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Treat with Benefits: Nutella

March 21, 2011

My first introduction to Nutella was when I was in elementary school in Canada.  We had friends who were from Paraguay and one of their kids was in my brothers class.  I don’t know how it came up, but my brother said that chocolate was a good lunch.  My mom made us the home-made whole wheat bread with an aged cheddar sandwich and carrot sticks and if we were lucky some home made banana bread for dessert so I wasn’t sure where my brother got this idea.  It turns out his classmate was bringing Nutella sandwiches for lunch.  Since then, I’ve lived in France (also as a child) where a common after school snack was a square of chocolate in some baguette leftover from the morning meal.  In our house, chocolate was just a special treat and it definitely was never thought of as a healthy food.  Now as a parent, with finicky eaters, I can see how a sandwich with whole wheat bread, and chocolatey, but also nutty Nutella could have some value.  In our house just as Ovaltine is packed with great vitamins and Nutella has some good protein, it’s still a treat, but one with benefits.

I was lucky enough to host a Nutella party at my house recently, where we enjoyed some Nutella with crepes and fruit.  On the right is a classic French (and my daughter’s and my favorite crepe filling) lemon and sugar.  With the Nutella a little went a long way and having the chocolatey nutty filling made it much more filling (at least for me).

What I love about Nutella for a party is that it pleases everyone!  I can’t say it is a health food, but it is a food I don’t mind serving my kids, friends and family.  Just like peanut butter, it has a lot of fat and because of the chocolate it is high in sugar, but you can’t eat Nutella and think that you’re not having a sweet treat!  Just like the chocolatey, sugary cereals they sell on television as a “part of this nutritious breakfast” if you add some fruit, fiber, and maybe some crepes made with eggs, then you’ll have a great start to your day.

And you won’t have trouble getting someone to help with clean up.

There is not doubt that aside from a debate about nutrition chocolate brings something else to the table.  Joy.  Enjoy your Nutella in moderation and call it a day!  Bon appetit!

Pretty Pretty Unsure Princess

May 14, 2010

If you mention the Disney princesses I get a little knot in my stomach for several reasons.  I’m just not a huge Disney fan, my kids are way too scared of the most “babyish” television shows to even consider watching a Disney movie, and I am not a fan of the mass princess marketing on everything from food, to clothing, to toys.   BUT, when it comes to the princesses, I don’t want to stop my kids from jumping on that fantasy wagon.

Since she doesn’t watch the movies, there are a whole lot of issues that I feel I just don’t have to deal with when it comes to the princesses and what they represent.  My five year old knows the rule that she can play with the princesses, we even buy the princess “no-fruit” fruit snacks for a treat sometimes, but she is not allowed to have shoes, or clothes, or bags that essentially promote the princesses for Disney.  She’s okay with that. She even has a nightgown or two with the princesses on it.  Given all that, I was actually excited to bring my daughter to The Spirit of Boston’s princess lunch cruise.  It seemed like a cute idea and I knew she’d be so excited to drift off on a princess fantasy for a little while.  We went with her friend “aka little sister” who is a disney princess and fairy lover that is not afraid to watch the movies, her mom a lover of most things Disney, and her little sister (princess opinions to be determined).

As we walked towards the dock the girls saw toddlers, tykes, and little girls all dressed in various princess costumes (some Disney, some not).  There was a sparkle in their eyes and a rush of excited energy buzzing through their bodies as we stood in line waiting to board our cruise.

I have to say the entire event was well done.  Nothing was over the top.  The “real” princesses were almost all so perfect asking the children about their special outfits, or telling them about their own adventures from their respective stories.  They knew when to give children a moment to take it all in, and when to jump full force into a conversation.  Missing from the cruise were Princess Jasmine (it seems Abu was sick and Jasmine stayed back to take care of him) and Princess Tiana (we think she was promoting her new movie).  :)  On our particular trip princess Aurora didn’t seem like she was having such a great time, but luckily the kids’ were too excited to notice or care.

After we boarded and took our seats, the children colored pages from their goodie bag, and took pictures with Ariel who happened to be on deck.  They then guided us through our send-off with streamers and all.  The buffet was set with a perfect selection of foods (a few extra crudités might have been good for the kids), but the quality was excellent especially compared to other “kid-friendly” restaurants or special lunch outings (such as the terribly disappointing American Girl’s Café).  It seems veggies with dip were on the menu, but I didn’t see any at the buffet and somehow they had no apple juice (not a good thing with a ship full of children, but it seemed to work out.)

After lunch, it was time for a  few songs (well sung by the staff) and then a little dance party.  The girls had such a great time dancing with the princesses.  My usually quiet and clingy kindergartner was going up and down to the dance floor on her own without any concern about my whereabouts.

We were seated at the top level which was great for taking photos and perfect with our littlest princess guest (only 2 months old) because it was a bit quieter.  Also, with fewer tables and easy access to the outdoor deck, there were plenty of great opportunities for the moms (and a few dads) to take in the gorgeous views.

We were guests on this cruise, but before we even docked back at the seaport, my daughter asked if we could come again.  I said we definitely would.  The girls had a fabulous time, it wasn’t unpleasant for me (the Disney-phobe) and it’s an experience we would love to share with more of her friends!  Some children even had their birthday party on the cruise.

Upcoming Spirit of Boston princess lunch cruise dates are:  July 25th, 2010 and August 14th 2010.  Children 3 and under are complimentary, tickets for children 4 – 12 start at $15.90 and adult tickets are $35.90.  The cruise is from 11:30 to 1:30 with a boarding time of 10:30.

Classes We’re Taking

May 14, 2010

Parents are always asking one another about dance classes, music classes, and other activities.  There are tons of resources out there, but sometimes they just become a little too overwhelming.  Here is what we’re taking and I’ll include what we took when the kids were younger so that everyone can find something!

Hope this helps.

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It is my belief that families with young children have the right and reason enough to adjust/modify and alter their schedule on a day by day or hour by hour basis.  So, in general, this is what we do, but we adjust according to weather, mood, sleep had the night before, and the like.

Monday:

Monday we’re getting back into the swing of things for the week.  I call Monday my weekend.  My daughter goes off to school at Fayerweather Street School and my son goes off to his fabulous top secret family daycare.

Tuesday:

Tuesday is dance class for Henry and I.  This is by far the best dance class for wee ones.  Creative movement is totally appropriate for children this age and there is no need for formal ballet, tap, or jazz training until later (if desired).  Green Street Studios for dance with Katie at 10:30.

Wednesday:

Our plan was to take this art class at our favourite art center in the area Arsenal Center for the Arts for 3 and 4 year olds, but the class didn’t run due to lack of enrollment.  Since we have no classes this becomes our do what we want day.  We either stay home (so mommy can get something done in the house) or we head to the playground, run errands, head to the play space at the mall on a rainy day, or head out to Drumlin Farm)

Thursday:

This is a work day for me, but we would head over to Sharon Simon’s Music Together Class over at the Deborah Mason School of Dance (another great place I hear, but haven’t tried classes there yet.)

We are on a break right now, but Isabelle really enjoyed her art classes (clay and art adventures) from 3:30 – 5:00 at Arsenal Center for the Arts.  The classes are small and I found that, because she loves art, instead of being wound up and exhausted at the end of the day, she came out of art, relaxed and ready for a mellow evening.

Friday:

We start our day off with a little playtime in my daughter’s class and occasionally we stick around to help with a cooking project, then it is off to gymnastics for tumble tots with Lynn at the Gymnastics Academy of Boston (in Cambridge).

Saturday:

This is a no activity day for us right now so we save it for family and/or mommy and/or daddy time.  Whatever we can work out or need to do that day.

Sunday:

We have swimming lessons at Boston University, which are great.  We have piano lessons at the Yamaha Music School in Lexington and the learn to skate program at The Skating Club of Boston.  It’s a busy day, but we manage to find time to fit it all in and still enjoy the weekend.

If you are a new parent a great place to start is to stop in at your local Isis Maternity.  Their classes are excellent and the support of other parents and the Isis staff is priceless.  From heading over to the breastfeeding drop in group when my daughter was a newborn (almost 6 years ago) to taking a walkers and talkers class with my daughter when my son was a newborn, Isis Maternity was a great resource and reason to get out the door each week (and sometimes several times a week).

I haven’t made it over to JP but another great place on my radar is the Eliot School.  I am eyeing the woodworking class for Henry.

We haven’t tried any of the team sports either.  I’m kind of on the fence about team sports for micro, mini, teeny, totsy, or whatever they call it.  If you are interested though, there are the super soccer stars, and micro soccer as well as the local “farm leagues“.

Conversations: On Love and Nipples

May 14, 2010

Part I:

Love:  If you’re going to dis me dis me like this.

This evening there was plenty of excitement when daddy was home early to come with us to pick Henry up from daycare.  Then off he went to do some spring skiing with colleagues from work and off we went to have an easy dinner at Bertucci’s.

As we sipped our waters and lemonades, Henry said, “Mommy, I love you.”  My response was first, “Henry, do you need to go potty?”  It’s not as weird as it sounds…trust me.  Somehow “I love you.” became code for “I need to go potty.”  This time it wasn’t, so I added, “I love you too, Henry.  I love you as big as the sky.”  Then he replied, “Mommy …  I don’t love you … um, I don’t like you  … I don’t like you when you leave me.”

“I know.”  I replied.

Part II

Nipples:  What are these?

As we got ready for bed this evening, Henry decided he wanted his top off.  Isabelle and Henry and I piled into his bed with a stack of books.  First, it was tickle time though.   Henry asked us to blow bubbles on his belly and he giggles out of control pushing us away and asking for more.  Then the children quiet down as Isabelle clicks her tongue, as she does when she’s relaxing, and strokes any bit of exposed skin she can find (this time I got a break and Henry had his belly rubbed).  Henry, the night owl, is not tired so we bring Isabelle half asleep to her room for one last story.  Snug in her bed and fast asleep we head out to start Henry’s bedtime again.

As we sit and chat a while, Henry rubs his chest and asks, “Mommy, what are these?”  “They are nipples.”  I reply.  He rubs them and asks how they come off.  I explain that just like our nose, and fingers and fingernails they are part of us and they’re supposed to stay there.  He thinks for a minute and then says, “Mommy, I think that if you eat round foods, that’s where these come from.  That’s how they get on you.”

Not sure if he’ll be wanting any more carrot “coins”  or should I say “nipples” for dinner.

First Full Week of Spring

May 14, 2010

Play

Spring is in the air and so is music.  Inspire your little virtuoso with an outing to the Symphony Hall for a family concert with the talented Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.  There’s nothing like children to inspire children.  Children are free and adult tickets are $20. (Saturday March 27th at 11:00)

Majestic Yoga, a cute little yoga studio in Huron Village now offers wonderful children’s yoga classes on Friday afternoons.  It is a great way to end the week and start the weekend grounded, relaxed and open to whatever comes their way.  My daughter loves Tara who keeps the class moving along with stories, soothing rites, and child appropriate yoga poses.  Classes are available on a drop in basis.  Hi Rise is a great pre-yoga stop or post yoga treat. (Fridays 2:45 for ages 2.9 – 4 and 3:30 for ages 5 – 11 )

Woolapalooza Baby!  It’s coming up on Saturday at Drumlin Farm.  Say hello to the new babies on the farm, watch some sheep shearing and sheep herding demos.  There will be plenty of activities for children of all ages and children under 2 get in free.  Tasty treats will be all natural, locally grown and harvested Drumlin farm food now if only our schools could provide some of that! (Saturday March 27th from 10-4)

Playgrounds are the top entertainment spot this time of year with the warmer weather.   Head home for a quick snack and homework or off to lessons, then pack a dinner picnic and enjoy an evening at the playground.  On Tuesday, the weather might be a bit wet so you can check out the new Muckykids Art Studios.  Drop in hours are from 10-2:00 on Tuesdays.

Eat

Father, Celebrity Chef  and allergy activist Ming Tsai’s famed Blue Ginger is adding a noodle bar which débuts NOT this week, but next Tuesday, March 30th.  So if you have a noodle loving child plan a special lunch date or if you just want to have some time to sit and savor the new bar with a lunch cocktail, make arrangements to check it out alone or with a friend some time next week. (Tuesday, March 30th)

If tacos are calling your name then you’ll be glad to know that El Pelón Taqueria has reopened after their fire at a new location 2197 Commonwealth Ave./ Brighton Ma 02135/Phone: 617-779-9090.


Planning for Passover? Give yourself a break whether you love to cook it all or you love to cater it all.  There are so many options.  Tony Maws has his seder open to guests at Craigie on Main for goodness sake!  If you haven’t gotten to the point where you’re saying “Next year at Craigie!” then check out these other Passover menus to help you get it all done while keeping your sanity.  Formaggio KitchenWilson FarmBakers’ BestRusso’sThe Butcherie, or Whole Foods.


We’re not quite getting to farmer’s market season, but it is fast approaching.  Start prepping your raised beds and plant some seeds in egg cartons or newspaper pots and soon you’ll have your own farmer’s market spread.  We uncovered some nice baby chives as we cleared the leaves from our yard this weekend.


Shop

Have you looked at your children’s feet lately?  Are they still wearing their Uggs or Kamik boots trying to climb the spider web at the playground?  Do their shoes look smaller than their socks?  The Stride Rite Outlet at the Arsenal Mall is having a buy one get one 50% off sale.  It’s the perfect time for a fitting and a seasonal update in the shoe department.

Grand Opening of Nordstrom at the South Shore Plaza will be March 26th!

Shop or stretch at a Lululemon store near you.  Free yoga classes and sometimes pilates classes too are offered.  Check out the site for your closest store.

To Do List

Camp Registrations continue…

Massachusetts Audubon Camps

Meadowbrook Day Camp

Fayerweather Street School Camp

Summer at Park

Shady Hill Day Camp

Arsenal Center for the Arts Camp

Boston.com Camp Guide

Family Camp

Redefining the Glitterati

March 22, 2010

I know, I know, the time change is only one hour, but there’s something about it that throws us all off. We try to start dinner early but stay up a bit later and do some extra active night time activities to get the kids asleep on time, but somehow one is passed out early and the other is way too awake to even get into bed.  Isabelle tends to be the one to pass out early and to be fair she was sick the entire daylights savings weekend.  Henry is the night owl of the two and he was just not going to bed.

We had a late dinner, did the walk around the block with daddy, a “night night” game of marble track and then it was off to bed.  After a valiant effort, daddy came downstairs saying “Henry wants a little ‘nuggle before he goes to sleep.”  I go up give him a hug and kiss and head back downstairs.  A few short seconds later I hear “Mommy, you didn’t ‘nuggle a little bit.”.  What he really wants is for me to lie next to him so he can play with my hair until he falls asleep.  “I’ll be there in a minute.” I say, as I continue looking on craigslist, freecycle, and bizrate.com for a keyboard for Isabelle to practice piano on.   A few seconds later it is quiet and I continue my frustrating search for a good but inexpensive keyboard.  “I guess he’s asleep.”  I comment to my husband.

It turns out sleep wasn’t really what was going on.  The problem with the convenient assumption that my darling son had drifted off into dreamland is that just a few steps away, in the guest room was my life time supply of glitter that I bought when Pearl in Central Square closed down.  Henry decided that it was a great idea to just dump out the glitter quietly since he had nothing better to do.  Mr. Sandman was not on the premises by my little gliterati was.

So I scolded him and told him that it was a really bad idea to do what he had done and scooted his glittered little jammied self into bed.  He was exhausted, it was late, the thrill of doing something totally impish, and getting mommy to come back up and put him to bed was all too much.  So, slightly dusted in glitter, into bed he scooted.   He grabbed a few strands of my hair and in an instant dozed off.

In the morning, Henry was up first and as we clomped down the stairs he says, “Mommy my eye hurts.”   I respond “You probably have glitter in your eye.  Let me see.”  Sure enough a little blue square of glitter sat right in the corner of his eye by the bridge of his cute little nose.  “That’s what you get for dumping out all the glitter.” I thought to myself.  And another day began.

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