Dinner at 4pm: Are you raising 80 year old children?

Dinner at 4pm, are you mad? Seriously, the only people who eat dinner at 4pm are those living in retirement homes. At least that was what I thought in the past, (in fact, one of my Sheroes does this and I thought she was crazy) but I recently had a change of heart.  It all occurred one afternoon when my youngest asked for her 3rd afterschool snack in an hour. This got me thinking, why do we eat when we eat? Who established those times? And why do we follow an agenda that doesn’t suit our lifestyle? The answers to these questions brought about one of the biggest game changers in our meal schedule since eliminating that midnight feeding when the children were babies. The 4pm dinner!

So, after giving my daughter her 3rd afterschool snack in an hour’s time, two things occurred to me; one, she had just eaten the equivalent of her dinner, and two, in two hours when it was dinner time she would more than likely eat nothing because she will be full from all her snacking.  Having one child not eat their dinner is annoying, but all three, that’s just darn right frustrating. I starting have a sense of defeat. Why bother prepping and making all these healthy meals if the kids aren’t even going to eat them! I had grown sick and tired of wasting good food and money, something needed to change! And change it did. I managed to remove my heart and emotion for the situation and got down to the logistics. Why are the kids so famished after school? They have breakfast around 7:30am, lunch almost exactly 4 hours later, around 11:30am, and 4 hours after lunch is when they get home from school. But instead of being fed a meal at that time I give them apple slices that are supposed to tie them over until 6:30pm, that’s 7 hours between lunch and dinner, and to be honest sometimes dinner was even later than that depending on extracurricular activities. Why?….

Why do we eat when we eat, why eat dinner at 6:30pm/7pm? When I was a child we always ate dinner when dad came home and my parents did the same when they were children, so on and so forth. But that was also back in the pre-computer, web-conferencing, facetime, texting/cell phone era when parents were officially clocked out at 5pm or 6pm. A lot has changed since then and yet we are still maintaining that same time schedule.

Who established dinner time? I suppose I did, I set the meal time schedule. I like the idea of us all sitting down as a family, saying the prayer, breaking bread together, and sharing the happenings of each other’s day.

Why do we follow an agenda that doesn’t suit our lifestyle? One word, tradition, tradition says that the family sits and eats dinner together when the dad gets home from work. But here’s the thing, after the children have each had 3 afterschool snacks and 6:30pm rolls around, not only does no one eat but often times we have to go somewhere- religious education classes, Boy Scouts, basketball practice/game, or some other school/church activity. And what’s more, since my husband changed jobs two years ago he travels a lot which means often times he isn’t in town or at least not home in time for dinner. And yet there I was still sticking to a tradition.

Solution: Serve dinner when everyone is hungry, when they will eat the healthy meal that I have prepared. Serve dinner when there is time, time to sit before running off to another activity. But what about the family table, praying, breaking bread, sharing? We can do that earlier, or, even better, 4 hours after dinner and after those extracurricular activities the children’s bellies usually have room for a small snack before bed. Thus, the family table is quite suitable for an evening snack & chat before getting ready for bed- and if dad is in town he can join us. (This might mean giving up your screen time in the evening, do it!! This was another HUGE game changer to our evening routine that we adopted a couple years ago).

So it turns out all those folks in the retirement homes were onto something. The 4pm dinner and 8pm snack has been quite accommodating to our busy lifestyle and best of all the healthy, good food, and money spent on said food don’t go to waste. In fact we are having quite the opposite problem; there are no leftovers for the next day. What a magnificent problem. Then they are often off to an activity and return home for a delicious snack before bedtime.

Here are some examples of the snacks we enjoy:

Strawberry & Banana Smoothie (Kiddos’ Snack-Paleo(ish) Greek Yogurt is debatable)

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Ingredients:

1 Banana- sliced

2 Cups Frozen Strawberries

1 Cup Greek Yogurt

1 Cup Coconut Milk

2 Tablespoons Honey

Instructions: Blend everything together and serve. If you wish you could also place in a frozen safe dish and freeze overnight and have yummy frozen yogurt the next day.

Avocado Love (Sugar Free)

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1 Avocado, ¼ cup cucumber slices, & 4 cherry tomatoes sliced -drizzled with garlic olive oil (Bumble Olive Oil Company) and then topped with a bit of pepper. (Mom’s snack-sugar free)

Buffalo-ish Cauliflower (For everyone! Sugar Free!!Buffalo sauce is on the side since it is too spicy for some of the kiddos)

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Ingredients:

One Head Cauliflower cut into bite sizes

1 Cup water

1 Cup Almond Flour

Salt & Pepper to taste

½ cup Red Hot

1 Tablespoon Kerrygold Butter

Instructions:

Combine water and almond flour into a batter. Coat each cauliflower in batter and then place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees then flip each and bake for an additional 10 minutes until each is slightly brown and crispy looking.

While baking place Red Hot and butter in pan on top of stove, heat till butter is melted.

If you are not sharing this amazing dish with kids then brush buffalo sauce over cauliflower bites and place back in the oven for 8 minutes until the buffalo sauce is absorbed and cauliflower is crispy.

Salad Love (Sugar Free)

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Eggs, avocados, cucumber slices, and red & orange pepper slices in garlic olive oil-a.k.a. a salad (Mostly moms snack but once mom starts eating it everyone wants some, go figure! Lol! This is a sugar free snack)

Blueberry & Strawberry Smoothie (Kids’ snack-Paleo)

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Ingredients:

2 Cups Frozen Strawberries

1 Cup frozen Blueberries

½ cup hot water (otherwise everything freezes together in the blender)

1 Tablespoons Honey (Optional)

Instructions:

Blend 😉

Carrot Candy (Kids’ Snack-Paleo)

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Ingredients:

8 Carrot’s sliced into small bite sizes

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Salt to taste

Instructions:

Place sliced carrots in bowl, pour olive oil in bowl and toss until all slices are coated. Place slices on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool then devour-kiddos say they taste like candy.

Have you ever considered altering your meal schedule?

Dear Diary…..Why We Can’t Promise our Kids the Moon

Dear Diary,

Monday, Tuesday Wednesday, November (something) 2016

What to Expect When You’re Expecting said nothing about this!! Last month it was turn a pumpkin into a horse’s head (literary pumpkin decorating), this month its turn a cake into Saturn (Boy Scout Bake-Off), lol! Talk about asking for the moon! So last night we got to work…and right when we were covered in sticky rice krispies & frosting the youngest came running in blood everywhere from a bloody nose, “I might be dying” she sobbed, phone rang, darn dog took off with marshmallows, 5th grader was yelling for a charger because the iPad was dying and with it, our 3rd grader’s dream of having a Saturn cake. His immediate reaction was denial, quickly followed by doors slamming, then some crazy ideas on how we could make a ring….”mom I just want to put a ring on it!”….”you & all the single ladies, son”, lol!  Then the water works, finally followed by acceptance, yep, we went through all 5 stages of grief in that one exhausting hour. And here is the big reveal of his Boy Scout Bake-Off Saturn Cake……

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Our 3rd grader grew a lot last night, he learned that sometimes you shoot for Saturn and land on the moon…a.k.a. life is 2% what happens to you and 98% how you react. He still isn’t necessarily over the moon (see what I did there? ;)) Could I have rushed out at 10pm with all 3 kiddos in tow to get more marshmallows? Sure, but the authorities might have been called in on account of all the blood all over my youngest face, clothes, etc. 3rd grader’s red eyes, and puffy face from crying, and my 5th grader yelling about what a horrible mom I was because I let it die (the iPad)…yep, that scenario would not have ended well for me and what would my son have learned, that mom will  always fix “it”? Instead he received a good lesson in resilience, coping when things don’t go your way, and persevering…all valuable life skills that should be learned at a young age. Was it easy to watch him go through this experience, not particularly, but life wasn’t meant to always be easy, nor was parenting. It is so important that we don’t promise them the moon when they are kids. That we allow them to make their own mistakes and learn how to react appropriately when life happens….and you might just be surprised how far they will go if you let them grow. They might shoot for the moon and far exceed their own expectations and end up orbiting Saturn and it’s gosh darn ring system! 😉  

I love how multifaceted parenting becomes with each passing year. Coffee cheers to choosing joy, to seeing the humor in otherwise stressful situations, accepting all life’s challenges, allowing our children the opportunity to grow when life happens & loving our kiddos to the moon and back!

 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

Are you ready to make a memory that is sure to go down in history? As many of you know I have always been a HUGE proponent for giving the gift of an experience for Christmas. Giving the gift of a beautiful experience that a child can treasure for a lifetime is ultimately priceless, especially when they get to share that experience with a loved one. To this day I still treasure my first live performance show, the ballet, The Nutcracker, at Stranahan Theater with my mother and grandmother, it was seriously an experience like none other and one I enjoy sharing even to this day. My grandmother has since passed and that memory is one I cling to, getting all dressed up, chatting during intermission and the feeling of being part of something special, it was magical! And I can’t wait to share that same magical feeling with my children. The most famous reindeer of all is coming to Stranahan!!

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As a child the Christmas season didn’t officially begin in our house until that highest rated CBS Christmas special of all time, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer aired. The excitement and anticipation was always off the chart that night. My sibling and I would sit way too close to the television set, eager to see if the story may playout differently this year, but every year my eyes would tear up when they met Charlie-in- the-box on the Island of Misfit toys. rudolph_hermey_and_yukonAfter learning of the Island of Misfit Toys I remember vowing to always take good care of my toys, and for the most part, I did. As an adult I really appreciate ALL the valuable lessons hidden in that critically acclaimed show….true friendship, how our unique traits should be treasured, the importance of diversity, not bullying, responsibility, etc. Come to think of it, there are some lessons in the show that even we grown-ups might need to go back and review. And review we can!

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RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL (www.rudolphthemusical.com) is coming to Stranahan Theater!! November 25 for two performances ONLY!!!

Performance Schedule for RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL at the Stranahan Theater

Friday, November 25, 2016 1:00 PM

Friday, November 25, 2016 4:00 PM

Tickets for RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL start at $28 and are available online at http://www.BroadwayInToledo.com , at the Stranahan Theater box office, 4645 Heatherdowns Boulevard, or by calling 419.381.8851. (Looking to make this a scouting, playgroup, youth group, or club event? Group tickets of 10 or more can be ordered by calling 866.314.7687).

If you are looking for the perfect souvenir to help your child commemorate the experience then check this out……

Rudolph’s partnership with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center continues this year. A new illustrated storybook, T.E.A.M. Rudolph and the Reindeer Games, will be available this year only at the stage show performances. A portion of the proceeds from all sales of the books will be donated to PACER.

***Please Note: Theaterleague.com, BroadwayInToledo.com, and the Stranahan Theater box office are the only official sources for tickets to RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL and all of the shows in the 2016-17 Broadway in Toledo. If you purchase tickets through another source, you may pay over-inflated prices and your tickets will not be guaranteed. ***

What is your favorite scene from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

 

Ziplining & Feeding Giraffes in Toledo

As if you needed an excuse to visit the #1 US Zoo based on USA Today’s Readers’ Choice, the Toledo Zoo! That catchy little tune you hear playing as you make your way across the bridge over the Anthony Wayne Trail is 100% correct, We Love Our Zoo! And now there is so much more to love! In addition to last year’s mind blowing openings of the Aquarium, Penguin Beach, & Splash pad this year the Toledo Zoo has done it again with Expedition Africa and Tower Ridge Giraffe experience. You can now add zip lining, an aerial adventure course, and feeding giraffes to your already awesome Zoo adventures (and here the kiddos thought it couldn’t get any better than Nature Neighborhood, the Touch Tanks in the Aquarium & the Splash Pad).

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What is Expedition Africa?

Expedition Africa is located in the Africa! Exhibit at the Zoo and it is an Aerial Adventure Course. It consist of a variety of activities including, a Challenge course, Zipline, and (coming soon) Quick Drop.

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  • Challenge Course– Test your stamina as you traverse across the Africa! exhibit. Tackle a series of obstacles designed to challenge guests both mentally and physically, including rope bridges, swinging log crossings, horizontal climbing walls, zip line, and much more. (For guests 12 years old or older, Minimum 90lbs and maximum 250lbs) $30 per participantmemorial_africazoo2016 079
  • Zipline-This thrilling and unique experience will start you off at 80 feet above the Africa! exhibit and coast over 760 feet across Giraffe, Watusi Cattle, Wildebeest and more. (For guests 12 years old or older, Minimum 90lbs and maximum 250lbs) $20 per participantmemorial_africazoo2016 143
  • Quick Drop– Take a quick and thrilling 30 foot jump off of the Expedition Africa! Aerial Adventure Course main tower on a controlled descend device that guides you back to the Africa! overlook deck. (For guests 8 years old and up, Minimum 50lbs and maximum 250lbs) $10 per participantmemorial_africazoo2016 080
  • Added bonus: Sky Bridge– Take in the scenery of Africa! with this simple excursion across three sturdy footbridges. Each bridge is 250 feet long and separated by an overlook platform elevated thirty feet above the Africa! exhibit. What a view! (For guests 8 years old and up, Minimum 50lbs and maximum 250lbs) $10 per participantmemorial_africazoo2016 147

Read more & Make your reservations HERE

I opted for the Zip line as opposed to the Challenge Course due to time constraint (Challenge Course takes up to two hours while the Zip line only takes an hour). The zip line includes the awesome Sky Bridge and I was able to view the Challenge Course along the way which I am totally coming back to complete at a later date. And I decided to capture my journey via a GoPro Camera.ZOOFUN

Get this; they have GoPro Cameras available if you would like to document your experience. The GoPro Camera equipment is rented and secured to your helmet. After completing the course I was given a memory card with the footage on it. ($29.99 per participant for Zoo Members & $33.99 per participant for Non-Members)

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I had an absolute blast! The Sky Bridge was tranquil, beautiful; I have never felt more one with the environment. At the end of the Sky Bridge I began my journey up the stairs to the Zip line tower, with each step my adrenaline increased, until I was at the top and totally weak in the knees. Then the moment I had been waiting for, gliding across the Africa exhibits was unlike anything I had ever experienced before, the wind beating against my face, the humming of the zip line, and this feeling of awe swept over me, I didn’t feel like I was in Toledo anymore. Checkout my journey……

 

The only problem with the Zip line is that once you have done it once you will want to do it again! I think this is a fabulous inclusion to the Zoo; it is nice that there is something for the older kiddos to do after they have graduated from the Splash Pad and Natures Neighborhood.

While I Zip lined my munchkin and her Nana road the train and carousel, both located in the Africa! Exhibit, then we met up in the Tower Ridge Giraffe Experience line to feed the Giraffes.

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So,I kinda pride myself in being as transparent and honest as possible and I will be truthful in stating that at first, after paying our $4 for giraffe food, and waiting for what seemed like an eternity (which was probably more like 5 minutes, if that) for the giraffes to walk over I started to think that perhaps this experience wasn’t worth the money or time. memorial_africazoo2016 136

Then it happened, the Giraffes made their way over to us and my heart skipped a beat, they are such majestic, serene creatures, and so gentle. It was an amazing experience. Moral of the story, the experience was totally worth the money and time, just be patient (which can be extra hard on the young, hot, and/or cranky, lol!).

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And then our time was up and we had to bid adieu to Africa! Or should I say…..

 

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What is your favorite animal /exhibit at the zoo?