Honest Mom Series – Feature #3, Kelly

Welcome to the 3rd feature in the Honest Mom series! Click here to read the previous installment.

View More: http://studiopopinc.pass.us/kelly-and-dave-1

Meet 33 year old Kelly, wife to Dave and mom to 2 adorable boys: smart, particular Rory (4 1/2) and easy going, charming Ian (2 1/2). Dave and Kelly are very entrepreneurial-minded. They’re great at DIY projects – in the traditional sense, around the home, but also on yourself – fitness, health, and bettering yourself are all areas they seem to incorporate in their every day life. Kelly is a SAHM, but always involved in projects – real estate, for example, and her new online fitness/health business.

A little about her: Dave and Kelly met in LaCrosse, Wisconsin at college. She has a degree in marketing while Dave has his in Exercise Sport Science with a minor in business. They’ve been married 8 years. Kelly’s been home with her boys for 5 years while staying active with various interests. Dave owns a sports training center and she’s getting her online fitness program off the ground. She loves steak and sushi, and calls herself crazy for liking activities like skydiving, hang gliding, bungee jumping, and rock climbing. She would love to go back to Mexico where she and Dave were married, and some day take her boys to visit all the castles in Ireland. (Dave and Kelly have a thing with castles!)

When asked about her parenting style, Kelly says they do whatever feels right for their family. She likes to take in all the advice from others and choose what works for them – this includes discipline, food choices, sleep ‘training’, etc. When asked about their parenting philosophy, she says, “We just want to have fun and see everyone laugh every day.”

Can you describe a typical day at your house, including bedtime routine? The boys wake up around 7:30 and we leave a banana or orange out for them. They turn on cartoons until one of us gets up. Dave and I alternate mornings. It’s pretty great! We have a real breakfast together around 9 (unless it’s a preschool day). Lunch is around noon, snack around 3 and dinner around 6 (but we are VERY flexible). Bed between 7:30-8pm in their shared room. Bedtime routine includes baths every other night, brushing teeth, reading books, and singing a few songs of their choice. They have been going right to sleep. I can’t believe I can finally say that after many struggles! Rory didn’t sleep through the night until 13 months old, but Ian has slept through the night perfectly since about 8 weeks old. They are SO different. My favorite part of our schedule is 8-10:30pm. Dave and I almost always spend it together: talking, watching whatever series we have on our DVR, and we sometimes (well, pretty often) have a glass of wine and cheese & crackers. Then we get ready to start over.

Can you tell us in more detail about your bedtime struggles? Rory has never liked to sleep. We tried EVERYTHING with him. After 12 months of getting up every night we finally let him cry after I stopped nursing (at 13 months old) and it took 33 minutes before he passed out the first night, 23 the second night, 5 the third night and he’s been sleeping ever since. I know that’s controversial but it worked for us and I have no regrets.

What kind of activities do you do with the boys? We try to do fun games and projects at home. We also take the kids out to lunch weekly and they usually want to go to Chick-fil-a to play at their play area or the TreeHouse in Lake Zurich. In the summer we walk to the beach and park everyday.

How do you split up the housework? Dave takes out the garbage, makes some of the meals and does a lot of the grocery shopping. I (try my best) to keep the house/toys/dishes/laundry under control.

What are the boys responsible for? They have clean-up time for toys at night, and Rory has to dress himself.

How do you discipline them? We mostly follow “1-2-3 Magic” and give timeouts or alone time to cool off. I’ll just say that having little kids is not easy. I had no idea how frustrating they can be. We don’t really have house rules – we are pretty easy-going. Except – no yelling in the house has been the biggest one lately.

Do you have meals or nutritional guidelines? Yep, we eat mostly real, unprocessed food at home so that we never feel guilty about birthday cake, special treats etc. Breakfast is usually eggs & bacon or a green smoothie, they would eat PB&Js for lunch everyday if I let them, sometimes I make homemade chicken nuggets or deli meat rollups. Dinner is usually meat and a couple veggies. We usually skip the breads/pastas but we don’t obsess over our diets or rule out any particular food.

Tell me more about the method you use to teach your boys nutrition. I am really against feeding kids junk. Special treats and parties are great but they really need to be eating unprocessed foods most of the time. We teach Green light, yellow light, red light foods (foods that are always, sometimes, rarely ever okay to eat). They also love to learn what different food does for you: build muscles, make you taller, give you energy, etc. We consider a mostly unprocessed food diet to be non-negotiable in our home. It’s a priority for me to help our kids learn healthy habits right now that they will take with them through life. Plus, they don’t get sick as often and less doctor visits saves money too 🙂

 What do you say to parents who are afraid feeding their kids almost all unprocessed food is outside of their budget? There are definitely ways to keep costs down and still eat healthy.
1)Growing your own vegetables in the summer (the kids love this)
2)Shopping at farmers markets for fresh produce.
3)Stock up on frozen veggies and even buy fresh berries in bulk and freeze them.
4)Start reading labels and choose better alternatives to what you are already buying.
I recently found a spaghetti sauce on the shelves right next to the one I used to buy (for the same price) and it was SO much better. It had all ingredients that I would use if I were making my own sauce and had no added preservatives, sugar, food dyes, or words I couldn’t pronounce. WooHoo!
These are my 6 Simple steps to start label reading:
http://www.fitfamilylifestyle.com/#!Food-Label-Reading-for-Beginners-6-Simple-Tips/cwmm/FF27B29D-BEB2-4780-A7AF-475A31F9CDEC

Focusing on you… Do you get time to yourself? When and how? I’ve been taking time to myself to simply workout (at home) and shower…sometimes that seems like a luxury. Dave and I also build art and tables and have an Etsy Shop called BuiltConcrete.

When do you find time for that – do you involve the boys in the building? We are blessed with a lot of time. Dave works for 3-5 hours each afternoon so we have most mornings together. One of us plays with the kids while the other works on whatever project we have going on. Teamwork! They go to preschool 3 mornings/week too. Sometimes the kids help out if we are working on something that they can do like gluing blocks on a board to make an art piece. 

What do you consider to be your greatest strength? Love. I’m pretty good at making up art projects, dancing, and tickling bellies too.

What do you struggle with most in daily life? The fighting. The boys are 2 years apart and fight all the time. When I hear myself yelling I usually stop and try to figure out what other ways we can solve whatever problem is going on without involving my emotions.  I’m also realizing that I used to judge parents for so many things that I now find myself doing. We always said “our kids won’t do that!” It’s pretty funny. I feel bad that I had those thoughts about other parents before I had my own kids. 

Ian crying because I gave him the wrong sippy cup.

Ian crying because I gave him the wrong sippy cup.

Rory crying

Rory crying because he didn’t want to leave yet

What do you think is the biggest challenge for moms in this generation? It feels like there is a lot of pressure to do everything and do it perfectly. Keep kids happy/entertained/educated, keep house clean, meals prepared, workout and even do something professionally and/or have hobbies. I realize that I can’t do it all. So usually the house is a mess and the kids are playing on their iPads or watching TV at some point since it’s winter. But we are all happy!

What’s a lesson you’ve learned the hard way from parenting? Try not to judge difficult children (and their parents!). Rory has been a handful since birth and I really think parents that have all calm or even children with regular temperaments will still judge and never quite understand. Like I talked about, naps and bedtime used to be a huge struggle, and Rory was the type that had NO flexibility with naps. We could not stay at a friend’s house and nap later or skip naps. For a year of my life I drove around to get him to take naps – but I actually started to enjoy it. I would make a hot drink and grab a book or magazine (since he would fall asleep then I could park someplace).  Now Ian is the opposite – he has been VERY flexible so it’s interesting having both sides.

What is your greatest hope for your boys? That they will grow up to be great friends and be happy and successful.

View More: http://studiopopinc.pass.us/kelly-and-dave-1

You can check out Kelly’s new fitness site (specially tailored for busy moms!) complete with free 14-day workout program, 20-minute at home workouts, meal ideas, and encouraging Facebook group here: www.FitFamilyLifestyle.com .

Product Review – Ice Cream Magic!

image

My mom picked up these great individual ice cream makers for the kids a few weeks ago. A and I were both excited as she had seen then in a commercial and I have wanted an Ice cream maker for some time now.

So I opened the boxes and read the directions, and realized we really only had ingredients for vanilla ice cream – not that that’s a bad thing. So I set to work making fresh, individual ice cream.

And when I say work, I mean it!
CON: Each one had to be shaken continuously for 3 minutes until the ice cream was solid.
PRO: All that workout makes you feel less guilty for eating the end product (even though I only had a few bites).

CON: It really is an individual serving. It’s probably only a 1/2 cup.
PRO: it’s only half a cup. Built in portion control!

CON: You need a lot to make a little. Each one required 3tablespoons salt! (This is not actually IN the ice cream- it’s under the ice cream, with the ice.)
PRO: You can control your ingredients. I didn’t have heavy cream, so I used half & half instead. It still turned out really good – and probably healthier. I used organic vanilla too, and added some chocolate chips (because, well, it’s CHOCOLATE).
There are also lots of recipes for you to try.

PRO: It’s a fun activity with your kids that will create memories!

All in all, I don’t this these are for every day use, but good for a special occasion or when you want to do a craft or activity together. The ice cream rally was delicious, and it was nice to know exactly what ingredients were in the ice cream and that there were no preservatives or anything. It also made me want a full size ice cream maker even more… the possibilities are endless! 🙂

image

Good till the last drop!


image

Yum!


image

All gone!

Cold day Activity

Here in the NW suburbs we’ve been experiencing some frigid temperatures. It’s been between -11° and -20°, down to -50° with windchill. We broke a record for coldest temps in decades. All I know is that they cancelled school two days in a row due to the temps, not snow (which we also have plenty of, by the way).

A friend clued me into this article about a mom and son who blew bubbles in the cold, they froze, and they looked beautiful when the light hit them.

I couldn’t find any bubbles yesterday,  but today I did. So this morning I opened the door and blew some out the front door onto the porch. It’s possible I enjoyed it more than the kids did. It was really neat to watch them freeze right before our eyes!
image

image

image

image

So, if you ever experience these low temps, try this for a fun way to beat the cabin fever!

This idea also looks like fun.

Easy Christmas crafts for kids

I like to do fun things with my children. Fun, low-maintenance things whenever possible.  Oh I know kids are messy.  Call me lazy, or call me smart.  Less mess= less clean up time = more time to play or do other things. I’ve got it!  Call me practical! 😉

So, while Christmas shopping at Target a few weeks ago, I found these gems – and only because I checked my Cartwheel app! There was a coupon for 50% off all seasonal kids crafts! Definitely worth a look, I thought. Bonus: I found felt Christmas stickers that I volunteered to buy for my Kindergartener’s class… ALSO 50% off! Score. Craft kits, after coupon, was $2, $4, & $5.

image

We did these first. It was a kit to make 4  gingerbread ornaments. They were super easy for the kids to understand and finish without help (except for my 17mos old of course. She figured out the stickers but if course they weren’t I’m the traditional places). It kept them busy for about 20 minutes. I threw away the box with example picture and it was neat to see how they decorated them.  Brendan actually used some of the sequins as eyes and at the corners of the mouth. I never would have thought of that and was glad he surprised me! Each child marked theirs with their name and the year. We are giving the extra as a Christmas gift. (Shhh don’t tell!)

image

image

This one I saved for my two eldest when the little one was napping. My eldest colored it and they did the stickers together. Originally there were stickers for the mouth, but they fell off… hence the hand-drawn ones. Pretty cute as a homemade decoration.  Fun detail: it lights up from a switch on the bottom.
image

image

These came in a kit of 20. I let each child do 2, and saved the rest. I was going to do the rest before Christmas, but now I think I’ll save them for next year. When they finished, our eldest realized the sticky backs of the scarves and arms adhered them to their doors, and that’s where they hang now.

What I love about these kits:
1. They were very affordable
2. The kids loved them
3. Everything you need is included in the kit (unless you want to decorate more with markers)
4. Low-maintenance and easy clean-up

These kits were great even for the creatively-challenged like me.  😉

As I probably won’t post until after Christmas, I’ll extend a very Merry one to you and yours! My prayer is that your holiday is rich with the true meaning of Christmas: the coming of the Savior!

Fun kid’s lunch – English Muffin pizzas

I wish I could remember where I saw this idea. On a blog or Pinterest, maybe in a magazine? Either way, I saw it at the perfect time because I did have an extra set of English Muffins as they were BOGO a week or so ago.

So today, impulsively, I decided to try it. The kids always love when they get to help with stuff so they were all for it. Plus, it gave me a day off from sandwiches, which is nice because I’m not using bread (that saves me money in the long run- we use up to 12 pieces of bread, about half a loaf! – if everyone has sandwiches!)

What you’ll need:
Sheet pan
Toaster
Oven
English Muffins
Pasta sauce
Shredded mozz or other cheese
Fresh veggies and/or meat for toppings
image

I started by lightly toasting 3 whole grain English muffins. Then I covered a small sheet pan with aluminum foil and put the muffins on it. I used a spoon to scoop and spread sauce on each muffin. My eldest (in the picture) is 5- almost 6!- and wanted to do her own sauce. Then I let the kids add their own veggies and top with cheese.
image

Then I baked in the oven at 400º for 6 minutes.

I thought they were delicious. I’d probably make them for ME next time, or maybe for dinner with mushrooms and red onion and fresh tomato. Yum!

I have to be honest though. My 5 1/2 year old LOVED hers, but as much as my two youngest love tomatoes, they really just wanted them raw. Camille picked the tomato and cheese off hers and left the muffin. Brendan only ate half of one and left the rest for me. Haha. I’m guessing it had something to do with the whole grain, as they only occasionally have whole grain toast.

Try it! You’ll be surprised how quick, easy, delicious and nutritious it is!

Crepes!

Where do I begin?? Once I tried them, crepes quickly became one of my favorite meals.  Good for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Great any time of year, but there’s something about hot crepes when it’s cold and grey out. Plus they go GREAT with a morning cup of tea (and you know how I love my tea). These are a favorite with my kids too. They’re too young to do this now, but I have this mental image of bowls of different fillings and they’re choosing which ones they want. Make your own Crepe, instead of Make your Own Sundae. I think what makes me really drawn to a recipe is when you can start with a base of understanding and adjust for many different uses or flavors. Muffins for example. Or pasta. Or soup. Even cookies. Maybe that’s why I really like Alton Brown’s show, “Good eats”. He teaches you the science and the reasoning behind things. It’s the whole, “teach them to fish” concept. Because once you understand a technique, you can begin to come up with and combine your own ideas instead of relying on other people’s.

When I searched recipes for crepes Alton Brown’s was one of the ones that came up. He had a genius idea of mixing everything in a blender, instead of in a mixing bowl. Not only do you dirty like dishes, but you can pour directly out of the blender into the frying pan instead of having to use a ladle or some other device to scoop the batter and put it into the pan. So efficient! Most of the time when I make these, I make them for breakfast or lunch, and they are sweet, using fruit and chocolate, etc. However I have done a savory version and they’re great for dinner too.

Here we go! (Link to recipe at bottom)
I always add the eggs first, so they are closest to the blades of the blender.
20131106_105218[1]

Then I’ll add vanilla.
wpid-20131106_105301.jpg

I don’t always use cinnamon, but since we were making apple cinnamon today, I did. And sugar.
wpid-20131106_105659.jpg

Then I alternate between wet and dry ingredients; if you put all the liquid on bottom and dry on top, it takes a long time (not to mention makes a bigger mess!) to combine, and if you put dry on bottom and wet on top, it’s hard to combine unless you stir first.
wpid-20131106_105747.jpg

As for the melted butter: I always melt it in a Pyrex cup and melt it in the microwave. The ‘beverage’ button works well for this. Or if you have a ‘milk’ button – or some microwaves even have a ‘butter’ button! Nice!
wpid-20131106_105555.jpg

And after the first batch of flour I’ll add the butter.
wpid-20131106_105758.jpg

Here’s the awesome part: I’ll reuse that Pyrex (Yep, less dishes!) to measure the milk. AND, whatever butter is left in the Pyrex will come out when I pour the milk. And that’s why I do the water last. It too pulls the rest of the milk out. Alton Brown’s recipe says you can add 2 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur. Well, mine have to be kid friendly. So I add a couple splashes of OJ.
wpid-20131106_105910.jpg

Pulse for about 10 seconds or until everything is combined. You might need a spatula to get anything un-stuck from the sides of the blender.

Now the fun… choose your filling!

wpid-20131106_114558.jpg

 
Be sure to give them a stir to combine all ingredients!

I always put the filling in bowls because these cook so fast that you won’t have time to cut or cook things while the crepes cook. (In fancy cooking terms, this is called your ‘mise en place’) This will be the filling for the apple cinnamon crepes:
wpid-20131106_122558.jpg

I use butter flavored cooking spray, BEING SURE TO COAT THE SIDES OF THE PAN. Then pour the batter in a circular motion around the outside of the pan and into the middle until it covers the bottom of the pan:
wpid-20131106_115609.jpg

Then tilt the pan and swirl the batter in a circular motion around the edges of the pan until, well, there’s nothing left to swirl!
wpid-20131106_115748.jpg

When it starts to bubble in the middle, like the picture above, and the sides pull away easily from the pan, it’s ready to flip! Go around the outside with your spatula first, to make sure all the sides come away easy. Then slide the spatula under the crepe, and FLIP!
wpid-20131106_115824.jpg

I used this same pan to cook the apples in, so it had some buttery-cinnamon-y goodness still on the bottom, which you can see here. Yeah. Yum.
Immediately put your filling in a straight line down the middle of your crepe (think a diameter line!) For these I first used the flat spatula to spread some apple butter all over, then added the apples, then a sprinkling of cinnamon/sugar.
wpid-20131106_115914.jpg

Next fold the sides in over the filling, first one, then the other. Press down gently on the folds with the flat end of your spatula to seal it a little. At this point you don’t need to cook it too much more. A minute maybe, if you want to make sure everything is heated through, or your chocolate chips are melted 😉
Then slide it out of the pan onto a plate, sprinkle with some powdered sugar and, VOILA! A beautiful delicious crepe waiting for your enjoyment.

Delicious Crepes!

Delicious Crepes!

I always have at least 2 filling options, sometimes 3. Today the other filling we did was bananas and chocolate chips:
20131106_122607[1]
20131106_122033[1]

20131106_122145[1]

Aubrey’s crepes (the kids like a drizzle of syrup or sometimes honey)

Due to the nature of these scrumptious treats, they are sometimes difficult to cut or for the kids to eat. However, I have mastered the art of cutting these for kids, and will now share this essential and TOP SECRET information with you:

How to cut crepes for kids

How to cut crepes for kids

The trick is to hold the crepe STILL with the fork while you cut with a sharp knife. I cut the ‘hamburger’ cuts first, then do one cut lengthwise (‘hot dog’!) down the middle. The best way to eat these is to slide your fork underneath each cut and bring to your mouth. YUM!

My favorite filling for these is probably strawberries and chocolate chips. But here’s a list of possibilities:
*strawberries & chocolate chips
*strawberries, bananas & chocolate chips
*bananas & chocolate chips
*bananas, cinnamon/sugar, & chocolate chips (Aubrey’s idea!)
*peanut butter & jelly (also Aubrey’s idea!)
*apple cinnamon
*bananas and blueberries
*blueberry compote (made by sautéing blueberries with a little cranberry juice, OJ & sugar!)

SAVORY crepes can be seasoned with herbs IN the batter, and putting veggies and/or a cream or cheese sauce. Great for dinner!

Here’s the link to Alton Brown’s original recipe. (For me and my kids, I take 1 1/2 recipe otherwise we don’t have enough)
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/crepes-recipe/index.html

Now go make some. For yourself. Or family! Or impress your friends at your next get-together with these babies that seem hard to make… but are really quite easy 😉