Toddler Music Classes at the Music Training Center

Declan and I had the opportunity to sit in on a music class at our local Music Training Center last week, and I was unbelievably impressed!  Music Training Centers offer two classes geared towards children ages four and under: First Notes and Bingo Kids.  We attended a Bingo Kids class, unsure of what we would experience, and I was amazed by how much was packed into that hour session!

MTClogo

Taught by two instructors, the Bingo Kids class is a high-energy introduction to music, musical instruments, singing, and activity, for children ages 0-3.  The instructors are wonderful with the children, encouraging participation, patient during periods of toddler mayhem, and fun performers as they play guitars and sing; this was Declan’s first experience with live music and he ate it up!

The class goes through a series of songs, each paired with an instrument, object, or physical activity to keep children engaged and participating.  Declan’s favorite instrument, by far, were the drums, and he now uses chopsticks to drum at home.  The overwhelming runner-up for Declan is singing; for the past week, he’s been singing tunes from class, and even making up his own songs (chickens, fire trucks, and bats seem to be standard topics).  The best part?  After having fun with play microphones in the Bingo Kids class, Declan found a turkey baster in the kitchen…which is now his microphone:

DeclanRockstar

Inspired by his Bingo Kids class at the Music Training Center!

The Music Training Center’s baby/toddler classes will be starting the fall session in two weeks, and will run for three months; it’s not too late to register!  With locations in Ardmore, Conshohocken, Malvern, Montgomeryville, and Marlten, there are plenty of options for Philadelphia area parents.  One of the [many] features I love about these beginning music classes is that you receive unlimited classes with your tuition.  While you sign up for a designated class day and time, you are welcome to attend any of the other classes (Bingo Kids & First Notes) held throughout the week with an advance reservation; this is a great way to further music education, meet other area parents, and a great activity for those inevitable rainy days.  Your child’s music education doesn’t end when you leave the class, as each family receives a CD with all of the songs covered in the classes!

The fall sessions begin September 15th, and will continue through November; late registrations will receive a pro-rated tuition.  Click HERE to register for the fall session.  The Music Training Center offers classes and lessons for children and adults of all ages.  For more information, you can visit their website at: musictrainingcenter.com, and connect with them via their Facebook pages: Music Training Center & First Notes.

We can’t wait to get started, and I can’t wait to give you an update in a month or so!  Does your child attend music classes?  What benefits do you see as a result of introducing your child to music?

I Never Knew Ramen Noodles Could Be Cool…

I recently had the opportunity to introduce my son to one of my favorite college food staples: Ramen Noodles.  I watched him marveling at the length of the noodles, giggling as he dangled ribbons of noodles over his mouth, waiting to catch them and slurp them up in one go, and I couldn’t help but join in his excitement.  It wasn’t long before I was sharing noodles with my son, trying to catch individual noodles in my mouth, each of us pulling random noodles from the bowl, trying to see who could get the longest and squiggliest on each attempt.  Oh, how we laughed!  In that moment, I couldn’t help but be struck by how many ordinary things have become extraordinary when viewed through my son’s eyes. ramennoodles [Read more...]

Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles) with Grape Tomatoes

I love being able to ‘reinvent’ dishes for my family to enjoy, typically substituting a different protein, using lemon juice instead of vinegar, and even using a different style of pasta…just to keep dishes interesting.  We eat a lot of vegetables here, even moreso since planting a garden last spring (green beans, wax beans, peas, and zucchini have done well for us), and our diet tends to reflect typical summer eating; lots of fresh, local vegetables, light meals, fewer heavy meat-based dishes.

I’ve seen a lot of vegetable noodle dishes, and tend to use spaghetti squash to fill that need, but our successful zucchini plants prompted me to get even more creative with our abundant crop.  After seeing a ton of people posting about delicious vegetable noodles this past year, I decided to jump on the spiralizer bandwagon and see what the ‘voodle’ craze was all about.

Kycen Spiralizer

Kycen Spiralizer

I reached-out to the kind folks at Kycen, who were kind enough to oblige me by sending me one of their spiral slicers.  I should disclose that I am not a fan of kitchen gadgets; our kitchen is small, our cupboard space limited, and my toddler has a proclivity for rummaging through our kitchen.  However, when I received our Kycen Spiralizer, I was pleasantly surprised to see how small it was; no involved equipment, taking up precious kitchen space, with multiple parts begging to get misplaced (thanks to my toddler).  The Kycen Spiralizer is a single piece, shaped like an hourglass and roughly the length of my hand; the blades are permanent, and it comes with a small cleaning brush.  Best of all?  Our Kycen Spiralizer fits easily into our kitchen drawer.

Easy to use, you simply place your vegetable into the Spiralizer and turn like you’re sharpening a pencil.  In minutes, you have beautiful vegetable noodles; a great substitute for pasta, or delicious in your stir-fry.  No more painstaking moments at the cutting board (I don’t have the best of knife skills), attempting to perfectly julienne beautiful, fresh vegetables.  You can purchase Kycen Spiralizers on Amazon HERE.

You can learn more about Kycen at kycencompany.com.  To connect via social media, visit Kycen on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Zoodles

Zucchini Noodles w/ Grape Tomatoes

 

ZUCCHINI NOODLES W/ GRAPE TOMATOES

2  medium zucchini, spiral cut

1 c. grape tomatoes, halved

1  clove of garlic, minced

1  shallot, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/8 t. sea salt

1/8 t. ground pepper

1/4 c. water

1/4 c. grated parmesan (optional)

Add olive oil to pan over medium heat, sauté garlic and shallots for two minutes.  Add zucchini and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.  Add 1/4c. water, salt, pepper, and grape tomatoes, simmering until liquid is reduced (5-7 minutes).  Top with parmesan and serve hot.

 

*I was sent a Kycen Spiral Slicer, at no cost to myself, in order to facilitate this post; all opinions expressed are my own.  This post contains an affiliate link.

10 Natural Product Substitutions for a Greener Home

Reducing your family’s carbon footprint doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” proposition.  We are fortunate enough to live in a time where simple natural product substitutions abound, making it easy for families to ease into practices that produce less waste, involve fewer chemicals, and enact small changes in their households that pave the way for the larger picture: reducing our impact on the environment.

You don’t have to forsake convenience, or throw away all cleaning products to make lifelong changes.  shopOrganic.com provides a wide arrange of natural and organic products, geared towards households with a mind for sustainability, reuse, and effective natural solutions.

I’m going to show you a few ways to make small changes in your home, without feeling as though you’re ‘roughing it’.  With simple product substitutions, you can create a household free of chemicals, producing less waste, and emphasis on sustainability and usability.

Green Home shopOrganic

[Read more...]

10 Signs My Baby’s NOT Sleeping Through the Night (so don’t ask)

I remember those early days with my son, those days and weeks when we were fueled only by euphoria, forsaking sleep and taking shifts watching our new baby around the clock, lest he stop breathing (he didn’t) or some major milestone occurred (it didn’t). Trips out of the house were opportunities for us to shake off newborn, new parent, cabin fever and show our little one off with pride (but don’t get too close and DON’T even think about touching my baby, Stranger). Inevitably, we were bombarded with questions, which we, proud to have created such a beautiful specimen, were all too happy to answer.

The most commonly asked question, one that stays with me to this day, was whether our baby was sleeping through the night. This question began when he was a mere two weeks old, and we politely smiled, shook our heads, and proceeded to tell those kind folks (strangers as well) about all of the other awesome things our newborn was doing (soiling 12-15 diapers a day, smiling at us (and NO, it was NOT just gas), eating non-stop during his wakeful hours, cooing with gusto, etc.). But by 8 months old, the “sleeping through the night” question, and all of the unsolicited advice that came along with it, had begun to wear me down, and all I could do was grimace, shake my head, and mumble how my son was constantly hungry and just wasn’t a good sleeper.

BabySleep

Because of our experience, with a baby who preferred to take in virtually every moment of a 24 hour day, and the abundance of unsolicited [bad] advice we received, I decided to create a helpful list of signs for those people dying to know if a baby is sleeping through the night. Here is a quick reference guide to share with those who have the urge to ask someone how their baby is sleeping:

  1. You see nonsensical Facebook status updates posted by me at 2:30 am.
  2. You drop by, unannounced, to lend an ear, hand, or both, and I answer the door, oblivious to the fact that my milk-caked, lanolin-smeared breast is exposed.
  3. At the sound of a baby crying, any baby, I automatically stop what I’m doing and turn and head in that direction.
  4. While on the phone with me, I share how my bad day has gotten worse, now that I’m unable to locate my…phone. (this actually did happen)
  5. I call you to “catch up”, only to find that we’ve just spoken that morning. (see #4)
  6. You wake in the morning to find that I’ve ‘liked’ every photo in your vacation album on Facebook…from 3 years ago.
  7. My shirt is on backwards and/or my buttons are mismatched.
  8. I have circles under my eyes and an overall frazzled appearance. (see #7)
  9. I’m in tears, and neither you nor I know why.
  10. Any conversation with me involves me using “Ferber” as every part of speech (Ferberized, Ferbering, doing Ferber).

What other signs am I missing?  Help me create a definitive list by leaving signs your baby’s not sleeping in the comments:

 

When a Book Inspires You [Into Action]

I am an avid reader, so it’s not uncommon for me to come across books that have me up late at night, and waking in the wee hours of the morning, devouring every word and gliding through the pages.  What’s more uncommon, however, is finding a book that’s so good that I pace myself, allowing only a chapter a day so that I can fully appreciate each word, thought, and experience conveyed; Ava Chin’s Eating Wildly is one of those books. [Read more...]

My Grey Hair: Testament to a Life [Well] Lived

I love my grey hair. I love the fact that I’ve let my hair take it’s natural course, without coloring over it’s silvery strands. I’ve earned every grey hair on my head, and wear life’s natural highlights with pride.

Image via morgueFile

Image via morgueFile

My greys are like scars, each a reminder of a good time, and some not so great times, in my life. Attending three universities, working full time, and a 5 ½ year long journey to earn my undergraduate degree, only to have the dotcom bust and be working for a minimal salary, wondering how I would make ends meet (and pay my student loans). Picking up the shambles of my life and moving thousands of miles away, taking a teaching job and having high school seniors give me a run for my money. Another move, back north thousands of miles, to attend graduate school and earn a Masters degree in a record year’s time.

All of these experiences in my twenties lead to the smattering of greys present on the crown of my head by my 30th birthday, sending me into a panic and straight to my hair stylist for highlights to mask that telling mark of aging. The next few years would be a bevy of change (good and bad), and trigger the burgeoning white crown, hidden under highlights and hair color.

[Read more...]

Breastfeeding: My Most Challenging AND Rewarding Feat

August is National Breastfeeding Month, the first week of which marking World Breastfeeding Week.  A few years ago, these events would have passed without significance, but after having my son, and experiencing a long and rewarding breastfeeding relationship, I feel compelled to encourage and support other breastfeeding mothers, and breastfeeding mothers-to-be. [Read more...]

Oil-free Flax & Walnut Zucchini Bread

OilFreeFlaxWalnutZuchinniBread

My garden is really starting to produce, which means I’m having to get creative with the zucchini my SIX plants are producing.  I tend to make zucchini bread each summer, so I’ve been using my abundant crop to perfect my recipe.  I don’t like overly greasy breads (carrot, banana, zucchini), so I try to cut the oil by substituting applesauce, and had a couple of bags of flax meal and flaxseed in my pantry that needed to be used.  If you’ve not yet gotten on the flaxseed bandwagon, here’s the perfect recipe to get you started!  Flaxseed is rich in antioxidants (moreso than blueberries or olives), and is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.  If you substitute whole wheat flour in this recipe (my husband can only take so much…), you have an amazing whole grain bread recipe! [Read more...]

I Feel Guilty…for Not Feeling Guilty

Gem_Tuesday_Button

If I had wanted to spend my days surrounded by small children, I would have majored in Early Childhood Education. Instead, I earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Literature, and spent my twenties and early thirties forging a sales career in both commercial and trade publishing. Enter marriage and a move; I found myself in another state, unemployed (we’d moved for my husband’s job), pregnant, and trying to envision how life as a stay-at-home mom would be, as I’d never before contemplated the possibility. IFeelGuilty [Read more...]