Monday, February 28, 2011

On Siblings- The Little Differences (Sara Rose)

I was reading this article about sibling relationships in Psychology Today and got to thinking about the actual differences between my kids, especially when Eva was at Owen's age.  I came to some startling and slightly humorous realizations.  Basically, I'm not sure they fit the whole birth order mold developed by Adler and Mendelsohnn, now the ideas presented in magazine. Check out the links to get an idea of what 'personality traits' are usually associated with children depending on where they lie in their birth order.

Perhaps, we're not very traditional parents?  Apparently, a lot of parents expect their older child to be more 'mature', 'mother hen like', and 'independent'.  The last child is 'often more doted on' and parents 'take it easier on them' and can be the more forward thinking and rebellious.  Middle children are supposedly 'always left with the least attention and feel the most insecure'.  

Nolan and I were both only children.  We were raised very differently and came to the conclusion that we also would raise our kids differently than we were.  My parents were focused careerists and we all know that my dad had his fair share of problems.  Nolan's parents were also pretty focused on their careers but as his mother was a teacher, she was around a lot more.  I became a latch key kid by about fourth grade and was always fairly independent.  I could play by myself, entertain myself, etc.  When I was around my folks, they expected me to be mature, although I was usually a snooty brat, but whatever.

Nolan's parents were very concerned with him being 'okay'.  He's adopted so I expect a higher modicum of worry comes with that?  They had very high expectations of him, wanted him to be popular, get good grades and be in everything.  My parents were big on choices.  Most everything I did, I had a say in the matter.  They didn't push me hard, they just expected me to do my very best and see what came of it.  They didn't worry about popularity, good grades, or activities, and probably would have preferred my being antisocial and quiet instead of a spaz-o who was in everything.

Nolan and I talked about raising kids, like the second week we were dating.  We knew what we wanted- good manners, strong sense of individuality and creativity, and a fairly high level of independence.  We encourage our kids to form opinions, know the reasons behind their choices, and understand themselves.  Obviously you can't expect this entirely from a 21 month old, he shows his strengths and independence surprisingly well.

Eva generally does well with this, but has a firecracker personality.  She's up one minute and down the next.  She's fairly emotional and seems to have a greater need for security and approval than Owen does, which is rather strange to me.  She really seems to 'need' attention and when she's good, she's perfect but when she's bad or down, she's heck on wheels. She is competitive, opinionated, and can lose her temper quickly.

I feel like she's got a more artistic temperament.  The one way I can get her to be independent for (seriously) an hour or more is to set her up with art supplies and let her at it.  She creates grandiose stories and absurd ideas, understands complex things like math and science fairly well, and loves story time to excess.  I have a feeling she'll either end up a doctor or a painter.  The easiest way to define her is to say she is a character of extremes.

Owen seems to be the hands on, go for it even if it kills me thing going on. He was a fussy baby with every allergy under the sun, would not sleep without us five inches or less from him, and seemed to need just as much attention as Eva always does.  Eva DID NOT take to the big sister/mother hen thing the way everyone kept saying that she would.  She was insanely jealous, resented his presence, and rebelled a lot.  Only recently has she seemed to slowly embrace that Owen could be fun to play with or be around. Now, they have learned how to antagonize each other (oh joy of joys) and I'm fairly certain that's not going to stop any time soon.

Eva spoke early.  Her first word was 'shoes' at about ten months and she didn't stop from there.  She grasped talking a lot faster than Owen has.  However, Owen walked at 9 months and has been running around ever since.  He runs, is very physical, but also very needy for attention.  Where he differs in that from Eva though is that he doesn't seem to want or need approval (although he does love an audience).  He's more of a "I'm going to climb the bookcase, get to the ceiling, and tear the curtains down.  You better not stop me but you damned well better be watching!" sort.  He's cuddly and comical.  

He likes to laugh and do insane things for a laugh.  The other day he got on top of a fairly high chest we use as storage and a side table for the couch.  He scooched himself off of it repeatedly, landing really hard, fussed a minute, then laughed hysterically.  He likes to take things apart and put them back together.  He gets especially frustrated if he can't run around or tinker with things.  I'd say he's fairly scientific and he's got a bit more independence going for himself.  At least, he doesn't seem to get as insecure as Eva, nowadays.  It used to be that you couldn't venture out of his sight for longer than a second. He does still want nap time with me or he won't nap at all. (I am embracing the idea that more sleep is always great!)

We're very focused on the ideas of fairness and open communication.  We want our kids to hopefully be successful at being independent, open minded, and firm in their personalities.  We try to encourage the idea that you don't have to be like everyone else, you have to be like yourself.  Growing up and as an adult, the households and parents I admire are ones who encourage creativity, independence, and good behavior. We also try our hardest to respect our kids and hopefully that will come around so they respect us as well.

Perhaps my kids fit the whole 'birth order roles' better than I think they do.  But it seems that both Owen and Eva have such extreme personalities, I can't always really gauge where exactly they fit it.  Perhaps they never will.  I do hope they become and remain close throughout their lives.I want them to feel as if they have someone they can rely on for a sense of strength and acceptance.  How we get to that point, is another story.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

EM's March Diapapallooza!

Have you RSVP'd to Diapapallooza? If you have, you should have gotten a Facebook message with the details for selling! If you are interested in selling, please RSVP to the event!

Heart Health For The Family

We believe that an important part of natural parenting is eating well, taking care of your body, and teaching your kids that a healthy lifestyle is a happy lifestyle.  So, a few more tips for the weekend.  I feel like these tips are so important especially because Nolan and I agreed that this year, as a resolution, we would focus on our health and teaching our kids healthy habits.  We hope you do the same and encourage you to share your tips as well!

-Take the food pyramid seriously, especially when it comes to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  We grow our veggies in the summer and buy fresh from farmers in Vermillion.  Every day, we focus on getting in some whole grains, more veggies, more fruit, and more water.  We've cut back drastically on sweets, soda, and mindless snacking.  All of us have seen better health and higher energy as a result!

-Make exercise part of your family's lifestyle.  After dinner, if you can, squeeze in a 30 minute family walk.  Encourage your kids to participate in intramural and extracurricular sports.  You and your kids can learn to do yoga, stretching, and other new activities together!  Try to build one or more fun activity into your weekend schedules every month that is focused on getting physical, whether it's playing tag, going skating, kicking or throwing a ball around, or throwing a living room dance party.

-Introduce your kids and yourself to a new vegetable and whole grain dish every week.  You might be surprised to discover all the new things you like!  I've made tabbouleh salad, quinoa dishes with salmon and broccoli, and others with surprisingly good reviews from my family.  There are dozens of websites devoted to healthy and family friendly dishes.

-If you bake a lot, start working with substituting oat flour or whole wheat flour and apple sauce instead of refined sugars and bleached flours.  The sweets will fill you up better, leaving less room for seconds and thirds.  You are also getting more fruits and grains in your diet!

-Teach your kid the truly healthy habit of decompressing when stressed out.  A stressed person often has a much higher risk of heart conditions, but a person who take the time to address and let go of stress often has (according to lots of medical studies) lower blood pressure and a much lower risk of heart disease.  Your kids might have different styles of blowing off steam and stress- maybe going for a walk or run, maybe a nice, long bath, or maybe a journal.  Teach them there are lots of ways to chill out and let go so that they are happier and healthier as they get older.

-Finally, practice what you preach.  you can't force your kiddos to eat apple slices and carrot sticks while you drink soda and eat potato chips.  Let them see you eating fruits and veggies, drinking water, and exercising.  Make sure to reinforce this by saying things like "I do these things because they make me feel healthier and stronger."

What are your favorite ways to keep your family healthy and happy?  Share!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Healthy Dinners: Mama's Split Pea Soup

Sigh, it seems we're in for another cold snap, I take it.  The weather doesn't look too promising for the weekend.  So, though I know we might all be sick of soups, I've got another one.  Soup is my 'go to' for weather that just seems unending and dreary.  I was so happy with those few 'warm-ish' days we had!  We went for family walks, the kids got to play outside and I even ventured out of the house!  (For those who don't know me, I honestly find any excuse I can to stay inside during cold weather. ANY. EXCUSE.) 

This soup is a specialty of my mama's.  I think she's the one who really got me on the soup kick, most Sundays she would make this HUGE batch of soup for us to have for quick lunches or suppers throughout the week.  With that being said, her specialty is most definitely the kinds of soups that get better with time.  Split pea just happens to be one of those soups.

Since we are still on our heart healthy kick, let me just say that dried legumes are excellent sources of protein, fiber, and iron.  They also are incredibly budget friendly!  A bag of dried split peas can cost less than a dollar and make 12 servings!  That sort of math makes me rather happy indeed.  Since the soup is low in fat, high in  fiber, incredibly filling and gets better with time, I consider it a win.  Especially if we are bound to have yet more cold weather.  (Also great- this recipe is vegetarian!)

Split Pea Soup

16 oz of dried split peas (soak overnight according to the directions on the package before cooking this)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 chopped stalks of celery
2 diced carrots (I only wash my carrots, I don't peel them for soups)
2 diced turnips
8 cups of water or vegetable stock
1 tsp dried or fresh thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Parsley
1 cup of white cooking wine
Salt and pepper to taste
6 Tbs olive oil

1.  Saute vegetables in olive oil until tender, about 5-10 minutes.  Keep heat low enough so nothing scorches but softens nicely.  Also, saute this in your soup or stock pan.
2.  Add spices to sauteed vegetables and cook gently for another 2 minutes.  Then add broth, wine and peas.
3.  Bring to a boil, then cook on medium heat for 30 minutes.
4.Lower heat enough to keep soup at a simmer fir 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  The peas should break down some, and you can use a masher to help that out.  Fantastic with a chunk of whole grain bread and the family. :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Hood's February Make N Take!

Got any plans on Sunday?  Go to The Hood Magazine's February Make N Take!  Neat crafts to do as a family, and lots of fun to be had!  Come see all of the great programs that Sioux Falls Parks and Rec has to offer and do a fun craft project for your little one to take home and enjoy! We'll also have copies of our latest issue and Hood Good Cards!  We are proud supporters and distributors of The Hood, Sioux Falls official parenting magazine- so check out this link and if you can come RSVP and join in the fun!

Reminder: ICAN Starts Next Week!

We are so proud to be able to support ICAN of Sioux Falls.  ICAN is the International Cesarean Awareness Network.  We want to educate women on the pros and cons of multiple cesareans and help educate families further, so they feel the birth choices that they make are right for them

Not all cesareans are necessary and some are just plain too hard on the women who have them.  We are hoping to help the families of South Dakota have stronger, healthier pregnancies and births, and bring a new level of knowledge to prenatal care.  We also want to help support families who do have to go through the cesarean process, so that recovery goes well for the entire family.

There is a lot of misuse of knowledge about VBAC's (vaginal births after cesareans) and we want to help you understand it!  Meetings are going to be held the first Thursday of every month, starting March 3rd at 6:30 pm.  We will be at Elegant Mommy, which is, of course, on the corner of 49th and Western.  There, you will meet your local leader of ICAN, Trisha, and she's goping to become a cast resource of knowledge on this important topic.

For more information, you can certainly go to, contact us, or Trisha at  We hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Heart Healthy Recipes: Banana Oatmeal Muffins

In lieu of last weeks healthy, fast dinner, I'm sending you a nice yummy recipe, specially created by yours truly.  Not only is February the holder of Valentine's Day and President's Day but it's the time to focus on your heart health.  Heart diseases are the number one medical problem for both men and women, and it's our job to promote natural, healthy living to our customers!  We care about you and want you to take good care of yourself so always think of three things for your heart:

1.  Get more fiber in your diet.  Even if it's switching to whole grain breads or cereals, eating an extra piece of fruit or another serving of veggies, fiber is number one in helping your heart, your body, and a big step towards better health.  Did you know that we are supposed to be getting at least 33 grams of fiber a day and that the average American only gets a third of that?  This leads not only to heart issues, but digestive ones, and is a key factor in obesity.

2.  Take those vitamins and get some fish oil into your diet!  If you aren't a fish person, there are fish oil gel tabs you can take that have those omega-3 oils everyone so desperately needs you can take.  In fact, the places with the lowest rates of heart disease are countries that rely primarily on fish and legumes for their primary sources of protein.  Vitamins help keep your body running, even when you can't eat the healthiest.

3.  Up off the couch!  Even 30 simple minutes of a walk, stretching more often, any extra physical movement will help your heart keep pumping healthfully.  If you can do it at least three to 4 times a week, great, and if you can do it every day, even better.  I, myself, am often guilty of not getting enough exercise and when I don't, boy do I pay!  My stomach hurts more, I get sluggish and sore, and have little to no energy.  Exercise also helps your heart clean out plaque build up so it lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and how hard your heart has to work.

I would love it if you tried this recipe.  It's moist, yummy, and chock full of heart healthy things like Niacin and fiber.  Plus, who doesn't like a nice warm muffin in the morning?  Breakfast, especially fiber filled ones keep you energized throughout the day and helps curb your appetite for unhealthy munchies.  Let me know if you enjoyed the recipe!

Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 12 Muffins

-1 1/2 Cups of whole wheat flour (I use the King Arthur brand)
-1 Cup of quick cooking oats
-1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
-1 Tbs baking powder
-1/2 Tsp baking soda
-1 Cup (or 3 whole) ripe, mashed bananas
-5 Tbs margarine or butter, melted (I use Brummel and Brown)
-1/2 Cup milk
-1 egg, beaten
-1 Cup of unsweetened applesauce
-1 tsp Vanilla

-Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
-Spray your muffin pans' cups and use liners if you prefer.
-In a medium bowl, combine your dry ingredients and set aside.
-In another medium bowl, blend your wet ingredients well.
-Add your dry ingredients to the wet in 3 additions, each time stirring until just combined.  Do not over blend the dough.
-Fill the muffin cups 2/3's full. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes and remove.  Serve.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Belly Casting is Saturday Night!

Have you ever thought about making a belly cast to preserve your pregnancy and show your children where they came from? Do!  Belly casting is a wonderful, relaxing, and creative way to cherish your pregnancy, your unborn child, and make great memories!  Come join us for belly casting!  We still have 2 openings for belly casting on Saturday evening! Only $15 for this fun pregnancy memory!

From Sara To Nolan: A Belated Happy Valentine's Day!

Us, about 4 years ago and so young!
When I was 16, I had figured I wouldn't consider marriage or children until I was at least 30.  When I was 20, my mind had not changed.  Obviously, by the time I was 23 and staring into Eva's newborn eyes, that had changed considerably in a short time!  Than, as Nolan and I progressed into couple-hood and realized remarkably fast, then an engagement, and then (dun dun dun) we eloped, obviously it was a lesson that though you have ideas of what adulthood may look like when you are very young, versus still young (29 in June!), are incredibly changeable because you really don't know what adulthood itself may look like for you.

We got married when I was 24 and Nolan was barely 23.  Here we are 5 years later, working on careers, raising two crazy kiddos, and weathering our 20's together.  I don't know about all people, but my 20's were a really rough ride of making lots of mistakes, indecision about myself, and learning how to be an adult.  I certainly didn't walk out of my parents house at 18 ready to be an adult.  I certainly thought I was but in reality, no.

When I got pregnant with my Eva and was facing the realities of single motherhood, I had prepared myself the best I knew how and the one thing I knew was that I was not going to march men constantly in and out of my life.  If a man wasn't serious about me and my daughter, then he didn't need to be there.  Imagine my surprise when I met Nolan, who was kind, serious but utterly witty, and very much so focused from the get go about his future with me and Eva.

Eva and Nolan took to each other quickly, with a bond so deep that it took my breath away. After a couple weeks, I flat out said, "I cannot get into a relationship with you unless you are sure that this is your future."  A lot to ask of a man as young as we were, right? But I had to know for certain and he answered, very assuredly, "If I wasn't going to marry you and be a father to her and the rest of our children, I wouldn't be here."

Things went from there, within less than 6 months we were engaged and married, and facing life together.  I was always utterly blown away by his confidence in us, his work ethic, gentle and gentlemanly ways, and his focus on building our family.  Like, any married couple, we have faced our share of storms already in the five years we have been married, but we somehow still come out holding hands and keeping our family pointed towards the sun.

Nolan is an amazing father.  Over the past few years, I had a couple semi-serious health problems, we've had some financial woes, and had another child.  We still laugh together and we sit together as a family for dinner, but most importantly we focus on making a life that is entirely our own.  He has encouraged me, and I hope I have done half as well for him, to pursue goals that make me happiest.  Nolan works hard to be a good provider, father, husband, and most importantly, my best friend.

He has steadfast love and focus on us.  It's almost like a laser, how strong his focus is on his family and the future.  Most importantly, we still make each other laugh, we still talk to each other about everything, and we adore each other.  When I look back on the very different course my life took than what I had initially imagined, I can't imagine wanting to be with any one else than Nolan and my children.  So, though it is belated, thank you, Nolan for being a wonderful husband and father.  I look forward to our whole lives together as we have barely just begun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Temporary Hiatus . . .

We have to take a couple 'sick days'.  Shelly and Sara Rose both have super sick kids, so we will be back to regular blogging as soon as we can.  Thanks for your patience!

Monday, February 14, 2011

From Shelly to Corey: Happy Valentine's Day!

It has been 10 years (in September) since I married the man that God blessed our family with. Never did I imagine that he was who God had intended for me, but it sure didn't take long to figure it out. See we had met about 1.5 years prior but I was in my 2nd year of college and wasn't interested in dating anyone. Some mutual friends introduced us when we were both at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Corey is 6 years my senior and he seemed so OLD to me! However, we still had quite a few of the same mutual friends who were into hot air ballooning and I would occasionally see Corey, but I thought nothing of it. Late in the Spring of 2000, I was creating a website for college-aged balloonists to gather.

Our mutual friends suggested that I contact Corey and get his feedback. So I did and we started chatting online. We went on our first date on April 1, 2000 and I still remember that day 11 years later. He was SO NERVOUS! Partly because he had to pick me up at someones house that intimidated him and partly because he hadn't dated for quite some time. But he was such a gentleman the whole time, it was a clear indication of what kind of a person he was. In the coming months, our feelings for each other developed quickly and we knew we were meant to be together. We moved in together in July and were engaged in November of the same year. Only 9 months later were married on Sept. 29, 2001.

Corey is the best father to our children that I could ever ask for. He cares for our children, can make them laugh when they are sad, makes it a point to give them hugs and kisses before he runs out the door to one of his 2 jobs, builds snow forts with them, has taught them how to ride their bikes, and does homework with them all the time.

As for being a husband, I am TRULY blessed. I have a husband who will do dishes, do laundry, take care of me when I am sick, and most importantly he listens to me. We have stood together on many major life decisions, including the one that makes this post possible, pursuing what God intended for our family and opening Elegant Mommy. Think about his position: 3 years ago, after Elegant Mommy had been open about 6 months, I approached my husband and said I think I need to leave my very well paying job in the corporate world and we'll learn how to live off of your modest salary with a family of 5.

And oh by the way, I know I'm the one who carries the health insurance, but that will now have to come out of your modest salary as well. In the end, he trusted God and trusted me and these last 3 years have been some of the most trying years, but BY FAR, the best years of our marriage.

Corey - I love you with all my heart. I am amazed at the blessings that God has blessed us with and am looking forward to the next 10 amazing years! What a blessing it is to share the next 10 years with you!
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Our Baby 'Roo Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Haha Mommy!  She is our winner for a fabulous Baby 'Roo Sling!  Haha Mommy, your new sling is headed your way soon!  We loved her baby wearing story:

10 years ago, I carried my 2 year old all over disneyland in his OvertheShoulder (serious option limited times!). We were such pros, he slept in there through the ride on Dumbo ♥

Thank you to everyone who entered and keep tuned for our next giveaway, coming soon!

Healthy Dinners: Kielbasa Soup & Southern Biscuits

My so-close-we're sisters best friend, Sarah.
Well now, it's been quite the week, right?  Today, our recipes come from my so.close.of.a.friend.we.are.sisters Sarah, and my great Aunt Harriett.  Since it's still cold out, I say we need more soup!  I love soup, if you couldn't tell, but I really love soups that help clean out the pantry or you can just use whatever you've got on hand.

Sarah's Kielbasa Soup does just that.  She said "It's really more of a template than a recipe, if you want to use different things, go ahead".  She also mentioned, and I concur, that this soup doubles or triples easily.  It's a great thing to throw in the crock pot, it stores really well for a few days in the fridge to make great leftovers, and if you make a huge batch, it freezes really nicely.

Next up, let's talk about my awesome mama.  My mother owns a cafe and bookstore in Sturgis, SD.  Obviously our shared love of cooking runs deep and it's several generations long.  Awhile back, for my birthday, my mom filled up a cookbook with family recipes and her favorite recipes.  One of them happens to be my Great-Aunt Harriett's "Southern Biscuits".  These biscuits are quick and easy to whip up, easy to add things like different herbs, garlic, shredded cheese, etc. to.  So, like Sarah's soup, they're a bit of a template.  Biscuits and soup go hand in hand, especially when they're fresh out of the oven waiting for a bit of butter and to dipped into a yummy soup.

With no further ado, Sarah's Kielbasa Soup & Harriett's Southern Biscuits

Kielbasa Soup!
Kielbasa Soup

1 cup dried beans (navy, Great Northern, any kind you like), soaked and rinsed (or a can of beans, whatever)
1/2 Polska Kielbasa (or any sausage you like), sliced
1 small onion (or 2 green onions)
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1-2 carrots (or 5-8 baby carrots), sliced/chopped
about 1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 can sliced mushrooms (or 2-3 fresh, sliced)
1 potato, chopped (optional)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes (plain or with spices), undrained
1-2 bay leaves
Other spices explained below, depending on the tomatoes

Brown sausage in a frying pan with 1 small onion (or 2 green onions) and 1 clove of garlic, chopped or crushed.

Set your crock pot on High, combine beans, meat mixture, 6 cups of broth and water, celery, carrots, peas, mushrooms, potato if you want, bay leaves, and about 1/2-1 tsp salt and pepper to start.  

Add the diced tomatoes.  If you use tomatoes with Italian spices, add a little Italian seasoning to the soup also.  If you use tomatoes with lime and cilantro, or with green chilies, add 1/2 tsp cumin and 1tsp oregano to start, adding more to taste.  If using unseasoned tomatoes, add whatever seasonings you prefer.
Leave it alone (maybe stir once or twice) for at least 4 hours on High, turning to medium or low.  This is a brothy chunky soup, but if you want it a little creamier, add a potato and after everything's cooked, puree 1/2 cup of the soup in a blender and add it back into the soup.  Or, mash it around a little with a potato masher, if you have one.
Harriett's Southern Biscuits

1 C & 1 T of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 T shortening
1/2 C buttermilk
1 T shortening (for the pan)

Set oven to 475 degrees. Grease a cast iron skillet or baking pan with 1 T of shortening.  Warm pan in the oven for 7-10 minutes while you make the dough.
Stir dry ingredients together with a fork.
Blend in shortening until mixture is course and grainy. (Some people use a pasty cutter or two forks to 'chop' the ingredients together.)
Stir in buttermilk until the batter is smooth and just combined, over-mixing makes for hard as rock biscuits!
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough gently about 3-4 times.
Pull the dough apart and pat lightly into 2 inch balls.
Place balls into the pan and flatten lightly.
Bake biscuits for 10 minutes, turning them over once.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

LLL Meeting Tonight!

Photo taken in 1967 or 1968. The mother was on...Image via WikipediaOur La Leche League meeting is tonight at Elegant Mommy!  It will be from 6:30 - 9:30 and is for anyone- from a pregnant couple interested in learning more about breast feeding, to the mommy who is, and is open for anyone who is curious and interested!  We are here to help guide you on this wonderful, natural journey that is both healthy and a wonderful way to bond with your child!  Dads are more than welcome too- there is something for anyone to learn!  We can't wait to see you there!
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How Does Your Family Celebrate Valentine's Day?

A tiny 2-inch pop-up Valentine, circa 1920Image via WikipediaValentines Day is up there for most people as the most dreaded and/or anticipated holidays.  Swooning, roses, hearts, grand gestures, all these things dance in people's head likes sugar plums do at Christmas.  But, there are those who hate it, are bitterly disappointed by it, or find it to be saccharine sweet.  I know, that for most people, it's supposed to be the ultimate in romance, but for ou9r little family it's all about the ultimate in love.

See, about a decade ago or more, I decided to rearrange my perspective on the holiday.  I decided that while it's nice to receive sweet, romantic gestures, it's even BETTER to GIVE a little extra love to all the people who mean a lot to me.  There's always a group howling "Well, aren't you supposed to show your love and gratitude to the people you care about every single day?"

The answer is yes, of course one should do that.  But a day where you spend a little extra time saying to everyone that's in your heart "Hey, you mean a lot to me!"is just as important as everyday tokens of love, if not more.  Because lets face it- winter gets you down after awhile!  It's cold, it's hard to see people often because everyone is so busy (and so cold), and we often just lose touch.  It's about reconnecting, to me.

I believe that Valentine's Day should be the same as any other winter holiday, it should be about the spirit of giving and making a person's day just a little bit brighter.  I receive more pleasure from giving people I love a Valentine or a little gift than I ever have when I got roses, candy, jewelry, or other gifts.  It's almost a continuation of Christmas and the spirit of charity, love, and giving, for our family anyways.

So, we do Valentine's Day up big in our household.  We trade the Christmas ornaments on our glittery pink tree (did I ever mention that pink is my favorite color- tee hee!) for hearts, we hand make Valentines for everyone in our lives, we bake goodies as gifts, and we give each other all a little something special that day.  We take time out to let everyone know how much we love and appreciate them.

We sit down that night to a nice family dinner with a wonderful dessert, our table decked out with some candles and flowers.  After dinner, we play some games or read stories, have special bubble baths, and make sure to tell each other how much we love each other.  The kids go off to bed, the husband and I spend some quiet time together, and make sure to have a wonderful day.

Do you know the story of St. Valentine? He was a monk in Roman times, centuries ago.  During that time, it was forbidden that young men who were in the military could be able to marry.  He performed marriages for these young men who had found that special someone they wanted to spend forever with.  St. Valentine was loved by children and spent time in local gardens, telling the children stories and showing them how to plant and care for roses.  Once, he was called to the house of a child he had spent time with, by her mother.  The little girl got a terrible fever and became blind.  He prayed over her, spent time reading to her and helping the family. 

During the time he spent with the family, he was tried by the Roman courts and found guilty of performing secret marriages for soldiers and was imprisoned.  When the child got better from her fever, he sent her letters with stories and drawings and he signed them "From Your Valentine".  He spent his life giving love and thus, we now celebrate Valentine's Day.

I hope that Valentine's Day is just as special in your life as it is in ours.  We use the opportunity to teach our children more about the spirit of kindness, being selfless, and giving.  I hope you write us a comment about how your family celebrates Valentine's Day, and I hope most of all that you know that we here at Elegant Mommy value and love everything you have given to us.  So, how do you spend Valentine's Day with your family?
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) Meeting!

The first ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) meeting is March 3rd at 6:30pm. The location will be Elegant Mommy located at 49th & Western. The official group name is ICAN of Sioux Falls. Please help spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested. You can find more information about ICAN at: or email

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Sibling Rivalry At Shelly's House

The Kiddos enjoying Ice Cream!
As a Mom of three children and a sister of three older brothers, I have definitely seen my share of sibling rivalry, however, I definitely don't consider myself an expert on it. I remember arguing with my brothers over things as I was growing up, but the arguing seems minimal in my eyes now. It was "They won't play with me" or "They won't share". Looking back, I was the bratty little sister.

I have seen some of this with my children, but honestly I don't think that my kids fight very much. Now, don't get me wrong there are times when they drive me insane because they can look sideways at the other and start to fight. But it definitely seems like the days that they get along well are much more frequent.

My husband and I decided very early on in our parenting that we would make it a point to consistently spend time with each child alone so that they still felt special. We still make it a point to try to spend an hour or so alone with each child at least one time per month. It has been a little more difficult now that they are in school, but my husband and I both have flexible careers that allow us to have our children at our business for periods of time. So, my older children take turns getting to come to work with me on Saturday mornings and then they'll switch off going to Daddy's shop after school for an hour. We don't necessarily talk about the most important stuff in the world, but it gives them a little unwind break time and if there is something on their mind, it gives them the opportunity to bring it up to us in an nonthreatening manner.

In addition to this, we have made it a point to raise our children to respect their other siblings (and others in general). If someone does something different than you would choose to do it, that doesn't make them wrong and it doesn't make you better, God just made both of you differently. Not everyone has to be your best friend all of the time, but at the end of the day, you need to treat them as you would want to be treated, and that includes your siblings.

Monday, February 7, 2011

La Leche League- This Week!

Please remember to attend our La Leche League Meeting, 6:30 - 9:30 pm at Elegant Mommy.  If you can't attend, we can always get you connected with our local LLL leader and we have a trained peer counselor on staff!!!  Please RSVP at our FB page!  See you Thursday night!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Product Review: Shelly Rose Dryer Balls

Let me start this review with the fact that I had NO IDEA of what dryer balls WERE until her interview and my receiving them to try out.  Now, let me also say I liked them so much that I bought TWO MORE!  So, what are dryer balls?  They are the totally natural and Eco friendly alternative to dryer sheets, basically.  Pop them in the dryer, the help the lint come off your clothes far more easily, they fluff your clothes, and from what I've seen first hand, they shorten your dryer time immensely.

I prefer, over all, hanging my clothes out to dry. but that isn't always an option, especially when you face a winter like we've had here.  So dryers become a big necessity, but they become an electricity sucking one when you have a family where you do at least a load of laundry a day.  We do at least that much and not having to run the dryer a bazillion times is so nice.  It's also nice to have pre-fluffed clothes because I'm not always into ironing everything and sometimes laundry doesn't get folded the second it gets out of the dryer here.  I've noticed that everything we've dried with our dryer balls has far fewer wrinkles too, which is a major bonus.

I am so excited that we now carry these at Elegant Mommy- both in the store and online!  Be sure to pick yours up asap! I am certain you'll be just as happy with them as we are!  Stay warm and have a great week!
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Potty Training At Shelly's House

Shelly and The Kiddos!
As I look back on our family's potty training experience, it amazes the wide variety of experiences that we have had. Our children are so different in every way and potty training is no exception.

Our oldest son started to show interest in sitting on the potty when he was about 15 months. We were so excited! We would set him on the potty, take a picture, and do the happy dance. That was a short lived experience. Within about a week, he decided it wasn't fun anymore and it would turn into a full blow melt down to get him to sit on the potty. We kept trying and nearly forcing him to sit there thinking he would get past this. Finally, we gave up. It all started again about 9 months later and when he was about 2.5 years old we tried again. He did show some interest, but not until another child at daycare was interested in potty training. It was still MONTHS before he would go poop on the potty. He would hold it and hide and poop in his pants. NOT my idea of fun to clean up.

By the time my daughter was ready to potty train, I decided to just let her train when she was ready. We weren't going to force it, when she showed interest we would go with it. Little did I know that my daughter would be so much different than my oldest son when it came to potty training. She started showing interest around the same age as my oldest son, about 2.5 years. She would go potty but never seemed to fully empty herself. She started getting frequent urinary tract infections. We had special cloth trainers made that were big enough for her and in fun prints so our now almost 4 year old didn't feel like she was wearing diapers. We took her our doctor who referred us to another doctor and then to another doctor. 

She was admitted to the hospital for a scoping procedure and we were told days later that she "bladder reflux". We were told that she would need to be on daily antibiotics until she outgrew this. As a parent, this did not seem natural to me and there had to be a better answer. Then one day, my sometimes slow light bulb turned on. The Chiropractor! Why had I never taken her before? So, I did some research on the reasoning behind chiropractic adjustments for bladder issues and it made sense to my family. We started her on a routine of consistently getting adjusted and we started to see a difference. After about 6 weeks of consistently going 1-3 times per week, we were not having anymore accidents at night.

We do still have an occasional accident with her, but when we do, we know that a quick trip to the chiropractor will fix it for another 6-8 weeks. In my opinion, this was a better fit for us than using a daily antibiotic.

Our youngest son was a breeze in most people's eyes. Our son is now 2.5 years old and has been potty trained for 4-5 months now. As soon as he started showing interest, right around 2 years old, we consistently let him sit on the potty and would give him a tootsie roll for sitting and trying. We didn't force him, if he said he wanted to go, then we would go. Around this same time, he decided he wanted to be like big brother and didn't want to wear diapers anymore. So we got him some underwear and we purchased a timer (more for my memory than his). Every 15-30 minutes, we would try and he would get a tootsie roll. It only took about 2 weeks of this and we had no more diapers. We did use cloth trainers (like Daisy Doodles and Super Undies) from the time he started showing interest and I do feel like that made a difference for him. He could feel when he was wet and knew that if he did that in the toilet, he would get a tootsie roll. That was good motivation for him. As soon as he got this, he was done. We had no overnight accidents and we had no poop accidents. When it clicked, it clicked.

The one thing that I hope parents can take away from my experiences is that every child is different in every way. When they are ready, they are going to be ready. If you are in tune with your child's cues and are able to help them in a supportive, non-threatening way, they will get it when it clicks for them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Healthy Dinners: Shhhh, It's A Secret!

Super Chicken Nugget BoyImage by San Diego Shooter via Flickr
Can you keep a secret? Oh, I KNOW you can!

 Especially when it comes to ways to sneak veggies into our kids or make healthier versions of our favorite takeout.  So, let’s sit and chat in whispers, shall we?  During high school, my husband worked at KFC, and learned all sorts of stuff about making their perfectly crispy, golden, chicken.  

Today, he very graciously shared his home version of the ultimate kid food . . . chicken nuggets a la KFC ‘style’.  I might add a couple thoughts.  It’s pretty easy to switch the white flour for a blend of Panko, bread crumbs, some wheat flower, etc.  Whatever works best for you.  Nolan makes these for the kids just about every week and our 5 ½ hear old wildly cheers them on every time, as she is a die hard chicken nugget fan.  Luckily, these are easy, quick and totally kid friendly.

Now let’s move on to secret number two.  Did you know I often switch cauliflower for potatoes and mash them?  Cauliflower is lower in starches, higher fiber, and I have yet for my husband and kids to figure it out.  So, you get two secret recipes today!  Mashed cauliflower . . . ahem, potatoes and chicken nuggets.  Luckily these two can cook up in about the same time, if you time yourself well, both are super easy.  I hope you like mashed cauliflower just as much as we do!

Mashed Cauliflower
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 t butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper
  • ¼ tsp each dried dill and thyme
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    1. Steam the cauliflower for 10 minutes until very tender.  You can do this in the microwave, honestly. 
    2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and garlic.   Once the garlic becomes fragrant and tender (after about 5 minutes), add the milk, red pepper, salt, pepper, tender cauliflower and mix until combined. 
    3. Then you can mash this with a potato ricer, your blender or food processor, however you usually mash potatoes.  If they feel a little runny, add less milk

Chicken Nuggets a la Liebert

About 1 lb. of boneless chicken (breast, thighs, strips, stir fry cut, it doesn't matter)

1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon mustard powder OR 1 tablespoon yellow/Dijon mustard

1 cup white flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
black pepper
dried basil
mustard powder
garlic powder
onion powder
(About 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each seasoning here)

1. Prep and marinate chicken at least 30 minutes before cooking, prefer 2 - 4 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 400, spray baking sheet with cooking spray
3. Prep flour mixture in large bowl or gallon plastic bag
4. Bread chicken pieces in flour mixture and place on baking tray. For "extra crispy", get breaded pieces wet in marinade
and rebread (so, bread twice).
5. Spray pieces with cooking spray or place a small piece of butter on top of each. This is necessary to make them crispy
and golden.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, flip pieces, back another 15 minutes.
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day Survival Guide

More miserable snow out the back door.
 My kids have been sick a lot this winter.  Meaning no school or day care on a lot of days that we needed them to be able to be elsewhere.  Parenting is all about going with the flow, right?  I really shouldn’t be all that surprised about the sick days, despite our eating pretty darned healthfully, taking vitamins by the truck load, etc, we all seem to have immune systems smaller than sesame seeds. 

We get sick a lot in this house.  To say the very least.  Then came the snow. Mountains of snow, terrible winds with wind chill dropping temperatures into negative double digits, white outs, and thankfully we haven’t had to drag the kids out in it a whole heck of a lot.  But it does lead to a bunch of cabin fever despite your best intentions, right?

There’s only so many rounds of playing Go Fish, Mega Bloks, or pretend before everybody starts ending up a bit loopy.  At least, that’s the case here.  So, I’m here to brainstorm some new ways to cope with the buzzing, frenetic insanity that becomes a house full of kiddos that have been inside for far too long!

-Bust out the stuff your kids don’t play with as often.  I try to rotate our toys in the kids’ rooms and in the living room, so that when they get bored and start launching blocks at the cats or whiny, I have a fresh bunch of stuff for them to check out and play with.

Art time!

-Get crafty!  Paints, colors, play dough, whatever.  My kids can entertain themselves for hours with crafty stuff.  If it’s near a holiday, enlist them to make things like cards, valentines, decorations, etc.  Make new art work for their bedrooms, as kids adore dressing up their rooms with their masterpieces.
Working on homemade Valentines took up the better half of two snow days!
-Teach them a new crafty hobby!  Eva got a friendship bracelet making kit for her birthday and we’ve been working on bracelets ever since. Since I knit, she wants to learn and I found her a pretty kid friendly knitting set on Amazon.  You could teach them how to make play dough, sculpt things out of clay, make puppets for puppet shows, the list is endless.  The result?  Cool new stuff for them to entertain themselves with.

-Break out the BIG story time.  You know what I mean, the story time where you read 20 books, look at photo albums, or start on a lengthier book.  Since Eva is 5 ½, we’ve been reading the original Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Junie B. Jones books, Madeline, and books of fairy tales.  With Owen, I grab a huge pile of picture books (the ones from when I was a kid by Richard Scarry are a HUGE hit) and we go through each one, touching pictures, saying words, etc.

-Game time!  Connect Four, Jenga, Checkers, Uno, Go Fish, Twister.  Or put on some fun music and dance around like loonies, scream with laughter and work off some pent up energy.

Owen, baking.

-Baking.  My kids are endless about their kitchen curiosity.  Maybe it’s because I cook and bake so much, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  Your kids can help get out ingredients, measure and pour, toss things in the garbage, watch things bake and then get to eat the delicious results.
After all else failed, a round of Nintendo so Mama could take a bath equals AWESOME.
When all else fails, it is totally fine to bust out a movie marathon, complete with popcorn and treats.  You never know, the kiddos might be entranced enough to let you do something like read a magazine or just breathe.  Sick days and snow days often are fueled by everybody being cooped up and cranky, but I’ve found that the easiest way to get past all that is to stay busy, and once in awhile, just let the kids do stuff they don’t usually get to do, like watch Toy Story ten times.  What are your favorite kid friendly things to do on sick and/or snow days?
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sibling Rivalry at Sara Rose’s House

At that moment, the kiddos liked each other.  That changed in less than 3 minutes.

To say my daughter has green eyed envy and the desire to be number one in everything, no matter what, is putting it mildly.  To say that the little brother delights in tormenting her is also true.  And as only children, both Nolan and I had a really idealistic image when we headed into Owen’s pregnancy.  We really thought our kids would bond immediately, that there wouldn’t be fighting or jealousy, and that they’d be best of friends!

Well, maybe someday that will happen.  As for right now, we deal with near daily screaming matches and taunting, jealous battles over toys, near constant whining, and other such nonsense that leave both Nolan and I exhausted and grateful that we only have two kids.  I can’t imagine adding more into the fray of craziness that our household can hold some days.

There are good days, don’t get me wrong.  Days where they share, laugh and play well together, don’t argue or scream about the other getting more attention.  (That last part is usually coming from my daughter, our son will just come bop us on the head with some toy if he feels he’s being neglected and yell nonsensical toddler babble at us.)

Times like these make me really grateful that my husband and I sat down at the beginning of our relationship. Granted, Eva was already in the picture, but at the time we had envisioned ourselves having 4 kids, total.  Yeah, that idea lasted.  About halfway through my second pregnancy, as I was sick, I announced “Unless we adopt, there are going to be NO MORE KIDS.  This is IT.”  Nolan was so beleaguered from my pregnancy insanity that he shook his head in rapturous agreement.

Back to us hammering out the ‘rules’ we’d have for our kids.  We didn’t get down to the nit picky things, because really, when parenting, how can you?  Kids are so individual and you really can’t pick and choose their personalities, nor can you always ‘make’ them get along.  So, we keep our rules basic and play each situation as it arises.

The Liebert Rules (aka how to get my kids to behave and be nice to each other)

1.  Share, and share alike.  Yes, my kids have some toys that are just ‘their own’.  It’s important for anyone to have things that are ‘just theirs’.  It teaches respect of private space and other people’s things.  Does Owen need to play with Eva’s itty bitty bajillions of Barbie accesories, toys, and dolls? NOPE.  Does Eva need every car, truck, or Megablok that Owen has?  Nope?  We put the toys that are specifically their own into their rooms.  But the toys out in the living room area are to be shared, and if they won’t share, take turns, or play nicely, the toy gets taken away.  Plain and simple.

2.  Fights may happen but physical fights are out of the question.  Even as an only child, I understand that kids argue, kids and parents argue, and that everybody fights.  But use your words, not your fists.  Learn to cool down before you say anything.  We use timeouts not so much as punishment but as a way to calm down and think rationally when a fight breaks out.  This usually applies to Nolan and I too, we’ve tried very hard to stop ourselves if we’re arguing and things get heated to learn to say “Let’s talk about this later after we’ve had time to think and cool down.”

3.  Everybody has bad days.  Redirect.  Sometimes anybody ca be grumpy, unhelpful, or irritating.  Learn to ignore it or be helpful in finding a way to make the situation better.  If you can’t do either, do your own thing.

4.  Tattling on every single thing doesn’t help.  Eva went through this phase where she would come running to us about every.single.thing Owen did. “Owen breathed weird and it bothered me!”  “Owen hurt my feelings by playing with a toy I never wanted to play with!” This went on for about two months until we finally told her “If it’s ACTUALLY hurting you, hurting your brother, putting someone in danger, then tell us.  Otherwise, let it go.  Tattle tales don’t win any brownie points here.”

5.  It is okay if everyone does always get along.  This has been the hardest lesson for me to accept as a parent.  Maybe even as a person.  I try hard not to go to bed angry, because as a general rule I usually wake up more irritable and irrationally angry.  So internalizing every little instance of them not getting along is not helpful.  At the end of the day, I can do my best to help them learn to get along, but they have to get there themselves.  Some siblings never end up liking each other and that doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom.

We finally learned to play things as they come but there is one thing we never waiver on.  We present a united front.  If the kids get in trouble from Nolan, then they don’t get to run to me to get out of trouble.  If either of us think the other parent is being unfair, we go talk about it privately, and decide things together.  We compromise, we make exceptions, we feel our way through this.  Is there any other way to parent?  You have to roll with the things that the day brings.  So far, those have been the best decisions and ideas we’ve come up with in getting our kids to get along.

There are, as I said, good days, filled with laughter, sharing, and happy memories.  We try our hardest to get that to happen daily but if it doesn’t, then there is always tomorrow.  We tell both our kids to count each other among their blessings, seeing as we both didn’t have that.  Eventually, things have a way of working themselves out and hopefully that rule will apply to my kiddos too.