Friday, March 30, 2007

Y We'll Be at Healthy Kids Day Celebration

There's a lot to do this weekend. Catching up on this blog could take me the better part of Saturday AND Sunday.

But, of course, there's really no 'catching up' with blogs.

So, instead, I plan to spend Saturday cleaning, but on Sunday, we're headed downtown for the YMCA Healthy Kids Day celebration.

Officially, YMCA Healthy Kids Day is April 14, but for some reason, our YMCA is holding it early - so I'll be able to give you a sneak preview of what to expect.

Locally, the agenda includes healthy snacks, dance and maritial arts demonstrations - hopefully, the children will be able to participate as well, inflatables and a short run. Local athletes are also schedule to appear.

I must say, this meets all of my criteria for a family event: It's active, educational, fun, and, not only is the event free, there's free food!

Plus, it meets my goal of getting us off the couch and moving!

We'll try it and report back on Monday!

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Raising a Heart-Healthy Child

While researching heart disease for a client, I stumbled across a great resource for families from the American Heart Association. This page for parents offers great tips for improving your child's health, from steps you can take to get your child moving - even your non-athlete - to tips for healthy fast food meals.

I particularly like the tips on dealing with a picky eater. My first step will be to reclaim our dinner table as a dinner table. Right now, it's where we do all our coloring, painting and computer work. (Ick!)

If your child does have a heart condition, be sure to check out the Disease, Conditions and Treatment page, which includes a nice section called "Ask the Pediatric Cardiologist."

While you're there, you might as well read up on what you can do to protect yourself and your SO from heart disease. Here's a few tips, though, in case you're too busy to peruse the site:
  • Stop smoking and don't hang around smokers
  • Eat low-fat dairy
  • Avoid saturated fats
  • The new recommendations for exercise: 60-90 minutes on most days if you're overweight!
  • Lose weight

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Family Backyard

Lately I've been reading about how to make your backyard into a lush, child-friendly garden.

Right now, when I look at my window, I see a metal shed that's falling down, a stark, uneven yard, a big metal swingset and my neighbor's garage. Ick.

I grew up in the country and spent about half my childhood talking to trees and cows, and making little flower sacrifices to the creek. My family grew vegetables and my grandmother had a whole green hand that she used to grow anything and everything green.

I can grow vegetables. And I could grow tobacco. Otherwise, I'm useless when it comes to gardening. So, I'm not sure where to begin when it comes to create a beautiful backyard that will give my child a place to play, a place to hide and the sort of wild freedom I had growing up - all within the confines of an fenced 50-feet by 50-feet backyard, (roughly).

So far, my favorite book is Home Landscaping Southeast Region, because it gives me various garden designs in two versions - shade and sunny - and tells me what will live in my area. I actually recognize some of the plant names. It's full of gardens that will provide a rich, very treed-look to a backyard.

I also like A Child's Garden: Enchanting Outdoor Spaces for Children and Parents. While I couldn't reproduce what's in this book - many of the gardens are large, public spaces with lots of space and money - it does give me plenty of ideas about how to make gardens more fun. It also has inspired me to try to put in a pond.

As for online resourches, Better Homes and Gardens offers lots of great stuff, and it's mostly free, including a Family Backyard plan I found that I'm using as a loose model for what I do in my backyard.

Here's what I plan to include in my backyard:

* A wooden fence (currently, it's chain link)
* A sandbox - preferably sunken into the ground with a cover.
* Lots of small trees and bushes
* Some hiding spots for children - perhaps amidst the bushes or under some small trellises with bean vines. A weeping mulberry tree for hiding.
* A pond. And eventually, a waterfall. I actually found plans for creating your own creek! I'd love to do this - and the plans are based on a yard about my size - but my yard's flat and I'm thinking it wouldn't work too well.
* Lots of decorative grasses
* A few fruit trees (already have a peach tree, although I may have killed it)
* Place for growing vegetables.
* Lots of cute little garden decorations that kids would like, such as a flower whose petals spin, a yard gnome and colorful butterflies.
* Perhaps a compost area.
* A better shed - perhaps something very cottage-looking
* Eventually, a playhouse made of wood.

We have a huge deck for sitting already, so I feel like the adult part is pretty well taken care of.

It's a lot for a small yard. But I think it's doable. It'll just be very...busy. I don't know. I'm going to start planting and digging and see what happens. I can always cut things down.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

When Last We Spoke: Goals for the 2007

Before this year began, I identified six New Year's goals for myself and my family. Wonder how I'm doing on those goals?

Well. May I speak frankly?

Not so well. The truth is, I've been very depressed the past few months. I believe this is leftover emotions from the miscarriage. But, finally, I'm feeling better. And I'm much more interested in doing things and living life again. So, I'm not beating myself up for just now getting to my goals. And I hope you won't either.

Now, back to the goals:
My first goal was simple: Show the Love.

I believe I've made progress on this. I cook more for my family. I give more spontaneous hugs. I never pass up a chance to rock my Little Bit - I know the days of that are numbered and I don't want to miss any opportunity. In the afternoons, we often rock and read five or six books at a sitting. It's fabulous. I believe my attitude has shifted and our family atmosphere is more congenial and pleasant. Though I do wish I had an extra bucket of patience for my four-year-old's boundary testing. Sometimes, her attitude makes us all a bit grouchy. Perhaps I should explain that to her?

Goal two: Build Family Identity. What I meant by this was to do chores, family dinner and other tasks together as a family. I also included doing activities that would reflect the values we wanted to instill in our child.

This is where I've really dropped the ball. While my hubby and I often eat together, we don't make our daughter sit down with us because I haven't paid attention to her snack times and she's snacked so much she's full. I also haven't enforced cleaning up together well.

As for volunteering, well, that fell of the face of the earth. It's really hard to find a way to volunteer with a preschooler. And I haven't had the energy. I still do want to send some of her old toys overseas, but we haven't had a chance to go through them. That sounds like a good plan for this week.

Goal Three: Become a Healthy Family. Wow. Have we totally neglected this. As a result, my husband and I are heavier and Little Bit isn't getting the exercise she needs. We are, however, being more diligent about sleep. Now that spring's surfacing, I hope we'll make a quick recovery here!

Goal Four: Widen Our Family Circle. We've been discussing them. I am trying to cultivate a few friendships more, but really, there hasn't been the energy or the wellness, (cold & flu season makes everyone stay in more). We still do our Thursday night dinners, though.

Goal Five: Be a Financially Responsible Family. This is where I've really done the work. We're on a budget using the old fashioned envelope system for things where we tend to overspend - dining out, auto fuel, (because we tack on snacks at the station), and entertainment. We're also saving more and cutting back on unfulfilling expenses. Part of this goal was to write a will. I'm pleased to report we've found an attorney to do our will - now we just need to get our tax refund so we can pay for it!

And the last goal: Create a Family-Friendly Home. We're trying some experiments here. Nothing major - just moving things around, putting toys in places where the family hangs out, moving the TV downstairs so it isn't the center of our life. I'm working on a backyard garden that will be a great place for my child to play. So, progress.

I'd love ideas for how I can achieve these goals.

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Wow. I haven't posted in forever. Sorry about that. Twas the season for sickness and general blahs where I live.

This weekend, my family celebrated the return of the sun by gardening Saturday and hitting the road on Sunday. Our destination? Dinosaur World!

Using nothing but my wits, a printer and an Internet connection, I discovered a coupon on their site for free children's gift with a purchased children's ticket. So, with the touch of a button and the whirl of a printer cartridge, I turned into SuperMom, Finder of Free Dinosaur!

Dinosaur World, for those of you who might have missed this wonder, is a place with big plaster of Paris, (or some such durable substance), Dinosaurs. There is no effort to do real sizes, though there did seem to be some ratio of size among the dinosaur statutes, i.e., the little dinosaurs were smaller than the bigger dinosaurs and it could've been proportionate. But who knows? Who cares? This is roadside kitsch with a twist of education. And my Little Bit thought it was better than a Peanut Butter sandwich.

And here's the moral of the story: In your Big Dreams for your family - trip to Disney, visit Europe, pay for college - it's easy to overlook the little, nearby, cheap joys your children will love and remember years from now. It may look like old, badly painted crap to you, but it's a wonder world to them. And if it's Dinosaur World, it has just enough scare to really thrill a preschooler.

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