Locally Raised Meat

Alpine Ranch Grass-fed Cattle in Northern Nevada

Alpine Ranch Grass-fed Cattle

Last week I posted about locally grown produce, since it’s the time of year to enjoy so many fresh fruits and vegetables. Locally raised meat can be found year round, but have you given it a try yet?

I’ve noticed meat stands have started to find their way in between produce stands at farmer’s markets, and a quick search helped me find all sorts of local meat options in my area. Many of these ranchers raise organic, free range meat including beef, lamb, pigs and chickens. Some corn finish their animals to produce a less gamey tasting final product, and some grass-feed all the way to the end.

When you are buying local meat, you are supporting several local businesses: rancher, slaughter house and butcher. Many of the ranches are small scale, so the whole family is involved, even kids! They all seem to be having a great time, and I love to know that these sorts of home businesses are sustainable even today. Our latest local beef came from Alpine Ranch and is delicious, and we’re in line to get pork from them as soon as it’s ready.

Buying meat at the farmer’s market can be pretty pricey, but if you buy in bulk from the rancher, you can get a great deal. Since local meat is gaining in popularity, you are no longer obligated to buy half a cow at once. The first time we bought locally raised meat I cleared a whole shelf in our freezer, worrying that we wouldn’t have room for it all. Once I loaded it all in, it took up a little less than half a shelf. The whole lamb we picked up last week took up about the same amount of room. Most ranches have smaller packages; we buy 40 lbs at a time. You might be able to spend a little extra to get a “grill package”, which will provide you with more steaks and less roasts.

There’s also the option of raising your own. Many communities allow small chicken coups, and I know more than one family with sheep and a cow on a few acres. If you don’t want a whole cow in your freezer, I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find friends willing to buy into your heifer. I know I would!

Celebrating a Green 4th of July

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July! Whether you are at home or with friends, here are some green ideas to help you celebrate:

Have a picnic: Pack up some sandwiches and finger foods, grab a blanket and find a nice spot in the shade. You don’t have to travel farther than your backyard, if you want to avoid holiday traffic. The best part is that you don’t have to turn on your stove or oven.

Make your own giant soap bubbles: The general consensus is that Dawn dish soap is the best, and don’t forget the secret ingredient: glycerin.

Enjoy homemade popsicles: If you don’t have popsicle molds, just use a dixi cup! For an extra-patriotic treat, try these Red, White and Blue Creamsicles.

Have a watermelon seed fight: Be sure to buy a seeded watermelon, so you have some ammo. Pinch the watermelon seed between your thumb and index finger, aim, and squeeze. With a little practice, you’ll be hitting your mark in no time.

Cool off in a kiddie pool or sprinkler: Or if you’re feeling fancy, a Slip N Slide

Have a backyard movie night: Pop some popcorn and get out the blankets!

What activities do you have planned for Independence Day?

Sick Babies, Sick Parents

Where's MY soup?

Where’s MY soup?

I was prepared for our normal routine to get tossed aside while Frances was sick, but I wasn’t prepared for how disruptive it is to be a sick parent.

Franci spent a week with a high fever and another 5 days convalescing. She had little appetite and no energy, so we spent her few waking hours snuggling on the couch and trying desperately to find food she would eat. I tried everything, even resorting to ice cream (which despite loving on a normal basis, wouldn’t touch while sick). Since she was sick, I felt no guilt plying her with processed foods and fruit juice. I held her when she was fussy and indulged her every whim. After all, I believe in coddling sick members of my family.

After she started to feel better, I’m the one who took a turn for the worst. Our daily schedule broke down even more than when she was sick. For example, Franci doesn’t get to eat between mealtimes but while I was sick she got a cracker every time she started to bother me. Anything to keep her quiet while I moaned and rocked and ran to the bathroom.

I had no energy to try out 10 different healthy foods until I found one she would eat instead of spitting out or tossing on the floor. So once again I plied her with processed food in various shades of white (minus the ice cream). TV was watched in abundance and, at one desperate moment, she even got to hold my phone.

Whatever guilt I didn’t feel while babying my sick baby returned tenfold as I let her run wild during my own illness. We maintain a fairly strict order around here, but how does one manage when sick? More importantly, how am I supposed to deal with it once I’m out numbered??

How do you maintain household order, and your own sanity, when sickness hits your home? Do you call in reinforcements? Let it run its course and hope it doesn’t take too long to return to normal? Or do you have a contingency system in place?

Dealing with Tantrums

The Many Faces of Tantrums

The many faces of tantrums

About two months ago Frances started throwing tantrums.  They are your garden-variety tantrums that occur when you try and change her diaper or take away something she wants to play with that is off limits (like a phone or pill bottle) or offer her food she doesn’t like.

While it may be possible to reduce certain triggers, like baby-proofing tempting cupboards or only offering her food she likes, leaving her in a dirty diaper is not an option. Plus, I believe it’s a bad habit to give into her every whim, so sometimes she just has to put up with not being picked up as I finish my blog post.

Understanding that her tantrums are a result of not being able to communicate and being frustrated, tired or hungry doesn’t make dealing with them any more fun. The only thing we can do is whether the storm and not get too frustrated ourselves.

I think the hardest trap to avoid falling into is not using punishments or rewards. It’s not fair to take away something just because Franci is too young to communicate. And I don’t want to get in the habit of bribing her for good behavior. Especially since she probably doesn’t understand that concept yet any way.

For me, the worst part about tantrums at this age are knowing that she is so desperate to be understood, but just can’t figure out how to communicate. The emotions she is experiencing, like pain from teething, are hard to verbalize. I can show her the sign for pain a million times, but I don’t think she understands what pain is.

In an effort to get past this phase (that will inevitably last several years) I am turning to the internet for advice. BabyZone had a good primer on tantrums, and Baby Centre had some good tips, but the best advice comes from parents who have gone through the same thing. Of course, I have to wade through a bunch of less useful comments to find the gems.

What tricks did you use to get through your child’s tantrums? I’ll try anything!

It’s a Girl!

Big Sister in Training

Big Sister in Training

We’re happy to announce that there is a new Green Baby on the way! We’ll be welcoming a little girl into our lives in the beginning of November. We’re very excited that our family is growing and that Franci is going to be a big sister!

Since my belly is growing by the day, I’ll be posting about pregnancy more often. Write what you know, as they say. They also say that each pregnancy is different, and that certainly is the case. As anyone with more than one kid knows, there’s little time to rest and relax your swollen feet when you’re chasing after a toddler! It’s going to take a lot of organization to be even half as prepared as the first time around.

Besides preparing for another home birth, we need to prepare Frances for her role as big sister. As a younger sibling, I have no idea how to begin! I’m sure that’s a topic I’ll be revisiting here later.

In the meantime, we’re looking forward to a fun-filled summer and plenty of changes come fall!

Losing a Loved One

Four Generations

Four Generations

We had a sad week here at The Green Baby Guide, because Rebecca and I lost our grandmother and Frances and Audrey lost their great-grandmother. Caroline Frances Best Kelley, known as Tutu to her family, was an amazing woman with a big heart and a welcoming smile, and she will be missed by many friends and family.

I’ve been taking Franci to see her great-grandmother once a week since before she was born. No matter how she was feeling, or how tired she was, she always lit up when we walked in the door. She loved to hear about Franci’s new tricks and kept up on all our activities.

Although I’m so glad that Tutu got to know Frances, I’m sad that Frances is just a little too young to remember all the time she spent with her. On her last few visits she would say “T-t-tu-tu” on our way to the front door, but I don’t think she’ll notice that we stopped going over to her house.

In some ways, Franci’s age takes the burden off of us to explain death, loss, heaven and all those tricky topics. If she were older, I would probably make use of one of these books to help explain the situation.

Have you had to deal with a similar situation with your kids? What helped or what would you do differently next time?

Watching TV: The early years

sesame-street

Good ol’ Sesame Street

Like all babies, Frances loves screen time.  She will ask to watch the same video of herself ad nauseum, even if there is nothing going on.  She’s not in the habit of watching shows, but I’m sure she’d like to.  This got me thinking, just how bad is screen time for one-year-olds?  What are other pre-toddlers watching, and how much time are they spending in front of the TV?

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) published the most widely cited study in 2003, and I wasn’t able to find a lot of new research. The first iPad wasn’t even released until 2010. I didn’t even have a smart phone back in 2003. Perhaps it’s time for a newer study.

Some of the information seems pretty accurate, like the fact that most children begin watching TV at 9 months old. But that 52% of kids under 1 watch, on average, 2.5 hours a day? Well, the KFF said so in 2003. They also said 60% of one-year-olds watch 3 hours a day, and 71% of two-year-olds watch the same amount.  Considering most of these kids are only awake 12 hours a day, that’s a good portion of their lives.

Here are some guidelines I gleaned from my readings:

Since sometimes screen time can’t be avoided, it’s best to stick with educational material. Shows (and apps) that prompt the viewer to respond can slightly increase vocabulary (whereas other shows decrease it). The best thing, apparently, is to watch the show (or play the game) with the child. Of course, doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of having a few minutes of time to yourself? If you’re going to sit down with a kid and interact, you might as well read her a book.

If your kids are watching TV, stick to programs with a positive message. 81% of parents have seen their children imitate behavior they see on TV. This goes for both positive (sharing, helping) and negative (hitting, kicking) behavior. Try and avoid fast-paced shows that can over stimulate a child’s brain, since this over-stimulation can lead to attention-deficit problems in the long run. Instead, choose shows where characters treat each other with respect, solve problems and are slow paced.

Among all the articles I read, I enjoyed Farhad Manjoo’s take on screen time on Slate the best. As long as your baby is spending plenty of time playing with objects in the real world, reading books, interacting with people and playing outside, 30 minutes of educational programming isn’t going to have any negative long-term effects.

What’s the screen time policy at your house? What shows do your kids watch that don’t make you feel (too) guilty?

Recipe: Raw Brownies

Raw Brownie

Raw Brownie

After all those healthy salad recipes, I was ready for some dessert! These raw brownies fit the bill without being too unhealthy.

They are gluten-free and paleo, but not too sweet. My husband was not a big fan, but I think they are great! You might not want to tell your kids/spouse what is in them until after they’ve had a bite.

If you’re like me, and find your Costco bag of avocados all ripe at the exact same time, this is a great way to use them fast!

 

Raw Brownies Adapted from Oprah Magazine

Brownie Layer:

  • 2 C raw pecans
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • 1 lb medjool dates
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder

Frosting:

  • 3 avocados
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 1/2 C agave nectar

Line a 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper and spray with coconut oil. Process pecans, salt, and orange zest in food processor. Pit the dates and add to food processor, pulsing to combine. Add vanilla, and peeled and pitted avocado and process. Add cocoa powder and process. Scrape into prepared pan and press into an even layer.

Pit and peel avocados and add to food processor with the rest of the frosting ingredients. Process until smooth, scraping sides occasionally. Spread evenly on brownie layer. Freeze for a few hours.

After brownies are mostly frozen, remove from pan and cut into bite-sized pieces. Store in freezer until ready to serve, and serve cold.

Raising A Moral Child

The New York Times had a great article last week on Raising a Moral Child, written by Adam Grant. I think it’s worth sharing and talking about because it seems like it is becoming an increasingly difficult task. Why is it that the more information and resources we have, the harder it is to ensure that our children are thoughtful and hard working?

Before reading the article, I was under the impression that it’s more important to compliment the behavior of the child than the character of the child. Research is showing the opposite, however. So next time, instead of saying, “thank you for helping,” say, “thank you for being such a good helper” and you might find your kids repeating their kind actions more often.

Happy to Help!

Happy to Help!

Another important point the article brings up is that guilt is different than shame. Grant says, “Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person, whereas guilt is the feeling that I have done a bad thing.” Guilt is a feeling that can be changed by changing your behavior, but shame runs so deep you can’t get past it. None of us want our children to feel like they are bad people, so instead of expressing anger or withholding affection when they misbehave, it’s better to voice our disappointment and explain, “why the behavior was wrong, how it affected others, and how they can rectify the situation”.

Grant also points out that the old tenant, “do as I say, not as I do” is as ineffective as ever. Research proves this. He cites an experiment in which school kids earn tokens for winning a game and have the opportunity to donate some of the tokens to a child in poverty. The children most likely to give, and who gave the most even weeks later, were those that watched their teacher give tokens to a child in poverty without saying anything about it. You might think that the students who not only saw their teacher give, but heard her lecture about giving might be the most generous, but this wasn’t the case. Kids who only witnessed the generosity, and weren’t preached to about it, were more likely to be generous months later.

I thought Grant’s article was so interesting, I might have to pick up his book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success In the meantime, I’m going to make sure I praise Franci’s character and lead by example, instead of merely lecturing about good behavior.

What are you doing to make sure your kids grow up to be kind, thoughtful and helpful? What methods do you find to be most successful?

When to Start Daycare

Daycare

Daycare

I’ve always thought that eventually Frances would go to daycare for a few hours a week. It might be “wasted money”, since I work from home, but some days it seems like she’d have a lot more fun at daycare than sitting around the house listening to me say, “not now, sweetheart, I’m working”.

Daycare offers more than just a break for me. We’re still new enough to town that we haven’t met many people, so Franci doesn’t have a lot of play dates. We’re talking once every 8 weeks or so. I would like her to be exposed to other children a little more often, not to mention other people in general. She’s very wary of new people right now, and I can’t help but think that’s because she only sees the same half dozen faces regularly.

We do things a particular way in our house, and I imagine things operate quite differently at daycare. I figure it would be good for Franci to be exposed new things and new ways of doing things. It can’t hurt, right?

Right now I’m going through a big internal debate concerning the best time to start daycare. Our “first choice” has space opening up in June, and Frances will be 15 months old then. She would go for three hours a day, three days a week. If we don’t start then, we’d have to wait until February for the next enrolment opportunity, when Frances would be almost two.

Is it better to start early, or wait until she is a little older? I’ve read that kids under two aren’t developed enough to “play” together, but I don’t know if that is true. If we wait until she’s two, will it be harder her to be away from me for the first time? Or is the separation period difficult no matter when you start?