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My Daughter with her New Glow-in-the-Dark Necklace

Glow-in-the-dark Necklace

made from the $.25 Machine

inspired by a project in the magazine Family Fun

Tools:

  • an awl or nail to piece a hole
  • 2 feet of kite string or some other type of yarn
  • at least 4 glow-in-the-dark beads, to make it glow-in-the-dark, but any kind of bead or button will do.  We used perler beads
  • $.25 machine plastic container

Directions:

  1. Take purchase a little toy for $.25 at the grocery store, but make sure it comes in one of those little plastic containers.
  2. Remove the toy.
  3. Using an awl or some other sharp tool like a nail, pierce a whole through the top of the container.
  4. Cut a piece of string about 2 feet long.  You can always trim it when you’re done.
  5. Thread a bead or a button into the middle of the string.  Knot the string several times just above the bead.
  6. Put one end of the string next to the otherand thread it through the underside of the hole.  This way, the bead will keep the string in place.

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    Strung Bottom Bead

  7. Place charms or other beads along each side of the string.
  8. When you’re ready, tie the two ends of the string together in a knot.
  9. Fill the container with whatever excites your child, i.e. glow-in-the-dark beads, bugs, snack, etc.  We filled our with glow-in-the-dark beads, so that the necklace will glow-in-the-dark!
  10. Place the necklace around your child’s neck.
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Our Glow-in-the-Dark Necklace

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Fridgigears

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Playing with Newly Acquired Fridgigear!

It was one of the first beautiful, warm, and sunny days outside, so why I ventured to the basement to find this newly acquired toy from a swap, I have NO idea!!  We still did make it outside to play.  I guess I was super excited about this toy myself.  (A good sign in my opinion).

Nevertheless, this fridgigear toy is made up of magnetic gears that double as a puzzle.  It also comes with one gear that’s a motor to operate the gears.  It was a good hour of GLUTEN-FREE entertainment!  Not only did we experiment with the gears, but the next level of fun was rearranging the puzzle pieces to form newly colored gears.

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Rearranging the Puzzle Pieces to form New Gears

After much searching, I have been unable to find the puzzle gears.  I have found fridgigears that glow in the dark and double as a picture frame, but no puzzle pieces.  I still highly recommend this toy as great entertainment in the kitchen while you’re cooking!

I just bought some extra sets for presents.  I found an AMAZING deal at www.scientificsonline.com for $19, and you can get another 12% off if you use the code TY2.  It’s also free shipping if you choose the slower route.

Let me know if you’ve come across other types of refrigerator fun that you love!

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Klehr Dough and Supplies

It was another cold and blustery day here in Philly.  Terribly bone chilling, that I just couldn’t force myself to take my daughter outside.  We called over a friend, and I decided to make some gluten-free play dough.  Well, of course, I was somehow out of rice flour, but found Pamela’s gf flour blend that was past its prime, and decided to try it out.  (Normally I would never use an expensive gf flour blend, but this seemed totally worth not wasting!)  The best part was that my daughter asked if she could eat it, and I made food-grade play dough, so yes, it’s totally edible!

*BIRTHDAY IDEA*:  We made this as give-aways for my daughter’s 3rd birthday.  We bought little containers at the dollar store, and each child got to add colored glitter of choice to his/her container.

When playing with our play dough, we bring out all sorts of utensils from both her kitchen and mine, along with cookie cutters, and b-day candles.  It really adds to the fun!  Tell me what you like to use with your play dough.

Gluten-Free Play Dough Recipe

The Recipe is adapted from Kids with Food Allergies Foundation

Serving Size: 1 batch = will fill a 16 oz container. A double batch will fill a 32 oz yogurt container.

Ingredients:

zqb-30891b_1z

India Tree All-Natural Food Dye

– 1+1/4 cup of rice flour or gf flour blend (I have done both and come out great!)
– 1/2 cup of salt (I used Himalayan salt, and it turned the dough a light pink)
– 2 tsp cream of tartar
– 1 cup water
– 1 tbsp oil
– 1/4 tsp gf vanilla (I use frontier vanilla flavor, so there’s no alcohol involved)
– glitter or sparkles (optional)
– food coloring (optional) – I like to use all natural (GF) food coloring from India Tree

Supplies:

– large pot
– mixing spoon or spatula
– measuring cups and spoons
– airtight container to put play dough in
– cookie cutters (optional)
– b-day candles (optional)

Directions:

1. Mix dry ingredients in large pot first: flour, salt, cream of tartar
2. Add water and oil and mix
3. Heat over the stove top at a medium heat.
4. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes, until mixture pulls away from sides.
5. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly.*
6. When cool, place in air tight container. (We like to reuse old yogurt containers.)

*Options:
1. You can add food coloring to the water before you stir it in.  You can always add it after you’ve made the dough, but it will stain your hands.
2. You can add sparkles or glitter to the batch once its made.

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And, NO, I was thankfully not in the car.

Sorry for my delay in getting posts up, but I have been side tracked by a hit and run side swipe in the Whole Foods parking lot!!

I found my car with someone else’s paint all over the back driver’s side after finishing my shopping. And just to think that I was wondering how I was going to kill an hour before picking up my daughter and her friend 🙂 !

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First, I took pictures of the car and ground where paint lay everywhere. Then, I ran back into whole foods to see if I could look at their video camera, only to learn that because their parking lot is leased, only an insurance company can have access to it. Grrr!

Just as I was leaving I ran into a lovely police officer who advised me to file a police report.

So, I head around the corner to (luckily) the police precinct, only to learn:

1. You have to have your insurance card and registration on hand, (so I had to go back to the car to fetch it!)
2. My deductible might be higher than the estimate, in which case it doesn’t behoove me to file it, and therefore I will never have Whole Foods video footage.
3. The only way to find out what is best for me to do is to go get an estimate before filing.

But honestly, I just want to watch the videos and catch the jerk who didn’t even bother to leave a message, other than half the paint off his/her car.

I guess I must have needed some adventure today. Lol!! Alas. . .

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My Daughter Posing with her Gluten-Free Jewel Pop

This is a quick and easy gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan snack.

Lemonade Popsicles

Ingredients:

– Fruit juice of any kind – we used lemonade aid, (but you can also reconstitute the frozen kind,too)

80-3879_Jewel Pop Molds-Main

Tovolo Jewel Pop Molds

Supplies:

– Popsicle molds or Dixie cups and Popsicle sticks
(We love our Tovolo Freezer Jewel Pop Molds, Set of 6, because they’re a perfect size and fit right on your finger!)

Directions:

1. Pour lemonade aid or fruit juice into molds*.
2. Put in freezer. The amount if time will depend on how large your Popsicles are.

*NOTE: If using Dixie cups and Popsicle sticks, you might want to place a piece of aluminum foil over the cup, make a small hole in the center for the stick, and put the stick through the hole. That way, the stick will not fall over.

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Our Little Family

Our Little Family

Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long.  In a nut shell, here’s what’s happened since Thanksgiving.  I was in Atlanta visiting family, started to feel achy, but didn’t run a fever so I thought it was all in my head.  I took a tylenol and it seemed to remove the ache to enjoy the rest of my stay.

I get back to Philadelphia and 2 days later I head to the Berkshires with my mom.  I had developed this nasty, deep, rattling cough.  I noticed that my pulse was racing and was twice as high as the normal rate.  I tried to go on some hikes, but found myself so void of energy.  I decided to listen to my body and head back in by the fire.

me & mom in berkshires dec. 2012

My mom & Me in Berkshires

Meanwhile . . . you have to watch this movie trailer I made to understand some complications to these problems:

Click on Link or Picture Below:

preview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaJIdI-aesc

Several days later I make it back to Philly where I find myself unable to get off the couch . . .  I probably ended up with the flu, which I think I never believed was actually real.  I just thought when people said they had the flu, they had a fever and chills.  I NEVER manifested a fever, but found myself sobbing on the couch.  I couldn’t lift my head.  I spent the next 2 weeks laying there with no TV and no books and I wasn’t even bored.  It did present a minor childcare problem though . . .

So, during these 2 weeks I find that I probably don’t have the flu, but bronchitis or pneumonia.  However, due to complications you’ll note in the video, I was unable to get an x-ray.  I also had cracked a rib or pulled a muscle at this point from coughing up what I call “Green Goblins”.  I was in so much pain I found myself sobbing on the floor.  I finally went on a Z-Pak and tylenol with codine.  Can you imagine that I’d never been on a painkiller before, so I decided to only take half?  Within 2 days I was able to stand for about 10 minutes at a time.

I finish the Z-Pak in time to fly to Atlanta on Christmas Day.  I’m functioning for all of a day and a half before I hit the couch again for another week with the stomach virus that all of us got – my husband, daughter, and parents.  It was almost funny . . .

My stomach has been a mess ever since the antibiotics and the stomach virus.  No matter how many probiotics I can get down, there seem to be some added complications, (so make sure you watch the movie trailer)!

All of this was probably a much needed way of my body to telling me to slow down.  I’m working hard to listen and so that’s just what I’ve been doing.

Needless to say, at the end of all of this, I’m resurfacing and apologize for not keeping up with my blog.  I promise to try to do a better job!

Hope you’re staying well this winter season!

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nose mouth

Today I had to good fortune of hearing a talk about breathing by Mark Gerow, a NY City Actor, a yoga instructor, founder of Lunarhythms, and survival instructor in the U.S. Air Force.  I was not sure if this lecture was going to be for me, but I heard he was a great speaker.  And indeed he was; he was able to connect breathing to the greater health of our bodies, and I was sold.

Good Posture

Good Posture

I walked in, sat down in the front row, and there he was, body relaxed, sitting up straight in his chair, feet flat on the floor, six-pack illuminated, but not one muscle in his body was flexed.   He began talking about how and where we carry stress – it’s in our mind and it’s shown in our crunched shoulders, shorter breath, etc.  He went on to ask us if we listen to everything our mind says.  Of course some people said yes.  Mark retorted that we’d all be crazy people if we listened to our mind all the time!!  He pointed out how we’ve all been walking around complaining about food, people, traffic, and that we had not left any bagged behind, but have carried it with us.

Of course I think he’s right, not only do I need to let go, I would also be a crazy person if opened my mouth to say and do everything in my head!  I’ve even been working on training my daughter not to say everything she thinks out-loud, because some of it isn’t very nice!!  (Like the time I was telling our neighbor who was moving away how much I’d miss him, and then my daughter says, “Well, I’m NOT!”  Umm, I think that’s exactly what Mark was referring to.)

Other times, my brain gets caught up in irrational spirals of anxiety: I haven’t heard from my husband in 8 hours.  He hasn’t answered his phone, he hasn’t returned my calls, he hasn’t responded to my texts or email, and now I’m tempted to call his secretary.  The realm of possibilities of what could have happened to him overwhelms me.  I settle on the most ridiculous thought of them all . . . he was plucked off the streets of Philly, thrown into the back of the trunk of the car, while his phone gets run over by the car’s wheels, explaining why it went to immediate voicemail.  I know, ridiculous.  That’s why my husband calls me the optimistic fatalist.

I notice that we rarely let go of our stress, and if we’re holding onto it, we are not living in the moment.  We cannot fully enjoy where we are.  Mark explained this using what I call a classic “Seinfeld Example” (which I have embellished a bit):

Classic Seinfeld

Here you are, in a rush for whatever the reason, you’re running late, you have to dash through the grocery store.  You make it to the checkout line, and it’s as long as the lines at Disney World.  You wait for a few minutes, noticing another line next to you moving faster.  You’re breathing faster, your pulse is pumping, your shoulders tense up, and you make the decision to jump ship to the other line.  Oh, but wait!  Now your old line is moving and your new line has not budged.  Your blood starts to boil, you’re almost panting, the devil has begun to possess you, getting yourself into a rage . . . and just then . . . the person in front of you pulls out the coupons, then the checkbook, then there’s an item that needs pricing . . . All this building of of stress just tipped your scales right over to the point you accidentally give the person the finger.

Angry Shopper

Angry Shopper

If only there was something you could do!!

Marks answer is, “There is . . . Focus on your Breath.”

Mark gives helpful tips and research about why and how breathing removes these thoughts, and helps us to remain calmer.

Here are a few key points:

  1. Breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which regulates the functions of our internal organs such as the heart, stomach, intestines, endocrine system, etc. Most of ANS is involuntary and reflexive, meaning we can’t control those systems by thought.  For example, we can’t change the rate of our heart voluntarily or how many endorphins are released.

    autonomic-nervous-system

    autonomic-nervous-system

ANS is known to:

a. in emergency situations, cause stress to require us to flight or flight
b.  in non-emergencies it allows us to “rest” and “digest”

However, breath is one of the few things we can control.  Since breathing (respiratory) is part of ANS that controls the heart, stomach, and intestines to list a few, our breathing can also impact the health of these and other related systems.

2. Breathing in RAISES blood pressure and breathing out LOWERS blood pressure.  Solution: SLOW DOWN your
exhalation.

3. Removing Toxins – there are a few ways that our bodies remove toxins:

a. urine
b. sweat
c. exhalation

According to Mark, breathing removes 70% of our body’s toxins, so if we aren’t breathing well or taking deep breaths, we are causing a toxic backup, making our other organs work harder to remove them.

Pranayama, or disciplined breathing, can reduce stress and improves immune function, and might reduce the incidence and progression of cancer (1) as well as treat depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (2), and more data suggests that it can improve cognitive brain function in those with diabetes (3), and shows a tendency to improve the autonomic nervous system by slowing heart rate and reducing blood pressure (4).  CONCLUSION: Slow, deep breaths can remove toxins and thereby increase your immunity! (5)

Here are a few breathing activities to help maintain an even level of energy, reduce stress, and/or help clear your mind:

The most effective way to breath is in and out through your nose.  (If you are exersizing, you are exempt from this!)

Mechanics of Breathing

Mechanics of Breathing

1. Diaphramic Abdominal Breathing – It sounds more complicated than it is.  All you do is take a deep breath (preferably from the nose) and breath deeply so that your belly expands.  The best way to do this is lying down, place your hand on your belly, and you breath in, you will feel it rise, or you can sit up-right in a chair, with your feet on the floor, and place your hand on your belly.  The goal is to take nice, slow breaths.  Focus on the breath.

2. 3-Part Breath – Take a belly breath from your nose, then fill up your rib cage, and then your chest.  When you get to your chest,  you should have little room for more air.  Then, slowly exhale the opposite way you breathed in – chest, rib cage, then belly.

3. 2/3 Breath – Again, through your nose, belly breath 2/3rds of the way in.  Hold it for as long as you can, and then slowly release it.

4. Slow Release Breath – The most cleansing breath and the breath that calms you the most is the one where there is a slow exhale.  You can do this several different ways:

a. When breathing out through your nose, with your mouth closed, say “ah” the whole time you are exhaling.  Your breath will have the sound of the ocean, and it will help to slow it down. (This one is my personal favorite!)

b. You can breath out of your mouth by making your mouth into a small, oval shape, which again will slow your exhale.

c. You can breath out of your mouth giving a big long sigh.

So, in conclusion to my amazing class on breathing, I am trying to focus on my breathing whether I’m in bed, panicked in the grocery store line, exhibiting road-rage, or just writing my blog.  It is already helping me to change my energy and help my immune system along the way!

Mom & Me Taking Deep Breaths!

Mom & Me Taking Deep Breaths!

Works Cited and for more reading:

(1) KOCHUPILLAI, V., KUMAR, P., SINGH, D., AGGARWAL, D., BHARDWAJ, N., BHUTANI, M. and DAS, S. N. (2005), Effect of Rhythmic Breathing (Sudarshan Kriya and Pranayam) on Immune Functions and Tobacco Addiction. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1056: 242–252. doi: 10.1196/annals.1352.039

(2) Brown, R. P. and Gerbarg, P. L. (2009), Yoga Breathing, Meditation, and Longevity. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1172: 54–62. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04394.x

(3) Kyizom T, Singh S, Singh KP, Tandon OP, Kumar R (2010), Effect of pranayama & yoga-asana on cognitive brain functions in type 2 diabetes-P3 event related evoked potential (ERP). The Indian Journal of Medical Research [2010, 131:636-640]

(4) Pramanik T, Sharma HO, Mishra S, Mishra A, Prajapati R, Singh S. (2009), Immediate effect of slow pace bhastrika pranayama on blood pressure and heart rate.  J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Mar;15(3):293-5.

(5) Hu Li Za Zhi. (2005), The Application of Qi-Gong Therapy to Health Care, 2005 Jun;52(3):65-70.

Autonomic System: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/auto.html

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