Author Archives: Rose Forrest

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.

Plastic Junk around us

Water Water Everywhere, and Plastic Crap Too

We are at the beach for a weekend get-away. This morning I got up with the kids and hit the beach before the sun got too bright. Even early, the beach was crowded with dads pulling carts and buggies full of colorful plastic junk. They discussed the various advantages of the wheels on their sand conveyance contraptions as they erected tents, laid down blankets, set up chairs, and emptied huge bags of toys.

I felt momentarily inadequate. We dig with our hands, sit in the sand, and dry off in the sun. Like the readers of this blog (at least the real readers and not my poor friends and family who feel obligated to read it), we are conservationists, which means in many ways we are minimalists. Very few would disagree with the argument that an abundance of unrecycled plastic crap is bad for the environment. Consider the resources to make and transport junk that never biodegrades and gets into our ecological system.

I beleive there is a a human cost too. As human beings we evolved close to the earth, and it’s only relatively recently that corporations have encouranged us to remove ourselves from nature. We are still part of the earth. Our brains are wired to take in all the sensations around us. We are meant to see it, smell it, and touch it. The beach is a great place to exercise our senses. You can feel the sand, taste the salt, listen to the waves, watch the sunset into the ocean. Some scientists believe we draw electons from the earth when we walk barefoot. Google “earthing.”

The problem I see it that all this plastic junk is getting in the way of really experiencing the beach. It’s insulating our senses. Plus, it ends up littering the beach or in a landfill for eternity.

Despite the lack of plastic junk (we did have one pail and shovel, but the shovel broke) we had a great morning at the beach.

A plastic free beach experience

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Honest Parent, Honest Child

Lately I’ve been catching my son telling some little white lies. He has always been a very honest child so I wondered what has been going on. It seems almost like a sophisticated way to manipulate a scenario to his advantage.

This morning he woke up too early. I asked him to lay back down and promised I would wake him up before I left for work. As I was leaving I saw he was sound asleep on the couch where I left him. I brushed his dark blonde hair off his brow and kissed his forehead and prepared to sneak out the door. It hit me…I had no intention of waking him up when I told him I would. I told a little white lie. A gentle lie. My son often doesn’t get enough sleep and I wanted him to get more sleep. I had the best of intentions.

I decided that as important as his sleep is, I don’t want to compromise my integrity. If I want to my children to be honest then I need to be honest-completely honest.

I shook his shoulder and watched him slowly wake up and look at me with a smile, building the trust he puts in me daily to do what I say I will do.

We had a private quiet breakfast together while the rest of the household slept. When I absolutely had to leave I asked him to go back to bed. He padded back up the stairs and said he will go to bed. And I believed him.

no bullying here

The Opposite of a Bully

Today was field day at my 1st grader’s school, a day most kids look forward to. Add dyspraxia (poor muscle control), Sensory Processing Disorder (aversion to stimuli such as loud noises), and ADD (inattentiveness) and it can be a disaster. For this reason I took off work so I could help my son make the best of the day.

What I saw when I walked onto the field melted my heart. One of his classmates, Ky, was holding my son’s hand. When I walked up to them she explained to me that she was his partner. The teacher didn’t assign partners, this was something Ky wanted to do on her own. She went from station to station with him even though it meant waiting. She showed an infinite patience.

I can’t be sure what about Ky makes her want to help. I also don’t know how she can tell that there is a special need among her classmates. Maybe because her brother has severe allergies she is sensitive to health conditions. Maybe her mom has talked to her about being a helper. Maybe she just has a heart of gold.

Every day I hear about bullies. In the news are the kids who harass their classmates on the internet. On the play grounds we hear who said this or that. I just want to recognize that there are amazingly compassionate children out there.

When addressing the problem with bullying I think we need to take a look at children like Ky…the opposite of a bully. She is sensitive to the fact that everyone is different and has different strengths. She wants to be helpful. In fact she’s rather be a helper than a winner. In my book…that makes her a star.

 

 

 

 

 

Sophie and brownies

When Dinner Becomes Dessert…

I usually like to have the kids help me cook, but I was anxious to get these blonde brownies in the oven before the kids came inside from playing. The hidden ingredient, also the number one ingredient, was chickpeas and I wasn’t going to tell them about it!

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are among the healthiest legumes you can eat. They are an incredible source of fiber- the kind your body can use easily. This type of fiber helps with digestion which improves absorption of nutrients, and also stabilizes blood sugar. Imagine a snack that fills you up, boosts your health, and tastes like a brownie…the recipe is below. These brownies work because the chickpeas have a nutty taste and buttery feel. After I made them we ate the whole batch in one night.

Let me know if you can trick your kids too.

Ingredients

Simple ingredients if you keep cans of chickpeas in your pantry

Simple ingredients if you keep cans of chickpeas in your pantry

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (look for BPA free can)

½ cup almond butter (ok to substitute PB)

1/3 cup maple syrup (agave or honey would work too)

2 teaspoons vanilla (not a typo. Remember chickpeas don’t have much taste)

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

Chocolate chips, somewhere between ¼-1/2 cup

 

Instructions

1. Turn the oven to 350 degrees and spray a pan. The recipe above will fill a 8×8 pan.

2. Put everything on the ingredient list except for the chocolate chips in a food processor. It will make a rich, thick batter.

  1. Everything goes in at once

    Everything goes in at once

A food processor would get this smooth. I didn't mins it a little lumpy.

A food processor would get this smooth. I didn’t mind it a little lumpy.You can stop right here if you want. This would be a great fruit dip. Go ahead and lick the spoon but don’t eat it all!

 

Because there is no egg you can lets the kids lick the spoon

Because there is no egg you can lets the kids lick the spoon

3. Spread the batter in your pan and shake the chocolate chips on top. Use a spoon to press them down a little.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. They are ready when the edges are just starting to brown. Just like traditional brownies it is ok if that center piece is still a little gooey.

Mussels

Mussels, a real fast food

So in today’s “adventures in grocery shopping” Andrew talked me into a parcel of mussels. He has ordered them at restaurants before and liked them, and I know they are a good source of lean protein, iron, and omega 3 fatty acids. I was worried they were going to be a hassle to cook though and we usually opt for an easy meal on Sundays.

Mussels

I was amazed by how quickly they steamed. It was almost effortless. I served them with quinoa spaghetti and sautéed vegetables. The whole meal took me 10 minutes and costs less than $10.

Wanna try it at home?

Start by bringing a small amount of water to a boil. Like just enough to cover the bottom of the pan a 1/4 inch. You can also use wine or even beer if your kids aren’t sharing with you. You can add fresh garlic or other seasoning to your water too.

imageWhile the water is boiling rinse your mussels and inspect them to make sure they are all good. Throw them in the pot. This is where I put the spaghetti in the next pot over. When I checked back the shells were open and the were ready to eat.

The big kids ate them right out of the shells. Joe had his cut up in tiny little pieces which he gobbled up. Sophie claims they taste like chicken. image

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Springtime Spirulina

Today is the first day of spring. We woke up to sun shining and birds chirping…and boogers.  All five of us were wrestling over the tissue box. It is that allergic rhinitis mucus, the clear type as opposed to the yellow green of an infection. I should have remembered because it happens every year since we moved to Maryland.

As grown ups my husband and I used to take over the counter pills, but I didn’t want to give kids that fuzzy head feeling. Last year I stumbled upon “spirulina,” and it worked like a charm. For us it literally turned the faucet of boogers off.

Spirulina is a blue green algae with incredible nutritional value. 70% of its dry weight is plant protein. It has the same calcium as milk and same iron as beef. It is also high in vitamins A and C. What’s more? It has natural histamine blockers. It works with your immune system to prevent seasonal allergies.

How do you get it? There are multiple ways. I prefer the powdered form mixed into a shake. I’ve also seen raw food bars with spirulina but they lack the 2000mg you need to see a big difference. There are also capsules but the dose is   6 a day.  If you want to try spirulina I urge you to buy a lab grown version from the store. Algae growing naturally absorbed heavy metals from the water.

I like my spirulina smoothies so much that I kept them up long after allergy season. It made it easy to consume my daily protein as a vegetarian. When we redid our kitchen last month my spirulina powder was moved and I forgot about it. Thanks to these boogers we can get back on spirulina track.

If you have tried spirulina post a comment with how you liked it.

 

 

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My little gardener

Maybe I should have been annoyed, but I loved walking into the backyard and seeing this. Four paper plates full of mud and seeds. Andrew copped to it. He explained that as he was helping me in the garden he had tucked away a few extra seeds and wanted to plant them.

He put them in some great organic potting  soil in a compostable starting container under full sun and gave them a good soak.

I did explain how there wasn’t room for the roots and helped him move his garden over to a spot of soil next to the playhouse. I hope it takes off. It will be fun to figure out what is what as they grow.