Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Toddler Approved Snack Mix



Summer is officially here and my family is super excited because we bought a camper! My husband and I grew up camping in tents, but we have been bit by the GLAMping bug and have found just how much easier camping is when you have everything contained in one spot.

We've already been out a couple times in the last month and the girls have been watching me each week as I methodically prepare the camper for the next upcoming adventure. Setting aside clean clothes for the weekend, filling the fridge and pantry with our meals and most importantly - the snacks.

The other day Ruby (my two year old) says "Mama, I help you?" and I thought to myself about how can I involve the kids in prepping for our camping trips. So I sent them upstairs and instructed them to set out two sets of clothes for camping and to fill their backpacks with books and a few toys to play with.

When they were done we started to prepare their snack mix for the weekend. It's really to veg-out and pull out all the junk food when you're camping, but why when good nutrition is so easy to prepare ahead of time? Involving the girls in their meal planning helps them get a sense of what is a good choice for snacking and we also get to work on skills like measuring, scooping, pouring, shaking and ingredient identification.

Ingredients:
Gerber Lil' Beanies (original or white cheddar broccoli)
1/2 cup of cashew halves
1/2 cup of dried blueberries
1/2 cup of dried sweetened cherries or cranberries
1 cup of lightly salted popcorn














And into the camper is goes, ready for this weekend's adventure!


...Not before a taste test first, mom!

My appreciation for this snack mix is because it is chock full of protein from navy beans, thanks to the Lil' Beanies and cashews with a mixture of sweet from the berries and salty from the popcorn and nuts. The non-messy crunch factor is also a big deal! Knowing that Gerber now offers non-gmo kid snacks  makes this an easy choice.


What kind of snack mix do you prep for your kids?
Gerber Lil' Beanies are an easy way to add crunchy, yummy protein into any kid snack

You can find them in the kids snack section at Walmart. 



Saturday, June 18, 2016

Marlin was never equipped for Dory

Where can you get a protein and fiber filled,
crunchy, NON GMO snack
perfect for toddler hands?
Visit this month's blog sponsor to find out!
___________________



This week I took my family to our local drive in and watched the preview of Finding Dory. It's been a much anticipated movie for our household; the kids are in love with their favorite characters from Finding Nemo while the hubs and I are big Pixar fans. I was curious how this movie was going to hold up as a sequel to Finding Nemo and if it was going to bust Pixar out of their current rut. Brave (2012) was the last Pixar film that I was really wowed over, but one can't really expect them to have hit it out of the ballpark blockbusters every time.

I've been wrestling with myself about Finding Dory. The story line has some deep themes that have left me unsettled; I've got a new perspective about the main characters that I didn't really see in Finding Nemo. You see, most people will say that the main lesson in Finding Dory is "believe in yourself," to which I agree. I think if you are looking for the "happy ending" moral, that one can be easily said about this movie. Throughout the whole story Dory is continually working on moving through her struggle of short term memory loss, and just like in Finding Nemo, memories that mean a lot to her help spark her memory. But what unsettles me is Marlin.

Let's back up. I'll start with the good. Did you notice that most of the characters in Finding Dory, with the exception of Marlin, Charlie and Jenny (Dory's parents) have special needs? Hank the octopus is missing an arm, Bailey the Beluga whale has a problem with his echolocation, Destiny the whale shark is near sighted, Nemo has a little fin and Dory has short term memory loss. This was one of the main reasons why I loved Finding Nemo so much, because in Pixar's quiet way they reinforced to children that it's ok to be different. The whole premise of Finding Nemo is that he was showing his dad that he doesn't need to be held back because of his disability. "You think you can do these things, but you just CAN'T, Nemo!" I'm not a parent of a child with disabilities, but I am sure that this statement hit a lot of parents in the gut. Our job as parents is to find a way to help our children flourish, in spite of their struggles, and it's a dark moment if we ever realize that we were holding our child back. By the end of Finding Nemo Marlin seemed to understand that Nemo's disability won't slow him down for long.

But my opinion of Marlin was slowly changed in the beginning of Finding Dory. The early part of the movie shows Marlin, Nemo and Dory a year after the end of Finding Nemo. They lived next door to each other and Dory is an active part of the clownfishes' lives. Dory's short attention span and forgetfulness is well known throughout the community. The day comes where Nemo's class is going on a field trip to watch the ray migration and Mr. Ray quietly tells Marlin that having Dory along that day will make the trip more difficult. Both Mr. Ray and Marlin seem a exasperated by Dory's needs, but don't want to hurt her feelings. Marlin tries to explain to Dory why she can't go along that day and she misunderstands it as Ray needing a teacher's assistant. Ray and Marlin give a quick, tongue in cheek exchange that Ray gets Dory for the day.

This is what sets the mood to me that although Marlin and Dory are friends he still sees her as a burden. He had tried multiple times during Finding Nemo to unload her and now keeps her around, probably because Nemo holds him accountable and responsible in caring for her. Multiple off color jokes from Marlin pepper the whole movie, especially about Dory and Becky, the wacked out and 'not all the way there' bird.


What really caught my attention was the moment after the squid chase and the trio are in the kelp jungle. Marlin is trying to assess Nemo and Dory is trying to help. Marlin is clearly stressed out and Nemo is crying a little and needing comfort. Dory feels terrible and realizes that her whole scatterbrained quest is what almost got all of them eaten and she tries over and over to get in and make sure that Nemo is ok. Finally Marlin snaps and tells Dory to go away. I really think that Marlin views Dory as a burden.

A lot of us as parents can relate to this situation. I've had it happen numerous times where I'm doing the exact same thing - one child needs something addressed immediately and the other isn't letting up. I've snapped, numerous times, to get the other kid to give us space and I can figure out what needs to happen. In our age group (toddler and preschooler) it usually results in two kids crying and me feeling worse than before.

I'm no professional, but I do have a B.A. in Sociology which has trained me to look at social situations. This interchange is called caregiver burnout. Marlin was never equipped to fully handle Dory and her needs and he finally snapped.


Compare that to how Dory's parents relate to her. Each of Dory's flashbacks show us how Jennie and Charlie came up with games and songs (very much like an occupational therapist would do) to help Dory manage her life. They show sadness and fear at times where they realize how difficult her life may be in the future. Regardless, they work together to create a safe environment where Dory can flourish within reasonable boundaries, rather than be limited and restricted (which is how Marlin treated Nemo, and later Dory).

I'm not saying that Marlin is a bad guy. There are many amazing people in this world who are called on and equipped for the mental and emotional work of helping care for someone who has special needs. Some need a lifetime of care and others only for a short period of time. Marlin was already called upon to raise Nemo and learned that he doesn't do himself or Nemo any favors by holding him back and babying him because of the lucky fin. He made big strides through Finding Nemo to trust Nemo. The same problem is revisited in Finding Dory, but this time he is less invested because Dory is a friend and not his child. I wonder if Marlin thinks about what the long term solution is for Dory, and if she will ever be able to be on her own (even though she had survived childhood all by herself, showing that she can be fine).

Finding Dory is still a very enjoyable movie, and like many other reviews have said that it stands well alone as the continuation of the Nemo storyline, and parents of special needs kids can relate to Marlin vs Jennie & Charlie.

What do you think?

Thanks for supporting the blog and checking out the month's sponsor,
Gerber, and their delicious Lil Beanies

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Pierogie Peepers vol 1.

Thanks to this month's Pierogie Mama sponsor,
here's a fun way to sneak high protein navy beans 
into your active toddler's diet!
____________

Almost 2 months ago, my husband and I moved our family about an hour north to beautiful Skagit County (Washington) where we get to live in the home of our dreams. It was the house we had prayed for and now we get to realize our dream!

As many of you know, I am also a chicken mama and have had a small flock of backyard hens for almost 3 years. Once we moved to our new house and were no longer constrained by city regulations, I went a little chicken crazy. Just a little. We went from 7 hens to double that in a very short amount of time. That term is called "chicken math."

Say hello to the 11 + 3 Pierogie Peepers! We call them 11 + 3 because I've got 11 chicks and 3 turkey poults (the word for baby turkeys).


These guys are quickly growing and the super cute chick phase was short lived. But I had some fun while they were cute and fuzzy!



A photo posted by Bianca @ The Pierogie Mama (@thepierogiemama) on

But adolescence is rarely cute on any creature and that's kind of where we are at right now.  Almost immediately baby chicks start to lose their fuzzy baby down and grow in their feathers. We are in a middle stage where just a little bit of down remains.


Out of all of the Peepers, Babcia the Polish chicken is kind of my favorite. She's been the most fun to watch as she feathers out. Polish chickens are bred to have a huge 'fro, and are one of the most fabulous in the chicken world. You might wonder where this name came from. "Babcia" in Polish means "Grandmother," which is what my daughters call my mom. My mom, bless her heart, I love her so, but the 'fro on Polish chickens reminds me of my mom on a bad hair day.


Most of the time when you buy chicks from your local Co Op or farm store they come "sexed," meaning you have about a 90% chance of knowing that the chicks you've selected are girls. Some breeds (specialty, mostly) come "straight run," meaning they were not sexed and you have a 50/50 chance of pullet vs roo. Babcia came as a straight run and I go between wondering if she is a girl or a boy. I am really hoping she's a girl. I also got my four black copper marans from a friend who breeds them as straight run and so far I think I've found that two out of the four are roos. It's still too early to tell at 4 weeks, but there are sometimes indicators (comb size, usually) that may indicate boys. My guess is that #1 and #4 are boys.


And that's pretty much where we are at! To answer the elephant in the room - yes, the turkeys are for us to eat. My husband will be butchering them sometime between September and November, depending on their size. It's not an aspect that I look forward to with excitement, but having the personal satisfaction of growing our own meat, giving the turkey a good life and an honorable death will be a part of our life here on our new "farm."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wrapsody Breeze Woven Wrap Giveaway!

Where can you get a protein and fiber filled,
crunchy, NON GMO snack
perfect for toddler hands?
Visit this month's blog sponsor to find out!

___________________


Babywearing takes on many shapes and forms, and using woven wraps is one of the most versatile ways to wear your baby.  Woven wraps are long, narrow strips of woven cloth made from various textiles that offer different qualities on wrapping a child to their caregiver's body. Woven wraps do come with a bit of a learning curve, but with practice you can adapt the wrap so that you and your baby are comfortable. Most wraps are able to support baby from birth to toddler, so they make a great investment on your time in babywearing.

The Wrapsody Breeze is a lightweight woven wrap made of gauze cotton. The lightweight, breathable fabric is complimented by the beautiful hand painted batik design which makes each and every wrap completely unique! This wrap is perfect for babywearing in hot weather and throughout the rest of the year too!

The Wrapsody Breeze comes in 11 colorways. The Pierogie Mama and her sister in law love the Wrapsody Breeze Haumea, as her sister in law just moved to San Diego and was looking for a good wrap to wear her newborn in. Read why Haumea is a special wrap for expecting mothers and it gets 6 thumbs up!


Some things to know about the Wrapsody Breeze line:
11 colors available

Cotton gauze making it a great lightweight warm weather wrap
Use it to wear your baby on the front, back or side

Hand batiked designs by a family in Bali
Has a self storing pocket on the end, making it easy to store in your diaper bag!
three sizes: S/M, M/L, L/XL (lengths varying from 4.6 meters to 5.5 meters long)


Now you can enter to win a gorgeous Wrapsody Breeze woven wrap in your choice of available colorway and size! See giveaway details in the widget below.


Disclousure: This giveaway is hosted by The Pierogie Mama. It is not affiliated with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or any other social media platform. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please email thepierogiemama@gmail.com with any questions regarding this giveaway or if you'd like to sponsor a future giveaway or blog post. Please see giveaway widget for full giveaway details and eligibility. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Wrapsody Breeze Haumea - 6 thumbs up for hot weather babywearing!

After reading the review, pop over and see how
gives your toddler a power pack protein, fiber & Vitamin E in a single serving!



It was February - my sister in love was 7 months pregnant with baby #3 and she was relocating from Washington State to sunny San Diego due to her husband's impending deployment. Besides all of the normal things that would plague a mom's mind during that time (where will I deliver? where will my kids go to school? how are we going to adapt while Daddy is on deployment, living 1,200 miles away from family?), there was definitely one thing that I knew that I could help mama out with. How is she going to wear this brand new baby in unbelievably hot weather??

I got on the task and started asking around on social media - hot weather moms: what do you recommend for babywearing in hot weather?? <- You can find the answers to this question on my guest post on the Wrapsody Baby blog!

One thing was abundantly clear; she needed a wrap that behaved completely differently than what she and I would have used in Washington. This is how the Wrapsody Haumea came to live at her house.

Then early April came. I flew in to San Diego with the intention of being with the family for the birth of baby, being that there was no family living close by and I was brimming with excitement. My two girls (Penny is 4, Ruby is 2) and I set aside 2 weeks to spend in SD and I was just praying for this baby to hold out until I got there. It would just make everything smooth for mama and daddy. I arrive, and my SIL is definitely smuggling a beachball under her shirt. Whew, ok baby - you can come out now. Auntie made it. Oh, and the fun part? We wouldn't know the gender of this baby until birth!

So Wrapsody Haumea arrives, while we eagerly guarded the front door in anticipation for this very special fluffymail. It was exceptionally meaningful to my SIL because she is a Labor & Delivery Nurse, helping babies and mamas is her job and passion. The name, Haumea, is for the Hawaiian Goddess of fertility and childbirth. Really, how much more perfect can that be for a professional in the birthing field and for a woman just about to become a mama.

We quickly started to break Haumea in, and prayed for her birthy vibes to welcome baby soon.



It took a week. We're not going to dwell on that. Instead we are going to show you some serious Haumea love instead!

The Wrapsody Breeze Haumea was a tricky wrap to love at first. As with all of the wraps in the Breeze line, it is a very thin, but very strong, gauze wrap that comes deceivingly "rough" at first. I will admit, it was a bit of a shock. But I knew that the work would be worth it with this wrap! So with the help of 4 kids, we broke Haumea in lightning fast with many hours of wrap hammocks, braiding, snuggling and of course - belly wrapping.


Three days after this photo was taken, little "DJ" came into the world! I became the proud auntie of my 5th nephew!

I got to spend another week with the family, filled with a visit to Disneyland, fun trips to the park and aquarium, late night board games and a little bit of time with our childrens' Nana. And then I had to go home :(

Haumea took a little bit of a break during the first month of DJ's life; mama was finding a lot more ease of use with a ring sling. But after about 5 weeks, his mama started sending me a few pictures and updates. Being a newbie wrapper it was hard at first to find the right amount of pull to give the wrap for it to hold tightly and last. Because the wrap is somewhat comparably "rough" to other cotton wraps, it doesn't slide around too much and holds quite well.

Mama really got to loving it.

This wrap has become her go-to in the already hot San Diego summer, and she's learned how to pull on it just right to get the perfect wrap and support where she and DJ need it.

But do you know who loves it the most? DJ's 8 year old big sister. Mama says that the wrap is a little more narrow than her other wraps so it fits her daughter better. It is easier and neater to wrap than her others!


"My favorite is when he falls asleep and I get to snuggle him."

Haumea definitely gets 6 thumbs up (from mama, big sis and DJ, of course!) from us.

Let me take a minute to just drool over the beautiful artisan work on this wrap too. Did you know that Wrapsody Breeze wraps are hand dyed in Bali Batik style for Wrapsody Baby by a family in Bali? 

While breaking in Haumea, I washed and ironed her many times. It truly became a labor of love to get this wrap broken in and ready for DJ and mama. The family laughed whenever they heard the creak of the ironing board open - "Bianca's at it again - she's ironing the wrap!" I loved ironing it because it gave me extra time to really take a close look at the hand painted hibiscus flowers and the extremely unique gradient of sunset colors throughout the length of the wrap. It's truly a one of a kind wrap, you won't find two Haumeas that look exactly alike; just how every labor, every child, and every season of motherhood is different.


And I am so excited to tell you all that Wrapsody wants to share the love with you and we have a Wrapsody Breeze wrap to giveaway! Come back on Wednesday June 15th 2016 to enter in the giveaway!

Which Wrapsody Breeze wrap do you love the most?

Disclosure: All photography and opinions are 100% The Pierogie Mama's.  This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please contact Bianca via email: thepierogiemama@gmail.com if you have any questions or would like your product to be featured in a future post.  

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