Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Meeting the Easter Bunny

Dylan 2003

Dylan 2004

Dylan 2005

Dylan and Hayden 2006

Dylan and Hayden 2007

For the past few years I have taken Dylan, and now Hayden, to the same place to have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny (and Santa, too). I'm so glad I have done this because seeing the age progression is awesome!

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Sanity Saver

A couple of months ago, the MOMS Club I belong to had a very cool tip in the monthly newsletter. One of the other moms had taken a few children’s nutrition classes and had one perfect tip for the rest of us: the Snack Tray! Literally this tip has saved my sanity since I started using it.

The premise is that children are natural grazers and we try to force them to sit through three meals a day and rarely offer snacks in between. Kid’s stomachs are super small therefore they require less food more often then an adult. Enter the Snack Tray. The nutritionist suggests using a muffin tin with either 6 or 12 bins, I use one with 12. Then fill each bin with healthy, nutritious finger foods that kids can eat throughout the day. Since each bin is about ½ cup you know your kids are getting great serving sizes of fruits and veggies! I keep the tray on an ottoman in the kid’s path so they see it all day. I rarely refill any of the bins because I want to make sure they are getting good servings of each food group.

Since I started using the Snack Tray most tantrums and meltdowns have disappeared, particularly with Hayden. I never have a kid begging for something to eat while I’m making dinner and both kids sit and eat dinner when it’s served. Amazing! I’ve had such a great response from my kids that I just had to share with you how much this simple trick has saved me from insanity. This tray is especially wonderful when we have play dates, I no longer have the visiting kid asking for snacks and then saying they don’t like what I’ve prepared… they just snack all day on the nutritious food I’ve put out.

I try to add new and interesting stuff, some work, some don’t. I once put in Kashi Ranch crackers and watched as both kids dug in… then Hayden brought all of them to me and said, “Trash.” But both kids always try the newest item first. I love it!

Food I put in the tray:
- Dried fruit: Apricots, blueberries, cranberries (Dylan says they are candy!)
- Raisins, yogurt covered Raisins
- Sliced apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, blueberries
- Yogurt for dipping
- Baby carrots, celery, sliced cucumbers, and broccoli
- Low fat ranch dressing for dipping (Blend cottage cheese and Ranch dip mix!)
- Mini pretzels
- Peanut butter filled pretzels
- Whole wheat gold fish
- Pirate’s Booty
- Caramel rice cakes
- Kashi bars broken up
- Fruit Roll-ups ripped into pieces and then re-rolled
- Annie’s Cheddar bunnies and Honey Grahams
- Fruity Cheerios and Honey-nut Cheerios
- Cubes of cheese
- Ham slices cut up, chicken cubed

If you try this, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Proof that things do change when you have kids

Over the weekend we spent a day at the San Francisco Saint Patrick’s Day parade. This is something we did regularly in our earlier years during and after college.

A good friend from college, Mike Murphy (Murph), is VERY Irish and for the past 35 years his family has had a day of Irish Soda Bread baking. This event was so popular that they were often written up in Herb Caen’s column in the SF Chronicle and they rented a hall to accommodate all the people. Murph’s family always planned this wonderful event on the Saturday before the parade that is normally held on Sunday.

Our weekend would begin bright and early Saturday morning with a shot of Irish whiskey, a prayer and the singing of Danny Boy by Papa Murph. Then the fun would really begin, any new people to the event were considered virgins and they were expected to make the bread… a few hundred loaves of bread! Now this may sound fun, but the truth is it’s more fun to watch because mixing hundreds of pounds of flour, sugar, butter, etc. and then having gallons of buttermilk poured over your head, really is not that great. The batter feels like concrete and getting it out of your hair takes days. As the loaves baked hundreds of people would sing and dance and eat and drink. Really a wonderful event!

The Murphy family would give away awards, the best one in particular was called the “I did it for the Bread” award and was given to the person from the previous year who did the craziest thing for the bread… of course this usually was terribly embarrassing for the winner because it always involved doing something really stupid.

The party would last until all hours of the night and everyone left with a loaf of Irish Soda bread. The next morning we would all get up and head to downtown San Francisco for the Annual St. Paddy’s day parade. In college we would ride on our college’s float and after college we would ride on the Murphy’s family cable car. It was such a wonderful weekend filled with lots of Irish tradition, lots of Irish beer and many, many wonderful memories.

Fast forward 10 years, all of our college friends now have kids and the Murphy family has scaled back the event to just include children. Three years ago Dylan helped mix the bread, but only about 50 loaves were made. The event no longer includes all day binge drinking because we all have young kids who need our attention. And we haven’t been to the parade for years.

Last weekend we made a plan with the old crew because the parade was going to actually fall on St. Patrick’s Day and we all met up in the city for the parade. We packed chairs, snacks, juice and all the kids. We arrived early for prime seating and parade viewing. All went really well.

Then Dylan had a big surprise. SF Mayor Gavin Newson who was marching in the parade made a beeline right for her. He asked for candy… she freaked out and tried to hide from him. He put on a big show for the crowd's benefit and she stayed hidden. As he walked away, he said he would be back. About ten minutes later he did come back, with money. He walked right up to Dylan and when she tried to hide he coaxed her back and offered her a five dollar bill. She ripped it out of his hand and ran back to her hiding spot. The crown went wild! We laughed and cheered for Dylan. And Gavin Newsom was a great sport.

Our weekend was fun, we didn’t have a hangover and we can’t wait to go again next year… we even talked about getting our own float to ride in the parade!

Gavin Newsom, the second time he came by, he is searching his pocket for money,
and the guys around him are laughing because Dylan has gone into hiding again!