Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Year of No Sugar: a Recap

There is something wrong with me reading a book about A Year of No Sugar while munching on frozen yogurt complete with chocolate topping that's left over from my child's party. But Eve Schaub's book shows just how prevalent sucrose and its cousins can be.

I was initially intrigued by the the book, as I had actually attempted a day off no sugar on several months back and I was shocked by the sheer amount of sugar that was an everyday things I didn't think of. But as I'm a working  mom and a diabetic who's working to improve her health, I approached at A Year of No Sugar with the idea was there a lesson that I can learn and take to improve my children's and my family's health for the future. While I'm not certain the level that sugar is linked to other health conditions, other than the strain on your pancreas and increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes is never a good thing.

Lately I've taken more attempts at reducing sugar in my own life, whether it's watching the carbohydrates that I use in my breakfast or simply counting carbohydrates to match my insulin. It's so surprising how quickly the sugar in any form  -- honey, sucrose, etc. -- adds up. Even things that I might otherwise ignore, like ketchup and pasta sauce, have extra added sugar in it.

After my one-day, frustrating experience, the idea of a family with giving it up for an entire year blew me away. It wasn't easy by any course; in fact the family enabled "cheat days," which probably helped their sanity and saved the project. Most interesting to me was when Schaub detailed her family's trip to Italy and how vastly different other countries see the use of sweet treats and sugar within processed foods.

What did I learn from her Year of No Sugar? The book reinforced what I learn time and time again from registered dietitians: Moderation is key. You don't have to completely remove sugar from your diet - but any reduction in it will have a positive impact on your health. I'm encouraged by the fact the kids were healthier during that year-long experiment.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Removing letters from a shirt - Easy way to revive old school spirit shirts

Not long ago we attended our church's annual children's clothing sale, and my daughter found a volleyball sweatshirt for the school's team that was to die for. She begged for it.

It was cute, I admit.

And 50 cents. I couldn't argue much. So I said yes.

And then I got home and realized. The sweatshirt was personalized.

Luckily it had vinyl lettering, which is typically heat transferred, so I wondered if the vinyl letters could be removed with heat too.

I went basic-basic and started with my hair dryer, heating the letters on high.

And it worked...After I heated the letters, I was able to peal the letters off the shirt! Now we have a low-budget way for my daughter to wear a team sweatshirt this winter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer is for slowing down

Where did the summer go?

As our school inches closer to the balanced calendar, we parents are finding that question to be more urgent than ever: Where did the summer go?

While we can't lengthen our calendar, we can lengthen our days: simply, by slowing down. Unplug and just soak in all that's around us.

Summer shouldn't be about families racing from competition to competition.

Summer should be about splashing in the pool and playing at the park.

Summer shouldn't be about cramming every experience in while you can.

Summer should be about enjoying the moment and realizing it's OK to say when it's enough.

We are just two weeks from our first day of school. And we plan to enjoy it. At our pace.

If it means the kids are too tired after camp to play at the park when I get home, that's OK.

If it means my 6-year-old just wants to decompress with his John Deere trucks or Legos, that' OK.

If it means my fourth grader tucks away with a book or her art supplies, that's OK.

Because at the end of the day, we - kids included - just need to slow down.

How do you slow down in the summer?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Prayer Kneelers for Kids

Helping my children learn to pray is once of the greatest joys - and challenges - I have had as a parent.

While perusing the garden clearance, I was inspired to make prayer kneelers for my kids. I had seen this idea last summer on Catholic Icing, initially considering this as part of our Brownie troop's Family of God religious award journey, but would think about gathering supplies for the project when it was definitely out of season.

Lately I've noticed that my youngest has created a "prayer spot," completely unprovoked, in his room. There is an "Our Father" poster he made in kindergarten, as well as a cross and the various crafts he's made during Vacation Bible School. I thought a prayer kneeler would be a great addition.

I found these apple-shaped garden kneelers on clearance at Walgreens for $2 each, and I used marker to decorate them with a rosary and children's names to create portable prayer kneelers for my godchild and for my children. 

(Why portable? Of course the kids are going to carry things around. Everywhere...)

The kids' prayer kneelers will be packaged with some inspirational reading for Christmas gifts. (I can also see it as a gift for First Communion, or a craft project for Vacation Bible School or Sunday school class.)

On the back, it says "When life gets too hard to stand, kneel." I hope the kids take it to heart.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ice Age Exhibit: Only a few weeks before you'll be frozen out

While scientists and weathermen are discussing this week's polar vortex, hearken back to a time where a just a dozen degrees cooler temperatures would have been a blessing.

The Indiana State Museum's exhibit Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons will be in Indianapolis only a few more weeks, so be sure to stop in and check out the Midwest back in time.

Our family visited the mastadons, mamoths and other Ice Age animals earlier this year, and it was a great treat for our paleontologist wannabe.
This exhibit gives your fossil-hunting, all-things-prehistoric-obsessed kids plenty of Pleistocene points of interest - regardless of their age.

The kindergartener loved digging for bones (no surprise, as he loves doing the same in the Children's Museum archaeology area).

His older sister loved exploring the exhibits
And there were opportunities to get hands-on!

Don't be frozen out of this experience. The exhibit closes Aug. 17, 2014.
You still have a few more weeks. The Ice Age exhibit is included with admission to the Indiana State Museum.

And don't forget to follow Fred the Mastodon on Twitter. Who knew a Mastodon could have a Twitter account! He has a great sense of humor - you won't want to miss his tweets! #IceAgeISM @FredIndiana