right there with ya.

Reblogged from February 2012 Archives by Mommy OM

Six Green Activities for Kids

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Turn off the television. Power down the computer. Hand over the Nintendo DS. It’s time to unplug and get our heads thinking, our hands doing, and our bodies moving. Here are a few activities that can help develop a generation of kids that are mindful of their environment, themselves, and others.

1. Take a walk. Take a stroll, a wagon ride, a jog. Play tag, hide-and-go-seek, climb a tree. It really doesn’t matter. Just get your kids together and get outside. What better way to take in mother nature than to be surrounded by it? Point out the sunlight and how it feels on your face. Be conscious of your breath as you inhale the fresh air. Look up at the beautiful blue sky and twirl in circles. Round and round, again and again. Go on, get out there.

2. Read. Read. Read. Set aside the Kindle and Nook and head out to the local library for story time. If you don’t live close to a library pick some children’s books from your own collection. Sit down with the kids and have them turn the pages, point out characters, and pick their favorite parts. Get them involved in the story by letting them act out scenes from the book. Ask them questions about the story and listen closely as their imaginations run wild.

3. Yoga. Yoga gives kids (and adults too!) strength, flexibility, discipline, and balance. Yoga is a joyous way to connect with your mind and body. The challenges presented with each pose help to promote confidence and self-compassion. There are so many fun yoga poses for kids to do as well. Some of these include: Tree Pose (Vrksasana), Butterfly, Fish Pose (Matsyasana), Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), and Child’s Pose (Balasana).

4. Arts & Crafts. There’s nothing like covering the table in paper and pulling out the glue, crayons, paint, and glitter. So many fun memories to be made by drawing and creating original works of art. For added texture and style you can include yarn, buttons, popsicle sticks, aluminum cans, water bottles, and so on. Check out Pinterest for more ideas.

5. Garden. Ready. Set. Garden. Grab an old window box or use a beach pail. Have the kids shovel in some soil and plant some herbs together. If you have the ability to grow your own garden, get the kids involved with planning which fruits and vegetables or flowers to grow, when and where to plant them, and then break ground together. Plan a day to visit the local nursery and have the kids pick out their own gardening gloves and shovels. Gardening projects are a great way to encourage an eco-friendly lifestyle.

6. Prepare food together. Start by shopping at the local farmer’s market or ideally your own backyard garden. Teach your children the importance of supporting local food. Help them connect with their food by explaining how it is grown, packaged, and delivered. After the food is picked or bought, get the kids in the kitchen and show them how to wash it. Then prepare a dish together. Finally, sit down at the table and relish in the beauty of nourishing your body with healthy sustainable foods.