Archive for September, 2012

Baby Favorites: Stacking Cups

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012 by by

We’ve had the same set of stacking cups forever. I have no idea exactly when we got them or where we got them; they are just a part of the decor, moving around occasionally from bedroom to bathroom to living room and, heck, sometimes the car. Now that Andrew is able to (mostly) sit up, I brought them out and let him go to town.

The first thing I always like to do when I have a new toy is to just kind of put it out there and see what happens. I’ve learned a lot of structured play ideas over the years, but I have a great appreciation for the organic. (Plus, what better way to get 10 minutes of time to fold laundry, or eat lunch, or sit and read than to toss a new toy at a kid and say, “Here! Have at it!”)

I know that, when I first got the cups, I was mystified by them. I knew how to make a tower with them, but baby Eric couldn’t do that. So now, enlightened as I am in baby play, here’s how Andrew and I roll:


Mud Hen Bars

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012 by by

Contributing Writer: Leslie Cates
What possibly could be any better than a dessert filled with melted chocolate chips, fluffy marshmallows and pecans?   These decadent Mud Hen Bars are chock-full of all this deliciousness!  They start with a soft sugar cookie crust and end with a chewy brown sugar meringue that set these bars above the rest.

Perhaps it’s the kid in me, but I think the gooier the dessert, the better.  My husband and I love to eat brownies and bars just right from the oven for that warm, ooey -gooiness!  Sometimes the messier it is, the tastier it will be!  I decided to showcase this recipe with a photo of a piece just a few minutes out of the oven.  As you can see, these bars are falling apart with richness!

This is a treat that’s not only fun to say but quick and very easy to make. I guarantee the whole family will lovethese!  Surprise your kids with a warm Mud Hen Bar and cold glass of milk for a special back-to-school treat!


Me and My Geriatric Pregnancy…REALLY?!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012 by by

As a comedian, I’m sensitive, that’s part of what makes me so good at my “art”. That is what comedians do, we find humor in pain. But as sensitive as I am, I’m not that easily offended especially when something is done or said with humor as the intention. One of my life rules is: All is fair in love and comedy. But I was so deeply offended the first time I heard about this category and I have been ever since that it’s taken me almost 8 months to write about it. Geriatric Pregnancy.

Now if you’re a visual person, as I am, aren’t you picturing a little old granny on a Rascal rockin’ a baby bump?! Well don’t, not just because its slightly disturbing, but it’s also a false image. Instead picture me, possibly you or any of your other friends who are pregnant that were born during or before 1978/1977- cause that’s who the hell that term refers to. I kid you not.

Sure you can look young and be in great shape, but if you’re 35 and older you’re not only considered “at risk” ’cause you’re ancient to be pregnant (more…)

Toddler Trouble #2 – Talking

Friday, September 21st, 2012 by by

Even thought my Eli is not really a toddler anymore I thought I wouldbring ya’ll a new weekly series…. TODDLER TROUBLE! I’ll probably change the name but it seems to fit what she’s going through at the moment. So Toddler Trouble will be a blog post all about what’s going on in my 3 year olds life; blog posts from her perspective, my thoughts, stories she tells and just life with a toddler… sounds fun, hu?!
*** If you’re a blogger and want to join in, let me know and maybe we can make this a linky ***

Yes, it’s hard to admit but my daughter is already 42 months (3 1/2) and still isn’t officially “talking.” The only people that can understand her are me and her big sister. We asked our doctor about it before she turned three and has been going to speech therapy twice a week for an hour and even though I know she has made tremendous progress, she is still about 9 months behind. She is starting to say 5 word sentences, but again, no one can understand what she’s saying. I must admit that I do not read to her everyday, but I talk to her like I do any other person. I don’t talk to her like a baby. I also have been trying to not to ask her yes/no questions to see if I can get more practice for her. Don’t get me wrong, she does talk A LOT! She just doesn’t say her consonants.

Another thing is about her therapy… they do not allow us in the room with her?! I thought that was very odd. I would think that it would benefit us because we can see what they are working on with her so that we can reinforce it or reward her when she “practices” at home. But we don’t and they really don’t tell us much, just that she did good or she participated that day. When she first started going she liked it and then she would cry when we told her it was time to go and she would throw a fit. Obviously I didn’t want her to go anymore, but now she really likes it and doing great. What are your thoughts on that?

Question: Can anyone relate?


Food Fun Friday: Pão de queijo -Brazilian Cheesy Bread

Friday, September 21st, 2012 by by

Pão de queijo, Brazilian Cheesy Bread

In the days before we had kids, my husband and I did a lot of travel. We were fortunate enough to visit Brazil, and that country has always held a special place in our hearts. Brazil has the most amazing people and culture. Part of that culture is the food. We ate a lot of street food while we were there, and one of our favorite treats was a cheesy dough ball called pão de queijo. Recently, I came across a blog Kid World Citizen where they shared a recipe for pão de queijo. I was so excited as we have not had this since we were in Brazil. I could not wait to share this treat with my husband and kids. Read on for the recipe.

You will need:

  • 24 oz of tapioca flour
  • 16 oz of shredded mozzarella
  • 8 oz of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 4 or 5 eggs
  • Few pinches of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the oil and milk and heat until boiling.

Add the boiling milk and oil to a bowl of the tapioca flour.

Knead the mixture and add all of the other ingredients and knead again until a dough forms. This dough was super sticky on my fingers and my kids had fun watching me trying to get it off.
For my pão de queijo, I used 4 eggs and only 10 oz of the shredded mozzarella. The recipe calls for 16 oz, but that is a ton of cheese and partly out of cheapness I only used 10. I don’t think it affected the taste in any way.

Once the dough was prepared it was time for the kids to help. I showed them how they could roll ping pong sized balls and place them on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Rolling the pão de queijo reminded them of playing with play dough, so they were all too happy to roll balls for me.

We made a full cookie pan of  pão de queijo, but we had lots of dough left over so we kept on rolling and froze the remainder of the balls. I am told they keep fine in the freezer and you can just pop them in the oven when you want some more. And you WILL want some more!

Pop in the oven for 25 minutes.

The pao  balls will turn a pretty golden color.

Break one open and enjoy the cheesy goodness. The tapioca flour gives the pao de  a nice chewy texture.

It was just as good as we remembered and now we have a whole new generation of pao fans in our house.

This is a simple way to bring home the flavors of Brazil! What are some of your favorite foods from places you have traveled? Leave a comment below and let me know.

7 Jewish Pregnancy Traditions

Friday, September 21st, 2012 by by

When I was pregnant with Baby Bear, I went to a lecture at the Sephardi Shul in Chicago about different Jewish pregnancy traditions.  I started digging around to find my list so that I can share and start again for #2.

Most of these are Segulot or Segula.  According to wikipedia, the definition is: סגולה‎, pl. סגולות, segulot, “remedy” or “protection”.  It is a procedure that is not based on medical or scientific logic yet is efficacious in improving a situation or protecting a person from harm. Segulot are commonly traced to Kabbalistic, Talmudic, and rabbinical sources, and are accepted in the religious Jewish world.

Here are some of the Segulot
Give more Charity
‘While all good deeds and mitzvot are beneficial to the unborn child, our sages specifically stress the value of giving extra charity. Being kind to others causes G‑d to treat us in corresponding fashion. In addition to the regular charity one distributes, charity should be given every day—having a charity box at home facilitates this practice. The most auspicious time to give charity is before the Shabbat or Jewish holiday candle-lighting. At that time additional charity should be given, considering that on the following day one will be unable to give charity, due to the restriction against handling money on these holy days.’ (from

Husband opens the ark before the Torah reading during the last month of pregnancy.

‘The Zohar says, (more…)

Fall Paper Bag Crafts

Thursday, September 20th, 2012 by by

One of my favorite things to do for party favors or class parties is to dress up a plain paper bag and make it look cute.  Here are some fun ideas for Fall paper bag crafts.

If you are a teacher these are inexpensive little treats you can give your students or for parents who want to give Halloween or Fall treats to their child’s class.  Your child or student will love creating these!

I used two methods to color my bags (more…)


Last Night

Thursday, September 20th, 2012 by by

Last night Bob spent the night with his grandparents and I stayed up way past my usual bedtime and went to see Mr. Rosenberg’s band play. The place was crowded and the band sounded lovely, but the most important part of the evening was: I got carded. Carded as in, “May I see your ID please?” My birthday is on Thursday and I will be turning 48-years-old. Perhaps they card everyone at that club, I do not care to know. What I do know is that they carded me.

Best birthday present ever.

Getting Your “Picky” Eater to Explore New Foods

Thursday, September 20th, 2012 by by

I have been waiting ALL MONTH for this post. Alisha from Your Kids Table joins us today to share some great information on working with your little picky eaters. As a pediatric occupational therapist and mother of two, she knows what it takes to help little ones with their food and sensory issues. If you have a picky eater of your own, be sure to go check out her blog after you finish reading this! ~Katie

“Picky” eaters are among us, many parents have at least one child that they struggle with at meal times.  ”Picky” eaters rarely try new foods, sticking only to a few tried and true favorites.  What’s a parent to do?  Do you just serve grilled cheese at every meal and beg for a bite of broccoli?  How do you get them to even consider trying a new food?  It is challenging, to say the least!

We know that kids like consistency, routine, and things that are familiar.  The unknown can be overwhelming and scary for them.  It takes time for a new idea to seem comfortable enough for them to proceed.  The same holds true for new foods. As adults, we take the myriad of foods we eat for granted.  For some kids, a food that is a different color, texture, or shape is very foreign, unknown, and thus overwhelming.  If it is overwhelming and scary, they probably aren’t going to eat it.

Keeping that in mind, it makes perfect sense that they need to get more comfortable with it, right?  In order for a kid to get more comfortable with foods they are refusing, they need to interact with it and feel no pressure to eat it.  One of the best ways to achieve that is to play with food.  Radical, I know, and it goes against good manners and the sort.  But stay with me here, remember they need to get comfortable with food!

Generally, the first step is to get your child to touch the food.  Start there and be creative.  You might say something like, “Let’s see if we can stand your little pieces of broccoli up like a forrest.”  Or, if they already touched it, maybe you can get them to smell it, which will help them get it closer their face (that’s a big step for a “picky eater”).  In this case, you could say, “Wow, my broccoli looks like a bouquet of flowers. I am going to smell my flowers.  Can you smell yours?”  From there you can move onto licking, tasting a small bite, and taking a normal bite.  Also, give them permission to discreetly spit it out.  I know, it’s gross and not very polite, but they may be more likely to try a bite if they know they can get rid of it if it tastes bad to them.  I haven’t had any kid I  work with get inappropriate with spitting it out.  I don’t make a big deal about it and they move past it as they get more comfortable with the food.

Here are three ways you can set up “play-time” with food:

1. Spend 2-3 minutes at the end of a meal “playing” with any refused foods. If your child has refused a food(s) at a meal, then before you clean up and move on, see if you can get them to interact with the food at all.  I would avoid this if it is chaotic or your child has had enough of sitting for a meal.  Aim for keeping this short and sweet.

2. Cook and prepare meals with your kids. Get your kid in the kitchen and help cook, without much help from you, they will be touching and smelling the food.  You can still try some play as you are going, and I would gently encourage sampling of whatever is safe to eat while it is being prepared.

3. Set aside time (outside of a meal) to play with non-preferred foods. In between meals, set up some food exploration time at a table.  It would be great if this was at a table they don’t normally eat at, so the association isn’t with eating.  Have some utensils for cutting and getting creative.  Most importantly, make sure you have set up food for yourself to play with, too.  Ideally, they have a plate and you have a plate.  You model and they imitate.
A couple of other important notes:

  • Don’t force or try to shove food in, it is counterproductive and you may lose their trust.
  • Just model for the child and encourage them to imitate whatever play you’re initiating.  Don’t hold the food up for them to smell, let them do it.  Hopefully, you will be following their lead.  It is important they have control of the food they are interacting with.
  • Keep it fun.  If your kid gets upset or distracted, then try to end the play quickly and as positive as possible.
  • Be patient.  Don’t expect miracles after 10 minutes, an hour, or even a week. I have been there with my own kid and this may be the hardest part.  It takes time, patience, and consistency.
  • Keep the pressure off.  The goal isn’t eating when you are exploring new foods, just play, and if they happen to eat it — bonus!
  • These strategies aren’t just for new foods.  I know quite well that picky eaters will often stop eating something they previously loved, never to touch it again.  You can certainly employ these tactics for those lost foods, too.

What do you think, can you let your “picky” eater play with their food?

If you are looking for more help with “picky” eaters, I have a ton of it over at Your Kid’s Table.  Check out my Basic Strategies to Improve Eating, Cooking with Your Kid: Pumpkin Waffles, and Picky Eater Tip: Put it on a Stick, just to name a few.

Alisha Grogan, MOTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist that specializes in feeding difficulties and sensory integration in the Pittsburgh area.  Also, the mom of two wonderful boys under three and blogger at Your Kid’s Table, which combines all her feeding and sensory knowledge as a mom and OT.  You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

The post Getting Your “Picky” Eater to Explore New Foods appeared first on Playing With Words 365.

Coconut lentil soup

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 by by

It’s day 2 of Project: Get Healthy. I have to work later tonight, so it’s a crockpot dinner night. Tonight, the guys are having Coconut Lentil soup. It might be a bit of a stretch for Hubs’ taste buds, but this is a challenge for all of us.

Please keep in mind, I tend to make big batches of most recipes. We use the leftovers for lunches or dinner later.

Veggies, dice them up – 1 onion, 2 large carrots, 3 ribs celery, 1/2 green bell pepper.

Seasonings – 1tsp salt, 2tsp cumin

Dry lentils, rinsed – 1.5 cups

Coconut milk – 1 can (12oz, I think)

Vegetable stock – 2 quarts

Sauté your veggies and seasonings in just a bit of oil. When veggies are a bit softened, deglaze the pan with about a cup of the veggie stock. Now just toss everything in the crockpot. Set it on low and let it go. Once the lentils are softened, it’s ready to eat. Plan on cooking your soup about 4 hours. I like leaving it longer and letting the lentils break down more, but it’s up to you.