Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hail, the Paczki

  
By Rachael

It’s paczki season, which means I cannot resist picking up a box of the hard-to-pronounce pastries from my local grocery store and bringing them home to share with my daughters. I have two daughters and the box holds four paczkis, so we girls each eat one. My husband doesn’t like doughnut-type desserts unless they’re Krispy Kremes, so I finish off the last one after the kids have gone to bed. It is indulgent and glorious.

Paczkis (usually pronounced poonch-keys, although it sometimes varies) resemble a jelly-filled or custard-filled doughnut – but don’t call them doughnuts because they’re not. They’re traditionally made before the solemn Lenten season begins (Ash Wednesday is February 10th this year) as a way to use up the extra sugar, lard, fruit, and eggs in the house. They’re a Catholic thing, and more specifically a Polish thing, and while I am neither, I grew up in Northwest Indiana where there’s a large Polish, Catholic population.

I was introduced to the paczki tradition when I was a new college graduate working on the copy desk at my hometown newspaper. I did a little of everything in the newsroom, including writing up church news for the weekly faith page. Lent was the time of year when I typically received invitations to join the Lutherans for really lovely soup suppers.

But before Lent, there was Paczki Day, observed on either Fat Thursday or Fat Tuesday during the week immediately preceding the start of Lent. And there was the annual paczki-eating contest in the community that my newspaper covered. Someone always brought a couple boxes of the pastries into the newsroom because those of us on the copy desk could not properly edit a story about a paczki-eating contest without having first sampled the paczkis. I loved paczkis from my first bite because they remind me of jelly-filled doughnuts, which have always been my favorite (and they’re spelled doughnuts in the Associated Press style book, not donuts).

After I got married and moved to the St. Louis area, I discovered the paczki tradition is alive and well here, too. Friends share photos of their kids eating paczkis at the bakery, and local news channels feature the pastries. When my oldest daughter was only a week old and my parents were in town, I noticed paczkis in the local grocery store ad and asked my dad to pick some up for me. I was a nursing mom in that early postpartum stage when I could drop 20-plus pounds in a matter of days while eating like a professional football player. I could have held my own in a paczki-eating contest.

When I share paczkis with my daughters, I usually explain the cultural traditions behind the treats, but for me they also represent a specific time in my young adult life. My newspaper days introduced me to the wider world and gave me a broader perspective in many ways, including Polish pastries. Paczkis take me back to that time when I was in my early 20s, immersed in quirky newsroom culture, making little money but full of hope, and I also was just beginning to correspond with the man I would eventually marry. The world was fresh and full of possibilities.

I picked up some paczkis this week and shared them with my daughters. As always, I sneaked the last one after the kids went to bed. And as always, it was delicious. 

Rachael is the managing editor for Mumbling Mommy. She is a former newspaper editor and a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University. When she’s not busy with her husband and two daughters, you’ll find her gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels. You can contact her by e-mailing Rachael@mumblingmommy.com.
 
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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tips for Holistic Parenting: An Infographic from Visually

By Heather C. --


It is pretty rare when I come across something that sums up what I believe most about parenting, but the infographic below does just that. 

Many of my friends refer to me as a hippie or a crunchy mom because of the natural and holistic ways in which I raise my girls and handle problems and sicknesses that come up. And yes, that is definitely what works for our family, but not every aspect works for everyone and not everyone has the same beliefs. I am okay with that. In my family, we take the ideas of holistic parenting and go far beyond this. 
The stuff that is shown below in this infographic, though? This is easy stuff. These are ways that you can respect your child. There are a lot of ways to do this parenting thing, but being compassionate never fails. Read on:

Tips for Holistic Parenting

From Visually.

What do you think? Have you tried parenting using the tips above? 


Heather C. works as the Social Media Editor for Mumbling Mommy. She uses the lessons her kids teach her to take each day at a time and embrace the twists life throws at her. In her spare time, she is a runner, yogi, reader, and freelance writer. Heather specializes in parenting girls, all things twins, and keeping her family happy.

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation.

While you are here, you might also enjoy these posts:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

5 Things Moms Should Teach Their Daughters

By Lori --

I am a mom to a lovely 3-and-a-half year old girl who is special and one of my closest friends. I want her to be beautiful in ways that extend far beyond having the best physique and precisely applied eye makeup. It isn't something all the clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch (or wherever the cool spot to shop is these days) or the best highlighted hair can generate. The beauty I want my daughter to have will come from confidence and love and things that I teach her every day. 


My daughter and I in a photo taken this summer by Little
Door Photography by Meagan Inman.
I know how important these years are and have made it a point to lay a good foundation regarding what she thinks and believes of herself. Every day I am with her, I send her messages through the things I say and the choices I make. It is so important to be conscientious of every move I make; her little eyes are always watching. I love having an active role in her girlhood and cannot sit back and let society be the one to teach her who she is, what she should be, and what makes her beautiful and successful. Here are five things all moms should teach their daughters:

How to get along well with other girls.

Face it; girls just wanna have fun, right? Yes, yes we do! Teach your daughter how to thrive among women. Teach her to speak kindly and befriend and compliment other girls. Help her listen, empower others, and avoid judging, too. It is so much better to lift others up than to tear others down. Girls should know that it isn't about the quantity of your friends, but about the quality. Surround yourself with good ones.

To see food as fuel.

A healthy relationship with food is something that is important for all girls and women. Whether or not it's intentional, moms teach their girls how to feel about food, plain and simple. If sugar and fat are what you dwell on, consider the message that sends. If you complain about the way you look, criticizing yourself with words such as "fat," remember that she is watching you. There are several ways to help kids have a healthy relationship with food. Teach her to eat in moderation. Offer and encourage healthy foods. Help her realize how her body responds to nutritious food and set an example by eating healthy. Don't set the precedent for her to view food as the enemy.

To enjoy being active.

Show her the benefits of exercise and how fun it is to be active. We go easy on the television and iPad and spend time outside in the yard, taking bike rides, and swimming. In the evenings when it's possible, I get fit by walking for a workout. During the cooler months, we take indoor swim lessons and visit gyms and indoor places where the kids can jump on trampolines and burn off energy. Encourage an active lifestyle and it's likely she'll appreciate the power of exercise for a lifetime.

To embrace her potential.

Most of us have an inner voice telling us that the choice we make may be the path less traveled -- and that is intimidating. Your daughter's future is limitless, so help her get over her fears and don't bring her down. Tell her that she can do anything with the right attitude, efforts, and resources. Encourage her to always try -- and reiterate that failing is inevitable and it is OKAY! Try
Photo credit: flickr.com 
to push aside your own fears so they don't seep into her dreams for her future and hold her back. Support her and be her biggest cheerleader so she will reach for the stars.

To know her (and others') worth.

I've seen the meme that says "Treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO" floating around on Facebook, and, man, do I love it! Treat others nicely. They are worth your time and respect no matter what they have or don't have. Know your own worth, too. Don't settle for being treated poorly by anyone ever.

Moms have a really important job -- and this is one of them. We work hard to instill what we believe is important in our daughters. We hope we will make a positive and powerful difference in who they are and the women they become. I want my daughter to know that she made me who I am today, too. I don't have the words to express my gratitude for all that she has already taught me.

Moms, what do you feel is most important to teach your daughters about life? 


Lori is a work-at-home mom living in Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis. She is mom to two children ages 5 and 3 and enjoys watching them grow. Lori also enjoys taking walks, shopping, reading, decorating, photography, and traveling. Leave her a comment below or email her at mumblingmommy@mumblingmommy.com



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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Family Trip Tuesday: Bellaboo’s Play and Discovery Center

 



Editor's Note: View all posts in our Family Trip Tuesday series at this link


By Rachael

Every year during Christmas break, we travel to Northwest Indiana to visit my family. Winters are harsh in this region perched on the southern shores of Lake Michigan, and my 4- and 8-year-old daughters and their preschool-aged cousins get restless when they’re stuck indoors for days on end at Grandpa and Grandma’s house because of cold weather and snow. So last month when we made our annual trip to see family, we planned a day for the kids to burn off steam at Bellaboo’s Play and Discovery Center.

Bellaboo’s, located at 2800 Colorado Street, Lake Station, Ind., is part of Three Rivers County Park near Chicago. It’s a large play center geared toward kids age 9 and younger, with reasonable admission prices (our family of four paid $24 to get in on a non-holiday weekday), and it’s comprised of multiple themed rooms that include a water play room, a room with wooden train sets, a construction toy/building block room, an art room, a reading room, a face painting room, and an infant and toddler play room. One of the more popular areas is the child-sized village with a pizza parlor, grocery store, animal hospital, dress-up area, and kitchen. There are some seasonal outdoor activities we’ve never tried that are available during the warmer months, including pedal toys, a sand play area, and a garden area. 





Another hit with the kids is the large play structure with slides similar to a McDonald’s Play Place, and there’s a ball pit. (Be sure your kids are wearing socks.) The balls in the ball pit are regularly cleaned when kids throw balls through a bull’s eye target on the wall, which connects to a pipeline that funnels balls through a machine filled with cleaning solution and then funnels the balls back into the pit through another pipe. The ball cleaner wasn’t operating the day we were there. 


Making "kid champagne."

Also, several times a day, a cooking activity takes place. Children sit on stools surrounding a long, low counter and are given basic ingredients to construct a snack. My daughters made “kid champagne” for the New Year by scooping vanilla ice cream into cups of blue Kool-Aid, then gently blowing with a straw to make it bubbly. Seats for the cooking activity fill up fast, but if you don’t get in during your first attempt, staff hand out tickets so kids are guaranteed a spot during the next show.

Bellaboo’s doesn’t allow outside food and drinks, but food is available for purchase in the cafĂ©, with dining tables and booths located in the center of the building and all the themed play rooms lining the perimeter, so – in theory at least – you can easily watch your kids wherever they go. 


Menu items are reasonably priced and include pizza, deli sandwiches, salads, nachos, and hot dogs, as well as a variety of drinks and snacks like chips, fruit, cheese, cookies, and ice cream. While the food quality is fine, nothing on the menu is unique or adventurous except for possibly The Bat Cave, a sandwich served warm with turkey, ham, bacon, cheddar cheese, tomato, and lettuce, with a tangy onion sauce. The sauce makes the sandwich. My husband and I recommend it!

We visited during Christmas break when kids are out of school and crowds are more likely, but for the most part the facility seemed able to accommodate high numbers of patrons. While it did get busy especially during the late morning and early afternoon, it never got so crowded that my kids couldn’t play and enjoy themselves, and the adults in our group were mostly able to find spots to sit on the padded benches located in all the play rooms. The women’s bathroom was another story, where the toilet paper ran out in two stalls and the paper towels overflowed all afternoon from the trash cans. 




This was my family’s second visit to Bellaboo’s, although it’s been a few years since the first visit. We thought this year was a good time to get another visit in since the facility is geared toward kids 9 and younger, and my oldest daughter is approaching that upper age range. It won’t be long before she’ll outgrow some of the attractions and will be the one helping her younger sister and cousins. For the time being, Bellaboo’s is a fun place to take all of our kids, especially on cold winter days when they’ve exhausted all the toys and movies in Grandpa and Grandma’s house. 


Rachael is the managing editor for Mumbling Mommy. She is a former newspaper editor and a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University. When she’s not busy with her husband and two daughters, you’ll find her gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels. You can contact her by e-mailing Rachael@mumblingmommy.com.
First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation!   
 
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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Why I Had My IUD Removed, and What I Now Use For Birth Control

By Heather C. --


Within the last few months, I’ve had an epiphany. I knew I had fibromyalgia. I knew the symptoms showed up shortly after my twins arrived and I knew that it was mostly under control. But then I realized something that was sort of in the back of my mind but not sticking out like a sore thumb … If my body has these autoimmune diseases and it is literally attacking itself, what exactly makes me think that having a tiny piece of silicone and copper hanging out in my cervix was a good idea?

To back up a little, for almost 4 years, I used the copper IUD as birth control. I had it inserted shortly after my twins were born. Since my mom is a breast cancer survivor, I knew I didn’t want to use any hormonal birth control options, but the choices were pretty limited. My husband and I had used barrier methods in the past but wanted a little more security and ease post-twins because, well, we had just had twins! The copper IUD seemed to be the best fit for us, and my doctor at that time agreed.

Fast forward, and my health spiraled out of control after our twins were born. I suffered from pretty extreme postpartum depression. I developed signs of adrenal failure. I had no energy and was in pain constantly. My cycles were widely unreliable and heavy and uncomfortable. When I talked to my doctor about my symptoms, she checked some standard things with blood work and all my levels were in the normal range. She chalked everything up to the fact that I had twins who didn’t sleep through the night, and also because I had such a negative and traumatic birth experience. She said to just hang in there until we got past their first birthday and things would get better. (Great advice, right? She’s not my doctor anymore.)

In 2014, after going down every avenue I could think of: trialing medicines and supplements, doing strange therapies, and visiting more specialists than I could keep count of, I finally got a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. I made some major changes and felt much better on many levels. Something was still not right, though. And then it hit me. The IUD. 

I talked to my new doctor and he completely agreed with my epiphany. He totally understood why I got the IUD in the first place (He is a twin dad himself.), but he said these were some of the exact reasons why his office doesn’t put them in. He had an appointment set up for me in just 72 hours.

So what’s next? No IUD. No hormones. There isn’t a lot to count on, is there? My doctor suggested a natural planning method. He gave me some options and I consulted some of my closest friends as well, and I decided to start reading the book Taking Control of Your Fertility. I was scared and skeptical at first, but I soon learned more about myself than I've ever known. 

For the first time in the 20 years I’ve been having periods, I actually understand exactly what is going on with my body each day of my cycle. I know the exact day I ovulate (and which days I'm fertile leading up to it) and I know the exact day my period will start, and it isn’t based on my average month or a calendar or guessing. It is based 100% on physical signs I see and experience right in the moment. On top of that, my cycles have already calmed down and regulated since having the IUD removed. I am happy with the changes. Do I still have fibromyalgia? Yes. But I can already tell it’s under better control now than 6 months ago.

Have you ever had a medical epiphany like I did? What did you do about it?


Heather C. works as the Social Media Editor for Mumbling Mommy. She uses the lessons her kids teach her to take each day at a time and embrace the twists life throws at her. In her spare time, she is a runner, yogi, reader, and freelance writer. Heather specializes in parenting girls, all things twins, and keeping her family happy.

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation.

While you are here, you might also enjoy these posts:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Slow Cooker Mushroom Chicken Recipe

By Lori --

Crock-Pots are basically my best friends these days. Who isn't always looking for ways to save time and stay organized? I love recipes that free up my day so I can play with my kids and have dinner ready without slaving away in the kitchen all afternoon while the kids are melting down -- and having 72 dishes to do after we are finished!


This new, extremely easy recipe for Mushroom Chicken is now in my rotation. This is one of many delicious slow cooker chicken recipes. It tastes great served with mashed potatoes or over rice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. chicken breasts
  • 2 15-ounce cans cream of mushroom soup (or one family size)
  • 1/4 cup of flour
Photo credit: weheartit.com
  • 1 jar of sliced mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Rinse chicken breasts. Put salt and pepper on both sides of chicken. Mix soup, flour, and drained mushrooms and pour in Crock Pot. Put chicken breast into Crock Pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is tender. 

It's always tricky to figure out meals, especially when you want to stay on a budget and prefer things that are simple. This recipe is a winner. Hope you enjoy it!


Lori is a work-at-home mom living in Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis. She is mom to two children ages 5 and 3 and enjoys watching them grow. Lori also enjoys taking walks, shopping, reading, decorating, photography, and traveling. Leave her a comment below or email her at mumblingmommy@mumblingmommy.com



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Sunday, January 17, 2016

People Watching at Library Story Time

Photo via flickr.com


By Rachael

I’ve been taking my children to the weekly story time at the library for years, since my oldest daughter was 12 months old. My oldest now spends her days in elementary school, but my 4-year-old and I still like to hear our favorite librarian read books.

Sometimes life happens and we miss a few weeks, or months. We took a break from story time last summer because of travel, and then during the first week back to school, my husband’s car was the victim of a fender bender. We were temporarily a one-car family and our daytime outings were limited. Finally … my youngest daughter and I made it back to story time.

Even though we were gone for a while, some things never change. Over the years, certain personalities have always been in attendance. The people in the group change as children start school, move away, or get involved in other activities, but it seems like these types of kids always get reincarnated in new and different story time attendees. Story time is a great place to see a variety of moms and kids. It’s a melting pot for the families in our community, and it makes for entertaining people watching for introverted moms like me. 

The following personalities are frequent attenders at our story time. Maybe you see yourself or your kids in some of these descriptions:  

The Stander. This is the kid who stands directly in front of the book the librarian is reading so no one else can see the pictures, prompting the librarian to repeatedly ask him to sit down. A close cousin of the perpetual standing kid is the kid who perches up on his knees instead of sitting on his bottom.

The Happy Participant. This kid eagerly does all the dances and sings all the songs.

The Cautious Observer. This kid refuses to dance or sing. (This would be both of my kids, although my oldest daughter is more amenable to participating now.)

The Social Butterfly. This kid attempts to carry on inappropriately timed conversations with her neighbors while the librarian is reading: “Hi! My name is Stella. What’s your name? Do you want to be my friend? I have Minions on my underwear.”

The Space Invader. This kid doesn’t doesn't understand the concept of personal space. He bumps against other kids, gets in their faces, or randomly hugs or grabs them. 

The Sprawler. This kid lies on the floor the entire time. (My youngest likes to kick back and relax.)

The Random One. This kid gives totally off-the-wall answers to the librarian’s questions: “What is your favorite animal?” “Pizza!”

The Cute Baby Sibling. This little one points excitedly at the pictures in the story book, jabbers adorably, and makes everyone smile.

The Eclectic Dresser. This is the kid who frequently wears princess dresses, super hero capes, or pajamas.

The Tantrum Thrower. This kid runs around the room and refuses to sit, and she throws a screaming tantrum when mom tries to get her to settle. The battle-weary mom usually hauls this kid out to the hallway at some point.

The Distracted Mom. She reads a book or looks at her phone or laptop while her kid does everything but sit and listen to the stories.

The Mom BFFs. These women carry on involved conversations on the sidelines while the librarian is reading.

The Funky Mom. She has pink highlights in her hair and/or a nose ring.

The Big Stroller Mom. She walks in with a gaggle of kids and a stroller that can carry them all.

The Clique Moms. They don’t talk to any moms they don’t know.

The Friendly Moms. These are the women you chat with during the after-stories craft time, befriend on Facebook, and schedule play dates with. They are treasures. 



The Lone Dad. The stay-at-home dad whom we all admire for his involvement in his kids' lives, but in this majority-mom setting he often exists on the social periphery

The Involved Grandparents. These sweet people show up every week with their grandkids in tow.

Do these personalities regularly attend story time at your library? Do you or your kids fit any of the personalities described above, or do you see these personalities at your local story time? 


Rachael is the managing editor for Mumbling Mommy. She is a former newspaper editor and a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University. When she's not busy with her husband and two daughters, you'll find her gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels. You can contact her by e-mailing Rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Crockpot Recipe: Deconstructed Pesto Chicken with Carrots

By Heather C. --

It's the beginning of the year and healthy living is ON FIRE! Everywhere I turn, a new friend is posting about her diet, workout, physical changes, and more. As someone who advocates striving for a healthier lifestyle, I think this is great. I love to see my loved ones making changes to benefit themselves and their families.

The following recipe combined my laziness with my love of pesto. I hope you love it as much as my family and our dinner guests did! (This served 3 children and 4 adults. I'd say it's a safe 6 servings.)

Ingredients:

2 lbs. chicken breast (frozen is fine)
1/4 cup of basil (I used dried basil.)
2 cloves of crushed garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups baby carrots
1/3 heaping cup of pine nuts
2 cups water or chicken stock

Combine all ingredients in your Crock Pot. Feel free to stir it up. I didn't. Turn the Crock Pot on high for 4 hours. Remove the chicken breasts to shred. Add them back into the Crock Pot and let simmer/keep warm until you're ready to serve. This was about another hour for us. That's it. Do NOT puree the ingredients for the pesto ahead of time. Actually, don't do anything ahead of time. Just throw it all in!

We served our pesto chicken with baked zoodles (zucchini and squash turned into noodles using a spiralizer) on the side since our family is grain free. You may opt to sprinkle the dish with Parmesan cheese. We did not since our family is also dairy free. As described above, this dish is Whole 30 compliant, Paleo, and delicious!

Let me know if you try out the recipe! What are some of your favorite healthy dishes?


Heather C. works as a Social Media Editor for Mumbling Mommy. She uses the lessons her kids teach her to take each day at a time and embrace the twists life throws at her. In her spare time, she is a runner, fitness lover, birth nerd and freelance writer. Heather specializes in natural living, parenting, all things twins, and keeping her family happy.

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