Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are great places to get the freshest and best quality produce, meat, eggs, cheese, bake goods, honey, maple syrup and preserves/sauces (as well as many other things!). Many times your produce, if not the other products too, are also cheaper than supermarkets. In addition to that, there are many more benefits. Like, you get to know (and trust) the people who are growing/raising/making the food that you feed your family, you are supporting local business, you are reducing your carbon footprint, and, in many cases, you are reducing the unneeded additives in your family's diet (from artificial coloring/flavoring, to preservatives, insecticides, hormones, etc) just to name a few.

Not to mention it's also great for your children. No doubt my five year old's favorite person is Ms. Sue of Sue's Kitchen at our farmers market. She makes the most incredible pies we have ever had (no kidding, they are amazing and I had never been a huge pie fan before). Aside from that, even though he is shy, when we are eating the food we buy from the market every week, he is talking about all the farmers or bakers that we bought it from. We have also visited a few of the farmers from our local farmer's market for their u-pick seasons, maple syrup festivals, fall parties, etc. This year we are going to visit them and help in the garden or the barn for an hour or two as well, as most farmers welcome you to visit and help (even if you aren't in a CSA). It's just a great way to teach your children so much, in additional to all the other fantastic benefits of buying from farmers markets.

Below is a comprehensive list of farmer's markets in Central Ohio, which was created by

Worthington:: This year marks the first weekday market in Worthington! 4pm - 7pm at the Sharon Memorial Hall, 137 E Dublin Granville (161)

Downtown:: Pearl Alley Market 10:30am - 2pm on Pearl between (and including) Broad and Gay Streets. This market features tons of food vendors and makes a refreshing change for lunch breaks. Park on Long or Spring and walk if you don't like looking for parking.

Hilliard:: 4pm - 7pm this market begins on June 15th, Corner of Main & Center Streets.

Dublin:: 4pm - 7pm at the Dublin Community Church, 81 W Bridge St (161, just west of Dublin Road in Old Dublin). This market has grown to 15 vendors, and there is plenty of easy parking lot parking for those who might skip other markets because of heavy traffic. There is a gluten-free bakery, a bonus for many people.

Westerville:: 3pm - 6pm at the corner of N. State and E Home streets (uptown Westerville). Strangely, this is one market I have never been to, owing to the fact that I've worked Wednesday nights pretty consistently since beginning RW. I have a friend who lives in Westerville, however, and she likes this market a lot.

Creekside (Downtown Gahanna):: 4pm-6pm beginning June 30th. This market includes crafts and jewelry as well as produce. Going to Creekside is like a little vacation, especially if you live in an urban area. It's really charming. That being said, I haven't been to this market yet. If you go, please let me know how it is.

Athens Farmer's Market:: 10am - 1pm 1000 E State St in Athens (about 1 hour SE of Columbus) Athens is widely considered to be the Berkeley of Ohio - they have an amazing food scene for being a small college town.

Upper Arlington Farmer's Market:: 3:30pm - 6:30pm Mallway Park, 2096 Arlington Avenue.

Blendon Township:: 3pm - 6pm. this is a brand new market for 2010, so that's cool. This market is located in Southern Westerville, at 6350 Hempstead Road.

15th St Market:: I am super excited about this market, because it is the closest to home, and I have Thursdays off throughout this summer! woohoo! I am also excited that students might be encouraged to shop for local produce.

Downtown Powell Market (Far North):: 3pm - 6pm in the Municipal Building, 47 Hall St

Carrousel District Farmer's Market (Mansfield):: 4 W 4th St 9am - 2pm

Downtown:: Pearl Alley Market 10:30am - 2pm on Pearl between (and including) Broad and Gay Streets. This market features tons of food vendors and makes a refreshing change for lunch breaks. Park on Long or Spring and walk if you don't like looking for parking.

Jefferson Community Market (NE side):: 9am - noon at Jefferson Community Park 7494 Clark State Road. This market begins June 12th. Yet another I haven't visited! I might have to take a road trip one of these Saturday Mornings.

Logan County:: 8:30am - noon at the corner of S Detroit and Chillocothe streets in downtown Bellefontaine.

Main Street Market::(Canal Winchester) 9am - 1pm 36 S High St in CW.

Athens Farmer's Market::10am - 1pm 1000 E State St in Athens (about 1 hour SE of Columbus) Pretty much considered to be one of the best markets in the state of Ohio. One of the only places I know of where you can buy shrimp at a farmer's market.

Worthington:: 9am - noon probably the largest in Central Ohio; definitely one of my favorites. It seems this market grows by leaps and bounds every year. You can find everything here and there is frequent entertainment. Numerous special events throughout the year and other shopping whilst cruising the market.

Clintonville:: 9am - noon Just south of High & North Broadway.

North Market:: 8am - noon and beyond, usually there is entertainment and there are also frequent special events with chefs cooking.

Another benefit that we take advantage of is that many of the meat/poultry and egg farmers will deliver to you all winter long. It might only be once a month, but you can continue to enjoy their farm fresh product and it's so worth it! In addition, many of the bakers or makers of other products (preserves, maple syrup, soap, candles, etc.), will also make product for you in the winter by request.

If you haven't been to a farmer's market yet - go! If you frequent one, or many, and have some tips, advice, favorites, missing info, please share!

Thirty-One thermal tote giveaway - and the winner is...

Katie B.
(comment number #31)

Congratulations on winning the super cute Thirty-One thermal tote!! Please email us ( your contact information (email address).

(BTW, sorry I didn't pick the winner at 9 p.m., if you have been checking... I had to run out and just got home!)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Potty training - we're ready, but need advice.

Question from a CMOTC mom:
We are definitely without question ready for potty training! My girls are two and a half and have decided they cannot stand diapers. And I'm pretty sick of them too! Anyone ever tried the potty boot camp method? I would love any advice on that or anything else you did that worked!

Advice/experience from CMOTC moms:

We used the 3 day potty training guide, is that the same as the boot camp one? A bit of advice that I wished I had done is potty train one for a day or 2 minimum, then focus on the second child. I tried to do both at once and it was chaos and we ended up quitting. Or, if you think that will be difficult wait until the weekend when you have your husband around. You will both need to be focused 100% on each child when you are doing it. They will be going potty so frequently, you will no sooner get one on the potty to pee and the other one will be peeing in the other room and you've missed that opportunity. We stayed in the same room with the potties super close for the first few days.

My boys are 3 1/2 and we are still working on it with one child, but his brother is trained. Good luck!!


I have 2 sets of twins and did this for both:

  • Know you are NOT going anywhere for a few days and then start.
  • Only underwear. No pull ups.
  • Expect 100% mistakes on day one.
  • You never get mad at them. Just explain where they could have done instead.
  • It's the perfect weather for this. Be outside as much as possible and really push liquids. All they want. It will make them need to go more and therefore have more opportunities to practice.

For my kids, each day they did better until they just had a few mistakes. Mine were night dry before day dry so not sure where they are on that if you think they are physically capable of only wearing underwear to bed.

Important: if by 3-5 days they are still 100% mistakes, then stop and speak nothing of it for a few weeks and then start over.

I had 2 different personalities for each set. One needed to be told to go or they got busy and forgot.

They only needed to go on their terms for success. You know your kids and want they need.
This method worked for both of my sets, but the 'reminders' were different.


My girls did great with the 3 day potty training method. For us, it worked perfectly and I recommend it. It really was pretty well done within 3 days.

It is intense, but works. Basically, you completely get rid of all diapers and the child helps you throw them away (later I took them out and gave to another mom....) and they stay in underwear. You stay home for the 3 days as much as possible and they pretty much just wear t-shirts and undies. She uses positive reinforcements and tells you exactly what to say to them and how to do it. The only thing I did different is she believes you can potty train them at night too but I feel that will come naturally on its own. So, what I did, was I bought pullups and called them "bed time panties" so they wouldn't associate them with diapers (I had never put them in pull ups to that point and then ONLY used them for bedtimes). Within a couple months, they were dry at night too on their own.

I potty trained my boys without much good knowledge on the topic and it took them both till they were 3 1/2 (despite starting at 2) and it was awful. I really liked this program because she explained a lot of how they think during the process. It may not work for everyone, I don't know, but for us and several others I know it worked! I did it when they were 2 years 4 months.

Good luck!


My boys were about 2 1/2 when we started. It took about 2 weeks for them to really get the hang of it. I admit that having them in daycare made things easier for me (although I bought the teachers lots of donuts and pizza that month!). They had a lot of peers to model and, more importantly, they wanted to play on the big kid side of the playground -- the "big side," with cool scooters and bigger tricycles, was for potty-trained kids only. At home, we used a sticker chart and new skateboard-style scooters as motivation. The scooters, still in the boxes, were displayed on the hearth. After so many stickers, they could take them out of the boxes and touch them, after another goal we marked them with names, and finally they got to ride, Find something that your girls will work for. The traditional M&Ms reward did nothing for my kids. My mother swears I was potty trained almost instantly once she bought me fancy-pants undies with lace on the butt because I didn't want to get them dirty.


My five year old singleton was like your twins at their age. He had interest, but a lot of transitions during this time that set him back. Once it all calmed down he started going again but went back and forth. Eventually we did something the daycare suggested right before I had the twins and he was still in daycare, which was to just let him be in underwear and change him when he had accidents. When they told me I thought that was horrible (for the child). Of course it could have been the hormones, no sleep and all that good stuff from the twins, but I remember being like "no way!" Fast forward a few months and well, I was all for it. LOL.

It ended up being the only thing that worked for him. He hated to be wet, so he learned quickly with this method. Previously we had done a treat bag filled with books, cars and fruitabu (organic fruit leather)... only he was too good. He was able to eek out a marble sized #2 every time he wanted something. Meaning, if we restocked with a few good books he wanted, he would go to the bathroom, produce a " marble" get a book, read it, go back to the bathroom, produce a marble, get the next book, read it, then decide he wanted a fruitabu, produce the "marble"... well you get the picture. How any one can control their bowls like that, I don't know. But clearly if he was in such control, he just needed some aggressive potty training. So we went to the other method (just putting him in underwear) and within a week he was potty trained. That said, he desired it and had the interest whereas my twin boys (just shy of THREE!) do not - I try (though I am work full time) - they have no interest whatsoever. I think that method might work for your twins, because they don't want to wear diapers and clearly have interest. But then, other methods that require less laundry might work too. Every child is different. You'll know what is best for yours once you try some things.


We introduced the potty idea early. My husband would talk about "one day when she got bigger she would put her pee and poop in the potty" when he would change her diapers (maybe that was more for him than her. HaHa). As she got older I would talk about what I was doing when she followed me into the bathroom "mommy is making pee pee on the potty (sing song)". Once she started walking we purchased her own potty that she could sit on or put her babies on.

When summer came (just before her 2nd birthday) we went bottomless (at home of course). She had maybe two accidents, then got the idea and started going to her potty all by herself!

That was not the end! She quickly learned to hold her pee until nap time then would flood her bed once she had a diaper on. I tried getting her to use the potty before nap-time but she wouldn't. BTW-- we knew she was ready since she had the ability to "hold" her pee. The next step might not have worked if we didn't know she was really ready - all babies are ready at different times- its not just an intellectual issue but also a physiological one. (so be patient)

So here's what we did next- she had a thing for coins (which we never let her play with for obvious reasons), but she always seemed to find them & Grandpa would give them to her too. To solve the coin problem, I picked up a "sheep" piggy bank. Since she liked "feeding" her sheep so much we decided to use that as her potty reward. She was very compassionate so when she didn't want to go for herself the sheep would (in my most pitiful sheep voice) ask for a coin PLEASE b/c he was hungry. After she used the potty, she could feed her sheep and he would be SO thankful he would jump up & down & give her BIG kisses and say "THANK YOU!".

That is what put us over the hump! She will be three in September. We use a diaper only at night and have very few accidents.

A word of caution about using food as a reward, from a mommy who has struggled with food issues: Please reconsider using food as rewards for anything (potty training, finishing dinner, etc...). It sets up food or treats with a special significance it was never intended to have. Food is for feeding our bodies not rewards. I'm 35 and am still struggling. Give me a tough day and you better stand back from the choc-chip cookies! I still remember my mom showing pity for a bad day with a warm cookie and glass of milk. It wasn't the cookie that made me feel better, but my mom's compassion. Food affects us on more than just an emotional level it also produces chemical reactions in our bodies which reinforces what is going on in our brain (a double whammy so to speak).

Happy Potty Training!


Anyone else have more advice/experience to add? Please share by commenting below or sending an email to

Friday, June 25, 2010

Katie's Nutrition Nook - The Truth about Weight Loss

It’s summer and you’re headed to the beach in the next few months and want to shed some pounds quick! Stop right there! Diets that encourage you to limit or eliminate food groups (i.e. low carb diets) those that require you to buy expensive products (cleanses, pills and supplements) or anything that promises a fast weight loss (more than 1-2 lbs/week)-is probably not healthy, not realistic and not maintainable.

The key to healthy weight loss is to make changes that you will be able to maintain for a lifetime. Regardless of what any advertisement may tell you, weight loss comes down to calories in vs. calories out. If you’re eating more than you’re burning, you’re not going to lose weight. Expending 3500 calories/week, either through increased activity, decreased intake or both, will result in about a 1 lb weight loss/week. Think about it-that margarita you had with dinner, those extra rolls you couldn’t resist, the leftover grilled cheese sandwiches and fries you shoved in your mouth before disposing of your kids lunch-it can all add up! Be conscious of what you’re eating-keep a food log, try to only eat when you’re sitting down (at the kitchen table-not in front of the TV), don’t eat while you’re cooking dinner-all of these small changes can save you a lot of calories and pounds in the long run.

Can’t cut back on what’s going in? How about changing what’s going out? Start walking--a mile will burn approximately 100 calories (it varies based on weight). Make a habit of walking a few quick miles during the kids swim practice and cut out 1 soda a day, and you’ll not only see that 1 lb weight loss this week, but it will be gone (and more) next month too!

For more ideas on changing what's going out, here's a helpful post (from Kendra's Fitness corner) on how burn the most calories in 30 minutes.

Feel free to comment below or contact me at with any questions you might have for me. Whether the questions are about weight loss, specific plans for you, general nutrition needs for you and/or your children, or whatever, I am here to help you!

As well, if you have suggestions for topics you would like me to discuss in Katie's Nutrition Nook, please let me know.

- Katie

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Giveaway – Thirty-One Thermal Tote Giveaway!

******* This giveaway has now ended*******
We are very excited to announce that one of our own CMOTC moms, Carrie H., is giving away one of her awesome thermal totes from Thirty-One on our blog. Specifically, for this giveaway, Carrie is donating a brown thermal tote with the word “Yummies” embroidered on it in turquoise (photo to the right).

Carrie is a stay-at-home mom to two charming 14 month old twin boys: Tyler & Brayden. Prior to motherhood, Carrie worked with children in inner-city Columbus, providing counseling for those in need. She would practically work out of her car; making totes/bags a necessity in transporting her tools and activities. Carrie has always had a love for fun bags so the opportunity to sell Thirty-One was exciting and rewarding! Since having the twins, Carrie has found a new love for Thirty-One and the products they offer. “I pretty much have a bag for everything now!”, says Carrie.

The new thermal tote she is giving away is wonderful for holding bottles, sippy cups, water bottles, snacks and other necessities while out and about with the kids. As mentioned, the tote is thermal and is able to hold ice packs to keep everything cold; it’s even safe to wash on the top rack of the dishwasher! How much more convenient and easy could that be?!

So, what’s more fun than getting together with a bunch of girlfriends? Getting together AND shopping with a bunch of girlfriends! Whether you are looking for a new purse, beach tote, children’s backpack, organizer or the perfect personalized gift, Thirty-One has it! You can also host your own Thirty-One party where you can earn the products you love for free! Check out the catalog on Carrie’s website. If you see something you like, you can place on order directly on her site or better yet, utilize the wonderful hostess benefits and host your own party! Also, she just launched a Facebook Fan page – Thirty-One Gifts with Carrie Houk – where she will be able to communicate monthly specials, highlight products, announce special hostess incentives for her FB fans, and much more!

To enter to win this super cute thermal tote (required):

Become a Facebook fan of ‘Thirty-One Gifts with Carrie Houk,’ (click here), by clicking “like” on her fan page. Once you have done this, comment* below stating you’re a FB fan of Thirty-One Gifts with Carrie Houk.

For additional entries – yes, you read it right, you can increase your chance of winning with two more entry options! – do the following: (please create a separate comment for each of the three entry options)
  • Become a follower of the Columbus Multiples Mom blog OR sign up for email notification (of blog posts) via feedburner (both are in the left margin). Once you have done this, comment* below stating which you did. If you are already following us or subscribing through emails, that counts too. Comment* below letting us know.

  • Become a fan of CMOTC on facebook. Search for CMOTC in facebook and select the one with the photo of our club or click this link, then click “like.” Once you have done this, comment* below stating you did. If you are already a fan, that counts too. Comment* below letting us know.
PLEASE make sure you use your full name or at the very least your first name and last initial, as it will be hard to determine for sure who is the winner if there are multiple people entering with the same first names.

Winners will be selected on Wednesday, June 30th at 9 p.m. by random selection, using Be sure to check the blog on Wednesday, June 30th to see if you won. If an email address is not included in your public goggle account profile, you will need to contact us within three days or we will have to select another winner. See giveaway policies for more information.

*Comment section is located below the "You might also like..." section and within the "Posted by..." line. Click on the word "comments" (which will have a number before it showing how many comments there are at that moment) to enter a comment for each of your entry options. Please let us know if you have questions.

If you are viewing this on Facebook, please come to the blog to enter to win.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Your Baby Can Read Program?

Question from a CMOTC mom:

I am curious if anyone has the Your Baby Can Read program? Is it worth the investment? Do you like it? Does it work?

Advice/experience from CMOTC moms:

At an early age children only learn by repetition. So if you show them a word, they will learn the word, and not the meaning. Without spending the money on their program, you can put together something special for your children. Your best bet is to take photos of items around your house(common items you use, and one syllable) i.e. ball, rattle, mom, grandma. And put together a book on shutterfy, they have all different kinds soft and hardbound. Also look for word flash cards, (DK makes a farm series, transportation etc.). Children learn by you using words and waiting for them to respond or copy, ask questions (red cup or blue cup?), make a game of it, and don't over talk to them, simpler is better. (Mom's going in the other room and she is getting your PJ's for bed, say Mom gets PJ's).


After my first son, I almost bought the package but then realized that to get everything that the info commercials have, it was about $250.00. Now, you can get it at buy buy baby for $100.00 and after a 20% off coupon it ends up being about $80ish. If you spend the money and get the cheaper version, you only get the cards and not all the videos and and everything that the commercials have. You also have to spend about an hour or two daily with videos and flashcards with your kids to get them to understand and comprehend. I have two friends that have purchased this that have not used it and they said it was too time consuming and that their kids didn't like it.

Kids, developmentally, are capable of learning a ton the first 5 years of their lives. As my son started learning new words, I would write them down on index cards and keep them at the table. When he was eating or even when he was playing we would do flashcards, which he enjoyed. We also would start talking about the letters that he saw in each word. Through the use of puzzles and our own homemade flashcards, he knows every letter of the alphabet, all his numbers 1-10 and can read almost every word that he says, including harder words like yogurt, basement, Mickey Mouse, etc....He can read the easy books by Eric Carle that have 1-2 words on each page. He is only 20 months old. So, needless to say, don't waste your money on this program when you can create it yourself for free. I believe that all kids are capable of learning this early in life. we don't push our son to do this and we never make him do the flashcards or anything unless he wants to and it is enjoyable for him. I am also a teacher so that could be the "teacher" in me that believes that every child is capable and that it would be a waste to spend the money. I purchased index cards from Meijer and its been pretty easy and fun to teach him.


We used it and liked it. They like the flash cards the best. Used sets seem to sell for half the price of a new set, if you are interested.


My friend bought it but found out it required many hours of TV for it to "work" - way more than she wanted to put her kid in front of - she ended up selling it and didn't really use it. It's pretty pricey.


We received Your Baby Can read as a Christmas gift - our boys were 14mos old. It has definitely taught them a lot of words etc... but they are no where near reading. So - I would say - buy on E-bay. Our boys really like to watch the videos - but that is almost the only tv they see. You are supposed to watch at least 1 - 2x day -- which can be a lot.


We bought this program for our twins at christmas time. It's worth the investment in my opinion. I'd rather them watch these dvd's than anything. Its great for when I need to do dishes, laundry or clean up. the cards are great too because they travel well!!


I taught my oldest at (2.5 yrs) to read with "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." My twins aren't as "advanced," and are just barely starting at 3.5. But it works, and it teaches phonics (not just memorizing words.) My oldest is now 4 and reading at a second grade level. The book costs about five bucks on Amazon.


Do you have the program? What do you think? Do you use something else, bought or made by you? Please share!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Traveling With Multiples

It's Summer and it's time to ROADTRIP!!!

It's normal to be a little apprehensive when planning a long car trip. I grew up traveling all across the country for up to 6 weeks at a time. We would drive out West, camp, stay in hotels, and see the continent. I'm thankful to my parents that they gave me this opportunity. At the age of 27 I had been to 49 states. I'm still holding out for that Alaskan cruise...hint hint hubby! =)

Because my parents gifted me with such an opportunity, I am committed to giving my kids a similar experience. I'm not crazy about spending hours upon hours in the car but in order for my family of five to see the world, our budget necessitates car trips more often than not. Since my husband is from Texas, more than half of our family is there. That means 20 hours car trips for us and we do this at least twice a year.

Our first 20 hour car trip came when our twins were a few months old. I will say that it was hardest during that time because of breastfeeding and diaper changes. I think it's important to start traveling early though as it helps when the kids are accustomed to travel. My twins are now six and they know how far Texas is and have a pretty good sense of the size of states. This experience helped them in Kindergarten when they studied the world and the 7 continents.

You may see the importance of travel but can't imagine biting the bullet. What you need is a survival guide.

This is what works for us. Please share what works for you!

We generally start out around 1pm...just before nap time. Everyone is well fed and ready to go. We sing some songs, talk, etc until the troops start to drift. Usually we can get a good hour or 2 nap out of them. We do a snack after naps and then pull out the crayons, markers, activity books (homework!), and magnadoodles. Dinner time hits and we either stop for fast food or dig into the cooler if I've planned well.

After dinner we pull out the DVD players. We have one for the back row (twin seats) and a single player for the singleton. That usually keeps the peace til they fall asleep. Many times we have driven through the night which makes for a fairly easy trip since we have reinforcements in Houston when we get there. We hand the kids off to the in-laws and sleep like CRAZY. This scenario would be close to impossible without help on the other end. We usually arrive in Texas around 9 or 10am. Whoosh...not an easy trip.

In the past few years we've gotten smarter/wimpier and we've been stopping somewhere along the way. This makes the trip harder in some ways since the kids are awake for the 2nd half of the trip. Here's the thing I've learned about roadtrips...and parenting in general. For the most part kids live up to the expectations of the adults around them. I have high expectations for my childrens' behavior and that includes 20 hours in the car. I did it growing up (without!!! a DVD player) and so can they.

I'm curious. What tricks are up your sleeve? Do you roadtrip with your kids? How far and what are your non-negotiables? What do you pack for your kids? How do you entertain them during those long hours in the car?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Kendra’s Fitness Corner: How to burn the most calories in 30 minutes!

Part two of my June column: how to burn the most calories in 30 minutes.

Are you short on time? Wanting to workout, but yet just don't feel you have enough time or what you can do in 30 minutes won't be enough? Today I am focusing on how you can get the most out of your lunch-time or nap-time workout with just a few changes!

Change your routine: You body will burn more calories with any NEW exercise or a different intensity/speed of the same exercise you have been doing. So that same old 30 min power walk should be replaced with a 30 minute hike (or a hilly course on your treadmill) or repeat a cycle of jogging for 1 min and walking for 3 min.

Include moderate to high intensity intervals: Bursts of 20-30 second moderate or high intensity activity dramatically increase calorie burning during and after exercise. This can be as simple as increasing your speed during a run or adding jumping jacks, jump rope, cone hops (hopping back and forth over a cone with both feet). You should push yourself hard during these intervals…and recover for 3-5 minutes or until your breathing returns to normal. You can pair these intervals with your normal cardio machine or your strength training routine.

Sample 30-min workout you can do once or twice a week for a higher-intensity session. If you have a treadmill you can do the first 22 min on that or go outside then return home for the rest.

  • 5 min easy walk or jog
  • 30 second pick-up (or run at the fastest pace you can maintain)
  • Repeat the above 2 exercises 3 more times (total of 22 minutes)
  • Squats for 1 min or to fatigue (dumbbells optional)
  • Push-ups to fatigue (on toes or knees)
  • Tricep dips off a sturdy chair to fatigue
  • Crunches to fatigue
  • 30 seconds jumping jacks or jump rope
  • Repeat last 5 exercises 2 more times!

If the above workout seems too intense, you can replace the walk/run with biking, and replace any of the strength moves with a dumbbell exercise instead of a body weight exercise. The goal is to cycle the higher intensity exercise with the recovery, or less intense, exercise.

Feel free to comment below or contact me at with any questions you might have for me. Whether the questions are about the summer challenge, burning the most calories in 30 minutes, fitness techniques or anything fitness related for you or your children (and husband too!), I am here to help you!

Get moving!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Kendra's Fitness Corner: Summer Starter Challenge Weeks 5-8

Hello moms! Are you getting off the couch and doing the Summer Starter Challenge? I hope so!

Weeks 5 - 8

You should be close to week five, so now it’s time to take it up a notch! You can do this!

Your goal:

Complete at least four – 30 minute cardio sessions (or a grand total of 120 minutes a week) and two full body strength training sessions (approx 20-25 min each).

Here's an example of what your week might look like:

Monday: 30 min Cardio (run/walk)
Tuesday: Strength training + 30 minutes biking
Thursday: 35 min Cardio (hiking at the Metro parks)
Saturday: Strength training + 30 minutes (run/walk)

Trainer Tip:

Put your weekly workout plan in your calendar, blackberry, or whatever it takes. You wouldn’t skip your hair appointment if it was written down…and your workout is making you feel better about yourself - JUST like a trip to the salon!

Cardio Ideas:

At the gym: If you are fortunate enough to find time to go to the gym, use a different cardio machine at least every 3rd workout….AND vary the program on the machines. Your body is very good at adapting to a new stress. I prefer the interval programs on any machine as they will generally burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.

At home: Add jumping jacks and/or pretend you are jumping rope! Do 30 seconds of either (you should feel winded but be able to say a word or two) then do 10 minutes of your cardio. Repeat 3 times.

Strength training Ideas:

Remember to work every muscle group. Also if you are doing strength training for you whole body in one session, work the bigger muscle groups first. For the exercises with dumbbells, you should pick a weight that makes your muscle burn during the last 3-4 reps. Typically you would start with 5 to 8 lb weights for the exercises below.

Here's an example:
  1. Walking lunges - 5x each leg (optional: hold dumbbells by your sides)
  2. Squats (sit back like you are going to touch a chair but don’t…stand back up!) 15x
  3. Push-up with pause (on toes or knees) – make each phase of the push-up into 2 parts with a little 1 second pause. Down/Down/Up/Up
  4. Shoulder press –15x (hold 2 dumbbells or grab 2 full liters of pop….stand with hands near shoulders and press straight up but don’t lock your elbows, keep eyes forward and neck relaxed)
  5. Bicep Curl – 15x (hold 2 dumbbells…stand with good posture & feet hip width apart…lift weights towards shoulders but keep elbows near your sides)
  6. Tricep Dips off chair – As many as you can do! (sit on end of sturdy dining chair with hands on the sides near the ends but wrapped around the sides of the chair…heels are 1-2 feet out in front of you with knees slightly bent…lower your butt in front of the chair until elbows are bent 90 degrees then push back up until arms are straight)
  7. Crunches / other abs to fatigue – (start with regular crunch…on your back, feet on floor, knees bent, hands supporting your head and elbows pointing out….keep eyes on ceiling and press your lower back into the floor until you feel your abs contract…keep abs “tight” while you raise shoulder blades 6 inches off floor then lower down again and repeat to fatigue)

    Repeat the above one more time!

Remember….small changes yield big results. Doing anything is better than get started!

Tomorrow, I will post the June Part 2 topic: How to burn the most calories in 30 minutes!

Feel free to comment below or contact me at with any questions you might have for me. Whether the questions are about this summer challenge or anything fitness related for you or your children (and husband too!), I am here to help you!

Get moving!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Disney Vacation: Tips/Advice From a CMOTC Mom

A while back, we shared links from the Multiples and More Blog on a few helpful posts they had on how to do Disney with multiples. Below CMOTC mom Carrie H. provides additional invaluable tips and advice based on her family's recent Disney vacation. If you are planning a trip to Disney, this year or in the future, you'll want to read what she has to say.

Thank you Carrie!!

Carrie, Matthew, Lucas, Derrick and Natalie

What we learned on our Disney vacation:

1. Autographs: We decided we weren't going to seek any characters out. If we happened upon them, the boys had their autograph books signed. This trip, we had bought them Disney autograph books, along with monogrammed ears, ahead of time and they were delivered to them in our room when we arrived. The boys thought that was WAY cool. The last trip, three years ago, I had bought them small spiral notebooks from Target. They used these as autograph books and I took a picture of them with each character. Then, when we got home, I scrapbooked the signature with the picture into the Creative Memories 7x7 Disney book. Either way works great.

  • We got Buzz and Woody at Hollywood Studios. They are in an air-conditioned room, across from Toy Story Mania. I'm glad we got their picture/autograph there. We could get both at the same time, AND it beats waiting for Buzz in the heat at Magic Kingdom, outside the Buzz Lightyear-Space Ranger Spin ride.
  • Mickey and Minnie are in the Judges' Tent in Mickey's Toontown Fair. When we walked in, the line was huge, but we only waited MAYBE 10 minutes. There are a few rooms, each housing a Mickey and Minnie, so the line moves fairly quick.
  • Another good, consistent place to get characters is at the Epcot Character Spot. This is where some of the more major characters are-Pluto, Goofy, Mickey, etc. You can see in the window who is in there, then decide if you want to wait.

2. At Magic Kingdom, always head to Adventureland or Tomorrowland first. Why? Because Fantasyland is SUPER busy until late afternoon. We found there was little to no wait in Adventureland anytime of day. We rode Aladdin's Carpets, the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc. multiple times before moving to other areas of the park. Fantasyland is least busy during the parades. One evening, during the Summer Nightastic Parade, we hit Fantasyland and Tomrorrowland and rode many rides, several times, while the parade was going on.

3. Fastpass, fastpass, fastpass! You'd be amazed what you can do in the time of a fastpass. In the hour we had to spare before our fastpass was valid for Space Mountain, we did AstroOrbiter, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and got Chip and Dale's autographs. In the hour we had to spare before the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride in Animal Kingdom, we waited in line (20 mins) for the Festival of the Lion King, which is a 30 min show, and made our way back. It's great to just walk right up and get on the ride with your fastpass.

Lucas and Matthew blasting off!

4. Stay in a Disney Resort. I can't stress enough the convenience, pleasant atmosphere, and flexibility this can add to your trip. We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge-Jambo House. Some of the benefits:
  • First, buses run constantly to the different parks from your resort. This is great when you want to go back to your room to relax or do the pool before heading back to a park for the evening.
  • Each resort has a nice playground and more than one pool.
  • Also, ours had two FREE crafts a day-from 10 am -11 am and 3 pm -4 pm. The boys made fun pirate masks during one of the craft times.
  • We had to have a room that guaranteed a pack and play and a refrigerator, which is partially why we chose this resort. Also, we had the option of a room with bunk beds, perfect for the boys, along with a queen size for us.
  • Build in a day of your vacation to just enjoy the resort-the pool, crafts or other activities, and then maybe go to Downtown Disney for the evening. We didn't do this and wish we had.

5. Dining Plan is THE way to go! We had Quick Service Dining. It was AWESOME. The Quick Service Dining Plan only added about $300 to our package and was good at all Quick Service Dining locations (basically restaurants where you don’t sit down to order). You will get a brochure with all the names in it from your hotel when you check in, if you ordered the plan. When you factor in that you can get any meal off the menu, which could range from $8 to $13 (give or take on either end) and it counts as one meal used, you save a ton there alone, not to mention snacks.

  • We had 48 meals to play with for the week. We often got adult meals, and shared them as a family.
  • We were able to eat breakfast at our hotel the last two days with our meals left on our dining plan.
  • Each adult meal comes with a bottle drink at most places-some it's a fountain cup. So, we'd "bank" the bottle of Coke or whatever, and drink it later at the park or in our room, because we also received refillable mugs. We'd fill these at the pop fountain in our hotel, and take them to the park with us everyday.
  • I thought we were paying for convenience at first, but when she rang up our first meal at Pizza Planet, I was happy to give her my Quick Service Card, as opposed to $45 dollars out of my pocket. Right then I realized how much of a steal the dining plan is, if we were going to pay between $30-$40 a meal.
  • We had 8 snacks left on the last day and cashed them out for the ride home. It was so great to be at the parks and not schlep around a cooler (which we did last trip) and when the kids ask for a drink, a smoothie, an iced lemonade, mickey ear ice cream, etc., we can let them have those treats without worrying that we are paying about $15 for snacks for everyone. We also had 48 snacks to play with, too. It was fabulous!
  • Next time we do Quick Service Dining, we are going to plan a bit more carefully. For example, we'll spend our dinner meals maybe in Mexico or Italy in the World Showcase at Epcot, instead of a place that has burgers and chicken nuggets, just to give a little more variety.
  • Also, there's a great sandwich-Panera/Jersey Mike's type- restaurant in Downtown Disney called Earl of Sandwich. It was fabulous and took our Quick Service Dining plan as well.

Matthew and Lucus at Epcot.

6. Take or buy (because they would make cute souvenirs) a beach towel to give extra shade on the stroller. We put the sunshade on, and then draped the towel over it so her little feet were covered, too, when we were waiting in the sun for the parade. Make sure your stroller reclines, too. Also, take the best umbrella stroller you can find, or that you have. I saw so many parents struggling with jogging strollers, or Gracos in and out of the buses or through the crowds.

7. Buy Disney gift cards at Giant Eagle if you participate in fuelperks. If you plan far enough in advance, you can buy hundreds/thousands of dollars worth and use them to pay for your resort and park tickets online (and get a discount or even free gas from Giant Eagle). We bought them for souvenir money for the boys. It worked out great.

8. We allowed the boys to only choose one souvenir, and the rest we chose. Otherwise we would have come home with a car of toys. They included jibbitz for their Crocs, Pluto hats, as well as Mouse ears and Christmas ornaments.

Lucas and Matthew with their Mickey Mouse Ears.

9. Take the DS or PSP - these were lifesavers while waiting in line for rides or on the bus ride.

10. Don't be afraid to stop and ask others to take your family's picture. If we hadn't done this, we wouldn't have any of the five of us.

Carrie and Natalie in Minnie's kitchen.

To read more about Carrie and her family's Disney vacation or their daily adventures, here's a link to their family blog.


Do you have any tips and advice to add? Do you have a place you frequent for vacation that you could share tips and advice? Or local day trips? Please let us know!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kelly's Art Easel - making homemade cards for Father's Day

Father's day is THIS Sunday ladies!!! I think handmade cards are so much better than the store bought ones especially since I went looking last week and was disappointed, even in a target! So here are a couple simple ideas for cards you can make with your kiddos this week. Read below for gift ideas to put in them as well. ;)

I LOVE Michael's for buying blank card sets (with envelopes)! There was a 40% coupon in yesterday's paper or Joann fabrics also had a couple coupons too and both stores are a great place to get any supplies for my art ideas at a GREAT price!

*I got these from a website:, I love their stuff and I modified the 1st one but used the other 2 straight from them. It's a GREAT website/resource for stuff like this!

CARD IDEA #1: "You're a catch, dad!"

What you'll need:
  • 1 sheet of blue construction paper
  • Patterned paper (stripes, polka dots, etc)
  • Toothpick
  • 3" string (i used dental floss!)
  • black marker
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • White craft glue

How to make it:

  1. Fold the blue construction paper in half like a greeting card, set aside.
  2. Draw a "D" shape onto the patterned paper and cut out. Repeat for the other piece of patterned paper.
  3. Cut out 2 triangles to make the tails. then cut 2 more triangles (bigger) for the "fins".
  4. Cut off the tops of these triangles to create the trapezoid (inside of the D shape) for the "fins" Use a glue stick to attach the tail and fins to the fish by gluing to the back of the D shaped patterned paper.
  5. Cut the pointed ends off of the toothpick. Tie the string (or dental floss) to one end of the toothpick and trim one end. This is your fishing pole.
  6. For the "A", I drew a "worm" shaped like a letter "V" and then used a sharpie (black marker) and drew a "J" shape for the "fish hook".
  7. First place your fish, worm and your fishing pole (D A D) onto the front of the card. Once you have them where you want them, use the glue stick to attach the "D's" and "A" and the white craft glue to attach the pole/string.
  8. Draw eyes, bubbles and any other details.
  9. Let dry completely and write message inside.


  1. While patterned paper is cute, you can also have children make their own by coloring white paper with markers or crayons and cutting out your D's.
  2. Use card stock instead of construction paper for a sturdier card.
  3. Don't throw away any scraps, cut or tear them into small squares and keep in a zipper gallon bag for future projects. Great for mosaics!

GIFT IDEA: a gift certificate to any seafood restaurant and a babysitter booked so you can go too! ;)

CARD IDEA #2: "You're worth every penny DAD!"

What you'll need:

  • 8"x10" piece of light cardboard (cereal box, etc)
  • 1 sheet green construction paper
  • 9 shiny pennies
  • Green fine point marker
  • Pencil with eraser
  • Blue fine tip marker
  • Scissors
  • White craft glue
  • Glue stick

How to make it:

  1. Fold the green construction paper and cardboard in half like a greeting card. Place the cardboard on the inside of the green construction paper, lining up the fold lines. Use a glue stick to attach the cardboard to the construction paper.
  2. Trim off the excess paper if needed.
  3. Use pencil to lightly write "DAD" across the front of the card, leaving about 1.5" space underneath.
  4. Use green fine point marker to draw dollar signs on "DAD" letters.
  5. Erase any pencil marks that might show through. Use white craft glue to attach a penny to each corner of the D's, where the curve meets straight lines, and at the center of the curve. Glue a penny to the top of the letter A, and two at the bottom.
  6. Write, "You're worth every penny!" underneath "DAD" with blue fine point marker.


  1. The pennies add quite a bit of weight to this card, so even card stock or poster board is not sturdy enough, be sure to use the cardboard or your card will not stand freely.
  2. For a lightweight card, make photocopies of the pennies and cut them out and glue them on, instead of the real thing.

GIFT IDEA: gift card to his favorite electronics store?

CARD IDEA #3: "invisible ink"

What you'll need:
  • One piece of white card stock, 4.5" x 3.5"
  • One teaspoon of lemon juice (either fresh-squeezed or from concentrate) OR one teaspoon of baking soda mixed with one teaspoon of water
  • Small bowl
  • Small paintbrush or cotton swab
  • One piece of colored card stock, 5.5" x 8.5"
  • Adhesive such as glue stick, glue or scrapbook mounting squares
  • Marker
  • Iron

How to make it:

  1. Place lemon juice (or baking soda and water mixture) in a small bowl.
  2. Dip the paintbrush or cotton swab into the mixture and use it as "invisible ink" to draw a picture or write a message to dad on the white card stock. ( See photo ) Allow the card stock to dry for 5 to 10 minutes. Once the baking soda mixture is dry, brush off any excess soda. (Whichever "ink" you use, you will be able to see a very faint image on the white card stock.)
  3. Fold the colored card stock in half. Glue the white card stock to the front. ( See photo )
  4. Use the marker to write "Happy Father's Day!" inside the card.
  5. Give the card to Dad on Father's Day. Wait for him to try and figure out why the front of the card is blank. Then tell him it's written in invisible ink and that he needs to iron it to see what it says. ( See photo )
  6. Have Dad or another adult heat the iron to the "cotton" or highest setting and iron the front of the card. (Don't use the steam setting.) After a minute or two, your picture or message will gradually appear! ( See photo )


  1. It can be a little tricky writing using ink you can't see! Practice on a scrap piece of paper first.
  2. Fresh lemon juice makes a lighter brown ink. Lemon juice from concentrate, or the baking soda mixture, results in a slightly darker brown ink.
  3. To make your card look like a treasure map, have an adult carefully burn the edges of the white card stock before you draw on it with the invisible ink.
  4. You can also hold the card stock carefully over a heat source like a light bulb to make the message visible.
  5. Come up with some funny magic words, and tell Dad he needs to say them while he's ironing in order for the message to appear.
  6. Decorate the colored card stock (the frame around the white card stock) with markers, crayons or small stickers.

GIFT IDEA: gift card to Starbucks or equivalent "relax"/break store? or even fast food!

If you have any suggestions or requests for future Kelly's Art Easel columns, please comment below or email ( As well, if you have any art questions for yourself or your little ones, let me know!


Friday, June 11, 2010

Create a keepsake with the sand from your beach vacation

For all of you heading to a beach this summer for vacation, here is a fun craft that creates a lasting keepsake of the sand you gather on your trip.

From the June/July 2010 issue of Family Fun.

Turn sand from your next beach vacation into this easy-to-use clay, then build a permanent, air-hardened sand castle for a keepsake.


  • 1 cup sand
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon alum (sold in the spice section of grocery stores)
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Shells (optional)
  • Twig (optional)
  • Tacky glue (optional)


Add the sand, cornstarch, and alum to a saucepan and use a wooden spoon to combine them completely.

Add the water and stir the mixture until it is smooth and the cornstarch is dissolved.

Cook the clay over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The clay should start to thicken within a minute or two. Stir more vigorously, being sure to scrape the mixture from the sides and bottom of the pan.

After about 3 minutes of cooking, the clay will have thickened to the consistency of play dough. Remove the clay from the pan. Once it's cool enough to touch, you can start sculpting. (For best results, use the clay within a day or two of mixing it.)

Create your sand castle with towers and crenellated walls. We added a shell door and flag (a shell glued to a twig). The clay should dry completely within a week. If any pieces fall off after the clay dries, reattach them with tacky glue.

A sand castle is just one of the fun possibilities that you can create with your beach sand for a lasting memory of your great vacation. For younger kids, you could even shape the sand into an oval disk and get an imprint of your children's hands - sand from their first beach vacation, along with their hand prints and put it in a shadow box frame with a photo of them on the beach. The possibilities are endless for a fun way to preserve a piece of your beach vacation.

If you make this or another keepsake with your sand, please send us photos to share with the group!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New monthly column - Terra's Living Seasonally

We are very excited to announce that another regular monthly column has just been added to the blog - Terra's Living Seasonally. Her post will be centered around food, namely that which is in season here in Central, Ohio. She will talk about growing/harvesting it, picking it (where to pick it), cooking it (in a way even our children will love it) and preserving it (for the winter months).

Below is more information on Terra, as well as a great and easy recipe!


Hi! My name is Terra G., mom to twin girls (Charlotte and Veronica, born July 2008) and married to Joe. We live in Clintonville with our two cats and small backyard garden. My husband and I are what you might call food hobbyists. You name the gift-giving holiday, and I can guarantee I got a blender, food processor, kitchen-aid mixer, Japanese chef’s knife or food dehydrator. To encourage his experimentation, I surprised him with an electric smoker for Christmas and now our backyard smells like hickory on weekends and we eat an unreasonable amount of homemade pulled pork and smoked salmon. Since moving to Columbus from Brooklyn, NY in 2006, we have played around with smoking, canning, freezing and drying our food. And I was so into making my own baby food that my twins never ate any food that came in a jar.

So, not surprisingly, my posts will be about food – growing it, harvesting it, cooking it and preserving it. And, ideally, with an eye toward getting toddlers to eat it. We’re calling it Living Seasonally*. The idea is to aspire to a goal of eating what’s in season and available locally so we aren’t getting flavorless tomatoes in the middle of winter that came on a boat from Argentina. We’re lucky to live so close to such great agricultural bounty. I plan to feature items during that magic few weeks a year when they are in their peak season and give you ideas for how to grow them, where to pick them, how to cook them so your kids will eat it, and how to preserve them to use in the dead of winter.

*Living Seasonally isn’t all that original. I have a personal blog of the same name ( where I post about many of the same ideas. If you’re interested, check that site too because it’ll have original content that isn’t necessarily aimed at family friendly eating (pickled jalapenos and strawberry rhubarb margaritas, anyone?).

And now for the first official recipe of Terra's Living Seasonally column...

Fried Rice

Fried rice is a great quick meal that can get you out of a jam when you don’t have enough of anything to make a meal around. Maybe you have 2 carrots and a couple of mushrooms and a handful of cooked chicken in the fridge. Great – you have the makings of fried rice!

Ideally you should use leftover rice. Just don't cook rice and immediately make fried rice out of it. It isn’t as good, don’t ask me why. Instead, try microwavable frozen cooked rice (Trader Joes sells 3-pack boxes).

Below is the version I made for dinner tonight. It used snow peas from the Clintonville Farmers’ Market, shiitakes mushrooms from the North Market, and lovely spring onions from the Pearl Market. But really, any combination of veggies and/or protein will work. Generally, add items in order of what takes longest to cook. Carrots first, greens last. If you want to use meat, cook it first (or use leftovers) and set it aside until the end – stir in just to warm it through.

My 23 month old daughters were happy to devour this. Maybe it was because we all sat together and ate the exact same dinner, which is still sadly a bit rare for us. Who knows what it was, and I can’t promise your kids will eat it, but it’s a good way to use up some leftovers in the produce drawer.

Ingredients (all quantities totally approximate – use what you have):

2 cups leftover cooked rice (or microwaved frozen rice – prepared and cooled in fridge)

½ cup diced carrots

¼ cup chopped spring onions (or green onions)

½ cup chopped snow peas

2 beaten eggs

8-12 sliced shiitake mushrooms

1 clove minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger (I use a kind that comes in a jar & stores in the fridge)

soy sauce

oil (canola, sesame or peanut)

If using frozen rice, microwave and put in bowl in fridge to cool. Chop all your veggies into similar size pieces to aid in even cooking. Mince garlic and ginger. Beat eggs in a bowl.

Heat 2 tbsp oil over medium high heat in a large, nonstick pan. You want it hot to cook quickly - don’t be shy! Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally 2-3 minutes until they start to brown, then add carrots and cook another 2-3 minutes until they start to get tender. Add green onions and peas and cook another 2 minutes.

When all vegetables are nearly done, add garlic and ginger, stir and cook for about 30 seconds until you start to smell them, but not too long or the garlic will burn. Add another 2 tbsp oil (at this point, I prefer a flavorful oil like peanut or sesame), then add the rice to the pan. Stir until all grains are coated. Cook another minute or two.

Add 3-4 tbsp soy sauce and stir. Push rice to the side of the pan, leaving a well in the middle. Add the beaten egg to the center, stir to scramble and allow to cook fully – about 1 minute. Once cooked, stir together with the rice and serve.

Look at that almost empty plate!

If you have questions, requests or suggestions for my column, please let me know. I would love to hear from you! Either comment below or email me at


Monday, June 7, 2010

Popsicles that you can give them every night!

What child doesn't like popsicles? They go hand and hand with summer and being a child after all. However, they typically are not the healthiest thing to give them, even if it is a treat. Below is a recipe for homemade popsicles from CMOTC mom Wendy that are both yummy and healthy. You could even feel good about giving them to your children every day!

This is similar to a post I wrote last July, but it's so good it's worth talking about again!

I've always made homemade popsicles for my kids, which they have loved. They were made with fresh fruit or fresh fruit and yogurt. Last year, though, I stumbled upon a recipe that would add more nutrition to the popsicle and also answer the question: how am I going to get Oliver to eat a vegetable?! One of my twins, which is one of my three boys, would not eat a vegetable for anything. Sweet, savory, raw, cooked, seasoned, topped with cheese, it didn't matter, he will not eat it (though he gets it on his plate twice a day, every day regardless).

Sure I hid it in foods and as long as it was pureed and he liked the food, he would eat it. But I had never thought to hide a vegetable, like spinach or kale, in a popsicle... a much loved treat... it just never occurred to me! When I saw this, though, I was ALL over it. I think I made them the very next day (after running out for fresh spinach). And you know what? You cannot even taste it! What's more... they love them! Correction: they BEG me to have these popsicles for dessert every night.

In the post from last year, I have actual amounts of each item I used then, but typically I just throw whatever I have in and adjust until it tastes good. That means there is no messing it up!

We made our first batch of popicles last week after strawberry picking. Here's how I made them (I used all of everything shown in the photo, except where noted):
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Juice from two oranges
  • Spinach
  • Unsweetened 100% Pomegranate juice (optional) - I used about 1/2 or 2/3 cup

Put it all in a blender or food processor and puree. Sample it for tweaking and mix in whatever item(s) you think more is needed. Once it tastes right, pour into popsicle molds, freeze and enjoy! It's like eating frozen fruit, they are fresh tasting and refreshing.

Again, you can use whatever fruit or fruit combination you want and your kids like. Both spinach and kale have very little taste (kale has more than spinach I think, but I usually rotate between the two). There is a recipe in the post from last year for banana/pineapple/spinach that is pretty good too.

If your kids like sweeter popsicles, you can add flavored yogurt (I use Stonyfield strawberry, blueberry or vanilla) or Kefir (I typically use strawberry). This will sweeten it, but also add some nutritional benefit. Honey or raw agave nectar will work too. Or, if that doesn't do it, add a little raw (or refined) sugar... like Mary Poppin's always said: "A teaspoon of sugar..." Honestly, with that ingredient list, a little sugar isn't going to ruin it, if that is what works (in my opinion at least). You can always slowly decrease the amount you use over time. For my boys, they have never required me sweetening it with sugar, but my teenage stepdaughter is another story and that's when I subscribed to the Mary Poppins school of thought (for just hers)!

By the way, this recipe works well as a smoothie too. I use some frozen fruit for that, as well as one of the yogurt items I listed above, along with the kale or spinach (I've been known to throw in a carrot or too as well, if the mood strikes me). My vegetable hater, Oliver, calls it 'frozen juice' and ALWAYS wants seconds. Score one for mom! Actually, score two, because when all our neighborhood children are over, they ask me to make it for snack... and their moms love that!

A picture tells a thousand words... my happy popsicle eaters:
Above is my little non-vegetable eater... notice that his popsicle is almost gone and he has a big fruit/spinach mustache.

Give it a try and if you come up with a really great tasting combination, share it with us! Post it in a comment below or email us at

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Not rolling yet... should I be worried?

Input from an Early Intervention Specialist:

Actually, we don't really focus on rolling or see it as a milestone in our Early Intervention program. Sometimes when children learn to roll, they use that for their mobility rather than crawling. Crawling is the milestone that is so crucial.

So rather than focusing on the babies not rolling, I would instead focus on giving them lots of opportunities to be on their tummies and to push up on their hands so that they can gain the strength that they will need to crawl. Limit time in exersaucers, johnny jump-up, standers, and walker (as the things limit mobility). If the babies won't tolerate tummy time for long periods, that's okay. Incorporate many short periods throughout the day, and they will really be getting the same workout as if they would be doing tummy time once a day for a long period of time. Floor time and tummy time are really important. Without it, the children will not get the practice they need in order to be able to crawl.

While many people think that it is no big deal if children skip crawling and go straight to walking, we believe 'the longer the children crawl, the better.' Crawling builds arm strength, leg strength, trunk strength, and helps form a deep hip socket which is very important. It also helps to make important connections in the brain. The time period when infant children crawl is really the only opportunity in life that we have to strengthen these muscles (unless we go to the gym everyday). If crawling were easy, we all would be doing it. So don't stress over the fact that they aren't rolling. Instead, just focus on giving them opportunities that will help ready them for crawling.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Strawberry picking time!

One of my all time favorite things to do with our children is visit pick your own farms. We love berry (any kind) picking, apple, pear and peach picking and pumpkin picking... of course! It's a fun family activity that not only supports local farmers and reduces our carbon footprint, but also gives us the freshest and best product at a fraction of the price. Can't go wrong there! Additionally, these annual fruit (of all types) picking adventures have also become a much anticipated fun family tradition.

We took our three boys (5 and twin 2s) strawberry picking last weekend and they had a great time both picking and eating... okay, more the latter. For this outing we went to Legend Hills Orchard in Utica, OH., which we have also been to for apple picking in the past. They have a large field with many ripe strawberries. This is the beginning of their season, so there are a few more weeks to take advantage of their strawberries.

I like this orchard because it is more remote than some of the other strawberry fields in the Central Ohio area and therefore tends to be less crowded. Another key: the earlier in the day you get there, the better not only for crowds but also for the best berries (in the afternoon heat they get softer and more delicate). They also have a farm market where they sell cheese, pre-picked berries as well as other fruit, jams and a lot of other items. As well, there is an Amish family that sells their baked goods and other products right in front of the store.

If you are looking for that great place to pick strawberries near you, the website that I have used for years to find places to pick fruit is Pick Your Own. This site breaks down by county. When you find the county you want, read the description of what each farm grows to find the ones with strawberries. The vital info on the farms will be listed, as well as customer comments and links to their websites.

Though I haven't been to these specifically for strawberry picking season, I hear that Circle S and Jacquemin Farms are both good places to pick strawberries as well. I have also bought great strawberries from Doran's at our local farmer's market, they have pick your own at their farm too. All four of these, including Legend Hills, (and more) are listed on the Pick Your Own website.

I also found two helpful links on strawberry tips, here and here, which include best times to pick, what to look for, how to store and freeze, how to make jam and many other things.

Happy picking!

My family enjoying our strawberry picking adventure:

How about you? Do you have a favorite strawberry farm? Or a favorite strawberry season family tradition? Tell us about it!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Favorite "Go To" Recipes of our Members!

The following recipes are some of our member's favorite "go to" recipes for the short notice entertaining we have all come up against. These recipes will help you pull together something quick and yummy, just in time!

Recipe #1

Chicken Dip:
1 can chicken breast
ranch dressing (as much as desired)

mash together with a fork, and serve with crackers. (ok, it may sound too easy, but this stuff is very good, and very addicting!!)


Recipe #2

Vegetable Dip
There is a "Vegetable Dip" Knorr package that you can buy in the store that has a great spinach dip recipe on the back. I've made it many times, and it is ALWAYS a huge hit!!

Recipe #4

Pasta Casserole
Ground beef (or ground turkey)
2 cans of cream of mushroom
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 jar or less of Prego or some marinara sauce
1 box of penne, ziti or other pasta
Fresh tomatoes if you have them, sliced and diced (but not necessary)
spinach (frozen)

Brown the meat
Cook the pasta
Put it all in a casserole dish and cook for 30 minutes covered. Uncover and add cheese. Cook at 350 for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Lately I've been putting it all in a skillet instead of the oven so as not to heat the house. Or you could even put it in bowls and stick in microwave if you want to make a small meal while putting the rest in the fridge or freezer. Easy meal. I bring this one when friends have babies etc. They always love it.


Recipe #4

Fruit Pizza
You need sugar cookie mix, cool whip, and any kind of fruit.
Roll the dough out on a cookie sheet and bake as directed. Let cool, top with cool whip and then add the fruit.

It's sooooooo easy and it only takes 20 min or so. People actually get upset when I don't make it.
(Variation -- instead of cool whip use 1 pkg. of cream cheese, and add 1/2 cup sugar. Dee-lish!)


Recipe #5

Grilled baked potatoes
peel a potato slice it thick but not all the way through stuff the slices with small onion slices
smother in your favorite salad dressing-we used creamy Italian. Wrap in foil grill for about an hour


Recipe #6

Pasta Salad
Cook Rotini, Penne or your fave pasta
Let it chill.
Add sliced green onions, cherry tomatoes (or sliced), feta cheese, desired amount of olive oil and salt to taste.
It's an easy recipe and great for Summer Picnics!!!


Do you have a favorite picnic recipe? Please add it to the comments below or email Thanks!
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