Bananas Foster Protein Shake with Trader Joe’s Bourbon Vanilla 

bananas foster
I’ve gotten really into lifting heavy weights lately. I’m finding that it’s making the most difference in shedding my baby weight.  Of course any weightlifting routine means an increase in protein, which can be problematic if you’re a vegetarian like myself. This shake is not only high in protein and vegan.  It’s the perfect pre-workout shake!

Recipe:

In a blender combine:

1.5 tsp. Trader Joe’s Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Ice

1 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 scoop Trader Joe’s Vanilla Protein Powder

2 bananas


Blend it up and enjoy either before or after a hard workout!  I added a packet of Stevia to my shake because I have a sweet tooth, but it’s not necessary.  The Bourbon Vanilla tastes amazing in cookies and I used it in Adam’s Birthday cake icing.  It’s good stuff!

Floral May Crafts for Toddlers

may flowers
April showers bring May flowers right? So this month I’ve been doing a lot of floral crafts with my boys. The first one I shared on Instagram and in a previous post which is a Monet Waterlilies craft.  Monet was a French impressionist painter in the 19 century who built an incredible garden in his home complete with a Japanese bridge and water lily pond which he painted over and over again. This is a simple process art project that then gets turned into a craft.  For more information on how to make it you can check out my previous post here.

monet 2Later on for Mother’s Day we made paper plate flowers which are also a simple process art activity. The boys use bright colors and painted paper plates. Afterwards we practiced cutting with our safety scissors little slips along the side of both plates. Then we bent the tabs that we created to resemble petals on a flower. To finish we added a green construction paper stem and leaf.  Both boys painted a paper plates, Ben helped with the cutting, and Adam helped with the gluing.

flower cardWe created some friends willows based off of a Pinterest pan I found last month. We did this project in play group along with the water lilies. For this project I pre-drew the willows on white card stock sized 9″ x 11″. Are used a sharpie marker, but any permanent marker will do. You don’t want to use Crayola markers because they will smear when the paint is applied. We then dipped hour some into different colors of paint and pressed around the flower. It’s a simple cute process project that could then be turned into a card or framed.

I did a willow, but on Pinterest it initially came to me as a dandelion.  There are so many cute thumbprint flowers on Pinterest.  I’ll share some pins below.  Let me know if you try any in the comments below.  Happy May!

Thumbprint Dandelion - Kid Craft - this idea would be a great gift for a teacher or a DIY project for grandparents!:

Thumbprint Art Project For Kids - Easy craft idea! Painted flower pots make cute homemade Mother's Day Gifts. Crafts:

Mother's day gift idea from thebubblegumtree.blogspot.com:

 

Best Laid Plans-When Birth Doesn’t Go According To Plan

birth
I’m a planner.  Being a teacher lends itself to my belief that planning ahead is the best prevention to anything going wrong.  So I planned ahead for my first birth down to the last detail.

I hired a doula, used my friend’s OB/GYN, and put a down payment for a birthing tub.  I listened to hypno-birthing CD’s, I wrote 3 drafts of my birth plan, and had my hospital bag packed a month in advance.  I was ready.  Then my first son’s birth took a strange and difficult detour.

I knew he was big.  I was a high risk pregnancy and had over 20 ultrasounds during my first pregnancy.  His size resulted in me getting PUPPs a month prior to my giving birth.  PUPPs is a prenatal rash starting around the belly and spreading outwards across the body.  It’s common in first pregnancies with large babies or multiple babies.  It’s an inflammatory response to the severe stetching of the skin that takes place in larger pregnancies-and I had it everywhere except the bottoms of my feet, my face, and the palms of my hands.  I was miserable.
I remember sitting in a bagel shop on my birthday with my husband 3 days into the PUPPs wondering if I would go back to work and finish the school year.  I got my answer that night.  I couldn’t sleep-I sent my husband out to every health food store, the grocery store, and the pharmacy to find a cure.  I had none.  I couldn’t sleep as I was itching so bad.  I was put on bed rest by my high risk pregnancy specialist during the next day’s appointment when I was in tears worry my baby was itching like crazy too.  Thankfully it only affects the mom.  Ben was fine and growing.

My due date came and passed.  I soaked in multiple oatmeal baths everyday.  Friends helped me close up my classroom for summer break. No labor.

Another five days passed and in my OB/GYN appointment my doctor began mechanically inducing me with a balloon.  I was nervous.  If this didn’t work they would use Pitocin to induce labor.  My baby was late and my only relief from the PUPPs was birth.  Nothing happened for two days.  I was supposed to be admitted to the hospital at midnight on June 26th, but as the heat rose in Vegas women were going into labor left and right and there was no room for me.  It was midnight and I was stuck waiting at home.

The next morning I didn’t feel Ben move and I started to get nervous as I waited for a hospital room to open.  Then my contractions started and as they got closer to each other my husband and I drove to the hospital.

I had planned to have a beautiful, soothing, water birth experience for my son.  That is not the way it turned out.  I labored in the waiting room for an hour before I got a hospital bed.  My doula came and we walked the floor.  My contractions were close to each other but not powerful.  The nurse informed me I needed to put on an oxygen mask and that Ben was having trouble getting oxygen, also his heart rate had increased.

As the night wore on we realized we would not need the water tub, I would be hooked up to monitors the rest of the night.  They kept increasing my Pitocin to help Ben move along as he was in distress and needed to be birthed.  My epidural had to be repeated as there was a hole in the catheter and the intensity of my contractions was extreme to say the least.

After 26 hours of labor my baby was born.  Rather than being placed in my arms he was rushed to a NICU where he stayed for 5 days.  I was hospitalized 3 rooms away from, conveniently enough, due to my PUPPs for the same amount of time.  He was beautiful and he was alive, I was grateful for that.  I was close to needing a C-section, and thank goodness that didn’t happen as I would continue to have complications.

My husband camped out with me in the hospital, and we attended every one of Ben’s feedings.  I wanted to breastfeed, but the NICU staff were more concerned about measuring how much Ben was drinking and didn’t help me as much as I hoped.  I was given pumping lessons and my milk was having a hard time coming in as I was on 3 antihistamines to help with my itching.  Coming off the epidural and other medications had caused me to be very itchy and I scratched the dickens out of my legs!

Five days later we were allowed to go home together, and I was so glad to go home with my baby.  For the next week family and friends visited and we had the traditional Jewish Brit Milah after being cleared by the pediatrician.  On a return visit to the pediatrician I mentioned how I had developed large welts on my legs and she told me to see a doctor immediately.  I went to the Quick Care by my house and they put me on Cephlax and sent me home.  I developed a fever and began vomiting.  Turns out I’m allergic Cephlax.  It was the weekend and the doctor’s offices were closed.  I contacted the dermatologist and he saw me on Tuesday, 5 days later was diagnosed with an illness I contracted from the hospital.  I was told over the phone by a nurse the dermatologist would not treat me as I was post-partum and breastfeeding.  She also told me to not even be in the same room as my baby!

My mom came to stay with Ben while I saw another dermatologist who had success at curing my illness in other patients.  After two weeks of intravenous antibiotics I had a clean bill of health. I was able to start my life as a mom and go forward.  There were tough times during this as you can imagine, but I never quit.  You can’t.  You have to do what you have to do for your baby.  If I couldn’t hold him, I rested while I knew my mom was taking care of him.  If I couldn’t nurse him safely, I pumped and dumped because I was determined I would be a breastfeeding mom.  For some people faith in G-d and prayer gets them through these tough times.  With this situation I believed in tomorrow.  Tomorrow I would be one step closer to being with my baby.

Writing this today seems like a different life.  Those couple of tough months would be followed by one of the sweetest times in my life. I fell in love like crazy with my baby and was so happy to be a mom.  Every moment with Ben was so special and I treasured our time together. Before I knew it, nine months had passed and I saw a pink plus sign.

A Day in the Life of a Mom

momI realized a couple months back that I am in a unique situation in that I have been a full time working mom, a work at home mom, and a stay at home mom.  I think every new mom questions her choice to work or stay at home at some point.  The purpose of this post is to share with you what my schedule was like in each of these parenting situations.  Whether you are working and thinking of taking time off or staying home and starting to work in your home office part time, you can see how I managed and hopefully I will pass on some wisdom.

My Full Time Working Mom Schedule

5 AM:  Wake up, nurse and pump.  Put the baby back to sleep.  Get dressed for work.

6 AM: Make breakfast, run the Roomba, feed the dogs.

7 AM: Pump, wake up husband to be with the newly woken up baby and leave for work.

8 AM: Get to work, pump again, check emails, set up classroom, meetings, playground duty.

9 AM-11:30 AM: Teach

11:30 AM-1 PM: Lunch, pump, lunchroom duty

1 PM- 3:30 PM Teach

3:30 PM Leave work

4:00 PM Pick up baby from daycare or meet baby at home with nanny (we did both). Bath myself and baby.  Nurse, pump.  Baby napped.

6:00 PM Make dinner, make lunch for work, get bottles together for the next day or set aside frozen homemade baby food (my Saturday night project).

7:00 PM Read three books to baby, nurse and put to sleep.  Pump.  Watch a little TV and go to sleep.  I typically awoke 2-3 times a night to nurse and one time to pump.

My Stay At Home Mom Schedule

7 AM: Wake up with my baby and nurse. Change baby and go downstairs.  Coffee, let baby play while I catch up on the news.

8 AM: Toddler wakes up.  Change him, he comes downstairs too.  Feed the dogs, and give the boys milk.

8:30 AM: Wake up husband for work.  Get myself dressed, make breakfast for everyone.

9:30-11 AM: Clean up dishes, get the boys ready to leave, take them to their mommy and me class.

12-3 PM: Come home, have lunch, shower, and put the boys down for a nap.  Nurse the baby.  While they nap I start dinner, clean the floor, wipe off the countertops, do laundry, and dust.

3-5 PM: Let the boys free play.  I usually have a quiet play activity such as puzzles, a sensory bin, or an art activity as well.

5-6 PM: Make dinner, eat with the boys.

7-8 PM: Clean up dinner, put on our PJs, read stories and nurse baby.  After they go to sleep I could read or watch TV.

Schedule Variation -Work at Home Mom

7 AM- 8 AM: I work on the blog while the baby plays.

8 PM-10/11 PM: Work on my home business after putting the kids to bed.

 

Packing Tips from my Instagram Feed

packing tips

 

About a week ago we went on an 8 day family vacation in Sedona, Arizona.  Our Jeep was packed!  We have a shelf for our trailer hitch that we bungeed our suitcases and Ben’s sleeping bag on.  The dogs were in the trunk with the double stroller folded flat.  We had a cooler, diapers, and snacks for the trip.

I made three short videos describing how I packed for the trip and entertained my two toddlers.  Check them out and check out my Tips for Packing for Kids on Vacation.
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​If your not following us on Instagram, please check out our feed as I update it almost daily with tips and fun kids art ideas! I also have a Twitter account that I update daily with great art and parenting tips.  If you have any awesome traveling with kids advice to share, please do so in the comments below.

Packing Tips for Kids on Vacation

packing

I think the biggest challenge of traveling with 2 tots is packing.  For a month in Israel I started packing 2 weeks before.  For our recent trip to Sedona which was 8 days I began packing 1 week prior.  After Israel, which was a long trip in the fall when the weather could turn either way, I learned a lot about packing.

1. Ziplock baggies make great organizers. For the trip to Israel I put each of Adam’s tiny baby outfits in a Ziplock bag.  The whole outfit-onesie, pants, socks, a diaper, and a long sleeve top.  I put all of his pajamas in one bag, all of Ben’s socks in a bag, and all of his sweaters and jackets in another bag.

2.  The rule of halves.  If you’re destination has affordable or free laundry use the rule of halves.  Divide the number of days you’ll be away in half and pack as many shirts, pants, dresses, etc.  Exception to the rule: take seasonal weather changes or frequent outfit changes into account.  For example, I figured for our recent trip to Sedona for 8 days the weather would be cool in the morning and at night, Adam typically needs an outfit change after breakfast-so I packed 4 warm shirts and 4 sets of pants for the morning to wear and 4 t-shirts and 4 shorts for midday.  I did laundry midway through our trip.

3. 2 pairs of shoes is all you need.  A dressy pair and sneakers.  A waterproof sandal and a pair of Toms.  Basically one special pair and an everyday pair of shoes. Don’t forget to pack them in your Ziploc.

4.  Take advantage of 1 piece dressing.  Rompers and dresses are prefect for diaper bags or travel and take up less space than separates.

5. Pack toys in backpacks.  Your toddler can carry on his/her own backpack with small books and manipulatives.  They feel special and grown up while you save space in your bag.

6. Don’t bring the kitchen sink! I had diapers, wipes, toys, bedding, and books waiting for us at my in -laws. They also had car seats and booster seats waiting for us.  My parents in New York had toys and diapers waiting for us at their house.  All of these items were borrowed from neighbors.  In Israel they do have rental baby gear for tourists so consider that when traveling abroad.  In San Francisco we had a rental car and car seats were rented too.

7.  Go light on the baby gear.  Umbrella strollers, sleeping bags, baby wearing are a lot easier than a pack and play or heavy stroller to pack and lug.

8.  Use a backpack diaper bag.  You can easily babywear in front and carry a backpack at the same time.

9.  Minimize your own packing. I gave up make-up since staying and did not pack a stitch of it to take to Israel.  I can use hair conditioner also as an in shower body lotion.  Little tricks like this save space for the kids stuff.

Stroller hooks, stroller carrying bags with straps, and a basic first aid kit are important to have on hand as well.  I always take Tylenol or Ibuprofen, DoTerra oils, and teething toys with us.  I have Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes downloaded on my Ipad and YouTube Kids on my IPhone to entertain.  We do a mix of busy bags and IPad time when we’re flying.

Traveling with babies and toddlers is one of the most brave things I’ve done.  I used to be very nervous about it and dread it, but now my boys are seasoned, world travelers.  I feel much more comfortable now that we have logged some miles and memories taking them on future trips.  What packing tips do you have for a first time traveling mom or dad?  What can’t you live without on trips to keep your kids entertained?  Please share in the comments below.

Parenting Tips for Two Under Two

2 underSo when I found out I was pregnant with Adam, Ben was only nine months. To say I was in shock would not even begin to describe the feelings I had. With Ben we had tried for three years to get pregnant and ended up being successful through IVF. Adam was truly a surprise!

A couple hours after I found out I was pregnant with Adam it dawned on me how young Ben would still be when Adam would be born.  He would still be in diapers, he would be walking, but he still would not be completely verbal. He would not understand why mommy is with this little baby instead of him sometimes and that concerned me.

Being a mom of two under two is truly mommy boot camp. You are changing two sets of diapers, you need a really good double stroller, and you have two little babies who depend on you 24 hours a day.  Just remember it will get easier. Here are some tips that worked for me while I had two under two.

1.  Figure out how you will transport your children to and from your vehicle before you try it. I started teaching Ben to walk to the car and back to the house on his own in my late stages of pregnancy.  We don’t have a lot of traffic on my street and it was a good start for him to learn how to behave in a street or parking lot. Now he’s learning how to behave in a street and the parking lot at 2 1/2.  Most of the time what I would do is have Adam in the baby carrier leaving the house and hold Ben’s hand or have him walk beside me to the car. I would put Ben in the car first and have Adam in the yard in his baby carrier.  I figured since Ben was more mobile it would be better for him to be the first put in and the last to be taken out of the vehicle.  If you live in the city with a lot of traffic this might not work for you.

2.  Have a really organized diapering station. I bought a set of three plastic drawers that I keep next to my pack and play/changing table.  I used ABC organization: the top drawer are Adam’s diapers, the second drawer were Ben’s diapers, and the last drawer were cloth diapers.

3.  Use nap time effectively. I understand if you need to rest and sleep. If not, I recommend getting your housework done, starting dinner, and paying bills.  A newborn sleeps a lot so you can use some of that time to have one on one with your toddler.

4.  Create a laundry schedule. I have had the same laundry schedule for the last year. I start doing all my loads of wash and folding them on Thursday through Saturday morning. Then over the weekend when my husband is home he can keep an eye on the kids while I put away all of our laundry.

5.  Organize a system for hand-me-down clothing. I use large plastic totes that I label with Ben’s clothing size to store for Adam.  When Adam’s done with them I have a friend I gift them to.

6.  Don’t be afraid to enlist the village’s help.  Friends and family can help you load your kids in the car, keep an eye on your baby while you chase your toddler around the playground, and give you a minute with your significant other.

7.  Streamline bath time.  Whether your kids bathe together or hop in with you try to cut down on the time bathing each individual.  Another option is a bathing schedule as to who gets a bath each day.

8.  Practice self care.  Seems impossible right?  I can’t say that I was very good at or am very good at putting myself first.  Taking a stroller walk to get back into shape, waking up 10 minutes earlier to meditate in bed before the kids wake up, or just NOT wearing yoga pants can qualify as self care when you’re a mom of two under two.

Whether you have twins or two littles months a year apart being a mom of two under is tricky.  I’m on the other side of two with Ben and Adam’s walking-now I’m onto two toddlers!  If you have any advice on handling two under two or two toddlers please share in the comments below!  I would love to hear from you!

Delicious and Nutritious Israeli Tahini Smoothie

tahini shake

If you follow my Instagram, which I post on daily, you know I love smoothies!  My husband and I drink them daily.  Since it’s been a while since I shared a recipe with you I decided this smoothie has to be my next recipe for the blog.  It’s officially amazing and so good for you!

If you are not familiar with tahini it’s sesame paste that is used in several Middle Eastern dishes.  It comes very thick in the jar and can be thinned out with water or lemon juice.  It’s one of the main ingredients in hummus and is amazing as a dressing.  When we were in Israel last fall they were pouring it over their ice cream.  You can find tahini in most large supermarkets, I love the Organic Tahini from Trader Joe’s-it’s the best I’ve ever tasted.

This recipe calls for half a cup of Taster’s Choice coffee in the hazelnut flavor.  In the Middle East Nescafe and instant coffee are very popular.  My husband likes Taster’s Choice and for a change he’s been trying the hazelnut flavor.  I pre-brewed the coffee.  When making a smoothie start with the liquid ingredients first and then add the solid ingredients.  I make my smoothies in a Ninja every morning, but a blender works fine too.

The recipe for this is to simply blend:

ice

1 c. of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/2 c. of hazelnut Taster’s Choice coffee

1 tbsn. of tahini

2 bananas

2 packets of Stevia or a tbsn. of honey (agave or maple syrup would work too)

It’s a really great way to wake up in the morning.  You have a caffeine kick from the coffee, potassium from the banana, healthy fats from the tahini, and calcium from the almond milk.  It has a deeper taste than a traditional peanut butter and banana smoothie.  The hazelnut coffee mixes with the sesame flavor beautifully.  I hope you enjoy this recipe.  I’ll be sure to share more recipes soon!

Tip:  To make the smoothie vegan omit the honey.

Monet’s Waterlillies Project for Toddlers

waterliliesWhen it comes to spring time art my mind turns to the Impressionists.  They were a French group of nineteenth century artists who portrayed the simplicity of everyday life in their art.  Cafe scenes, recreational life, family, and nature were the main subjects portrayed by the Impressionists.  The most well known Impressionist artist was Claude Monet who is most famous for his paintings of his garden in Giverny, France.

In his garden he had a pond with floating Waterlilies and a Japanese bridge.  He did several paintings of the Waterlilies, some were enormous painting, over 6 feet tall and several panels wide!  You can still visit and tour his home in Giverny, I haven’t but it’s on my list.  I have to go there!

To start this spring time art project with your toddler we did two freestyle paintings:  one in blue and purple for water, the other in green and pink for the lillypads. I did both of these on 9″ x 11″ card stock.  Once they dried over night, I drew and cut out lillypad shapes from the green painting for Ben.  Then he put drops of glue on the backs of the lily pad and placed them on his blue water painting.  He glued two colorful pompoms on each pad and voila!  His masterpiece was complete!img_8117

img_8120


Other Impressionist artworks worth replicating this time of year are Van Gogh’s Irises and Degas’ Ballet Dancers.  Impressionist projects can also work great in the summer months with their paintings of boats and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.  They are very kid friendly works of art and are always popular with parents

DIY Mickey Mouse Art Projects

Mickey Mouse ArtA couple months ago I was visiting a dear friend who had some extra canvas sitting around her house. I took a square shaped one that was already pre-stretched and it had a gyclee on it home with me with the intention that I would be using this for a Mickey Mouse DIY painting project to be hung in Ben’s big boy bedroom. Being that the canvas already had a giclée on it I went ahead and used a paint primer that I picked up at Lowe’s. If you’re trying to do this project you can also use a few layers of gesso and a sponge brush.   I did about four coats of the primer using a house painting brush and allowing each coat to dry in between. I was very careful that the coats were thin and even. I also painted the sides.

 Once that was done I made my circle templates out of craft paper just tracing around a large sized salad bowl and a cereal bowl twice.  I cut them out and taped them down flat onto the dry canvas.  After that I began splattering paint in yellow, red, and black across the canvas.  Tip: You want to make sure when you’re doing this to start with the lightest color to the darkest allowing each color to dry completely before adding another color otherwise the colors will run into each other and you’ll get a murky look.



I made sure to let some paint drip down the sides as well.  I let the painting dry overnight. I was able to hang it up with Command Strips that I placed in each corner. Then I bought these cute wall decals from Babies R’ Us that I stuck on the wall underneath the painting.

Moving onto the numbers that I painted Mickey Mouse style. I bought the numbers and the wood circles from Michael’s. The Mickey Mouse wall plaque I got from Amazon.

The numbers were really easy to make but do require a little bit of painting skill. You could also apply the same method with the wooden circles for ears and the colors to letters if you want to make a name plaque or the ABC’s.

The numbers came already primed with white paint. I simply taped off the bottom of each number so I would get a clear edge when I painted the yellow coat of paint. While I waited for the paint to dry I used Gorilla Glue to glue the wooden discs onto each number for mouse ears.  Once the yellow paint was dry I carefully removed the tape. I recommend using painter’s tape. If you don’t have painter’s tape you can use masking tape but you do run the risk of a peeling off part of your acrylic paint and not having a clean edge. I taped off the middle of each number to paint the red paint, but before I painted the red I added yellow circles for buttons.


I painted on the red paint, allowed it to dry.  I then proceeded to tape off the top of the numbers to paint black.  After I allowed the red paint to dry I repainted the yellow buttons.  Sometimes when you’re painting you have to add another layer in order to have a nice clean edge. Another option if you don’t feel comfortable painting buttons on each number, you can purchase small yellow or white buttons and glue them on.  If you do choose to paint on the buttons I recommend using a very small paintbrush. For the rest of the project are used in medium size paintbrush. The project in all took me two evenings to complete. I used Command Strips to hang up the numbers and the Mickey Mouse plaque.  Ben really loves this display in his room. He practices counting his numbers in both English and Hebrew when he sees it.

I think having DIY accents in the room separates Ben’s Mickey Mouse themed bedroom from others.  I didn’t only rely on the same merchandise we see in every superstore, department store, and baby store.  I added unique pieces to give it a personal touch.  Art is a fun, inexpensive, and easy way to add a little DIY flair to your child’s room.