Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Women's Wellness Wednesday: Avoiding MSG

Several years ago, two of my children were professionally diagnosed with ADHD.
I was quickly overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed with the conflicting suggestions to help manage the disruptive behaviors
that accompany this learning difference.
The one suggestion that made the most sense for the long-term was to examine what we were eating
and how it affected their ability to focus and control themselves.
In researching this, a couple things kept coming up:
1. Food preservatives
2.  Food coloring
3.  High Fructose Corn Syrup
There were other things that came up as well, but today I want to address
the preservative MSG.

(Click on the above image to make it larger!)

For more information on processed foods and their affects on children's behavior, read......

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving at my house.....the rest of the story

I'm reposting this from a couple years ago just because it still applies to life in my house!!
And the article is right....Martha Stewart won't be showing up this year, either!!!

"Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I’m telling you in advance, so don’t act surprised.

Since Ms. Stewart won’t be coming, I’ve made a few small changes: Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect. Once inside, our guests will note that the entry hall is not decorated with the swags of Indian corn and fall foliage I had planned to make. Instead, I’ve gotten the kids involved in the decorating by having them track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was their idea.
The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas. Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist assures me it is a turkey.

We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I’m sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 a.m. upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds. As accompaniment to the children’s recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don’t own a recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They are lying.

We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional method. We’ve also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door. Now, I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private" meaning: Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind my young diners that "passing the rolls" is not a football play. Nor is it a request to bean your sister in the head with warm tasty bread. Oh, and one reminder for the adults: For the duration of the meal, and especially while in the presence of you diners, we will refer to the giblet gravy by its lesser-known name: Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you regarding the origins or type of Cheese Sauce, plead ignorance. Cheese Sauce stains. Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice between 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You will still have a choice; take it or leave it.

Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. She probably won’t come next year either. I am thankful."

SOURCE: By Barbara A. Tyler (as Printed in Today’s Woman, November 2000).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving for children: Whimsy

Thanksgiving week is upon us.
Are you getting ready?
I've spent some time today getting my head wrapped around
the busyness that will be our life for the next 
7 weeks.
For now, I'm just trying to get ready for what is going on THIS week.

(Simple little place-cards that the girls made for us to place 
at each family member's spot at the dinner table.)

In years past we've had a difficult time making it through the ENTIRE day of Thanksgiving without the children ending up bored and looking for something to do.  It has been a challenge to keep them happily engaged and occupied while I'm in the kitchen preparing the meal.  By the time the meal is over, the parades are done, and the football games have started......the children are beginning to squabble and wander because they've run out of things to do.  We don't have the luxury of family members coming to join us who will entertain and play with the children.  So in addition to planning a menu and shopping for every ingredient beforehand so that you don't have to run to the store (which operates on a limited time on Thanksgiving Day) because you've run out of eggs, there has to be some forethought and planning involved in activities for the children.

I just fell in love with the ideas found over at "The Homespun Heart" this year.  She is having a Thanksgiving Party for her children, and has all sorts of lovely activities that are very meaningful, educational, and simple to put together.  Check out her Homespun Thanksgiving for Children!!  What a fun way to keep the children occupied during the first part of the day (or even after your meal when Mom and Dad are ready to nap a little, but the children are still gung-ho!!)  I LOVE the idea of the pumpkin play-dough!!!

If you're looking for some simple, fun decorations and crafts to do with your children, be sure to check all the free!! printable downloads from Vision Forum!!  There are 6 different downloads available and you could easily incorporate several of their ideas even now!!  It's not too late!!

I hope you're reading to your children too!!  There are a plethora of books available at your local library that can become part of your Thanksgiving tradition, as well as just good memories for your children.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Women's Wellness Wednesday: Parabens

Exactly why I now make my own deodorant (which I LOVE by the way),
and only use other hygiene products that are paraben free.
Make-up is a culprit as well, and I'm still trying some paraben-free cosmetics 
that are affordable for my budget.

(click on the image above to make it larger)

The instructions that I use for making my deodorant can be found here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Another Gift (Series Finale!!)......Betsy Ross House

What fun my cousin and sister and I were having on our walking tour of historic downtown Philadelphia!!
We had experienced so many things and were about ready to head back
to where we had started to grab some dinner before jumping on the train back to our hotel.
But there was just one more thing I HAD to see.
It was just 2 more blocks from Ben Franklin's grave!

In a unit study of 18th century history I did with my children, we touched on the amazing Betsy Ross.
What an inspiration this lady is to me.
She was married 3 times (all of whom she outlived)
and had 7 girls between the last two husbands.
She was a fantastic textile artist and entrepreneur who talked George Washington into a better design
for our first American Flag!!!
She was a lady of faith (Free Quaker) who supported our new country's fight for freedom!!  
I loved seeing this place!

Her grave site (and that of her final husband) are right there in the courtyard
of her home.

This building is directly across the street from the Betsy Ross home and I loved
their patriotic spirit.  
Can you see the rows of flags hung in each window?

After spending a few minutes here, we all agreed that we were wiped out!
We tried catching a cab (epic fail!), but ended up riding the bus (best 2 bucks of the whole day)
right back to the front door of the Reading Terminal Market.

While in Philadelphia, you must try a hoagie.
Some people think that it's just a Philly version of a sub sandwich.
But true Philadelphians (and Bill Cosby!) know different.
There is just something about the crustiness of the bread and how much
oil or sauce is put on it to make it juicy and oh, so heavenly.
So that's what my sister and I split at the hoagie counter there.
OR, you could go for what my cousin ate.....

Philly Cheesesteak..Baby!!

Thank you, Philadelphia, for your wonderful hospitality,
careful preservation of American history,
and loads of fun!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Another Gift (Part 3)......Independence Hall & Ben Franklin

Just behind the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia is Independence Hall.
It's right there.
You can't miss it.
You have to see it if you go to see the Liberty Bell!

(Can you see that statue of George Washington right in front of that white door?
Yeah, interesting story to come about that.)

The Old City Hall building is attached to the Independence Hall to the left.
Inside here we see where the Supreme Court met as our country was just setting up its laws.

So right about here on our tour, I began to experience some excruciating pain.
I recognized it right away.
My stupid hernia started acting up.
Right HERE!!
I was pretty annoyed that it would choose this moment to rear it's ugly head,
but I chalked it up to the long walk I had to take lugging my heavy bags just before my flight 
two days previous.
That's how this thing works for me.
Do something weird, but I don't feel the consequences for 2 or 3 days.
I don't get that.
Anyway, the only thing I could think of to do right there in front of Independence Hall was find someplace to lay down.
So, I had to fess up to my walking buddies, and they very graciously helped me find a place
to lay down on a bench.
Almost immediately, we heard the loud sirens of an emergency vehicle so we started to look around for what was going on.
Can you see the blue and red lights on that black car in the picture below?
It was some kind of unmarked police vehicle.
It pulls up right in front of Independence Hall along with a large white van 
and another vehicle behind it.
Out popped what looked like security guards to me, and
I was waiting for Mitt Romney to step out of that vehicle.
We never did see who these important people were
but they crowded around the statue of George Washington for a picture and left soon after.

After about 30 minutes of laying on that bench in the cold wind,
I started feeling much better.
Some cute little birds were flitting quite close to us, so I started throwing out some crushed
crackers and banana chips.
They just swarmed that stuff and we had the best time laughing at them.

It was time to move on, and just a couple blocks up 5th Street we found
the Free Quaker Meeting House.

(This man was playing the part of a Quaker in 1843, so he asked that we follow the protocol of photography
from that time smiling!)

Right across the street from this site was the burial place of

Random bust of Ben Franklin.
He is everywhere in Philadelphia.
Quite surreal standing right at the spot where such a colorful and important character
in the history of our country was laid to rest.
It's quite profound to walk where this man presumably walked during some of his most influential and 
inventive times of life!

**Join me tomorrow for the final leg of our walking tour**

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Another gift (Part 2).....Seeing the Liberty Bell

After spending time exploring the Reading Terminal Market, we decided to head out to revisit the Liberty Bell.
We walked the 6 blocks to Market and 6th street, and saw some amazing sites along the way.

I zoomed in on this statue of William Penn standing atop the Philadelphia City Hall.  
My cousin told me that the year the Philadelphia Phillies were in the World Series, some crazy person got the job of getting up there and putting a Phillies jersey on this statue!!
You can't say the people of Philly don't love their teams!!

I really wanted to take one of these tours, but I couldn't talk any of my walking buddies into this!

Cllick on the picture below to zoom in better.  Here you are at the corner of Market and 6th and can see the doomed top of Independence Hall just behind the street light.  The Liberty Bell site is just in front of that under the shelter.

This was difficult to figure out.  The signage around it was very obscure, and I ended up asking the local police officer standing there what we were looking at.
I figured it was "The foundation of America,"
but in reality it was the foundation of the first President's house.

Lots of things to read around this area, but this was one of the most profound to me.
Click on it to be able to read it better.

Lots of history in this area about slavery and the road to freedom in Philadelphia.

After waiting in a lengthy line which involved some security checks,
we made it in.
When I was a little girl in the 70's and early 80's, I remember the Liberty Bell being in an open air shelter.
Not so anymore.
It has been moved inside and you can't touch it anymore.

Lots of tourists.  This group of Asian tourists were very enthusiastic about seeing
The Liberty Bell.

**More about Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross to come soon!**

Friday, November 9, 2012

Another gift (Part 1)......Reading Terminal Market

We honored my grandmother's amazing life on that Friday.
That evening, while relaxing together in my hotel room, my sister said, "So, do you want to go downtown tomorrow?"
I JUMPED at that.
It had been decades since I had been to downtown Philadelphia, and since then I've taught an 18th century unit study to my children in which we learned much about the importance of this city as our country was just laying its foundations.
I was thrilled to get the chance to go back and revisit some of those historic landmarks.....and with my sister!

Oh, the fun and laughing we had!
We jumped the free shuttle from my hotel to the nearby little train station, and off we went.
Can I just say that public transportation in these large cities is AH-mazing?!

I loved the architecture of this little station.

My sister and my cousin (doing his best George Costanza impersonation) trying to keep warm while waiting for the train.

And it's true.
That Philadelphia is "The City of Brotherly Love."
We weren't exactly sure where we needed to get off the train (since it made a dozen stops on that line), but a very nice couple sitting next to us took it upon themselves to guide us in the right direction.
We were so grateful as it would have taken us a long time trying to figure out where we needed to go!
This is what we saw when we walked out of our stop.

At the corner of Market and 12th.

We were right around the corner from the famous Reading Terminal Market, and my cousin insisted we see that.
WOW!!  Amazingness!!
If you have the chance to visit Philly, you must find your way there!
It's like an enormous indoor food court/farmer's market with counters and stands of all kinds!
We had just the best time wandering around and taking in the atmosphere and sounds of this place!

Phenomenal Candy Counter

(Seriously?!?  Who would eat this?  Wait....don't answer that.)

I am not a fish lover.  This counter grossed me out!

I LOVED seeing all the Amish stands.  Such innovative, hard working people.
I was told they are all from Lancaster County (about 1.5 hours or more away).
They ride together in a van driven by someone else.
Can't exactly park a horse and buggy on the street of downtown Philly.

Was excited to try this out........

 ........except it was closed!  Go figure!! I opted for THIS for lunch instead....

Me and my sis!
(Notice the piano guy over my left shoulder who was jazzing things up a bit?

***More of this great day tomorrow**