Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Super Easy Kind-Of Healthy Dinner Idea for Toddlers

Finished dish in a bowl
Mom's Busy Squash and Meatballs

Sometimes I just don't have the energy to make dinner. But, baby has gotta eat. So what do you do?

I am guilty of grabbing that box of Annie's Mac & Cheese too often because it's easy. But last night I accidentally made a super fast, and healthy-ish meal that my son actually ate! So I thought I would share it in case you were looking for something just as easy as Annies, but with possibly a bit more nutritional value (no promises, I am not an expert).

First off, I want you to know that I am going to add in a few extra steps here, but if you are literally looking for a meal as easy as boxed Mac & Cheese, you don't need to get fancy: Combine cooked spaghetti squash, a jar of pasta sauce, and frozen meatballs in a pan and cook for 10 minutes. That's it. Meal done.

Below is the recipe I made, but I wont blame you if you just go with the basic plan above.

Mom's Busy Squash and Meatballs

1 Spaghetti Squash
1 Jar Pasta Sauce
12 Frozen meatballs (pre-cooked)

1 Onion, diced
1 Pepper (any colour) Diced
Any other veggies you want to get rid of from your fridge, diced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Onion powder
1 tsp Oregano
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus some extra for on top
Salt & Pepper to taste
Wine, to drink while cooking (because, why not)

spaghetti squash
Cut spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds from the centre, place cut side down in a microwave safe dish with about 1 inch of water in it. Microwave for 12 minutes or until the inside easily pulls out with a fork. Let cool until you can grab it, then scoop out insides with a fork into a dish and set aside. You can do this step the day before or in the morning if you want.
Meatballs and Veg in pan
Dice onion, peppers, and whatever other veggies you want to use/your toddler will eat, and fry in olive oil until soft. You can skip this step if you don't have time. No one is watching.

Add in frozen meatballs to your hot pan (if you wanted to be healthier and avoid added salt you could make your own meatballs... but then why would you be reading this recipe). Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Add in jar of pasta sauce to pan with meatballs/veggies (if you want to be healthier you could just use a can of crushed tomatoes). Stir to combine. Let simmer for as long as you can/want to.

pasta sauce added to pan

Add in Spaghetti Squash

Stir in parmesan cheese and spices. Or not. Whatever. Add in your shredded spaghetti squash and stir well to combine. Stir occasionally until squash is hot.

Finished meal

Serve with cheese on top and some garlic bread (or toast with butter and garlic powder).

Don't forget to sip your wine throughout the cooking process, as it makes things much easier.

There you have it - Super easy kind-of healthy dinner. Do as much or as little as you want with it.

In it's most basic form - Squash, Sauce, Meatballs - It will take under 20 minutes to put all together, and 12 of those minutes is the squash cooking in the microwave.

Let me know how it goes. Enjoy!

Baby Eating Squash and Meatballs

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What Canadian Postnatal Care Can Learn From The Dutch

Postnatal nurse with a newborn
Today I came across an interesting article in the Huffington Post about an amazing way the Netherlands looks after women in the days following birth. I was overwhelmed with what the impact of such care would have meant to myself, and all Canadians.

Get this: In Holland a special nurse comes to your home for the first week (or longer) to help with postnatal care not only for the baby, but also the mother. Now, I had a midwife when I gave birth to my son, and one of the best things about midwife care, in my opinion, is that they come to your home for pre and postnatal check-ups. I was so grateful for her (shout out to the Saskatoon Midwives!), and felt so bad every time I heard of a mother having to travel for her postnatal care.

But the Dutch postnatal nurses, called kraamverzorgster, take things to another level. They not only do the regular check ups for mom and baby, and help with breastfeeding as midwives do in Canada, but they come to your home for a full 7-8 hours a day, acting as a caregiver for the mom's well being and ensuring she has all the support she needs. Including helping with older children.

A kraamverzorgster helping with an older child
Kraamverzorgster Back In The Day
The kraamverzorgster will even cook the mom breakfast every morning. Wait, whaaatttt? The hardest thing for me in the first few days after my sons birth was not sleep, as so many think. It was EATING. Every time I attempted to even heat up a cup of coffee in the microwave, my son squawked and it was back to breastfeeding. I truly think the first postnatal month I ate less than I ever have in my entire life. Help with food during this time is so important because of the trauma your body has just gone through, and the extra energy breastfeeding takes.

In this blog from an expat in the Netherlands she explains that the kraamverzorgster would even run errands for her! Wow, what a resource. I think any of us who have experienced having a child here in Canada realizes how amazing this would be, and how much we can learn from this Dutch postnatal care goddess program.

postnatal nurse bathing baby
These beautiful nurses also do various other things like household chores (hello new baby laundry), logging all the poos and pees (we all remember that panic don't we!), and monitoring the baby's general health. And all of this is paid by health care!

So what can we do, mamas, to get this going at home in Canada? Spread the word and insist on better support from our health leaders? I have little hope of that happening, so maybe instead we spread the word about this being the best gift idea ever for new moms. Forget the diaper cakes and cute outfits; the next time one of your friends announces they are pregnant, get everyone to pool their money and fly over a kraamverzorgster from Holland. I think we can all agree, it would be the most life changing gift to ever be given!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Falling While Carrying a Baby...

ripped jeans
Ripped Jeans Are Cool, Right?

...Or: How To Get That Authentic Ripped-Jeans Look

I am no stranger to clumsiness. I have almost fallen a good number of times while holding my son. But I've always managed to steady myself. Until yesterday.

Now in the grand scheme of things my fall was nothing. Falling with a baby can be devastating. This story was thankfully only damaging to my jeans. And maybe my ego.

You know that kind of fall that leaves you no moment to recover? That's what this was. I was leaving a breakfast restaurant with my son on one hip and a diaper bag over my shoulder, when I suddenly found myself on the ground. I don't even remember falling; it was that fast. My first thought, as any mom's would be, was "is my son OK?" Thankfully he was still exactly where he was before the fall; Happily smiling in my arms.

boy touches scrape
Does This Hurt?

It took me a minute to realize what had happened. I looked back and saw a slick patch of ice behind me, while a woman ran over to see if I was hurt. I told her I was fine, even though my knee was bleeding and I could feel a pull in one side of my body, likely from compensating for the weight of my son. But nothing was broken. My eyes welled with tears from the initial pain, but my boy was OK. That's all that mattered.

A mother's instinct shocks me sometimes. I fell in such a way that my son wasn't even phased. It was so quick that I can't even remember it, yet my body sacrificed itself for the safety of my child.

Which brings me to my new stylish jeans...

You know how ridiculous it seems when you see new jeans for sale with manufactured rips in them? I will never make fun of them again, because authentic rips really hurt.

New motto: Spend the cash, save the pain.

mom and boy

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

How To Disable That Darn Home Button on Your (child's) iPad

My son is one and I let him use my iPad. To be honest, I wish he cared about it more some days, so I could have 10 minutes to do a couple things around the house while he was distracted. In truth, he can't really focus on it much at this stage, but what he does absolutely love is the frickin' home button.
guided access menu

Whether it's on the iPad or my phone, the boy can't get enough of that enticing home button. I think him and Siri are best friends at this point, because I hear her telling him she 'doesn't understand' or 'didn't quite get that' at least a few times a day.

As soon as I get a cute age appropriate learning app set up on the iPad, my son pushes the home button and the app closes. I resolved that he was just to young to play with a tablet, but then he gets mad because he wants the app back on the screen, but over and over again, he just can't resist touching that circular finger magnet.

I finally went searching for a solution after he continually closed the Skype camera by pressing the home button while talking with his Grandma. Low and behold, there is a way to disable the home button for children built right into the iPad! I decided to post how to do it, because it's a bit hidden, in case anyone else was having the same issue.

1) Go into your iPad Settings- General                   

iPad Settings          

2)Find and click on Accessibility

Scroll to the very bottom in accessibility and click on Guided Access. Turn on Guided access, and click on Passcode Settings to set a password to exit guided access, if your child is old enough to figure out how to triple click the home button to exit. 

Now go into any app and triple click the home button. A a new menu will pop up that asks you if you want to start Guided Access, and also displays other options. Select what you want to do and hit start.

triple click home button in app

If the home button is pressed while Guided Access is on in an app, nothing will happen. In order to exit the app you need to triple click the home button and enter your password. You can then hit end to stop guided access.

VoilĂ ! Now your little one can press the strangely desirable circle as much as he wants, and play with the app too.

Hope this helps you as much as it helped me! Let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Why New Moms Avoid the House At All Costs

Before I was a mom I believed that all moms of babies would rather stay at home than go through the hassle and stress of going out with their newborns. This could not have been more opposite for me, because as soon as I was well enough, (about 3 weeks postpartum), I used every excuse in the book to get out of my house.

Babies at a mom class
Babies Line Up For One Of Many 'Mom Classes'
At first I joined as many classes as I possibly could. There was Mommy Connections Tuesday afternoon, mall walking Wednesday morning, Mom and Baby Yoga Thursday morning, and every day I didn't have something scheduled for, I desperately befriended another mom from one of my classes and made plans with her for a walk or lunch date. (You'd think with all the fitness I was doing just to avoid the house I would have gotten into amazing shape, but that's another story).

As my son got older, walks turned into play dates, and the classes available for mobile kids got fewer and further between. This led me to create a plan; scheduling my out of house chores for each day of the week so I had an excuse to get out at least once a day.

Except for the very first week of leaving the house, I never found being out and about with my son to be stressful. It gave me an excuse to put on clothes that day. It gave me a reason to shower, and converse with other adults. It made me feel more normal. Like most other first time moms, up until my son was born I was used to working full time. I had a reason to make myself look presentable every day, and I talked to colleagues and new faces. When you are a new mom all of that changes, and for me, being out of the house felt more normal than staying inside.

It's just now that I am starting to enjoy my home again. I'm not sure why; maybe it's that every day I am getting more and more used to my new routine, or maybe it's because my son is finally having moments where he can just sit on my lap for 5 minutes and we can enjoy each others company. Whatever it is, I'm glad that being home is finally not seeming so daunting.

I still try to leave the house every day, but the times I don't are starting to become less boring, and more comfortable. It's nice to once again feel at home, in my home. The memories I have of my house as a child are so comforting, I truly hope I can create that same feeling for my son. I guess the first step to getting there, is me being happy and comfortable with what I have.