September 2011

If you actually read about my venture into an organized fall you will know that I am turning over a new leaf and trying to keep my you-know-what together here. And so far, I have to say, it’s still working! I nearly faltered last Sunday and tried to ignore my inner-guilt to set out the week, but the guilt perservered and then it took all of 15 minutes to pull it together — and those 15 minutes really make a HUGE difference.

I resignedly sat down at my desk Sunday afternoon and printed the google calendar for the week — which already saved us one quiz and one viola forgotten in the last 5 minutes before school. Score two points for the calendar printout on the fridge.

And then on to the menus — I got my little sticky pad out, wrote out menus for the week along with one grocery list of ingredients needed for said menus…and boom, we were organized again. Post to fridge and smooth out the week. I have been taking the post-its down after the meal is served and that is oddly satisfying too – PLUS, I am saving them to repost another week — I mean really, the menu list of what they’ll eat isn’t long, there’s no reason I can’t just shuffle them and re-post for next week right? Ok, so what are these meals? I’ll share….IF you first understand that I STINK in the kitchen and am really branching out here — so I don’t want to hear any complaints about the menus. Use your own if you don’t like grilled cheese! Geez. It’s got calcium.

Week 1.

And no, I didn’t organize the weekend too. WAY too much to think about ahead and really, on the weekend there’s not the same hurry with homework and extracurricular nonsense invading on my time. Oh, and same goes for Thursday and Friday this week…no school, no menus ahead. And yes, I am justifying, but it’s working right?

Week 2.

All menus can be found on Essentialmom.com under RECIPES.  Take a peek, find some new options and if you are feeling kind — share some here with me — I am always desperate for something new and kid-friendly to try!

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Well, it wouldn’t be fair if I told you all to get out and about and enjoy the fall and then sat on my butt all weekend right?  So, peeling the kids off the couch, we checked EssentialMom.com‘s (shameless as always) EVENTS CALENDAR, which I can honestly say ROCKS (and I can say this because I have the most amazing mom who updates it by spending countless hours searching through every listing in Westchester County to fill it up — just to start all over again every month)  and headed over to an “Outdoor Weekend” at Westmoreland Sanctuary.

Now if you haven’t been to Westmoreland, get there, it’s one of our favorites.  There is a perfect hike that loops down through the woods, to a stop off at a frog pond (where they supply nets for frog-catching) and back up through a meadow where you can search for bugs or run up a hill, leaving you more breathless than you imagined.  Anyway, the hike is short, there’s plenty to see, and you can do it at your own pace, whether that is whooping and running at top speed or meandering through looking at the flora and fauna.  Depends on the day which direction suits our needs.  When you get back to the main building, you can check out the “museum/nature center” which hosts a variety of taxidermy specimens of various animals, as well as some live turtles, snakes, iguanas, and a rabbit.  The center is a bit “old school” just so you know — not a lot of bells and whistles, but if your kids like that, then it’s worth the stop.  Westmoreland also offers programming on certain days — whether it’s bird watching, maple sugaring, boy scout hikes, compass reading, animal talks, and the like.  Always a good idea to CALL first — because it is a small center, sometimes programming gets cancelled or ‘adjusted’ and details on the site aren’t always fully updated.  Now, don’t take all that as a statement that the place is doing anything wrong, I just know that when my kids get hyped up for something and then it’s not happening, the day can be ruined…so it’s just a word to the wise.  Check out www.westmorelandsanctuary.org for events and info.

Here are some shots from our hike Sunday which included sightings of 3 frogs, 1 turtle, 2 dragonflies, some bumble bees, several downed trees that we needed to hop over (for fun), lots of ferns, some purple flowers I don’t know the name for, a two man saw demonstration by some local boy scouts, and a walk around the inside of the building where we had to measure ourselves against the ever present wing span demo which compares your wings span to a variety of bird sizes.  Fun for all.

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A special thanks for a wonderful night out Saturday to ALL of the folks that make Feed Me Fresh so special for the Mount Kisco Child Care Center.  The amazing chairs, Lauren Schwarzfeld and Lauren Wysmuller who have poured their very souls into this event for the past two years and brought it to new heights with their fantastic organization, fundraising, and creative ideas; the staff at the Child Care Center who make every day wonderful for the families and children who attend; the restaurants who provide the food and volunteer their time and talents to make the it so very memorable (Bellizzi, Crabtree’s Kittle House, FAB, Flying Pig, Johnny Gelato, La Tulipe, Ladle of Love, Little Kabob Station, Myong Gourmet, Quaker Hill Tavern, North, and Village Social); the honorees, Leslie Lampert of Ladle of Love and Marian and Larry Cross of Amawalk Farm – who humbly go about their daily business while still supporting our community and the Child Care with their efforts; Table Local Market (shameless plug) for all of the organizing and over-all catering of the event (I mean, did you have those mini raviolis? — sooo good); and to the guests who show up every year to support a wonderful organization and to HAVE FUN.  What a night — kudos to all!!!!

 

This week we finally hit exhaustion.  We usually make it through a week or two before the reality of school hits us.  The kids try to be game for a while and then suddenly realize that school is EVERY day.  I am quite excited that next week is a short one.  Perfect, and just in time.  But in the meantime, I plan on enjoying the (very short seeming these days) weekend — there are TONS of activities around Westchester in the fall and I just live for seeing the events calendar so full of fun, and although it is tempting to just hang on the couch all weekend, save it for the winter — you will likely be stuck inside for months, get out now and enjoy the fall fun that abounds.  Check out EssentialMom.com‘s calendar page to find out what is happening — click here.  The leaves are crunching underfoot, the weather is still warm enough to enjoy, and the kids need to go out and be run after sitting in the classroom all week.  If you don’t want to leave the house, send them out to rake those leaves into a jumping pile — there are almost enough on the ground for some fun.   And if it’s raining?  Try the local libraries, they have a ton of welcome back to fall events going on too.

My 8 year old and I had a few spare moments for adventure this weekend before the usual Saturday run around began and we decided to go see something new.  Every once in a while (mostly in the fall because I love the weather so much) I make a renewed effort to try to get out and about and experience all that Westchester has to offer.  There are so many parks, hiking trails, and things to do that even after living here for (gulp) almost 14 years now, I am still amazed by the places I haven’t visited.  Embarrassing.  But in my own defense, it is just so easy to get stuck in your own little world and your kids’ world and not move outside of it.  Anyway, I digress….but suffice it to say there are the greatest places to walk and explore both alone, with a friend, or with the kids.

Lasdon is one of those places — located right on route 35 in Somers, Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Memorial is (from their web site) “a 234 acre property consisting of woodlands, open grass meadows and formal gardens with flower and shrub specimens from all over the world. The park is home to several inspirational memorials and a museum honoring Westchester veterans. Lasdon is also the site of the Chinese Friendship Pavilion, which was a gift from the People’s Republic of China to the residents of Westchester”.  The park has gorgeous gardens and walking trails that are perfect for both moms looking to exercise with a friend while the kids are in school, or maybe even better, moms looking to stroller walk with little ones.  The paths are well-maintained and wander through gardens, expanses of lawn, and under flowering trees.  If your little one will tolerate sitting in a stroller and if you are tired of getting run down by SUVs driving mock 2 on your road, this is the place for you.  Although the gardens set a formal tone and they do discourage going off of the paths (so if you have a toddler that will see the wide open grasses and HAVE to frolick, this might not be so perfect) — but the walking trails are yours to wander and I would say that the crowds are rarely large, so noisy babies, chatting moms, and people out for a stroll would all be welcome.

Definitely make your way down to the Chinese Friendship Pavillion — it is tucked away, but worth the find, there’s even a nice little path that circles a pond, a perfect lap during your walk.  To find out more about the park you can visit the westchestergov.com web site or click here.  Admission and fees: County park pass is not required for admission (unless I was mistaken, the admission is a “give what you can” sort of admission — there was nowhere that I could see to sign in or pay except a box at the entrance), Directions: Route 35, Somers, Park hours: Open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The Veterans Museum is only open on weekends. Garden Shop hours: Open from March to Christmas, Wednesdays through Sundays 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.  Phone: (914) 864-7263.

If you take an older child, I always suggest doing a “search” for I Spy items or take a camera along and let them take shots of little things they find tucked away in the scenery.  Here is our photo walk below.

 

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This fall I have made a pledge to get more organized for the kids and myself, make life easier and less harried, and to be more pleasant about it all.  And this year, it seems that I actually mean it and SHOCK of all SHOCKS, it’s working.  My kids are happier, they are feeling secure and we are all soooo enjoying life.  Now, I am a realist and there are several factors that I must admit to being at play — a) the homework has not started in earnest, b) afterschool activities haven’t started to their full extent yet, and c) I am working less.  That all said, I think we have set a good tone and I am going to go ahead and congratulate myself that at the very least we have started well.  So that all said, here are some items that have been good additions to our new ways.

1.  I created a new work space for the whole family.  We had a guest room upstairs that wasn’t getting a lot of use, and I designated it as my new home office (which used to be the kitchen) — I have a desk and there is now a table for the kids to do homework on.  The kitchen for whatever reason was highly distracting.  The new office has a strict quiet policy and is very organized so that the kids can find the supplies we need for homework, sit comfortably at the table, and so far they are adhering to the quiet policy.  So, although you might not have a spare space for this or might not be willing to give up on your guests, turn a little corner into that space.  My kids were all over the place and no one was getting as much done as effectively as they could have been.  Searching for supplies alone was taking an extra 20 minutes of homework time.  Put it all in one place.

2.  I am using google calendars for EVERYTHING.  I have been using it for a while personally, but now I am really engaging in it — you can designate different colors for different family members, color code activities, and most of all you can print the schedules out and post them for the whole family.  You can choose to print just the kids, each separateley, etc. all within moments.  You can add that Tuesdays are take your viola to school days or when you have soccer practice.  Post it to the fridge and make the kids check it daily to be sure they are remembering what they need to take to school.  Last night I printed just this week’s schedule and posted it — feeling like the whole month was too much — so post just the week’s info they need to remember.

3.  I am focusing on dinner menus before 5pm each day — when I used to start thinking about the dinner to serve at 5:30 — never having the right ingredients and more often than not just serving them pasta with butter because I hadn’t thought ahead.  So this week, I took a whole 10 minutes this morning (it may have even been 5) and picked what I would serve for dinner for the week, wrote it down on post-it notes and put them on the fridge too. I then took the next 10 minutes and looked at the actual recipes and wrote down what I would need for the recipes from now through Wednesday so that when I get to the store, I won’t stand lost in the aisles and buy pasta again!

4.  Dinners as a family. Now I need to be honest about this.  My husband and I have always treasured our time together at night to eat dinner, maybe drink a glass of wine, and talk after the kids are in bed for the night.  This fall we are trying to have dinner with the kids at least 2 times a week.  I have read study after study about families eating together and the importance of taking that time and frankly wasn’t sold (again, reference the desire to eat and hang out with husband without the kids) – but we have been having dinner with them more regularly and they are talking, engaging, and sharing in a very different way.  Even different from just sitting there while they are eating.  Somehow actually eating with them creates a different vibe and for whatever reason, they seem to be digging it too.  Weird, but all too true.

5.  And last but not least, I have decided to put the blackberry down.  I have not broken the habit yet and don’t even aspire too (this is real life people) — but I am weaning myself of the blackberry use both when they first get home from school and during homework time.  I am too fragmented when I try to answer an email and talk to the kids at the same time, and quite honestly, it’s rude.  I don’t want my son talking to me while he’s checking his phone, I guess I need to model that too!

All for now.  Check out cute picture of my very organized fridge for show-off purposes — I am proud. Don’t ask to look at it again in a month as I am pretty sure the cuteness will lead to my usual mess, but for now….think about it and give some of these items a try.  Don’t hurt yourselves over-doing it, but if anything might resonate, give it a try and see what happens.

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An old friend and a past social worker from the Mount Kisco Child Care Center recently started a support group for parents raising kids with Mood, Anxiety or Depression issues.  She is energetic, sympathetic, and eager to help parents in need of support.  Dealing with these issues can be so very isolating — give them a call and see if this might be the answer for you in reducing your own stress!

Parent to Parent Support Group For Raising Kids who have Issues with: Mood, Anxiety and/or Depression.  7:00pm, Tuesday, November 15th.  Held at a Private Residence in Armonk (address provided with RSVP).
WE’VE GOT ISSUES!  JOIN US FOR A FREE, CONFIDENTIAL AND INFORMAL SUPPORT GROUP IN WESTCHESTER, NY.  Learn to help. Learn to cope. Ideas that help you take care of yourself and your family. A chance to share your experience and to learn from others.  For More Information and to RSVP Contact either: Randi Silverman at Randisilv@aol.com OR Pam Moskowitz at pammosk@yahoo.com

Wow, feels like fall and I hate to admit it, but I am so excited!  The leaves are falling and the temperature requires a nice little sweater, and I love it.  If you try not to think that winter follows fall, you should be able to enjoy a nice walk or the crunch of leaves under foot this weekend.  It means I can bring out my jeans and cowboy boots and not seem ridiculous.  I am so sick of my summer clothes, I can’t wait to put them away.  The smoothies for breakfast idea seems chilly now though – so maybe switch that to some warm crescent rolls and call it a day.  Hot chocolate and a flannel shirt anyone?

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Ahhh…the sounds of the 80’s — a little “Let’s Get Pysical’ and some ‘Maniac’ from Flashdance topped off by a little MC Hammer — belting out of the stereo tonight as my 8 year old does what he calls his salsa dance — while the 11 year old was doubled over laughing at his brother — nothing better to end a Thursday. Sometimes we all have to just put aside the crazy of the world, the pressure of school or work or life in general and act ridiculous. So simple, yet so genius. It all began because while waiting for the bus with our slightly nervous because of the new middle school days son, a man in all white, including short shorts, and a white headband speed walked past us and my husband started singing (quietly of course) Let’s Get Physical and had our son rolling laughing. A little laughter at someone else’ expense, but is it wrong if it cheers the kids up? Maybe, but it was funny. Gosh, I hope none of you know him. He’s got a superior speed walk I must say, but I must add my thanks for adding a little levity to a kid’s day. Don’t worry we paid it forward as the FedEx man came up the driveway to catch us jumping around like lunatics to James Brown. Pay it forward yourself and get your groove on — it’s a great workout after dinner too!

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Notice I didn’t say “good” morning….because it rarely is.  I am not a morning person and my children have inherited that trait.  They have been trying this year and are almost pulling off a semi-positive attitude, but my older son just started Middle School, and man, that bus comes EARLY.  Not as early as most of his friends are dealing with, but early for us.  It’s unbelievably painful and the wait between kids is nearly a full ridiculous hour.  At least I am not trying to get everyone ready at the same time, which honestly is nice.  Anyway, my newest solution to a non-complaining breakfast has been “the smoothy” — a quick glass full of fruits that they see as a treat, and surprisingly, getting a blender out first thing in the morning is actually really not that big of a deal.  Here’s a good recipe for those interested in delving in this brave new world…

Fruit Shake

Turn fruit into a fun shake that`s good for breakfast or snack time.  To make it the most appealing, use your kids` favorite fruits like bananas and berries or whatever is in season as they tend to be the sweetest.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup naturally sweetened juice like apple or berry
1/2 cup milk, yogurt or soy milk
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) strawberries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries
1/2 teaspoon of honey (optional– taste fruit for sweetness first)
3 ice cubes (if fresh fruit)

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour in a glass and serve!  **Brought to you by the BVESA nutritional committee.

If you are feeling kind or especially like you need a good bribe, add a scoop of ice cream….What? It’s dairy!

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This has been a fall of all falls hasn’t it? We have had earthquakes, flooding, rain, and general insanity for weeks on end, dumping us in the lap of back to school and leaving my “in box” full of emails and my to do list longer than ever before. I can’t complain in the face of people in other areas who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, or their belongings to the floods and flood damage, but I can say “wow, I’m tired”. The drama of putting together school items, getting our heads in the proverbial game, and preparing the kids for the back to reality schedule, all while juggling the calls from fix-it guys, Mr Rooter, and the other clean up team members, has put me in a tail spin and left me playing catch up with rsvps, weekend plans, and organizing our schedule for the fall. In case you are in the same situation, below is the short list of the greatest events coming up. So whether you are just behind, or if you are looking for a good fun event to attend…have at it!

Saturday, September 17th, the John Jay Homestead Barn Dance, www.johnjayhomestead.org.

Sunday, September 18th, Westchester Wilderness Walk with the Westchester Land Trust, www.westchesterlandtrust.org

Saturday, September 24th, Feed Me Fresh to benefit the Mount Kisco Child Care Center, www.mkccc.org

Sunday, September 25th, Greenwich Land Trust’s Go Wild! www.gltrust.org

Sunday, October 2nd, Support Connection Support-A-Walk, www.supportconnection.org.

Sunday, October 2nd, Walk to Cure Diabetes to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, at the Bronx Zoo, click here.

Wednesday, October 5th, Power of the Purse, to support Girls Inc. Westchester, www.girlsincwestchester.org.

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Welcome to Essentialmom Ramblings. Some of you tell me you like my personal writing, others seem to unsubscribe from the newsletter when I write about personal situations…not that they are reading this, they’ve unsubscribed haven’t they? Anyway, there are always thoughts rambling through my head — some important enough to share with the world, some just bizarre, most that should be simply delegated to a separate space and saved for those days when you have a quiet house and a cup of coffee and time to read. If this is one of those moments, sit back, relax and enjoy. If you want to talk in return, leave a message or a question, if you just want to visit and be left alone, that’s fine too.