Parenting

Toddler Tidbits: Part 2

You’ve survived your 1st year of parenting! Your baby has gone from being held to crawling, and now you have a full-blown walker! Bottles are being phased out. They open their mouths every time you raise a fork or spoon to yours. And you have found less need for that huge baby bag. Maybe you have already transitioned or have found it easier to carry a backpack but now that your child is older, what do you really need to carry?

At this point, you know your child’s cries and needs. Therefore the essentials of carry are simple:

  • 1 change of clothes (this may vary depending on how your child eats and how they potty but use your best judgment, especially depending on how long you will be out and about)
  • Diapers (again the amount depends on how long you will be out but keep about 8-10 in the bag that you can store and forget)
  • 2 cups – an empty, one with juice and then a bottle of water. If you child has transitioned to whole, almond or soy milk, I would recommend using a thermos because it needs to be kept cold, unless your bag has an insulated pocket/compartment.
  • Wipes
  • Travel-sized ointments, creams, lotions
  • Snacks (varies depending on your child’s taste or your preference)
    • If your child loves fruit, use your smaller Tupperware containers and fill ’em
    • I love to combine toddler tidbits to make a little finger trail mix such as the yogurt melts, cereals, raisins, Teddy Grahams, Goldfish crackers, etc.
  • Toys and small board books
    • Toys should be small and quiet (cars, balls, action figures or small stuffed toy, 
    • It is nice to include toys that they love but I suggest that these toys remain in the bag so that your child can forget about it – out of sight out of mind. Every time they see the toy, it will be new to them.
  • Bib – not the cotton drool bib, unless your child is a drooler or still teething but a feeding bib. Walmart and Target sell them for about $5 for 2.
  • Fork and spoon (optional) depending on if you are trying to help your child learn how to self-feed with utensils

Eventually, you might be able to phase out to just a freezer bag with a change of clothes and a travel-sized pack of wipes, a couple of toys, and a cup. It truly depends on your need and how prepared you want to be for your child. I always tell parents to do what works for you. Everyone has an opinion but you must do what is best for you and your child.

Parenting is a journey definitely not a destination.

Give Love. Get Love.

 

Parenting · Self Love

Kitchen ABC’s

For most adults, you learn how to feed yourselves according to your appetite. If you love watching Food Network, like me, you imagine a kitchen filled with the latest gadgets and utensils. Until that dream becomes a reality, you might have these basics on hand (most probably acquired during your college years): pots and pans, spatula, maybe a mixing spoon, probably a whisk, and aside from the staple silverware, you might have a knife block. 

As a woman, the saying goes, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Yet, any man that is willing to cook for me and with me is a keeper! I like using my hands and trying to figure out how seasonings pair or standing over a mixing bowl saying, “what if I add this?” or “I wonder how this will taste?” Sharing my creations has not always worked in my favor BUT I can follow a recipe to a tee (I still have to add my own personal touch!)

But regardless if you have flights of fancy of starting your own cooking web series, there are some kitchen staples that every home can use. You never know when the day will come and you want to host a dinner party, or you might feel like experimenting in the kitchen like I do.

 

I asked my childhood friend and talented chef, Birmingham’s Chef Eryka Perry of Not Just Catering, to lend her expertise by providing a list of kitchen staples that everyone should have – married, single parent, doting bachelor or family of 5.

Pantry:

  • Garlic (fresh or minced)
  • Basic seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika)
  • Coconut and olive oils (these are NOT interchangeable)
  • Liquid amino acids – building blocks of life (great substitute for soy sauce, and flavor additive) 
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Italian herb mix: oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage
  • Lemon or lemon juice

 

Equipment:

  • One good knife because it can make magic
  • One pyrex or casserole dish
  • Small and large saute pan or skillet
  • Median and large sauce pot
  • Bowls (various sizes: small, medium and large)
  • Ziplock bags (varying sizes: sandwich, quart, freezer)
  • Nuwave oven: can replace stove, oven, and microwave
  • Rubber spatula
  • Tongs
  • Wooden spoon
  • Forks and spoons (4 of each) – never know when you will want to or need to entertain

 

Foods:

  • Greens: Kale, spinach, collards
  • Frozen fruits
  • Bananas
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Beans (canned or dried, depending on your preference)
  • Rice (brown or wild rice blend)
  • Butter

I am going to add flour and sugar to this list because anything can be made or created when you have those in your cabinet as well.

These are just some basics that you should keep stocked. You can add other foods, seasons, equipment to your liking.

Besides, recipes are becoming easier to follow. If you can subscribe to Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, you can surely select a recipe online or at your local Publix, purchase the needed ingredients and then enjoy the fruits of your labor. BONUS: Having a home cooked meal saves money and calories! 

(Shameless Plug): Chef Eryka offers food coaching, cooking classes, lunch and learns, AND she will even come to your home and cook for you and yours!!!! Contact her today <info@notjustcatering.com> and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and THEN subscribe to her newsletter  😉

 

 

 

Parenting

365 days later

You made it! You survived your 1st year as a parent! You kept your child alive for an entire year :). Now you enter into the potentially highly stressful situation of planning his birthday party. Do you make reservations at the infamous Chuck E. Cheese that does not genuinely cater to children under 5? Do you go to McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A with a cake where your child, who may or may not be walking, cannot climb up the play structures and slide? Or do you invite friends and family to your home and try to have a cartoon-themed party?

How should your child’s 1st year be celebrated? In my opinion, this should be a time for the family to congratulate themselves. Parents are not wholeheartedly prepared for the numerous responsibilities of childrearing. So many changes as your child is growing, exploring, and evolving. Does it stop after the 1st year? Of course not! However, if you take the time to glance back at the pictures you took in the hospital, during their 1st doctor’s visit, the 1st time they smiled, the video of them tasting food, or the 1st time they sat up alone, you see all of those firsts!

So it is my humble opinion that parents should enjoy their child’s 1st birthday. They deserve a level of celebration. I was discussing this topic with my sister-in-law and she suggested the parents get wined and dined and I agree! I do not see anything wrong with parents clanking glasses to say, “Yes! We did it! We made it! The little human that we were privileged to create is still here and healthy 12 months later.” This is a highly interdependent relationship: parents did not exist with a child and a child is not created without parents. Celebrations all around!

Over the past year, I have attended four one-year-old birthday parties.

  • There were 2 house parties
    • One parent had a story time. The godmother is a library so she read “Pete the Cat” and it was a hit.
    • The other party was just a big family affair with a Peppa Pig theme. All the foods were pig related – curly fries to represent a cute little piggy tail and pigs in the blanket.
  • The other 2 were on-location
    • The mall has a carousel in the middle of the food court, so these parents reserved tables near the ride. They got a chicken tray from Chick-Fil-A and the little attendees were treated to vanilla ice cream cone. Then the birthday girl and her court were able to ride, many of them for the 1st time. It was easy and convenient. (Even if someone forgot a gift or didn’t have time to shop, they could just go to a store there!)
    • One grandparent decided to have a big Mickey Mouse theme blowout with a huge inflatable house and water slide at a local park. This party had so much grilled food – hot dogs for the kids and chicken for the adults. The weather was perfect! There was no rush to leave the pavilion and when the birthday boy got tired, he napped in his stroller.

The best thing about each party is that they were all about family. That should be the goal. Surround your child with love from their village. Even though they will not remember the day, they will see the excitement, hear the birthday song, and feel the love.

Give love. Get love.

 

 

Parenting

The Village

Although I am not a parent, I have parented several children throughout my years as an either an educator, nanny, aunt, or sister. Each of those roles as afforded me the opportunity to be a part of a village. From my 3-year-old niece to my just-turned-1-year-old nephew to my friend’s children to all the children I have had the pleasure of calling me, “Ms. Valerie” or more recently, “Ms. Jones,” I have the honor of being a part of several villages.

Raising a child is not easy, and I do think anyone has have made that claim. This is why it is important for parents to know how to create their village. Regardless of how convenient family is or if the grandparents are deceased, your community should consist of those friends and family or “framily” (friends who become family) that you can not only trust with your child but also those who can vent to, cry to, and expect support. Those people become responsible to your family. The 1st year of the child’s life is so unexpected yet very foundational. Books, parents, friends family, other parents, and the childless offer all levels of advice. It is your job to trust your gut and then surround yourself with those who either go with your gut or even challenge it. Then keep away those who are set on destroying what you know to be true.

Your village should protect your child. The world can be scary. The angels assigned to your child and your family are always on guard. But those you have chosen and allowed into your community will be your eyes and ears when you can’t.

Your village will love your child. Perfect love, the love that Jesus personifies, the love that God is, cast out every kind of fear. Love creates a cocoon that your child can help them face the world head on. Knowing you are loved gives you confidence, security, and a sense of bravery needed to conquer any challenge.

Your village should be available for a good laugh. Laughter provides healing to your soul. When your soul is healthy, your body is healthy. Soul prosperity is beneficial to you and your child. Do not be afraid to call on your village just to chuckle.

Your village will provide a strong shoulder. A good cry is just as important as a good laugh. Lyfe Jennings said, “Crying is like taking your soul to the Laundromat.” What we see, hear, and say is how our souls are fed. Sometimes we have been feeding too much of the wrong thing and need a crying detox. There may be times when your child is inconsolable, give them room to cry. When you need to cry, call on your village so you can have the room to just cry. Cleanse your soul.

You do not know what your village will look like. It will just come organically. Embrace those who are willing to embrace your child. Use discernment to only include those you mean you help and not harm. You are not alone. You will have moments you feel lonely, and that is okay but know when to pull on your village, your circle of love.

Give love. Get love.

Parenting

Toddler Tidbits: Part 1

Wouldn’t it be magical if vegetables were as sweet as fruit?!? Feeding toddlers is not an easy task. They are still trying to distinguish different taste and get accustomed to textures. Imagine the transition – liquids –>mush—>regular foods. But all tiny tots are not the same. Some are excited about the textures – the crunchy, the crispy, the lumpy. Some gag on the softest foods for months. Regardless of your child, just go with the flow.

But parents, do not be afraid to introduce any and all foods to your children. It is so easy to feed your little ones solely the food you have grown accustomed to eating. For example, I LOVE blueberries, but this did not become fact until about 2 years ago. I asked my mom about it, and she said it was not a fruit she grew up eating so she never thought to offer to me. Blueberries are always on sale; they are small and as convenient as grapes! I am not suggesting waste money on expanding your child’s palate but do try to introduce a new food every few weeks. There maybe a vegetable, grain or fruit that the whole family will be able to enjoy.

What is the solution if your kids are stuck on pop tarts? There is hope! Sneak those healthy, bone-building foods into dishes that are enjoyed by all.

  • Smoothies: using greens allow the mixture to have a green color, but berries always win. Search the net for a fruity recipe and just add a few greens or carrots. (I love www.simplegreensmoothies.com)
  • Pizza: a cauliflower crust is an easy substitution; make your pizzas with only healthy toppings (i.e. shredded carrots, olives, lean meats, pineapples, spinach, broccoli)
  • Soup: use a vegetable broth, double the vegetables to beef stew, add carrots and peas to chicken noodle soup
  • Batter up: using panko or bread crumbs, oven fry zucchini, asparagus, string beans, or even broccoli; include a fun dipping sauce
  • Pasta: get that spiralizer and make your own version of spaghetti or fettuccine alfredo using spaghetti squash or zucchini as an alternative
  • Salad: load up on the veggies and fruits such as apples, grapes, and mandarin oranges and allow your kitchen helper to add his dressing

The best advice I can offer is: be your child’s best example. If your shadow sees you making healthy choices, then they will follow. We all want to grow up before time so if their plate mirrors yours, then their habits will also. Do not get frustrated. Pay attention to what foods they consume without being told and keep it handy. Do not stress; they will eat when they are hungry. If your child is “always hungry” then feed in moderation; however, make sure she is full at meal times.

With various food allergies and fears of creating obese children, it can be difficult to navigate the “best” way to feed your offspring.Do what is best for your and your baby but make sure real food is always on hand. (www.100daysofrealfood.com)

Give love. Get love.

 

 

 

Parenting

Keep the Faith…Hold On…Be Strong


You’ve prayed. You’ve cried. You’ve done all you can do. For a year you’ve taken it all to God first and trusted Him to make a way. You’ve prayed EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. You’ve attended church every week sometimes multiple times a week. You serve in ministry. You give your tithes faithfully without question. You stopped pre-marital sex. You stopped clubbing and drinking.

Does this sound like you?

Are you STILL not seeing the fruits of your prayers, sacrifice and tears? You’re still living check to check. Your spouse and/or kids are still driving you crazy? You’re still being overlooked for that promotion you know you deserve at your job?

faith

WHAT DO YOU DO?

You keep praying. You keep fighting for YOU! You keep pushing until you see every single prayer manifested in your life. There’s a saying that goes a little something like, “anything worth having is worth fighting for.”…

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Parenting

Speaker of the House

Words have power. I think this is a statement I repeat aloud and to myself quite often. To simply begin with the belief that the world we live in, the sun and moon, the animals, plants and trees were all created through words should be proof of the potency that words possess. But we tend to casually misplace that authority when we fail to track the manifestation phrases like, “You make me sick!” or “I am always broke.”

When you become a parent, you gain a special ability because you understand the weight of your words. You speak the life growing inside the womb assured that your child will recognize your voice once he/she enters the world. You might place headphones on the belly, sing or even read to your unborn child. At this point, you are teaching your child the power of words, sight unseen. These actions open the door to their worlds. Consider the fact that a baby’s sight has not fully developed until 8 weeks old. Your child fully relies on your voice, the words you speak, for 2 months without being able to completely recognized your face!!

With this understanding, it is vital that the things you say (even those said in jest) are spoken purposefully because they are going to perform as sent. I have a major pet peeve when I hear a child called BAD. A child is not inherently bad. A child might be born into a bad situation or in a bad neighborhood or even under dire circumstances yet none of these things warrant a bad child. Yet if a child consistently hears that they are bad then they will result in actually being bad.

Children are born students – they must be taught everything. Therefore when they are trying to learn and an unwanted behavior is exhibited, it will be translated to the child as bad. The behavior needs to be addressed and corrected. The desired behavior needs to be displayed so it can be duplicated. Provide choices so good decisions will become habit.

Do not confuse their exploration and creative nature as bad behavior. Set limits. Be consistent. Be intentional. Frame their worlds with your words – I love you. You are beautiful. Yes, you are important! I like the way you did that! – and then apply faith that they will be what you say.  Eventually your child will start speaking those words to themselves and even repeat it back to you.

Hebrews 1:1-6The Message (MSG) 1-3 Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!

 

Give Love. Get Love.

Parenting

Prayer is Practical but Parenting is….

[Pardon me as I attempt to create a flow]

Let’s deem Thursdays for the people, little people. . . and their parents.

Several people in my life, friends and family, decided it was time to grow up, get married, and procreate, as it were. Therefore, I was inspired to pen a prayer that I hope would assist them along the way as they transition from being my fun-loving fellows to the lovingly terrific role as parental figures to the little people.

Give Love. Get Love.

A Prayer for Parents

Father,

We come before your throne of grace as humbly as we know how. We thank You for choosing us to be parents. In Your word, children are arrows in the hand of a mighty man; a crown to old men; shall be taught of the Lord; are a heritage of the Lord; should be train in the way that they should go; and have the kingdom of God as their inheritance. Therefore, God, we thank You for granting us with the grace, wisdom and mercy for the gifts you have given.

God, we will not be snared by the words of our mouths. We command and declare a word curse, a crop failure over every negative word spoken against our parenting skills. Every feeling – positive or negative is being passed to our child; therefore, we now ask you God for forgiveness against any negative thought or deed that we have willingly or unconsciously committed against this gift and ask for Your loving Spirit to overshadow those times when those feelings may have been transferred. We ask for Your perfect strength in our weaknesses and that Your dunamis might will go into overdrive! Thank you for granting us perfect peace – the peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace that guards and protects our hearts and our minds.

We will not get weary in our well-doing. Thank You for the grace you have allowed us to walk in during this adjustment becoming parents. We bless you God for the support system that has surrounded us. Every person that has been strategically placed into our village will help our child grow in the strength and admonish of the Lord.

Thank You God for every way You have shown Yourself strong on our behalfs. Thank You for Your blood covering and redeeming us as our family grows. You have already created the supply for our needs. You are our Good Shepherd so we shall not want. You are our Jehovah Jireh which means you already knew when and with who we would become parents with and thusly provided the provision. Thank you God for supplying our needs according to Your riches in glory!

We will continuously look to You for guidance and strength.  We will never be ashamed to confess when we are overwhelmed, depressed, stressed, confused, perplexed, or even unfit. When we are able to admit these feelings that is when You allow the healing to begin. As Jehovah Raphe, the Great Physician, you heal wholistically – spirit, soul and body.

No matter what test, trial or temptation that we are presented with, Your faithfulness provides a way of escape. As Jehovah Roi, the God who sees, You created us and know everything about us. We are never abandoned. You are always with us.

We call on the name of Jesus! The name that is higher than any other name! Every food, clothing, child care, schooling, transportation, medical, extracurricular, and housing need has been met through that name!

We declare and receive the victory now!! The treasure that you have given us in our child(ren), these earthen vessels that the excellency, the grandeur of the power may be shown from God and not from us.

Thank You Lord! We present our child back to You and receive Your love that cast out every fear, anxiety, concern or worry.

We give you all the glory, honor and praise!

In Jesus’ name, Amen!