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One day they’ll know I trick them

Need: after school snack
Have on hand: two zucchini
Solution: chocolate muffins

No one has to know about the zucchini
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4 cups of shredded zucchini squeezed dry in a dish cloth
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cups sugar (you may want more)
2 eggs
1 1/2 sticks melted butter
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Mix dry and wet ingredients separately then mix in. Spoon into muffin pan. Bake 45 min at 350. Makes 24.

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Things that make you go Poop.

A few weeks ago I found myself with my oldest son at Walter Reed to meet with a pediatric gastroenterologist. An x-ray revealed that he…really had to poop. “Constipation is very common in children with attention deficits,” the specialist told me.

My son already eats a healthy diet and drinks lots of water, but apparently he doesn’t think to go and it has backed his system up. She prescribed him a two step regime of prescription laxative. The first step was a “clean out day” followed by a twice daily maintenance phase, which could go on indefinitely. I wasn’t excited about the prescription, but after we started his stomach aches went away. For the long haul though I wanted to look at more natural fixes for his constipation. Hence the cookies.

My mother in law suggested prunes. My son is an adventurous eater, but prunes are gross. I found some recipes online for baked goods, but they all seemed old lady-ish. I ended up with this delicious creation that essentially uses chopped up prunes like raisins in oatmeal cookies.

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 honey
1/3 brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup flour (we use rice flour- you do you)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 oats
2/3 cup chopped prunes
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Step 1- all the dry ingredients go in a bowl. We only had whole cloves so I had Andrew smash some.

Clove smash

Clove smash

Step 2- add in egg, softened butter, and honey.

Step 3- add chopped prunes. A tip- take he pits out BEFORE mixing in with batter. Andrew thought these looked like poop.
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Step 4- drop onto cookie sheet

Step 5- bake at 325 for 25-30 min. It is hard to tell when they are done because they are a darker cookie. They should be firm.

Cookies

Cookies

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Muffins for Everyone- with no wheat dairy or sugar

We needed a quick snack this evening that would satisfy everyone. Sophie wanted to bake so it had to be simple. Andrew was hungry so it had to be wheat and dairy free. Joe is Joe so it had to be sweet. I needed it to be healthy. The outcome was the easy but delicious banana muffins.

In a blender mix-
1 banana
1 egg
1/2 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon baking soda*
Pinch of salt

Add chocolate chips and mix on low

Pour into a pre-sprayed 12 count muffin tin and bake 9 minutes at 400 degrees. Let cool. Enjoy.

I’ve made these before and after they have cooled I’ve put them in a bag for snacks on the go. They hold up well.

*if the kids are making this make sure you help with the baking soda- the other ingredients are forgiving but this one is important to the rise.

Andrew

5 things I want you to know about my special needs child

Most parents are counting down the days until school starts next week. When you have a child with special needs there is a whole extra set of apprehensions. There are so many things I want to say to help others understand. Here are five.

1. I’m really happy for you when your child achieves an accomplishment and I want to share in your joy. You can tell me. My child may not make honor roll or all stars but he works really hard on his goals. I’d like to share his accomplishments too.

2. It’s okay to ask me questions. I love talking about my son. I’m no expert but your questions may help me understand too. I’d rather you ask then wonder.

3. I want you to talk to your child about children who are different. Teach them that even when a child doesn’t learn the same way or run the same way there can still be common bonds.

4. The accommodations my child has shouldn’t detract from your child’s education. I know it is frustrating when your child’s teacher is helping a few kids in the class on a task yours completed independently. I hope your child sees this as an opportunity to help his peers. This is a lifelong skill.

5. I wouldn’t change a thing about my son. Yes he drives me crazy and yes sometimes I’m exhausted from his special care but he’s my sweet boy and everyday when he falls asleep I think to myself how blessed I am to be his mother.

No room for us

How Having Children Changes a Marriage, a Happy Wife’s Perspective

One morning you look over and notice there are no tiny bodies between yourself and your husband, so you move closer to him and see gray hairs above his ears. And when did those tiny lines next to his eyes appear? Maybe you feel a little guilty that you haven’t noticed. There was a time when you spent hours staring at your husband and tracing every line on his face.

That was before you had children.  

Now you probably know who is performing on Yo Gabba Gabba, but probably not SNL. You’re more likely to have recently discussed your distaste for the parenting skills on Caillou with your husband then the state of affairs in Russian-American politics.  It’s common knowledge you and your husband have probably arranged your schedules so that someone is always available to care for the children but haven’t made time to be intentionally together.

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Sometime between then and now, pre-child and post-child, your relationship has changed, or perhaps it is better said that you each have changed and you fit together in different ways.

There are so many things you have given up- girl’s nights, romantic weekend trips, dinner not served at 5pm, sleeping in past 7am. You’ve also given up being the center of your husband’s world. He’s done the same.

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You don’t have to ask yourself “is it worth it?” You know it certainly is.

You need only look at those little faces, a snapshot into the past, a time when your husband was young and you didn’t know he existed.  

My three children are tow headed like my husband was. One even has his bendy ear. Also, like my husband, they cannot wake up in the morning. The good news is they also share his sense of adventure and will try anything. Going someplace new is exponentially fun with my little family (once we get up).

The moment our first child was born, we each gained a new identity, me as mother, and my husband as father. The list of “things to do” for these titles are considerably more substantial than the titles of “wife” and “husband.” I got to meet my husband all over again. In the delivery room while my firstborn took his first breath I was introduced to the father of my children, a man with a responsibility to provide for his family, a man who needs to be a role model for his young children.

So times are different. There are things you can’t do right now. There are new sources of excitement; most important is watching your children grow into amazing people.

Children change a marriage, and isn’t it great?

 

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What I didn’t know then

While digging in the closet today I found this start to a baby blanket. I began knitting it eight years ago, when I was pregnant with my first born and found out he would be a boy. To me this scrap of yarn represents everything I didn’t know or couldn’t imagine before I had kids.
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Andrew was born five weeks early before I finished the blanket or even had the baby shower my friends had organized. The yarn and needles lay tucked away along with so many plans.

When I began knitting this blanket I never imagined how scary it would be when Andrew came down with RSV and needed a breathing treatment at four months, or how guilty I felt when he was two and broke his leg. I couldn’t imagine how alone and helpless I would feel when he was five and diagnosed with ADHD.

I also never imagined how full my heart would feel whenever I look at him. Or how I can’t help but smile at his clever observations. Or how proud I am of him when he does something selfless.

The present may be different from the future I planned, but it is better than I could have dreamed.

I binded off the blanket and decided to call it a scarf. Albeit a long ugly scarf. I gave it to Andrew because after all it was meant for him.

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If I were a rich mom…

As I was pulling out of the neighborhood to run errands on my day off I noticed a mobile dog groomer van in front of my neighbor’s house. “What a great service,” I thought. It got me thinking that now-a-days you really can pay for convenience and I wondered what I would pay for if I won the mom lotto.

The first indulgence came to mind instantly. Car service. I wouldn’t want to hire a full time chauffeur because I like to drive, but think of how much more you could get done as a mom if you didn’t have to drive. You could pull back ‘dance hair’ and tie karate belts as you lounged out in the back of a town car. Maybe we would be on time.

The next service I would acquire is a toilet cleaner. I would pay big bucks for this specialty. Many families use a house cleaning service. With three kids and a full time job I myself have a professional come in every so often, but no  one ever cleans in the recesses around the toilet, places you wouldn’t know existed if you didn’t have little boys. I suspect the bathroom by the video game corner may cost extra. That’s ok I’d pay it.

Everyone in Hollywood has a personal assistant right? I would get one too. His/her job would be to go through the kids backpacks and folders and sort out all the paperwork from school, sports, scouts, and activities. My assistant would sort them all and place the important dates on our family calendar, and then remind me over and over.

Next would be a stylist. But they wouldn’t have to a true professional, just someone who could convince the kids to wear real clothes, unlike me. Joe’s Flacco jersey went for three days in a row last week and it is getting too cold for Sophie to wear the lollipop dress every day.

If I still had money left over I would also hire a toy sorter. This may sound like an excess but really it will be nice. Think of how any board games, puzzles, and Lego sets you have right now that are missing one tiny yet critical piece. Having someone come into you house once a day and put everything in its proper place would make all the toys seem new everyday. Unlike the toilet service, I suspect we’d outgrow this need as the kids get older.

But oh well, isn’t there a quote like: “a rich mom is one whose children run to her arms when her hands are empty.” I guess I do feel wealthy with love.

What would you do if you won the mom lotto?

 

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The twilight of my garden

It has been a long time since I wrote a  piece for this blog. I have been in the process of packing up this household and building a new house on the mouth of the Magothy in Annapolis. One of the chores I didn’t relish was turning my garden back into a lawn for my neighbor who has been so kind to lease us space.

Many of my posts focus on my belief that children should have a garden to connect them to earth and healthy ways. In my garden my children have learned how to make compost and take care of pet worms.  They learned to mash up mint for homemade bug repellent. They grew fruits and vegetables and picked them for dinner.

Now that garden I built with love, where I took that picture of Joe in a pea patch, needs to end. Eventually when we settle into the new house we will start again. Last week the kids and I took apart the forms, dug up our special rocks, pulled up plants, and raked out the dirt. With a tear in my eye I shook a bag of grass seed over the lawn.

What happened next warmed my heart. My little 20 month old picked up a watering can and toddled around pouring little drops over the seeds. He recognized a seed and knew how to grow it.

In this moment I had new hope that my children’s generation will turn us around. Where we grow our own food free on pesticides and GMOs that make us sick.  Where we eat real whole food from local sources without the wasteful packaging that fills up landfills.

This hope energizes me to re start my garden and my blog.
Enjoy your fall harvest.
Summer

Squeezing the Last Days of Summer

By habit I am a procrastinator. In college and even grad school all my papers were written hours before they were due. My work wasn’t as thorough as my peers who spent weeks on their assignments, but I always made my deadlines. As an adult my procrastination has spilled over into how I plan for my children. Here we are at the end of summer and I feel as though we haven’t done anything on “the list.”

Last April I pictured this awesome summer where every day was the best-day-ever. This would be the summer we got to know the staff at the batting cages and mini golf park. We’d take the canoe out. There would be road trips and amusement parks. The backyard would become a drive-in movie theater or a campground. We’ve done zero of these things.
True it has been a good summer, but some of the best days have been the last two in our effort to squeeze the last drops out of summer. This weekend I told the school year “just hang on I am wrapping up summer right now.”
This past weekend was a whirlwind of adventure. We went to the park, had a picnic, walked to the beach, knocked on neighbors doors, set up the sprinkler, went to a ball game, played with glow sticks, and collected seeds from the flowers. I was also supposed to make minecraft crispy treats but something had to go.
As I check off the list I remember this time last year. Late August with the threat of the approaching school year and end of summer as we knew it. In a last minute panic I spent the entire day catering to the wackiest and zaniest ideas the kids could come up with. We made costumes and took a hike through the woods. When I look back on my memories of summers past, these are the halcyon days I remember.
So yes I am a procrastinator, but I’m getting better and I never gave up. I hope when the kids look back the remember these last days of summer as I do, so full of joy that come April we will start day dreaming of all the things we will do…next summer.
Children should have a garden

Having A Garden…The Simplest Way To Teach A Child To Respect The Earth

What better way to teach children to respect the Earth then to let them dig in it. Not sand box sand but the dark damp earth, full of wiggling worms. Having a garden provides an opportunity to do this. It also teaches children the value in protecting the Earth. Having a garden will make them good global stewards.  Here are three specific reasons children should have a garden.

1) Children should know from where their food comes.

It makes me sad when I see nothing on the school lunch tray that resembles real food. When children participate in the gardening process, checking each day for new fruits and vegetables they are eager to eat real food. They learn the names of bush beans, zucchini, spaghetti squash, and more. Later on when they see big companies trying to sell over processed junk as food they will be able to call them out.

2) The bees!! Don’t kill the bees.

For the love let’s all please save the bees. Children should be cautious of bees. Who wouldn’t want to protect their children from stings but we must as a society put the pesticide down. Children who garden will learn that we need bees to make food. We have butterfly bushes and milk weed growing around our garden to invite the pollinators. We consider ourselves a little safe zone for our honey making friends and we have learned to co-exist with them.

3) A garden, like life, takes patience and perseverance. This is important.

We dig the holes, plant the seeds, and water the garden with zealous excitement. Then we wait and wait. We start to give up. Then all of a sudden we have five foot high peas and we have to make more bamboo climbing poles. More than once the kids have pulled a plum or an apple off the tree before it was ripe because they couldn’t wait anymore. There are many life lessons to be taught in the garden.