Tuesday's Tip- Building a cleaning bucket for your kids

Ok moms, you are gonna love today's Tuesday's tip.  I guarantee it.  A few months ago, shortly after Sydney turned 6, I decided it was time to teach them how to clean a bathroom.  To be honest, I did it out of sheer exhaustion.  I figured if we lived on a farm (that's my secret dream), they would've been working by now.  So instead of collecting eggs from chickens (sigh!), they get to learn how to clean a bathroom.  When I told them what we were going to do that day, you would have thought I had just announced we were going to Disneyland.  They were that excited.




I divided the girls up.  Sydney basically begged to clean the toilet.  Um, ok sure.  Have at it.  Brooklyn wanted the sink.  They actually did a really good job on their bathroom.  They had so much fun.   Who knew?  Wish I would've started it earlier.

So here is my tip to get your kids to enjoy cleaning.  Give them their own cleaning buckets or pails.  Here's what you need:

1 bucket or pail
1 "magic wand"
1 sponge or rag
1 water bottle filled with water
an apron (optional)

You may have all the supplies you need already in your home.  If not, you can create a bucket for around $5-$20 depending on how elaborate you want to get.  Here's my cost breakdown.



Pail: $1 at Target.
"Magic wands": $2.99 at Target.
Rags: I already had them.  Two pack from Trader Joes.
Water bottle: $1 at Ikea
Aprons (not pictured): Already had them
My total cost: $4 per bucket

Here's another tip.  Fill the water bottle with plain old water.  That way they can clean almost about anything and if they decide to have an impromptu water fight, it's not a big deal.

For the magic wand, I use half vinegar and half liquid soap. I love it.  It works fantastically and it's non toxic for the kids.

A bit of caution.  If you are a control freak like me, let me give you one piece of advice, Let it go!  Chances are they will end up making more of a mess for you to clean up, but you know what,  it's all worth it to see them learn and grow.  They are not perfect.  Far from it, but as I watched them  clean my bathroom tonight, I got a small glimpse of the beautiful mothers they will make one day. My other piece of advice is stay close by.  I was downstairs when they got started and by the time I got to my bathroom, here is what I saw.

video
 
So I had to give them a few rules, like don't climb up on a slippery counter.  Yikes.  Do you have any great ways you get your children to help around the house?  I'd love to hear about them.

Switcheroo Sunday-Peanut Butter

Today's Switcheroo Sunday came in the form of a question from my friend Tina, shout out to her.  She asked me a few weeks ago what brand of peanut butter I buy.  My text back to her was, I don't buy peanut butter.  I buy almond butter and cashew butter instead.  Let me tell you why.

You might be surprised to find out that peanuts are not actually nuts, they're legumes.  Did you know that?  Kind of strange right.  I mean why would they call it a nut if it's not?  Here is why I don't think peanuts are good for you.  They can be quite toxic and cause inflammation.

Here's a great explanation I found from Whole9Life blog.  "When peanuts grow, they can harbor carcinogenic mold called an “aflatoxin“. This goes for conventional and organic peanuts. The longer they sit (during shipping, for example), especially in warm temperatures and high humidity, the more mold grows. And as it’s nearly impossible to buy peanuts “local”, as they are only grown in a few Southern locations, more likely than not, even your organic peanuts, are suspect.  The far bigger concern, however, is that peanuts contain lectins which are believed to have inflammatory and atherogenic potential. Most plants contain lectins, some of which are toxic, inflammatory, or both. Many of these lectins are resistant to cooking and to digestive enzymes, and some have been scientifically shown to have significant GI toxicity in humans. Lectins from grains (especially wheat) and legumes (including peanuts and soybeans) are most commonly associated with aggravation of inflammatory and digestive diseases in the body. (As an aside, dairy from cows fed grain-based diets can also contain these grain-derived lectins.)

So instead of this......


Switch to one of these......

There are actually quite a few alternative nut butters.  In our home we use almond butter, for the girls and Brian and cashew butter for me.  If you live near a Costco, you are in luck.  You can buy a big jar, 26oz, of Maranatha Almond Butter for around $7.  That's a great deal.
 
 
I love cashew butter.  My favorite way to buy it is at Whole Foods fresh from the grinder.  Just cashews.  No oils added.  Unfortunately, they don't always have cashews for fresh cashew butter.  So I buy the Whole Foods brand.  Although I've decided I'm going to use my Vitamix to start making my own from scratch.  It just makes sense.  We always have cashews on hand at the house and it would be so easy to make and so much cheaper.
 
 
Another great option is Sunbutter from sunflower seeds.  I haven't personally used sunbutter but I have many friends whose kids can't have nuts and they use this and love it.
 
 
As you can see, you have so many great options for healthy protein and healthy fats.  It's just experimenting and finding one that's right for you.  Here's a tip. Did you know you can buy anything from Whole Foods and if you don't like it or aren't satisfied with any of their products, you can take it back, no questions asked?  You don't even need a receipt.  They have fantastic customer service and I can't tell you how many things my family has tried, that we didn't like, and they are always so kind and helpful.
 
If you can't let go of your peanut butter and you just have to have it, make sure it's organic and made only of peanuts.  That's it.  No sugar and no added oils and try to limit how often you eat it. 
 
Have you tried any alternatives to Peanut Butter?  What is your favorite?
 

Switcheroo Sunday-Baking Powder

I wanted to give you another easy and inexpensive switch this Sunday.  Today we are going to take on Baking Powder.  If you bake anything at all, you have this ingredient in your pantry.  Have you ever looked at the ingredients?  More than likely, no.  If you are like me, you probably bought whatever was on sale.  Just a few months ago, I had to do my own Switcheroo.  You see I had this brand in my pantry.

 
I love the packaging on this baking powder.  What I don't like are the ingredients.  In particular, cornstarch and aluminum.  Let's start with cornstarch.  It is more than likely genetically modified corn.  Yucko.  Then there is aluminum.  Let's be honest, this ingredient doesn't belong in food.  Enough said.  Some studies show that aluminum is linked to Alzheimer's.  I don't want to find out.  It's an easy switch to this:
 
 
These two baking powders are actually made by the same company, Clabber Girl.  Rumford, however, is aluminum free and non-GMO. A win, win.  I don't have the cost breakdown on the two, but I know it was maybe 50 cents more.  To me, totally worth it.  You should be able to find the Rumford brand at any market.  Just make sure the can says non-GMO on it.  Mine does, but I've heard others say that it wasn't labeled on their can.  If it's not labeled, I wouldn't buy it.  Keep looking until you find a can that says, non-GMO.  This means they have used corn for their corn starch that is not genetically modified.  Corn is one of the worst for being GMO.

There you have it.  A very easy Switcheroo for you.  Is this a switch that you need to make?  Drop me a comment and let me know. 

Switcheroo Sunday-Ketchup

I'm back with my Switcheroo Sunday posts.  I've had many friends ask my opinion about switching the foods that they eat.  They feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start.  So I hope this will help you all out.  Instead of trying to change your whole pantry or fridge all at once, choose 1 item every week to change.  Buy the time Fall rolls around, you will have switched about 20 items.     

I think most homes in America have this condiment in their pantries.  It's really an American staple, is it not?  I mean, a hot dog or french fries just don't feel complete without it.  What you might not know, is that in this bright red bottle lurks a dirty little word, HFCS, aka, High Fructose Corn Syrup.  I'm sure you have heard the debate over HFCS through the years.  Some say it's no worse than sugar and others say it's a man made chemical that should be avoided. 

I have to agree with the later.  Here's why.  HFCS is made from corn, Genetically Modified corn.  Unlike real cane sugar that grows from a plant, HCFS is engineered in a lab.  There is research that shows that the more you consume HCFS, the more likely you are to be overweight?  That can go for sugar as well, but my rule of thumb is to eat as close to how God created things to be. 

The second reason to switch your ketchup is because the tomatoes are not organic.  What does that mean?  It means that they are heavily sprayed with pesticides and more than likely, are GMO, genetically modified organisms.  I'll go into further details about GMO's in a later post.

Heinz ketchup contains tomato concentrate made from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavors.

Tomato Paste (Made from ripe tomatoes), Liquid Sugar, White Vinegar, Salt, Orion Powder, Spices Salt, Sugar, Lactose Syrup, Red Ripe Tomato's, Onion Pepper, Spice's, and Natural Flavouring.

This switch is super easy.  You can even stick with the same brand, Heinz.  I know around our house, Heinz is the only brand my family likes.  I tried a different brand of organic ketchup years ago and no one would eat it.  I can honestly say, you cannot tell the difference between Heinz organic and non organic ketchup.
Organic tomato concentrate made from red ripe organic tomatoes, organic distilled vinegar, organic sugar, salt, organic onion powder, organic spices, natural flavoring.

So what is the difference between the two?  The organic version uses organic tomatoes and organic sugar.  The original version uses HFCS and pesticide ridden tomatoes.  Yes, there is still sugar in the organic version, but I would much prefer my kids to eat organic sugar than the HFCS.  I don't worry that much about the sugar in ketchup because we don't eat alot of it.  Primarily because we don't eat alot of processed foods.  I think we've had the same bottle of ketchup for about 6 months.  I better go check the expiration date.

So how does the organic version compare to the original version in price?  At my local Publix, the original 14 oz bottle of Heinz ketchup is $1.79.  The organic version is $3.19.  To me, it's worth it to spend more for better ingredients.  Of course you could always use coupons or wait until it goes on sale and stock up.  I try to do that all the time with organic food because it is more expensive.

I hope you have found this week's Switcheroo helpful.  Do you have a product you would love for me to Switcheroo?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  If you'd like to check out more Switcheroo Sunday's, click on the tab at the top of the page.

R.I.P. Nutella

Dear Nutella,

Our friendship must come to an abrupt end.  I normally would say that I feel so incredibly sorry about this, but today, I simply do not.  You knew what you were doing from the first moment we met.  You weren't being truthful with me sweet chocolaty goodness.  You were lying to me and my other mommy friends.  I should have followed my gut when I bought you in a two pack from Costco, but who can resist a deal?  Something just didn't sit right with me about buying a big vat of chocolate spread for my family, but I did it anyway.  Now I am kicking myself that I didn't follow my gut. I know you've learned the hard way.  You now have to shell out $3,000,000 and can no longer claim your chocolate spread is healthy.  I'm sure you are not worried, you will make that 3 million back in no time.  I'm just glad this mom won't be helping you do it.

Sincerely,
A mom on a mission

To read more about the class action lawsuit filed by a California mom, click here.




If you'd like to learn more about the ingredients in Nutella, click here.  I love Weed'em and Reap's blog.  It's funny and insightful.  She also has a homemade version of Nutella with just 3 simple ingredients.  I'm so making it.  Looks delish.

To my readers:  In all seriousness, this goes to show you that even for someone like myself, who prides herself in looking at labels and buying organic foods, I often fall short.  This was a major fail on my part.  I won't beat myself over it.  I will simply use it as a tool to continue to look closely at the ingredients I allow me and my family to consume. 

I didn't need a lawsuit to tell me that Nutella was not good for my family.  I didn't seek out the $20 I could've received as a consumer, but it is a reminder that I vote every time I go to the grocery store. A reminder to me too that my sweet girls, eat what I give them.  They don't get the chance to have a say in the matter.  At 5 & 7, they are already learning what is acceptable to eat in our house and what is not.  They can tell you all about food dyes and high fructose corn syrup.  While some might think I am crazy and a "little overboard" I tell my girls all the time, I don't say no to alot of foods that aren't good for them because I want to be mean, I do it because I love them so much.  My prayer is that by the time they go off to college and have to fend for themselves, this will be second nature to them. 

On another note:  Maybe it's time to go back to Switcheroo Sunday.  If you aren't familiar with that series, it's where I take one product and switch it out for something healthier.  You can click on the Switcheroo Sunday tab at the top of the page to check it out.  I'm curious to know if that is something you'd like me to start back up.  Could you leave me a comment if that's something you are interested in seeing every week?  I'd sure appreciate it.

Ode to my husband

I am blessed!  Even when life is tough, I try to remember the blessings in my life.  One of those blessing is my husband, Brian.  Almost 12 years ago when we said, "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health," we never could have imagined how much we would be tested.  This amazing man has stood by me over the last 8 years as we have suffered loss, not once, but twice and has watched me suffer debilitating dizziness every day.  So, if you don't mind, I'd like to share with you a little bit about this man I call my husband.

He has an amazing heart for those less fortunate.  He loves to serve the orphans and the widows.  This is one of my favorite pictures that was taken while he was in Haiti just a few short weeks ago.  He hadn't been to Haiti since the summer of 2010.

 
He is an amazing dad to our daughters.  I love to just sit back and watch the way he gently instructs the girls and how he makes them think for themselves.  I love to listen to him read to the girls at night.  He has passed on his love of C.S. Lewis and the girls enjoy hearing him read the Chronicles of Narnia. I love how he takes them to dances and on dates.  It's so important that my girls know how a man should treat them when they starting dating. Daddy makes sure they know how loved and valued they are.


Brian loves to run and compete in triathlons.  I was so proud of him this last weekend when he competed in the Birmingham Mercedes Marathon and beat his PR by a landslide.  This was his 3rd marathon (Boston 2008 & Miami 2010) and by far his fastest.  I also love to watch how he encourages others to take up the sport.  I can't tell you how many people have started running because of Brian's gentle encouragement.


Brian, I wanted to publicly thank you for being an incredible husband and father.  I didn't want to wait until Father's Day or our anniversary to let you know how I felt.  Today just seemed like the perfect day.  I love you with all of my heart and I want to thank you for being such an amazing example of Jesus to me.  I know at times it's been hard to watch me suffer and know there is really nothing you can do to help me, but pray.  Those prayers mean the world to me.  Thank you for helping around the house and caring for the girls, when I just simply can't.  You are more than I could've ever asked for and I am so thankful God chose me to be your wife.

Onward

I've missed blogging.  I've missed you.  That may sound strange because most of you who still read my blog, I probably will never have the chance of meeting, but I feel a connection to you.  That's the funny thing about the blog world, you feel a sense of oneness with people you've never even met.  For my sweet friends who know me in real life and have told me they have missed reading my blog posts, thank you.  You don't know how much that means to me.

Most importantly, I've missed blogging for my sweet babies.  Every year at Christmas time I make a blog book for my girls.  They love them.  I felt guilty that this Christmas there was no blog book for them under the tree.  I was reminded of this the other day when Brooklyn took all 3 of her books to bed and was reading them.  Then Sydney, who is just learning how to read her sight words, chimed in and asked if I would read them to her.  They love to read the stories and look at the pictures of when they were much younger.  This is why I blog.  I miss giving them these stories. 


With that said, I'm back.  I have alot of catching up to do.  Yikes.  They are getting so big and I want to remember these times, because they go by so fast.  So, Brooklyn and Sydney, mommy is back to blogging.  I can't promise that I will blog every day like I've tried to do in the past.  It will be, as the Spirit moves, as they say and I promise to get last years posts in a book for you soon.

Happy Birthday Brooklyn

My sweet Brooklyn turned 7 over the weekend.  I can't believe how big she is getting.  It's almost hard for me to remember her as a baby.  Anyone else feel that way with their kiddos?  I went up to her school on Friday and spent time with her at lunch and bought ice cream for all the kids in her class to help celebrate.  I love to watch her interact with her friends.


Brooklyn, I am so proud to be your mama.  You are becoming such a beautiful girl inside and out.  You love to read and you still love maps.  I don't think that will ever change.  You love to play with your hermit crab.  You take him out and let him crawl around on the floor and on your hand.  I have to remind you sometimes to put him back in his cage so he doesn't run loose.  You are learning to ride your bike without training wheels and you just completed your very first triathlon.  Soccer is starting and I cannot wait to watch you play.  Most importantly, I love your heart.  I love how you love Jesus and your desire to help others warms my heart. 

I love you to the moon and back sweet girl.  Mommy

Back to School

Where did the summer go?  Did anyone else feel like it flew?  I'm actually thrilled that Fall is on the way.  It's my favorite time of the year. 

I can't believe my babies started school.  Brooklyn actually started last Thursday and Sydney started today.  They are getting so big.  Brooklyn is so excited to be in first grade.  She loves to read and loves art and I am so thrilled to watch her grow.


I wasn't sure how Sydney would handle her first day of kindergarten in a brand new big school.  She surprised me when she just walked right into class.  She was a little shy, but she didn't cry.  Mommy on the other hand, shed a few tears.  I tried not to let her see because I didn't want it to make her sad.  She has such a sensitive heart.

Tonight when I put her to bed she told me she didn't want to go to school tomorrow.  She's a mama's girl through and through and I think she's having a hard time being away from me.  She's got a great teacher, Brooklyn's teacher from last year, so I know she's in good hands.  Praying she'll feel differently in the morning.


It hasn't really hit me yet that I'm a mom of grade schoolers.  What will I do with all of my free time? 

For starters, I will tackle my house.  It looks like a bomb went off.  I don't function well in a dirty, unorganized home.  It actually affects my mood.  I hate that.  Does that happen to anyone else, or is it just me? 

I'm actually excited to be on a schedule and get some routine back in my life.  I desperately need to start a new Bible study and get into a good workout routine.  My other goal is to get a good meal plan scheduled so I can have healthy and yummy dinners every night.  Cooking is not one of my strengths, nor something I enjoy.  Hopefully I can change that. 

Last but not least, I can't wait to blog more.  I am so far behind it's almost overwhelming.  It was all worth it though to be able to spend that time with my girls.

Has school started for you?  If not, enjoy the rest of your summer. 

3 Generations

I promise I will get my Dominican update posted soon.  The amount of pictures I took is a little overwhelming.  I'm trying to sort and edit a little every day. 

In the meantime, I'd thought I'd post about something very cool that I am excited about.  The Tennessean ran a story today on my family.  I haven't seen the newspaper yet, but Brian says we are on the front page.  I thought you all would like to take a peek at it.

Rachelle Darin, left, Krista Darin Lord, Marcia Darin and Stacy Darin Zepeda exercise together in Pinkerton Park.
Marcia, her daughters and granddaughters will do a triathlon in August. / Dipti Vaidya / The Tennessean

You can read the article here.  Thanks to my hubby for being the encouragement we all needed to get our little behinders off the couch on onto the pavement.  Love you baby.


 

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