Nifty vs. Thrifty

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

9 SIMPLE ways to get your child to eat healthy

1. Commit to a healthy lifestyle for you and your family. Make healthy eating a priority for the entire family. Once you decide it's a priority, the rest will fall into place. It's easy!

2. Start young- It's never too late but starting babies on a healhty diet is a great start. This is a great way to get their palate used to the taste of these foods. Remember, it can often take several tries for them to acquire a taste. If they don't want it the first few times, don't force it. Let them have something else, then reintroduce it later on.

3. Give only healthy choices MOST of the time. Don't forget to give treats! If you deprive a kid too much they will want it even more. Be fair!

4. Expect aggravation from your child. There are times when children are mad that they can't have the treats they want. Just expect that will happen!

5. Set a good example-Eat healthy yourself. If your children see you eating junk, it is a bit unfair to tell them that they can't have it. Be fair and use some discipline yourself. The payoff will be worth it, I promise!

6. Present healthy food with enthusiasm- "Wow, I can't wait to eat these yummy grapes!" or "Hmmmm...I can't decide if I want peas or carrots today! What do YOU think I should pick?"

7. Reward good behavior with things other than food. If a child is rewarded with junk food often, they will begin setting the stage for a bad habit. Reward children by spending time with them (going to the park for example) or another treat.

8. Make healthy food easy and accessible. Wash fruits and veggies and cut them up making them easy to access. You can put them in a bowl and put them on the coffee table or put in little baggies which are perfect for on the go snacks!

9. Get active - The most common place for eating junk food is in front of the t.v. Get outside with your children or sign your children up for an activity.

Once you decide healthy eating is a priority for your family, it will be easy to live by. Sure they will make unhealhy choices at friends houses or somewhere out of your control, but if you set some expectations in your own home your children will be on their way to a healthy lifestyle! Enjoy!

Simple Fun!

What's one of the best things about having kids? Being able to be silly and immature again!! April Fools Day is a great chance to have some SIMPLE fun with your kids! As I always say, you don't have to be really clever or creative to pull off some pranks!
Here are some ideas to help you along:
1. The basic scare. Hide somewhere unsuspecting and jump out and scare someone when they least expect it. Check out the Ellen DeGeneres halloween scare on youtube-it's hilarious! . If it doesn't come up, search for Ellen DeGeneres Halloween pranks in the Youtube search box.
2. Get your kids involved in a prank on someone else (Dad or sibling for example) Move their car to a different spot than where they parked it (maybe down the street) . Get your kids involved in the action-they will love the suspense and the idea of keeping the secret!
3. Serve a plate full of something silly for breakfast. You could serve a pile of vegetables a dog biscuit, or some dirt.
4. Tell your kids (or spouse) that you are turning the cable off to save money. Beware this might be the most dangerous prank to pull off!
5. Watch the ultimate pranks of all time with your kids-
6. Fill their bookbags with something silly - You can use toilet paper or anything else you can think of!

Most importantly-have fun!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Building a positive relationship with your in laws

Building a positive relationship with in laws
Starting a family means combining 2 different people (who seemed very much a like while dating) into one. This means combining a jumble of emotions, backgrounds, and ideas. While dating or first married, in laws seem easy to get along with but children can often complicate this relationship. Here are some ideas that might help you.

First of all, step back if you can, and remember that your in laws are a very big part of your significant other's life and he loves them very much. That will never change. You may despise your in laws, however, you MUST be respectful to them (even if you feel they are not respectful to you). It's important that you're husband knows that you are respectful to them and your children need to see it as well. If you get frustrated with your in laws, try not to complain to your husband (unless absolutely necessary). Vent to your friends. If you ask your husband to talk to his family about an issue you had with them, it will probably only complicate the situation and not solve the problem.

If one of your in laws says something that you don't like or something you think is rude, approach them directly about it. It may be a misunderstanding, or it may be an inappropriate comment but whatever it is it MUST be addressed. When addressed in a direct but respectful way it will always put you on top. Try saying "I'm wondering why you seem to have a problem with the way I am handling some situations. I feels very uncomfortable." or "I know you are trying to help but I would appreciate you giving me my space when it comes to parenting." These conversations are VERY difficult to have, however, holding resentment is not going to get you anywhere and can create turmoil between you and your husband. Depending on where these interactions happen (your house or theirs for instance), you may need to approach things slightly different.

Setting boundaries is very important. If you have the above conversations and the same things keep occurring than you can set your boundaries and still understand that they are always going to be relatives and unfortunetly some things will never change. It may come down to only speaking occasionally or at holidays but you owe it to your significant other and your children to make sure that you approach the issues to attempt to resolve them. If you do not feel comfortable having them babysit in your home for instance, make other arrangements and explain to your significant other that you would prefer to hire a babysitter than to risk the chance that bad feelings might occur with the in laws. Explain that you care about your relationship with your in laws and you don't want to jeopardize it by pushing the limits, when it may be best for all to ask a neighbor to care for your child (or children). You can still set your limits and yet be respectful of the feelings your significant other may have. If this seems difficult (or IMPOSSIBLE!), practice a script and say it in the mirror. It sounds silly but can often help with these difficult conversations.It is often much easier to avoid these conversations all together (believe me-I've done it) but it will not help things in the long run.

Finally, remember that little eyes are watching and learning how to handle difficult situations. How do you want them to handle difficult situations? Do you want them to think that if someone is not treating you the way you like than you should avoid it and complain to someone else?

You're significant other should also be supportive and understanding of the fact that the two of you need to protect your "nest". This can be difficult and quite a challenge for two people coming from different backgrounds but it is possible and necessary.

Having inlaws is a wonderful thing and many people have great relationships with them! Good communication can really help foster a positve relationship. Also, remember to show simple kindness and day you might be someone's in law and a whole different perspective!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tools for preparing your weekly meals

It's favorite day to sit down and prepare my family meals for the week! Here are some tools I use that I find helpful.

1. Place all recipes in a 3 ring binder (or several if you need to!) Place all your recipes in clear plastic sheaths. This is great because you can easily put recipes into different sections, take them in and out easily and also wipe off any spills.

2. Put your WEEKLY recipes in the front pocket of your binder. This will allow you quick and easy access during your busy week.

3. Decide on your recipes for the week. Create a shopping list of ingredients from the recipes you have decided to prepare.

For a SIMPLE way to enjoy the MOMENTS...

After you enjoy one of your meals, write comments on the margin of the recipe. Write things such as "needed a bit more sugar" or "this was a bit tart". You can also write things such as "Pop Pop's favorite meal" or "made for Susie's birthday dinner". My mom records memories on her recipes and I love to look at her comments for a trip down memory lane.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What's better? "doing it all" or doing a few things and actually being engaged?

Keep it simple? I actually have a hard time with this. I know, I know. How can I run a site called Simply Siena when I have trouble doing it? Well, here's the answer!
I definitely have a bad case of ADD, but I love having ADD! Sounds weird, right? Well, it makes me who I am. I am very creative. I can appreciate 10 things at one time! That being said, I also really appreciate when things are simple and organized so that I can focus when needed. Martial Arts has really helped me to grow in this area. I have learned to use self discipline and minimize distractions to achieve my desired goals.
We make things so complicated sometimes, don't we? We want it all (and more!) for ourselves and for our children. But what is having it all? Are we just trying to keep up with the Jones or is what we have really enough?
Look for all the simple pleasures life has to offer. Turn off the t.v. Pick a few things you need to do and forget all the rest! Which one is better? Not being engaged in life and "doing it all"? Or doing less things and giving it all you have? Hmmmm. Don't get me wrong...I know that as a mother it is a necessity to multitask throughout the day but I try to limit it as much as possible! Since my daughter is a one year old, she pretty much demands all my attention when she is awake (and not confined!) For me, when I try to do too much I usually end up having a difficult day.
So, my conclusion? It IS simple. Life IS simple if we make it that way!
Enjoy the day my wonderful mommies!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Celebrate Life
Life is such a special gift that we often take for granted. We get so busy running here and there that we forget to appreciate the wonderful things life has to offer. Here are a few ideas to help you.

1. Take pictures but don’t feel the need to keep them all. Kids will remember special moments in their heart and it’s not worth you stressing over what to do with them (and having clutter in your house). Anyway, if you’re too busy trying to pose and find the camera, you just might miss an important moment!
2. Celebrate the anniverseries of deceased loved one’s birthdays instead of the anniversary of their passing. Who wants to remember such a difficult
3. Show affection. Kiss and hug often. Put your arm around your children and hold hands with your significant other.
4. Hang pictures of loved ones that are alive in your home.. I know this sounds bad but the pictures around your house should be MOSTLY of people who are alive instead of people who are deceased. I once went into someone’s house that had pictures of a deceased mother and paintings that she had done all around the house. Cherish your memories and remember those that have passed. I guarantee the person who has died would want you to focus on the lives around you.
5. Tell others how much they mean to you and how much you love them. I recently ran into someone that had made a huge difference in my life. She is a teacher and I worked in her classroom. She taught me so many invaluable lessons about children. When I saw her at the store, I talked to her for a brief few minutes and then we both went on her way. Later, I had wished that I would have told her how much of a difference she made in my life. I tried to find her by looking her up on the internet but I haven’t been able to locate her. The moral of the story is...let people know how much you appreciate them TODAY.
6. Own a pet. Pets offer a great way to appreciate life. They can show you affection and show you unconditional love. They can also be grounding because they are a responsibility that you must take care of.
7. Sun exposure is great for the body and mind. Open the blinds or go outside. Many recent studies have shown that Vitamin D (which you get from sun exposure) is very good for your health.
8. Have plants in the home. Living plants bring life and balance to the home.

Enjoy the moments. Today is a gift and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Appreciate your life and the lives around you every day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What is blogging all about and how do people find the time for it?

What is this blogging thing all about anyway? What mom has time for it and why?
There are many types of blogs. Blogging has become quite a phenomenon these days. A blog is actually very simple. It is basically just an internet page for someone to express their thoughts or ideas and can be done in a million ways. One way people blog is to have a page with family photos and updates for other family members. This is a great way to keep their family members who live far away in the loop. However, with so many people using Facebook these days, this has fizzled out quite a bit.

To be honest, I believe reading blogs is a guilty pleasure (but a pleasure none the less!) While people used to read opinions in newspapers and magazines, they now turn to blogs. Some people (like me) replace reading blogs with house cleaning!

If you are looking for a break in the day, Life Hacker is a great site full of shortcuts, websites and tips for everyday living (great for moms). There are so many other blogs related to sports, politics, exercise, and just about anything you can imagine. You just have to look for them.

About mommy bloggers…
Just like the rest of the blogging population, the internet is saturated with mommy bloggers. Many of these mommy bloggers have found quite a niche and a following. Many are quite bland (in my opinion). The most well known mommy bloggers provide product reviews, humorous stories, or have a certain focus. Some of these include (but not limited to) working mom, green mom, coupon mom, or home school mom. If you find a blog that you share a passion with, it can be very refreshing to hear stories or ideas that you can relate to. If you are a mom with a particular interest, try googling mommy bloggers and whatever it is you are into. You may be surprised to find out how many other moms share your interests.

There are a gazillion blogs out there and they are tripling every year. Starting a blog is a great way for people to express ideas. It can be annoying or boring to read someone else’s “opinion” but if you find someone's blog that you really respect and value their information, you may find it very appealing!

If you are interested in starting your own blog, don’t hesitate! It can be a great way to express your creativity and you can share it with as few or many people as you like. Check out or for free, easy ways to start a blog in the matter of minutes! Enjoy!

Do you want to take ten minutes of downtime for yourself to surf the web but hate how time gets away from you? Set an egg timer. You may be surprised how good you feel once you give yourself a little break in the day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Herb-Simmered Beef Stew
From: Campbell's Kitchen

Prep: 15 minutesCook: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 6
2 pounds beef for stew
cut into 1-inch cubes
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups thickly-sliced mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves, crushed OR 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed OR 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed OR 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves 1 bay leaf
1 3/4 cups Swanson® Beef Stock
3 cups fresh or frozen whole baby carrots
12 whole small red potatoes
Season the beef with the black pepper. Coat the beef with the flour.
Heat the oil in a 6-quart saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the beef in 2 batches and cook until it's well browned, stirring often. Pour off any fat.
Add the mushrooms, garlic, herbs and bay leaf to the saucepot and cook until the mushrooms are tender. Stir in the stock and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 45 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir in the carrots and potatoes and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the beef is fork-tender. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Tip: For visual interest, you can peel a strip around the centers of the potatoes before cooking.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Does money control you or do you control your money?

Well, I am on my way! I am motivated and determined to save money! I was talking to my friend one day and it occurred to me that she never seems totally stressed out about money. So, I asked her about it. She explained that she does in fact get stressed about money but she keeps 3 months of living expenses for her family in the bank so that if an unexpected expense comes up (and it always does) she is not too upset since she has a cushion.
Well, this started my quest to get some control over my spending. A few things occurred to me during this quest.
1. Saving money is just a practice of self discipline. I have lost weight before so I can do this too!
2. My happiness is not based on "things". I took a long look at my husband and my daughter playing together and I realized what makes me truly happy....those moments are truly priceless.
3. Asking "What is a need" vs. "What is a want?" I tend to make this idea complicated sometimes but it really isn't. If I stay in my budget and give myself a few wants than I will be heading in a good direction for our family budget.
4. Buying something on sale or using a coupon does not mean I am SAVING money. If I use a coupon for something that is a true NEED than I am saving, but if I use it for a hot pair of heels I am not SAVING money-I am spending it!

Well, so far so good. It hasn't been the most FUN quest in the world but nothing that builds character is "fun". I have sat down with my husband to go over finances and I'm really trying to seek ways to spend our money differently and more effectively. I want us to take control over our money and not have money control us. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dear Mommy and Daddy

It's tough to be a kid sometimes.

When you talk about adult issues, I get overwhelmed and feel anxiety. I don't understand all that talk and I worry. When you are watching news or things like supernanny, I feel scared hearing screaming, yelling and mean faces.

I know I create a lot of messes but I am a kid afterall. I need your time and patience. When there are many toys available to me, I assume that I am allowed to play with all of them (and make a mess). Please take just a few toys out for me (and something that I haven't played with in a while is a huge plus!) If I take too many out, can you please help me put some back since I get so tired and overwhelmed?

I like rules. Rules let me know what I am allowed do and what I am not allowed to do. I get confused when you sometimes give me consequences and then sometimes you don't. I don't really know what's ok and what is not ok when you're not consistant. I know I cry when I have a punishment but I really appreciate how it helps me to understand (in a clear way) that I did not make a good choice.

I know there's times when I get frustrated but please don't yell at me. When you hover over me and yell I feel like you don't respect me and I tune you out. It just doesn't work.

I get tired easily. Sometimes you expect a lot from me. I don't mean to get whiney and fussy when I'm tired but sometimes I need you to remind me that I need a nap and put me down (even though I say I want to play!)

I need your time to play with me. I get bored easily. I know I can't have all your time but I do need some time with you throughout the day. If not, I will act out because I really want some attention from you.

It hurts my feelings if you tell me I'm bad. I'm really not a bad kid, even though I sometimes make bad choices. I want to be good and make you smile.

Sometimes I don't want you to try to explain why I shouldn't do something. Just telling me "no" in a firm voice (different from your normal voice) gets my attention and lets me know I did something wrong. This is easy for me to understand since I get overwhelmed when your trying to explain all kinds of stuff to me.

Even if I pull away or say "yuck!", I really do love your hugs and kisses so please never stop showing me affection!


Your little one

Friday, March 5, 2010

How to make the most of what you have in your cupboard

Using coupons is great but it is still money going out (except in rare cases!) One way to keep from spending is to use what you have. Look at your cupboard and fridge and make a list of all the things that you could use for the week. I like to write categories of breakfast, lunch and dinner then start writing the items I have under each. Be creative (and don't say you aren't creative because it just takes a little practice!) Here are some examples to help you along:
Last night I used some leftover salsa and sour cream dip on my chicken taco-it was delicious.
I thought I needed a bunch of fruit until I realized I had a jar of applesauce in the back corner of my cupboard and some frozen fruit in the freezer. Leftover tortillas were about to go bad so instead of buying bread, I used these for sandwiches. Hummus makes a great easy, healthy sandwich. Just add some cheese and anything else you like. Finally, as easy as disposable cleaner wipes are, rags and vinegar or cleaner work just as good! Good luck!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

First aid MUST knows for parents

What To Do in a First Aid Emergency
Key tips: • Stay calm. • Check the scene and child. • Call 911
by John Schmidt

In as little as six hours, parents can gain skills and confidence to handle most kids’ medical emergencies. The American Red Cross and local instructors offer pediatric CPR and first aid courses.
In addition to this training, you can cope best with emergencies by staying calm and taking a few common sense actions.
First Steps
Regardless of your level of training, here are basic yet critical actions to consider when faced with any emergency.
• Recognize an emergency. This does not require a checklist! The smell of smoke or unusual fumes or odors, screams, loud noises or an individual showing signs of distress or not moving are all indications that something is wrong. Don’t wait to act.
• Stay calm and focused. If you lose it, chances are everyone will lose it! Staying calm allows you to think about your training, your actions, your safety and the safety of the victim.
CPR and First Aid Training
The American Red Cross conducts first aid training and CPR courses. To learn more, contact your local chapter.
Deleware 302-656-6630
New JerseyBurlington County609-267-9595 County856-365-7100 County856-256-8300
PennsylvaniaLower Bucks County215-946-4870 PA215-299-4000
• Avoid running. Running creates the risk of falling or running into someone else while trying to reach a victim. If you run to the scene, it can take extra time to catch your breath, hampering communication with the victim.
• Check the scene. Make sure it is safe to approach the area. Look for signs of what happened and check to see if there really is an emergency. What needs to be done next?
• Check the child. Look for life-threatening injury or illness. If the victim appears to be unresponsive, tap and shout to see if he will wake up. If the child does not respond, check for breathing and if necessary, begin the steps of CPR. If you are alone with a child or infant who is not breathing, give five cycles or two minutes of CPR before calling 911.
• Call 911. This should be your first priority when there is a medical emergency. If someone else is making the call, ask her to return to the scene to verify that the call was made. If additional people are present, have someone go outside to direct the fire department or medics to the scene. If you’re alone with a sick or injured child, make the call immediately (unless administering two minutes of CPR). As soon as you get off the telephone, unlock the door so the rescuers can get in.
What Happened? What Hurts?
Frequently, a child’s condition can change in those few minutes before the medics arrive. Shock can occur quickly, causing confusion or even unconsciousness. For some children, the sounds of sirens or the sight of firefighters causes them to cry and they become unable or unwilling to communicate.
Parents who take quick action by asking questions and checking for injuries can give medical responders valuable information needed to treat and transport the child to the hospital. If a possibly injured child is conscious and communicating, check for visible signs of injury. If none are apparent, yet the child is in distress, immediately do the following.
• Approach the child from the feet and move gradually. An injured child is already frightened and getting right in her face can add to her fears. This is particularly true if the child is not your own. Look for obvious signs of trauma such as unusual breathing, severe bleeding or a deformity of the leg or arm.
• Immediately ask the child what happened. Perhaps you found him lying at the bottom of some steps and assumed he was injured from a fall. But he says he felt dizzy and then fell. Now you know you’re dealing with some type of fainting, not a slip-and-fall accident. Most children are not going to give you that kind of information unless you ask.
• Ask what a “hurt” feels like. It’s not uncommon for a child to say her arm hurts because she sees blood or a tear on her shirtsleeve. Children often focus on what they see and not always what they feel.
• Do a quick body scan. Ask the child about areas of the body, moving down from head to toe. Does your head hurt? Can you see me? How about hearing me? Can you breathe through your nose? Can you open your mouth so I can check your teeth? Does your neck hurt? Can you lift your arms? Hold my fingers and squeeze with both hands. Take a good, deep breath for me. Any pain?
Continue the questioning until you have covered every part of the child’s body. It’s possible that your scan will detect additional injuries, such as a sharp, severe pain when the child takes a deep breath or paralysis in one foot when you asked the child to wiggle his toes.
By following these basic guidelines and taking a CPR and pediatric first aid class, parents can truly be prepared to face that emergency we all hope never comes.
Avoid Home Remedies
Parents often address a child’s medical emergency “the way Mom did it” when they were a kid.
First aid instructors often have to correct participants who blurt out statements like “my Mom always put butter on a burn” or “she made us tilt our head back if we had a nosebleed.” Sometimes traditional remedies are wrong and can even have negative consequences for your child.
Here are a few examples of misguided care and what should really be done for the injured child.
Wrong: Applying creams, lotions and ointments. Some petroleum-based products or home remedies such as butter can cause infection and scar skin tissue.
Right: Cooling the burn with cold water then lightly covering it. Cold, but not ice-cold water cools the burn, relieves the pain and prevents further tissue damage. Covering the burn prevents bacteria from entering the body at the burn site.
Wrong: Pinching the bridge of the nose, tilting the head back and applying ice to the back of neck. Right: Tilting the head forward & pinching the nose at the nostrils for up to 15 minutes. A victim who has his head tilted back will swallow the blood, which can lead to vomiting.
Right: Tilting the head forward & pinching the nose at the nostrils for up to 15 minutes.
Wrong: Rinsing the mouth with salt water and alerting the tooth fairy. Today, dentists are transplanting permanent teeth that have been knocked out.
Right: Rinsing the tooth, put it in a cup of milk and call the dentist.
Wrong: Trying to pry a splinter out with a needle. Removing a splinter by digging into a child with a needle only increases the risk of infection and is extremely painful to the child.
Right: Placing duct tape over the splinter and allowing the adhesive to pull it out.
John Schmidt is a former firefighter and American Red Cross first aid instruction supervisor. He teaches CPR & pediatric first aid throughout central and eastern Pennsylvania.