Monthly Archives: February 2011
“Mom what’s for dinner?”
“Ick. I don’t like vegetables. I don’t want to eat that.”
Sound familiar? Unfortunately most –if not all- parents have to deal with inevitable food fights. If we aren’t dealing with a picky eater, we just don’t have time to get a healthy meal on the table – take out anyone? If it’s not a time factor, we run out of ideas when we have made chicken for the 100th time in a row. What’s mom to do?
Enter Meal Makeover Moms! Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss are registered dietitians who are authors of two books, the genius moms behind MealMakeoverMoms.com, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen blog, Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, videos and e-newsletter, these Meal Makeover Moms are on a mission. They are two of the nation’s top experts on family nutrition and they are here to help busy families eat better.
We LOVE their site. It is so practical – recipes, tips for picky eaters, a 7-day meal planner you can download – and that is just for starters! We were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with Meal Makeover Moms. We know you will love getting to know them as well.
What inspired you to start Meal Makeover Moms? After the release of our first cookbook, The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers (Broadway Books, 2004), we decided to launch our website, MealMakeoverMoms.com and the Meal Makeover Moms brand. We knew families were in need of a healthy meal makeover, and as moms and dietitians, we knew we could help.
What has been the biggest surprise for you personally as you began your journey to be a “healthy meal mom”? The biggest and most rewarding surprise for both of us has been the positive response from moms and dads across the country and around the world. We hear from our followers and fans every single day with success stories, creative mealtime strategies, and heartwarming feedback on the resources we make available online and in bookstores.
What has been the greatest challenge? Thanks to the internet and social media, we understand that in order to stay front and center in the family nutrition arena, we need to “feed” our blog, podcast, and website regularly (okay, all the time). It’s exciting and creative, and as a result, we’ve developed countless new family-friendly recipes for our readers and listeners. But sometimes it’s downright exhausting!
What are the 3 most important steps a mom can take to start to makeover her family’s meals and eating habits? How about five? In our first cookbook, we outline a 5-Step Meal Makeover Plan for our readers. In a nutshell, here’s what we recommend:
- You have to start somewhere. Make one positive change to your family’s diet each week such as adding an extra serving of fruit each day or cutting out sugary juice drinks and soft drinks.
- Market good nutrition to kids. Tout carrots as yummy, not medicine, give foods fun names (i.e. Princess Peas), and present healthy foods in a playful and colorful way.
- Establish food rules. Make them specific, reasonable, and enforceable such as no soft drinks at dinner or no “dissing” moms’ home cooking.
- Streamline time in the kitchen. Maximize time-saving tools and tactics with sharp knives, a mini food processor, and kitchen shears.
- Eat together as a family. And turn off the TV during dinner.
In many ways, writing a book and website is like birthing a baby. There is the gestation period, the growing period, the birthing time when the book is published and then the nurturing time as your book “grows up.” What would you say is your favorite part of your books/website? The best part about writing No Whine with Dinner: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms (M3 Press, 2011) was the community involvement. To make sure our recipes were really “whine free,” we asked our blog readers, Facebook fans, and podcast listener to test — and have their kids taste — every one of the 150 recipes in the book. Their feedback is included at the bottom of each recipe. They also contributed their own tried-and-true secrets for getting picky eaters to eat a healthy diet which we include in the chapter, 50 Moms’ Secrets for Getting Picky Eaters to Try New Foods. Another rewarding part of the process is after the book is released, hearing from busy moms who tell us how delighted they are that their kids are enjoying our recipes. We never get tired of hearing that!
With all that you are juggling – moms, nutritionists, wives, writers, speakers, etc. etc.- how do you keep your sanity? It’s not easy! To keep us on track, we recently started setting short term and long-term goals for Meal Makeover Moms, and every Monday morning we meet over the phone to discuss our objectives for the week. We find that we get a lot more accomplished when we “divide and conquer.” Also, Janice recently started doing yoga and Liz makes it a point to take long walks as much as possible (it’s been tough this winter with our 70-plus inches of snow).
Now for a quick glance into Janice & Liz’s life.
What is the one thing you look forward to everyday?
Liz: Remember the old Folgers coffee jingle, “The best part of wakin’ up, is Folgers in your cup?” It reminds me of the best part of my day: my morning, homemade latte! After a few sips, I’m ready to tackle school lunches for my boys, making them a hearty breakfast, and then doing all the dishes!
Janice: I look forward to yoga, long (or short) walks, and working out. I’d like to say that this happens every day, but there are some days that are so jam-packed with an endless to-do list that exercise takes a back seat. I’m working on that …
If you had a “free day” with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it?
Liz: Weather permitting, I’d head to the beach (with lots of sunscreen in hand), take a long walk and then enjoy a leisurely lunch at a water-front restaurant that features local, sustainable cuisine.
Janice: I would meet up with friends and family for a day of hiking followed by cooking a fabulous meal together. Then, I’d curl up on the couch with a stack of food magazines and flip through them while watching the food network.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Liz: I love the Napa Valley. The weather is perfect – not too cold and not too hot – and I love being surrounded by farms, food, and fellow foodies.
Janice: If I were to live somewhere other than the Boston area (and after this winter that’s not such a bad idea!) I might choose Portland, Oregon. My sister lives there, and I love the area’s focus on the outdoors – hiking and biking — the farmers’ markets, and the laid-back lifestyle.
What is your favorite activity with kids?
Liz: We love to ski as a family. My husband, Tim, learned to ski growing up in Europe (lucky guy), and I taught my boys, Josh and Simon, how to ski when they were in elementary school. Now, they’re all better than I am, but we still enjoy skiing together.
Janice: My parents have a lake house in New Hampshire where my family has enjoyed endless fun over the years. A typical day on the lake includes hiking, swimming, kayaking, and cooking something on the grill (I love the local corn). In the evenings, we play cards or board games. It’s always nice to be “off the grid.”
What do you like most about cooking?
Liz: First and foremost, I must admit that I do NOT enjoy grocery shopping. But once I’m home with my ingredients, I love to cook. The best part for me is coming up with recipes my family will enjoy. The other night, I took a recipe for “creamy” cauliflower soup (from America’s Test Kitchen), made some healthy tweaks, and then served it to my family. They LOVED the soup, and I will definitely make it again. I really enjoy giving recipes my own Meal Makeover Mom spin.
Janice: I love working without a recipe and creating a meal based on what’s in my fridge. Sometimes it’s a real challenge, but I love throwing things together and coming up with something that my family will eat happily. I’m a big entertainer, so you’ll often find me in the kitchen on weekends whipping up crowd-pleasing recipes!
What is your favorite recipe?
Liz: I don’t have a favorite recipe. It really depends on the time of year and my mood. Right now, I’m on a slow cooker jag and have been making the Mile-High Spinach Lasagna from No Whine with Dinner. My family enjoys it, and it’s so easy to make.
Janice: My favorite recipe at the moment is the Cowboy Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Corn from No Whine with Dinner. Both of my daughters, Carolyn and Leah, as well as my husband, Don, love it. With cornbread and a salad on the side, it’s comfort food at its best!
Some of Kolcraft’s favorite recipes from the Meal Makeover Moms:
What is your favorite recipe from Meal Makeover Moms? We promise you will love this site as much as we did.
You may have heard Wally Wonderbug talk about his friend, Wilbur Wonderworm. We wanted to share our easy Wilbur Wonderworm craft with you. It’s a perfect time of year to do this as we await Spring and all the new life & crawling creatures it brings with it!
What you will need:
- Egg carton
- Yellow non-toxic paint
- Black marker
- Googly eyes
- Non-toxic glue
- Pipe cleaner
How to make Wilbur Wonderworm:
- Cut the egg carton into 4 single row egg cups (you can make it longer if you wish).
- Paint the egg carton yellow.
- Write numbers, alphabet letters or your child’s name on the side of Wilbur.
- Glue googly eyes on the front egg cup & draw a smile on it.
- Bend pipe cleaner into antenna and glue to front egg cup.
You can read the adventures of Wilbur Wonderworm in the Wonderbug storybook located under the Fun Bug tab on the Wonderbug website.
Why are bassinet pads thin? Isn’t that uncomfortable for baby?
We have often been asked this question by inquiring moms and dads. Some parents have been worried that the bassinet pad isn’t comfortable for baby so they improvise by doubling up on pads or by buying a pad that is thicker. This is not the best option for secure sleeping for baby.
Pad thickness is dictated by safety standards that are soon to become federal law. The thickness of the pad is limited to prevent suffocation hazards with young babies who are most susceptible to suffocation and SIDS. Using a thicker pad, pillow or other thick soft material greatly increases the risk of the baby dying from suffocation or SIDS. For these reasons the pad in a bassinet is the size that it is.
We recommend that you always use the pad that comes with your bassinet which has passed testing and safety standards.
It’s your child’s special day and you want to make this birthday a day to remember without breaking the bank. We gathered a few of our favorite websites to help you make your child’s birthday truly memorable.
- The Digerati Life gives concrete ways to keep your expectations in check and plan a budget-friendly birthday party.
- Parenting.com has 30 themed birthday cakes with easy to follow instructions. This site will help you make an award-winning cake that is sure to make your child smile.
- Amazing Moms has an extensive A-Z list of themed birthday parties that can fit any budget. You will love all the creative ideas from fossil hunting at a dinosaur themed party to walking over puzzle bridges in a Dora the Explorer themed party.
- Thrifty Fun goes back to the basics with some old-fashion fun children’s birthday party ideas that are creative and engaging.
- Disney has some unique ideas for decorating, cupcake baking and releasing kids’ creativity with free printables!
You can plan a fun and budget-friendly party that is sure to bring smiles to your child! What ideas do you have for budget-friendly kid birthday parties?
Moms today are on the move. We are juggling schedules, work & home life, school – you name it, we are juggling it. Thankfully technology can give us an extra hand every once in awhile. Recently Maternity & Style put together a list of mom-friendly apps that can help us with everything from sleep & potty training to fitness & calendar keeping. We wanted to share this mom-friendly list of apps with you.
Hopefully with the touch of a screen, you may get some mom relief in your busy day.
The joys of pregnancy and motherhood; the pitter-patter of little feet, the spontaneous “I love you Mommy”, the hugs, the new-baby scent and the pain of breastfeeding, the sleepless nights and trips to the ER.
In her blog Exploits of a Military Mama, Sally gives her readers an honest and fun view of Motherhood. We had to catch up with her and get to know her more.
You have been on the fast track graduating in three years, getting married, having a beautiful baby boy, being a “single” military mom while your husband was deployed and now pregnancy number 2. How do you manage to “keep up” with all the whirlwind of life changes?
Who says I’m keeping up? HA! Some days I feel like I’ve been left in last month, but I suppose that’s part of the fun. I write everything down. No, really. EVERYTHING. All you have to do is read my blog a time or two to learn that sometimes a trip to Target is truly worth notifying the entire blogger world because duh, it could totally change your life. But I don’t just write down seemingly trivial events. My pen extends to a million “to-do” lists, phone numbers and emails on napkins, and Post-It notes all over my desk. Otherwise? I’d probably end up sitting around watching The Real Housewives of Whatever while Sully destroyed my living room. My writing keeps me focused. Most of all, I’ve learned to love my chaos. Because life with an infant, another on the way, and a husband that spends extended vacations in deserts means there is more chaos in my life than most. This is the life I’ve chosen, and I couldn’t have it any other way.
You are going to be a mommy again! What has been the best part of your pregnancy & what part do you hope ends in a New York minute?
This is a hard question because I’m one of those weird, alien-like women that ADORES being pregnant. Like, I could go all “Duggar” on my husband and have fifty more kids, but I don’t think he’d agree. But honestly, my favorite part is the kindness people show pregnant women. People open doors, they smile at you, and you always have help carrying heavy things. I love feeling the baby move, too. Nothing is more amazing. Once the baby arrives, all that is over and the world revolves around your tiny, little addition. I cannot wait for the morning sickness to end. With Sully, it was over at ten weeks on the dot. With Baby Dos, I’m still sick at thirteen weeks. Eck.
How have you been preparing your son for a new sibling?
Well, this is embarrassing. We haven’t done much of anything yet. We occasionally ask him things like, “Sully, are you ready to be a big brother?!” and he responds by blowing a raspberry full of banana at us. But once we get a little bit closer, we plan on buying a baby doll for him so he can learn to be sweet to a newborn (my husband may or may not realize “our” plan yet). He’s also moving to a “big boy” room, so we’ll talk about how he’s the big brother now and what that means. He’s only fourteen months, so concepts like “sharing” aren’t quite in his vocabulary. I’m sure we’ll have our hands full with two under two!
Do you have any dreams for your new baby that you can share with us?
I think my dreams are like any other mother-to-be. I hope that our child is always picked first for the kickball team and never experiences a shortage of cheese (I am SO craving cheese this time). I’m kidding, of course. No, I dream that our child will always be kind, always try to do what’s right. Always put God first. I dream that he or she will strive to find peace in life.
There’s a song by William Hoge called “Baby Girl.” In it he sings, “And I hope that deep inside of you, there’s a sweet, eternal song. And I hope the words are pretty, and that you’ll always sing along.” Those words can make me cry every time because I dream of a life like that for our children.
Have you had an “Ah-ha” mom moment that you can share with us?
There was one day, pretty soon after Taylor deployed, where I just kind of…lost it. I think Sully was about six-weeks-old, and he had terrible reflux. I’d been at the house all day with a poor, screaming baby, and I couldn’t stop crying. I kept feeling so sorry for myself; my husband was deployed, my child was screaming, my stomach looked like a deflated balloon, I was having a bad hair day, and on and on. Finally, I looked down at my child and just “DING.” I realized, “This doesn’t last forever.” I was crying away over nothing. Taylor would be back. Sully would stop crying. The stomach would eventually look more flat and less sag, and things would get back to normal. I sucked it up, poured a glass of wine, took some deep breaths, and moved on with the day.
I realized then, yes, sometimes life is really, really hard. But it gets better. So drink some wine, take a minute for yourself, and get over it.
What is your advice to other single moms who are single due to deployment or other life circumstances?
Find your support. There is nothing more important that a support system. I lived at home with my parents during my husband’s deployment, and it was a life saver for me. But I probably won’t get that opportunity next time. Instead, I’ll be sure to keep in touch with family and friends as best as possible. Check out blogs and online boards. A few years ago, people would have thought you were weird for having “online friends.” Now? It’s the norm. And it may just save your sanity. Never be too prideful to ask for help. Get to know your neighbors; you never know when you might need them for a little help or even just a cup of coffee. No one can parent completely alone, so don’t feel bad when you have to lean on others. And enjoy your child. It can be hard when you’re caught up in all the diapers and bottles and projectile vomit, but they really are only young once. Don’t wish it away.
Now for a quick glance into Sally’s life. :)
What is always in your fridge? DIET COKE. I am obsessed. It’s bad. And hummus. I adore hummus. And cheese. Oooh, and Pinot Grigio, you know, when I’m not pregnant.
What is your guilty pleasure? When I’m not pregnant, it’s running a really hot bath, pouring a glass of wine, and reading super trashy magazines. When I am pregnant, it’s that second serving of ice cream…like I just had.
If you had a “free day” with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it? Wait…free days exist? Tell me more! I’d do a day out with the husband in Charleston, SC. We’d get breakfast at a small café, walk Rainbow Row, sit out on the beach, have a date night involving a bottle of champagne, and then staying in a way-too-expensive hotel because they always have the best sheets.
What is your must-have pregnancy product? Pillows. Lots and lots of pillows. I cannot sleep without at least four. Yoga pants (I live in them). A great pair of flats; I’m currently obsessing over my Frye moccasins. And Preggie Pops. They really do help with the morning sickness.
If someone were going to write a book of your life, what would they title the book? Exploits of a Military Mama: or Raging Against the Breast Pump and other Motherly Torture.
At our Love Bug Twitter Party this week, Wally Wonderbug shared with us different ideas of how to turn everyday moments into opportunities to show your child a little extra love. We wanted to share a few of those ideas plus some that Wally didn’t get to share at the Twitter Party.
- Cuddle up under a blanket and watch what he or she wants to watch on TV.
- Give a chocolate kiss along with a real one.
- Exchange butterfly kisses or nose-to-nose Eskimo kisses.
- Make your child into a burrito.
- Read books about family love, like I Love You, Good Night, Guess How Much I Love You or If You Were My Bunny.
- Send an encouraging note with your child’s lunch.
- Talk in the car on the way to school instead of listening to the radio.
- Take a long walk together, at your child’s pace.
- Use magnetic letters to put loving messages on the fridge.
- Send your child a card in the mail, with stickers or a treat inside.
What everyday ways do you show your child that you love him/her?
Last Tuesday we had a Love Bug Twitter Party with Wally Wonderbug. He had so much fun, that he asked to write today’s blog post. He’s such a cute little bug that we couldn’t say no.
I asked Kolcraft to write today’s blog post because I wanted to share with you my new website. I love it because it is a place of wonder and adventure for the whole family!
On my Wonderbug website, you will get to see a really fun demo of my new Wonderbug baby activity center (be sure to have your volume turned up!). Under the Fun Bug tab, you will see a storybook that tells you all about me, my friend Wanda Wonderbug and Wilbur Wonderworm. I will be sharing new adventures so keep checking back for new chapters as we build our magical storybook. There is also a dress up game that your kids can play. As you get to know me, you will see that I LOVE adventures so please dress me and Wanda up for an adventure!
Check out the Travel Bug tab to download coloring pages of me and Wanda. Submit your child’s coloring page to our Cute As A Bug Section and automatically be entered to win prizes! Also in our Travel Bug section there are tips for traveling with children so your kids can stay safe as you go on your family adventures.
In our Cute As A Bug tab you can share photos of your little love bug in my Wonderbug activity center, or photos of your children with my coloring pages and every month we will pull a winner for great prizes! We are still creating this online photo album, but it will be ready on March 1st! YAY!
When you visit the My Wonderbug page, you will get the latest news on events, contests and parties. I LOVE parties.
I’m so excited to get to know you more and have fun with your family. Please join me on fun Wonderbug adventures!
Lifetime has a new series, One Born Every Minute, that chronicles several couples’ journey though labor and delivery. Each episode takes on a different theme such as pain management during labor, complications at labor, etc. Since we are all about babies here at Kolcraft, we decided to check it out.
We felt that it was a more realistic portrayal than most and showed a variety of experiences because no two labor/delivery experiences are the same. Our favorite part is the smiles of the parents as they see and hold their child for the first time. For those who don’t want to have memories triggered about painful or difficult labor experiences, you may want to pass on this show. For those who are preparing for their first labor/delivery, the show may give you a more realistic experience of what to expect, but keep in mind your experience will be uniquely yours.
The One Born Every Minute site has some interesting basic info on labor & delivery. We think it is worth checking out the site because you can enter to win $200 weekly prizes and a grand prize of $4,000 for a nursery!
Tell us what you think about the show by leaving a comment.
Just a little reminder that today is our Wally Wonderbug Twitter party! Since Wally Wonderbug is all about being a love bug, he will be talking about every day ways you can show love to your children. And because he loves our Kolcraft fans, he will be giving away Wonderbug Activity Centers for your baby.
Party is TODAY, February 15th from 11am – 12pm CST. All you have to do is follow Kolcraft on Twitter and use the hashtag #LoveBug to follow along. You can also leave a comment in the section below that you are attending the party and that will automatically give you an extra entry for prizes.
See you there!