How Picking Berries Made Me a Better Mom

farm 1

It was a beautiful sunny morning and we decided to take advantage of our CSA membership at Honeybrook Organic Farm and go strawberry picking.   As we drove over, we went through the rules with our two kids: “Don’t stomp on the plants, pick only the berries that are all red, no fighting or yelling.”  Keep it simple, right?

The kids wake up pretty early, so we were the first people there.  We signed in and received 8 quarts to fill with delicious ripe berries.   I had also brought along a laundry basket to keep them in, to make carrying back to the car easier.  The farm worker showed us the area that was cleared by the head farmer to pick – in between the orange cones.  We gave each kid a quart to fill and let them go.

But what happened next blew my mind.

It was quiet and the sun was warm.  Picking berries was meditative and I was in the moment.  My 9 year old very independent daughter went off – pretty much to the edge of the picking zone and got to it.  She was back pretty quickly for another quart to fill.  My 8 year old son stayed close, pretty much waiting for me to approve each berry before he picked it.

It was in that moment I realized:  We have to parent each of our children very differently.

I had never really thought about that before.  I grew up the oldest of six, my husband the youngest of five.  We both had many funny stories of childhood, us and our siblings getting in trouble.  But I had always thought everyone was treated the same – it was the only fair thing to do.

I watched my kids, both of them shining in the sun, both so different.   I realized that she will always go to the edge, scaring the crap out of me. There seems to be no fear with her.  She needs to be heard and requires that extra space to feel her independence and individuality.  She reads so much, all the time, and acts out her wild imagination in play.   She always needs a quiet hug each day, comforting and grounding her.  For her, it is is important that she feel heard, even when I want to turn the tables and be the one to roll my eyes and slam a door.  He is a rule follower.  He likes boundaries.  He makes sure that everyone around him is following the rules and playing fair.  He is the police officer of the family.  The enforcer.   He can get lost in hours of video games.   His comfort is Legos and building with the directions.  He likes to stay within the lines.  He likes to snuggle later at night, when he is tired and wants to wind down for bed.    There is no eye rolling here.  Yet when spoken to sternly he takes it to heart, very personally and deeply, with tears in his eyes.

farm 2 collage

I realized that treating them same would not help them grow individually, but separate them even more.

This whole parenting thing is harder than I thought.  But, it is also the most rewarding and amazing thing Hubby and I have ever done.  At the end of the day, when we sat and enjoyed our delicious strawberries, I looked around the table and saw more than happy strawberry juice covered faces.  I saw possibility for amazing things – and I saw how these two little people were not only here to learn from me, but I know that they are here to teach me a little something too.

This is an original post for JerseyMomsBlog by Gina Wieboldt, a lifelong Jersey Girl and Health Coach who can also be found at www.jerseygirlorganic.com dishing about healthy and happy living. 

Feeling Worldly at Cost Plus World Market

store

So there I was, shopping in the market, sipping a refreshing iced Pomegranate soda to the Brazilian bossa nova beat of The Girl from Impanema. For a short while, I was transported to some exotic getaway clear across the globe. In reality, I was in the gourmet market aisle of Cost Plus World Market’s Grand Opening in Livingston, New Jersey at the invitation of Cost Plus World Market, to experience their sneak peek event. We were treated to a warm reception, helpful staff and tasty treats during our social shopping.

The store truly takes you places, and this former traveler loved, LOVED it! Their home decor offered a multi-cultural flair with textures, furniture and accessories that are unique enough to grab your eye – but could blend well with almost any taste. They had a really great collection of cotton textiles. The only problem: when given multiple choices I tend to linger and ogle my options a little too long.

Cost Plus Market table napkins.

Cost Plus Market table napkins.

Eventually I settled on the green, which complements my dining patterns perfectly. I also loved the options for going eco-friendly:

eco

Reuse – Reduce – Recycle, party people!

How about a full feature-wall of coffee? This area of the store left nothing to the imagination – they love coffee and they know we do too.  It boasted floor to ceiling selections of coffee flavors from all over the world – packaged in gourmet miniatures and gift sets too. My personal favorite was the Kona Coffee, a nod to my Hawaiian honeymoon. I sipped and sampled and landed on a little Toasted Coconut Black Tea number and she was delightful.

A coffee wall of wonder

A coffee wall of wonder

coconut tea

The end aisles in their gourmet market were gateways to some global destination with themed items. Trip to UK anyone – for some British nosh? How fun. Also… Toffees!

UK

Here’s my great vacation find! I also grabbed a few bottles of their World Market Italian soda in Blood Orange, Pomegranate and Clementine.

bloodymary

I love silly humor, so I spent a little extra time in their gift department. There were cards, frames, party napkins, supplies and ideas for any kind of occasion with a pop of something unusual and fun. I settled on this perfectly timed sentiment for a friend and my adorable new coffee mug.

mug-card

Home office anyone? I’m in the process of building out a small space for a home office – so this little section gave me some great ideas for space and storage solutions.

office

Global goodies. Gourmet market. Unique gifts. Eclectic home decor. Quality and affordability. How can you go wrong?

P.S. All outdoor furniture is currently 50% off.

Go discover something. Find Cost Plus World Market on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

Disclosure: This is an original sponsored post for Cost Plus World Market by Teicia Gaupp of JerseyMomsBlog. All opinions are my own.

I made this: Nacho Libre Six Layer Salad

Totally made this.

This bowl of deliciousness is inspired by the movie Nacho Libre, which gets a lot of air time in my house. Jack Black plays Ignacio, a sad monk moonlighting as a Mexican Luchador who lives in a monastery, works in the orphanage and makes tasty salads for the children. For some reason, my kid loves the salad scene, and if that motivates him to eat his veggies – then sign me up, sister.

The glass bowl makes it pretty to look at.

Open 2 cans of corn. Dump 2 cans of corn. Open 2 cans of beans. Dump those. Chop romaine lettuce and layer that on….

corn it

corn it

beans it

bean it

greens it

green it

You could just dice some tomatoes and dump those on.  No judgement here. But I like to make a quick Pico de Gallo because I love cilantro and it makes me feel accomplished.

In a separate bowl, mix together:

4 Diced Tomatoes

3 Slices of Diced Red Onion

Handful of Chopped Cilantro

3 Tablespoons Lime Juice

1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix well and toss that pretty little number on top of the lettuce layer.

Easy Pico de Gallo

Easy Pico de Gallo

Layer remaining Shredded Cheddar Cheese and 2 Cans of Diced Black Olives.  Tastes great as is – or serve with Diced Bacon, Blue Cheese and Crumbled Nacho Chips on top.

Also – a delicious, ripe avocado was horribly and accidentally left out of the making of this dinner and I feel shame. Please don’t forget the avocado. Enjoy.

cheese it

cheese it

done

Nacho… for your viewing pleasure.

This is an original post for JerseyMomsBlog by Teicia, who feels proud to have fed her boys a healthy dinner that only took 20 minutes to prepare. Bam. 

Who Brought the Dip?

dip_4

On special occasions, whether it’s a birthday or holiday, I always make whom ever it may be, a special meal.  On Fathers’ Day my husband’s only request was that I make that gooey, cheesy buffalo chicken dip for him.  You know, the one with the cream cheese AND blue cheese dressing – the not-so-healthy-one?  I quickly texted my sister-in-law for the recipe.  It’s pretty easy too.

What’s in it:

2 blocks of cream cheese

1 bottle blue cheese dressing

1 bottle buffalo sauce

2 cans of chicken breast (you know, like a tuna can) OR you can use 2 cups of diced chicken if you happen to have it

Shredded mozzarella cheese

How to make it:

Spread the cream cheese in the bottom of a casserole dish. Top with chicken, blue cheese dressing, buffalo sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Bake until brown and bubbly.

When we arrived at my friends house for a Daddy-Day-Dinner everyone was extremely surprised:

Was it lowfat?

How did I make it?

Was there a vegetable hidden in there somewhere?

What weird healthy ingredient did I use?

It was the joke of the day:  The health coach brought the unhealthy dip.

But it was good, and yes, I ate it too.

The truth is, we eat pretty healthy all day at our house, but do splurge at parties and special occasions.  There are no “bad” foods, right?  I’m thinking it’s only “bad” if you eat it everyday.  But I realized that day that because I do preach it up about eating veggies and taking care of yourself that people are watching what I eat.  And they also think that I am watching them.

Wow. People are watching what I eat.  I don’t preach perfection.  I don’t workout every single day.  I like dark chocolate and wine (usually together.)  Maybe I’m not a good health coach after all.

How did I get to that from a dish of hot, bubbly dip?

It’s kind of like that little scale with all the power you keep in the bathroom closet.  You can be feeling great one day, clothes fitting well, full of energy and you decide to step on the scale. BOOM!  Maybe it’s the same number it’s been, or maybe it went up a pound or two.  Whatever it may be, the outcome determines how you feel from that point on. Heck no.  I say, the way you felt before you stepped on it was your true gauge – you felt GOOD.

The same thing goes with how I  eat.  If I eat well and mindfully most of the time, then cool.  Then I go to a party and see an amazing (fill-in-the-blank-of-your-favorite-treat).  I eat it, I drink some wine, and the next day I used to feel guilty.  ugh.  I stopped feeling guilty.   Food is to be enjoyed and wine is to be enjoyed – I simply know my limits.  And you know what?  My kids understand the whole balanced diet thing too.  If JR has a sweeter cereal for breakfast, then he knows to have a healthier lunch.  And my daughter?  At 9 years old she loves kale, but never feels guilty for wanting a treat either.

So, I may be the “health coach” and drink green smoothies for breakfast and eat salads for lunch – but if you invite me to a party, I’ll show up with a bottle of wine and most likely NOT vegetables.   I’m ok with it.

This is an original post for JerseyMomsBlog by Gina Wieboldt, a lifelong Jersey Girl and Health Coach who can also be found at www.jerseygirlorganic.com dishing about healthy and happy living. 

15 Practical Uses For Leftover Halloween Candy

Halloween candy should come with these instructions: “Unwrap and apply directly to hips.” You know, sort of like Play Doh. Every year, millions of Americans are stuck with the dilemma of what to do with leftover candy. Are we spoiled or what? We feel guilty throwing the sweet stuff out because, after all, it is food and we’re taught that food is not to be wasted. While there are tons of suggestions on what to do with it (“Wire the wrappers together to make a cat skirt,” “Save the wrappers to build a life-size sculpture of your kids,” etc.), many are time-intensive or just plain stupid. So here are 15 practical, low-effort uses for leftover Halloween candy:

1. Use it for ice cream.

I scored some major Cool Mom credit a few weeks after [Read more...]