June 29, 2013

Not-so-Common Summer Slim Down Tips

Summer is here and as a mom, I feel a little bit more pressure to get myself in better shape. It’s has a lot to do with the fact that school is out and we are going a lot more than normal. For instance, we have t-ball games, soccer games, practices, swimming lessons, vacation, trips to the zoo, and the list goes on and on. One would think with all this extra “running” that I would naturally lose a little extra weight and tone up, but not when the majority of the food available is hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos.

This definitely isn’t good considering summertime is also the most popular time for weddings. That means, I’ve got at least two or three formal dresses that I need to look good in. It isn’t like winter formal events where we can hide a few extra pounds with pretty bolero jackets or formal coats. Summer formal wear is designed to highlight our best features, but it can also highlight our worst if we aren’t careful!

I know I’m not the only one in this situation.  I also know that there have been countless articles written on how to lose weight. Therefore, this article is focusing on the little, not-so-common tips for slimming down. So, in addition to the normal dieting tricks, add a few of the tips below for the optimal summer slim down program.

1. Weigh on a daily basis. I know, most weight loss professionals advocate weighing only once a week due to weigh fluctuations. However, if you weigh every morning (when you weight the least) then you are able to keep better track of how your slim down techniques are working. Yes, weight fluctuates and it’s normal to go up a pound or two before dropping another pound at the end of the week. But, if you go up three or more pounds, then you know that you need to cut back a little more and the faster you catch the weight gain, the better off you will be.

2. Cut back on the television. Believe it or not, studies have actually proven that people lose more weight, on average, when they limit themselves to two hours of television or less per day. Probably, because if you aren’t sitting in front of the television, you are more likely doing something that requires physical activity. And, with spring here, why not spend the evenings outside playing with the kids or working in the yard?

3. Get more sleep. If you are one who gets less than 7 hours of sleep at night, then you need to get more sleep. Your body works better when it is fully rested and experts say this means getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night.

4. Keep a log of food and exercise. We have all heard about the “crazy” people who religiously track every crumb of food they put in their mouths and every little exercise they do throughout the day. I used to think those people were crazy too. However, over the last three years, I’ve gotten serious about losing weight and I decided to do it by watching my calorie intake and exercising. So, I started keeping a journal of the foods I ate and exercise I did every day…at least five or six days a week. I turned into one of those “crazy” people. But,  I found out that when I could see  what I did each day, that it motivated me to do better the next day. I feel like this has helped me lose weight and keep it off better than any other dieting trick I’ve tried before.

5. Stop working so much. Studies have also shown that people who tend to work a lot of overtime see the biggest increase in weight gain. Probably because they end up eating take out instead of a good, well-rounded homemade meal. Therefore, if you are working a lot of overtime hours, do what you can to get as close as you can to that 40 hour work week.

So, why is this article on the Kids Formal blog? It’s geared for mom’s and it’s over weight loss. Yes, but many of these principles can be taught to young girls (junior high and high school) who struggle with weight. Junior high and high school are rough years for pre-teens and teenage girls, especially when they are a little overweight. I know, because I was one of them. During the summer of my 8th grade year, my mom helped me learn how to eat healthier so I could be more confident in myself during my high school years. The tips above will not only help young women slim down for those important school dances, auditions, recitals and other formal events, but they will also help them learn the proper ways to manage weight (in combination with a healthy diet), which can last them a lifetime.

June 27, 2013

Things Kids Need to Know Before Kindergarten

What are we teaching our kids?
While there are a lot of things that seem to becoming less and less important as the years go by, education is not one of them. The United States has ramped up its effort to help the children of the United States be more competitive academically on the global spectrum. This means that our kids are being taught things at a much younger age than we were when we were in elementary school.

For instance, I was not introduced to a computer until I was in fourth grade. However, kids today are being introduced to computers in Pre-K.  Children are also learning sight words and basic addition starting in kindergarten now. All that this means is that our children are expected to know more at a younger age. Therefore, there are some things that parents should teach their children before they get to kindergarten.

1. The Alphabet - I seriously don’t remember learning my ABC’s (well) until kindergarten. However, my son is in Pre-K now and they’ve already made it up to letter “V” and are beginning to start on basic sight words. Luckily, I started working on the alphabet with him before he went to Pre-K, which has made the year much easier. Since Pre-K isn’t mandatory, it’s important that parents make sure their little ones know the alphabet before they enter kindergarten. Both uppercase and lowercase letters.

2. Numbers – Numbers are just as important as the alphabet. The kids begin basic math (addition) in kindergarten now. Therefore, it’s important for parents to make sure their little ones know at least numbers 0-10 before kindergarten.

3. Name, Address and Phone Number – Obviously, children know their names by the time they enter kindergarten, but some kids don’t know their entire names by the time kindergarten starts. Knowing one’s address and phone number isn’t something that schools require by kindergarten, but it’s something they need to know for safety purposes.

4. Shapes – Kids should also know basic shapes like circle, square, triangle, rectangle, etc. by the time they get to kindergarten as this is something taught during Pre-K. If you want your children to be ahead of the game, then try to teach them how many sides each shape has.

5. Days of the Week/Months of the Year – Again, this is something I didn’t learn until I was in kindergarten, but they are teaching my son this year in Pre-K. I suppose the quicker he learns the days of the week and months of the year, the better off he will be.

6. Basic Writing Skills – Obviously, teachers don’t expect perfection in kindergarten, but they do expect children to know how to write their letters (at least capital letters) with a pencil. Believe it or not, my son is learning how to write both uppercase and lowercase letters and is required to write is name at the top of every paper, and he’s in Pre-K. Therefore, children who don’t know how to do this by the time they get to kindergarten will be behind.

Related articles:

Tricks for Making Kids Mind
What Are We Teaching Our Kids

June 17, 2013

Good Parenting: Battling the Food Industry

Just a few minutes ago, I read a very informative article regarding the power food companies have through their advertising strategies…especially when it comes to children. The article was written by Michele Simon and is entitled The Dark Side of Marketing Healthy Food to Children,  if you like to, you can read it here.

While I agree with what the article is saying in regards to how low food companies have stooped in order to market their products to young children in order to increase profits. However, the entire time I was reading this article, I couldn’t help but think that if parents just took a more proactive role in their children and what they are eating, then the marketing strategies of food companies wouldn’t be that big of a deal. This is only my opinion, but I have come to this conclusion based on my own experience with raising my 5 year-old.

I can honestly say that very seldom do food advertisements catch my attention. In fact, most of the time I get up when these commercials come on and do something else while waiting for my program to come back on. And when reading magazines, newspapers and other stuff that contains advertisements, I skip those pages altogether.

When it comes time to head to the grocery store, I make a list and stick to it. I have always been one who is interested in feeding my family healthy meals, especially my kiddos. Therefore, when we go to the grocery store, the bulk of my food is bought on the “outside” aisle. I stick to the produce, meat and dairy sections when I shop.

I know the way in which I shop has affected my son because he is not a huge candy eater. He will often pick fresh fruit over sugary treats…even if they come in cleverly wrapped packages with his favorite cartoon character on them. My son also has a huge appetite for fresh salads, which he has had since he was about 2 ½.

So, what’s the purpose of this article?

Basically, I just want to raise the issue that it’s time for parents to start being more proactive in their kids’ health. Look for ways that you can encourage your children to eat healthier foods instead of blaming the food companies and their advertising techniques. After all, they are out to make money.

So, how can you be more proactive?

1. Buy more healthy foods. Make a point to buy healthier foods for family when you visit the grocery store. For example, instead of buying your kids more fruit snacks, buy cantaloupe and watermelon to cut up and serve for next week’s snacks.

2. Don’t keep cereal in boxes. A lot of the times, kids pick their cereal based on who is on the front of it. To avoid this issue, buy plastic cereal containers and pour the cereal them when you are putting groceries up – and throw away the boxes immediately. When you do this, you are taking away the constant advertisements and forcing your kids to think about the cereals they like based on the taste.

3. Say “no.” Finally, learn to tell your kids “no” when they start “the gimmies” at the grocery store. Sure, I don’t like arguing with my son, but when it comes to buying him junk food all the time, I’m not going to do it. Think about it – your kids can only eat the foods you bring home to them, right? So, limit the amount of junk food you bring home. Don’t be afraid to tell them “no.”

Do you agree that parents should take a more proactive role in their children’s nourishment or do you think food companies and their marketing teams are solely to blame for the current state of our children’s health?

June 14, 2013

What’s a Mom to Do?

I absolutely love days like today. Today is a beautiful summer morning…it is a bright and sunny, 77°F morning. While the weather is absolutely gorgeous, what has me so excited about today is the fact that I have an entire six hours to myself! For those of you who have small children, you know how precious our time away from them is.

So, how did I manage to get this much time to myself? One of the local churches provides a nice service to moms on Wednesdays and Fridays called “Mother’s Day Out.” For a small monthly fee, I can bring the kids to the church where they can play with the other kids their age for the day (9am-3pm) on Wednesdays and Fridays. However, I only take them on Fridays.

The reason today is so special is that MDO has been on break for the past two weeks and my oldest son has been out of school for three weeks. So, this is truly the first day I’ve had to myself in three weeks! I was so excited about today that I woke up at 4:21 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. So, what’s a mom to do with all this free time? Well, I’m going to tell you what my plans are for the day!

1. Work on my tan. This may sound a little silly, but I’m actually looking forward to putting on my bathing suit, and (a light) sunscreen, pulling out the lounge chair and a good book and soaking up the sun for an hour or so. I’m not usually one who enjoys being outside with nothing to do, but today I want to lay back, relax and read the book I haven’t been able to pick up in three weeks while improving my tan…in peace and quiet!

2. Do a little shopping. After I’m done relaxing, I’m going to take a quick shower and go to the mall for a couple hours of uninterrupted shopping. For me, I don’t even have to buy anything to enjoy myself. Before I became a mother, I didn’t realize how enjoyable it really is to go and browse alone. Now, I take every chance I get to do this. If I find something I can’t live without great, but if not, I’m just going to enjoy my time.

3. Take a walk with a friend. Finally, the last thing I have planned today is to meet up with a friend and go on a 4.5 mile walk on one of our neighborhood trails. I enjoy working out, but on a day like today, I prefer to do the things I don’t get to do much so I’m swapping out the gym for the walking trail.

A lot of people disagree with the fact that I choose to take a day for myself every week, but for me, it’s a must-have. I feel like I’m a better mom when I get some time alone and I also feel like it’s good for my kids to spend a day with others their own age without me nearby. What about you? Do you get much time for yourself during the summer? What do you do when you do get a few hours alone?

June 12, 2013

3 Secrets to 9 Years of Wedded Bliss

Today my husband and I are celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary. I’m a little shocked because it does not seem like it’s really been nine years since we said our vows. However, when I look at the two little guys running around and think about the various trials we’ve been through together, it does feel like nine years.

I’ll give you a little insight to the relationship my husband and I have. We were high school sweethearts as we started dating when we were 16. However, I have to admit that if my husband hadn’t been so persistent, I never would have went out on that first date with him. He had been trying to get me to go out with him for well over a year and I had absolutely no interest in him.

The turning point, and I admit that this was horrible of me, was when I broke up with my “long-time” boyfriend of 7 months. I didn’t want to be sitting at home on Saturday night wondering what my ex was doing, so I asked my husband via a note in Algebra when he was going to take me out on that date. I know, horrible and manipulative, right? Little did I know that I would actually have fun and like the guy!

So, here we are…fourteen years later celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary and I couldn’t be any happier with our life together. The man is my best friend – in every sense. He’s the one I love to argue with, the one I go to first for advice, the one who knows all my secrets, the one who isn’t afraid to tell me exactly what he thinks, and the list could go on forever… This doesn’t mean that we don’t have heated arguments and that we haven’t had our struggles because we have.

I thought that since this is wedding season and many of you know someone who is getting married (some of you are the ones getting married) that I would share with you what I believe are the secrets to the 9 years of wedded “bliss” my husband and I have experienced.

1. Talk it out. As do all couples, my husband and I have been through many arguments together…some of them have been pretty heated. However, we have always been able to come out on the same page. (We might still be on different lines, but always on the same page.) How do we do it? We talk through it. We vocalize what is bothering us about the issue and why we feel the way we do. Basically, we put it all out there…every bit of it. This gives us a place to start so we can begin to work through the issue. The key for us is to talk it out…no taking a break or sleeping on it. We talk it out right then and there so we can go on with our evening.

2. Put each other first. Aside from God, we put each other first. This means that when someone asks something of either one of us, we always talk to the other one first. When something comes up and we don’t have the opportunity to talk to each other before answering, we both try to think of our spouse first. Finally, we respect each other and our opinions and feelings about things. We try not to be critical of each other, but when we offend each other, we apologize. That’s a biggie too…we apologize to one another.

3. Continue to “date.” Finally, we both agree that we have to continue to make our “alone” time a priority and go out on dates together. With little kids, this can be hard to do and, sometimes, it costs extra because we have to hire a babysitter. However, it is worth it. While we both love our kids, we understand that in time they will graduate from high school, move out and start their own lives…leaving us alone with each other. If we don’t continue to date and spend quality time alone, without the kids, we will lose who we are as a couple and basically be living like strangers when the kids graduate. So, we make it a priority to go out on one or two dates every month together.

The one thing that I believe is an essential in any marriage is having the ability to be flexible and compromise with one another. You aren’t always going to be able to have it your way, but if you are flexible and willing to work with your spouse, then you’re off to a good start.
Every marriage is different and what works for one marriage doesn’t work for another. The tips above are three of the “secrets” that makes my marriage work. You and your spouse will have to find out what it is that works for you and go with it.

You might also like:

Stress Free Wedding Tips
Wedding Food Ideas

June 3, 2013

Babies and Weddings

Infant tuxedo with shorts
As you are probably already aware, wedding season is officially here. In just a couple of days we will find ourselves in June, the prime time for weddings! Many of you have probably already received two or three wedding invitations for friends or family members getting married this summer. I know my husband and I have.

In fact, one of these weddings is happening this weekend. My husband’s cousin is getting married and my husband is one of the groomsmen. While I love weddings, I’m just a little nervous about this one because I am bringing both boys. My firstborn is five, so I’m not too worried about him, but the little guy is only 10 months and right in the middle of teething. In fact, this week has been particularly hard as he has been slobbering more, cranky and fighting the common runny nose that comes with teething. I just hope he will be able to sit through the ceremony without causing a scene.
My predicament has had me thinking about babies and weddings and how parents should handle weddings when they have a baby in tow. For example, do you think couples should bring little babies to weddings? I personally think the answer to this questions varies from couple to couple and that you should do what you feel is best. I can tell you that if this wasn’t a family wedding, I would not be bringing the baby. However, I will be shunned if I show up without the baby. My mother-in-law will be there as well as her mother and my sister-in-law, so I’m really left with no choice but to bring him. On the positive side, I will have plenty of people offering to hold him during the reception!
So, another thing I’ve been thinking about is how I’m going to make it through the ceremony with the little guy. As of right now, I’m going to request being seated towards the back of the “reserved” section for family and on the end. This way, if the little guy starts fussing, I can make a quick exit without disturbing too many people. I’m also going to make sure the firstborn is seated close to grandma so if I have to leave quickly, he won’t have to leave with me.

I really don’t see a problem with bringing little ones to weddings, but I do think that parents with babies need to think about the wedding guests and the couple getting married and do what they can to ensure their baby won’t disrupt the ceremony. Receptions are generally pretty laid back and a crying baby doesn’t usually disturb anyone, but the ceremony is a different story. A few things that I’m going to do before the ceremony begins include:
  • Try to give baby a nap.
  • Feed baby about 20 minutes before the ceremony begins.
  • Stock diaper bag with plenty of toys/teethers to keep baby occupied.
  • Plan my escape route in case I have to make an emergency exit.
  • Give firstborn detailed instructions of what he is to do in case I have to leave quickly.
  • Pray for the best!
I think if parents with babies do the best they can to prepare for the ceremony, things will go fine. So, if you have a wedding to attend this summer and the baby has to go, don’t worry about it too much. Just make sure you have a plan, a well-rested and well-fed baby and you should make it through just fine!