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The month of September is designated as Pediatric Cancer Awareness month which is a cause very near and dear to my heart. My niece is a 14 year cancer survivor and I saw first hand just how deeply this disease effected her and my entire family. To honor her and the many thousands of children fighting today we #gogold every September.

We also pick a childhood cancer charity to support and raise funds for. This will be our third year supporting the Miles for Mac Charity 5K Run/Walk. The event takes place in Dutchess County, and is scheduled for Saturday, October 8th – 10AM Mill Road Elementary School Red Hook, NY.

Besides the 5K portion of the day, families can expect to find food trucks, raffles and fun photo ops. Since it takes place at an elementary school there are several playgrounds for kids to enjoy. Everyone is encouraged to participate in their favorite Halloween costume in honor of Mac. In fact, there are awards given for best costume! With a touch-a-truck, DJ, face painting and games there is a little something for everyone.

miles-for-mac

Even though we participate in the many fun things offered at this event, the reason behind it is heartbreaking. For the last two years teams have gathered to run or walk the event in honor of a little boy named MacAlister, also known as “Mac” to family and friends. Mac was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma (an aggressive cancer) at age 16 months after his parents noticed some unusual patterns in his sleep and moods. At a very tender age he endured several surgeries, 14 rounds of chemo, radiation, and clinical drug trials. This beautiful little boy named Mac battled for eight months before he passed away at age two.

mac-coat

His mothers Emily and Lyndsey, along with their community, honor Mac’s short life each year at this Run/Walk and family fun day. They also work hard to raise awareness about Neuroblastoma and much needed funds for Neuroblastoma research. In just two years, Mac’s family and friends have donated over $30,000 to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

macs-moms

Pediatric cancer research receives less than 4% of the billions of dollars dedicated to cancer research each year. The chemo therapies used are not designed for small children and are at least thirty years old. There are long term effects such as learning disabilities, infertility, weakened immune systems, heart defects, and skeletal defects- these only top the list. So if a child survives cancer there is no guarantee they won’t relapse, or face permanent health issues for life. Research teams need funding to develop less invasive drug treatments and therapies, to discover ways to increase quality of life after treatment and obviously, a cure.

You can register your family to participate in the 5K event, or make a donation directly online. You don’t need to do the run/walk portion of the event. You can make a donation online before you arrive and enjoy the family friendly festivities. There will be a chance to purchase raffle tickets for items provided by local merchants. Every dollar taken in through this event is sent directly to research. There is no overhead or salaries taken from the money raised by this event. Donations are tax deductible and you can request a letter to document your donation.

Donating locally ensures you are helping local families. Donating to cancer research ensures you are helping find a cure for everyone. Get all the updates about the event and find a listing of raffle items by following along on the events Facebook page.

You can register for the event but clicking here.

To learn more about Neuroblastoma click here.

To learn how you can be a voice for pediatric cancer, watch this video and sign the petition at the end:

 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

the story from the lens

At the beginning of every summer I try to round up a few new places to visit with the kids. Now that my kids are getting older they are outgrowing some of the play spaces  we used to visit. One thing that hasn’t changed is their desire to explore.

Last month our family signed up for a free Healthy Ulster Membership at the Mohonk Preserve. The Visitor Center Trailhead is located at 3197 State Route 55, Gardiner, NY. While we were there we were encouraged to explore the visitor center which includes an interactive children’s corner. And by corner I mean an area too small for a crowd, or big group. But it is perfect for a handful of friends to gather for play.

Here is what we found during our exploration:

Interactive Exhibits

When you enter the center you are on the upper level. There are interactive exhibits where kids can learn about the land within the Mohonk preserve, the animals they can find and the Geoexchange system running the center. Your toddler won’t understand a whole lot of this information, but they will love getting to push the buttons and using the swipe screen to get to the next slide of information while your older child interacts on their own.

There are amazing views all around so be sure to simply take a moment to enjoy looking out the large windows at the surrounding landscape.

Children’s Corner

After you make your way through the upper level take the stairs down to the children’s corner. There is something there for kids of any young age. There are books, games and puzzles about nature. There are a few live animals to see and kids can unearth animal bones. You can even borrow a nature exploration kit and wander through the Children’s Forest right outside the center.

VC-Kids-Corner

HVP kids corner

Sensory Trail

This is a paved trail that is perfect for strollers and for toddlers learning to walk. Simply follow the path and allow your little ones to explore the artwork, butterfly gardens and views along the way. The paved path leads into the Children’s Forest where there are fun things to play with. We found a tee pee style hut made with sticks and a whole lot of natural things to keep our exploration thinking caps busy. Allow your kid to be your guide and follow along at their pace. You will be amazed by the amount of questions they begin asking.

HVP childrens forest

What got my kids the MOST excited? The little animal nook tucked away under the stairs in the children’s corner. Beyond these doors is a hidden little room where kids can sit with the many stuffed creatures and use their playtime imaginations. Moms can sit quietly on a bench and feed babies, or chat with another mom.

HVP animal nook

HVP kid corner 2

The visitor center is open 9 am – 5 pm daily (except holidays) all year. It is free to explore the children’s corner and the sensory trail just outside which leads to the children’s forest. Pack a snack and invite a friend for an easy morning of play, or bring your lunch for an afternoon of pint sized fun! For more information click here.

Even though my kids are no longer toddlers we enjoyed this day out together. I wish I knew about it when my kids were little and we needed a safe place to explore. It’s a great place to wear out little ones with play time adventures before nap. Older kids (I’d say up to age 8) can enjoy the activities here as well. A great little stop for moms of kids with toddlers or mixed ages.

 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter.

We visited my grandparents this evening, and while helping my grandma wash and dry the dinner dishes, we came across something that has really touched me.  It’s a simple waistline apron, handmade many, many years ago by my Italian seamstress great-grandmother.  The apron is beautiful and floral, yet practical and sturdy.  It has a single pocket on the right side, which I can’t help but envision held something magical (despite my grandparents saying it often contained my great-grandmother’s handkerchief).  My great-grandmother was a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman, known for her generosity, attention to detail, and gifts of food.  It wasn’t at all unusual for her to show up at her neighbor’s doorstep with some fresh-baked goodness to bestow upon them, and my grandfather still talks about the way his mother cooked.  I’d like to believe that some of her talents and love of food have been passed down throughout our family lineage.

In her honor, I’ve decided to share a recent dinner from our home, something very simple and very Italian.  It’s a cross between a lasagna and a rollatini, and was delicious enough to leave us looking forward to the extra tray of it waiting in the freezer.

To make this at home

Slice one large eggplant into one-inch slices, and bake at 450 in a single layer on a greased baking sheet, 10 minutes on each side.  Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup of part-skim ricotta, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, one egg, a little salt and pepper, and a handful of parsley and basil in a bowl.  Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray, and cover the bottom with your favorite marinara sauce.  On top of the sauce, layer as follows: half of the eggplant, ricotta mixture, three cups of raw baby spinach, more sauce, remainder of eggplant, and more sauce.  Top with two tablespoons of Parmesan and a handful (about 1/2 cup) of part-skim mozzarella.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  To make it extra authentic, use your own homemade sauce, and don’t measure any of the ingredients as you go along.  This came together quickly, my kids loved it, and I doubled the recipe and froze an extra tray of it for a future dinner.  Serve with a green salad, and mangia!

To find out what’s for dinner at our house, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.

As a Hudson Valley Parent I can personally attest to the importance of having trustworthy and reliable childcare. However, what happens when your work schedule doesn’t fall neatly into a 9 to 5 template? Thankfully, there are facilities like Hunny Bee’s Daycare to help pick up the slack.

Hunny Bee’s Daycare is run by Anne Monahan, who is just about the warmest person you could ever hope to meet. In addition to boasting a well-trained, caring, and family oriented staff, Hunny Bee’s can accommodate your ever-changing schedule with weekend and overnight care available upon request. Her kind and caring staff also offers a Pre-K curriculum which includes instruction in American Sign language.

Hunny Bee’s Daycare was established in 1994, and has been an important part of the community ever since. For more information or to make an appointment contact Anne at (845) 569-8665 or amonahana@yahoo.com.

Desserts can be a real challenge for any family trying to eat healthy.  Open any cookbook and find recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, and everything sweet… recipes loaded with perhaps your day’s worth of calories, fat, or sugar.  Everything in moderation, yes; but why not take a step back and start out with a dessert that doesn’t require you to cringe as you serve it to your loved ones?

My husband’s birthday was this week, and I agonized over what to make. As I have mentioned, he is pre-diabetic, and I do my best to make sure that everything I make for my family has some nutritional benefit in addition to taste.  After much recipe sifting, I turned to a tried-and-true favorite, the Sneaky Chef.  I’ve sung her praise before as I’ve shared pictures of veggie purees, but this recipe takes it to a new level.

OUR MOST RECENT DESSERT NIGHT

Check out the recipe, which my kids and I made together before school.  With some melted chocolate chips, whole grain pastry flour, and a mini-bundt pan (looks just like a muffin pan, with little holes in the center) these beauties come alive.  What initially made these famous were the purees (you’d never know it from the taste, but pureed spinach and blueberries are hidden inside) but try them for yourself and see how incredible they are.  I love them for birthdays because it’s easy to take a serving without having to “even out” the cake to make sure you didn’t (heaven forbid!) leave it crooked, and with a little sprinkle of powdered sugar, you can skip the too-sweet frosting.  I actually felt good watching my kids eating them (wheat germ! spinach! blueberries!), and didn’t feel all sugared-up after having it.  How often can you say that about dessert?

Stop by to see what we’re having for dinner. And don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook!

Well, I had it, but the bubble burst, lol.  The middle of January found me handing my children over to the “Original Stressed out Dinner Mom” aka, my mother Marsha and my father so I could jet off to balmy San Francisco for the annual Fancy Food Show.  For 6 days and 5 nights, I had the pleasure of not having to cook.  I forgot how GREAT it is not only to have someone else cook for me, but to actually do the dishes too!!  It got me thinking… For way too long, I’ve just simply DONE everything in my kitchen without having anyone help me.  Not for any other reason than, I can do it better, and faster myself.

When the bubble burst and I came home (don’t worry- it was a successful trip & we found a ton of new products we’re going to introduce soon- can you say all-natural chocolate sauce that’s to DIE for???) I was rested and relaxed but most of all, inspired to re-organize our dinner routine so I could get the help I needed.  I have heard many moms say “It’s too much HASSLE to have the kids in the kitchen with me!”  and I’ve also heard from adults who can’t cook  “My mom NEVER let me in the kitchen- how could I learn??”  So what can we do?  Find balance.  Get your kids involved little by little in a way that you ALL can adapt to- it’s good for all of you.

Now, I will say, in our house, it’s taken a bit of adjustment, lol.  When we are stuck in our habits, it’s hard to break out of them (especially the kids!!) but I realized that it simply was WORTH the pain to get the kids to help in the kitchen.  The learning curve won’t be that great, thanks to the dog the mess on the floor CAN actually be kept to a minimum, and the skills I am teaching them will not only help me, but help them for  a lifetime to come.

In addition, it’s inspired me to create a Time Savor Gourmet Kids in the Kitchen cooking class in conjunction with Mountain Restaurant Supply in Newburgh.  We held the first class this past Saturday to a sold out crowd of 8-12 year olds and had an amazing time.  They learned a lot (and so did I!)  More classes are forthcoming, so check the link above for the schedule.

This week finds my children learning how to set the table.  How to walk with sharp knives (I’m actually having the kids use sharp, steak-type knives at the table to cut their food as it makes it SO much easier for them to cut and I’m sitting there watching them the whole time, so they’re learning knife skills too!) and the most important one of all?  How to load the dishwasher.  Yup, I’ve given up control of the organization of the dishwasher.  The minute I realized that I was micromanaging the silverware was the minute I said “whoa- what the heck has happened to you Stacey??”  Does it REALLY matter anyway?  The answer is, absolutely not.  Especially since next week, I’m going to teach them next how to put all the stuff in there- away!

Classical music can appeal to a wide range of people. Picture two back to back grand pianos on the concert stage, a narrator relates the story of the Royal March of the Lion, Hens and Roosters, Quick Animals, Tortoises, The Elephant, Aviary and Fossils, The Swan and more. The gifted, seasoned pianists performed in magical communion: Ruthanne Schempf and Ada Margoshes masterfully portray the animals on the ivories, whilst the Symphony Orchestra accompanies them.

During this concert, in the audience, the mouths of the little ones hung open in wonder and delight. The Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra (GNSO), in its most accessible-to-children-mode at Mount St. Mary’s Aquinas Hall on January 15 was a delightful reminder that classical music teaches and inspires. A musical suite of fourteen movements (yes, the kids sat through them all, and happily) by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint Saëns exhibited to the kids that music tells a story and can make life better.

Considered a frivolous piece in his time (written in 1886), Saint Saëns wouldn’t allow it to be performed until after his death. Thank goodness it premiered in 1922 for the good of all the audiences since then, but especially because music teachers the world over find it most effective in teaching the parts of the orchestra, among other lessons for music education. Along with Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, The Carnival of the Animals is a favorite classic for children of all ages.

Parents of children with disabilities are often unsure of where to turn for financial and health care assistance for their children. There are several options available, each with its own qualifications.

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, provides monthly payments for children with disabilities who are under 18 who meet the government’s definition of disability, and who have little or no income and resources.  The amount of SSI that the child will receive varies by state.  To qualify, the household’s total income and resources must be below a certain amount, and the child cannot earn more than a certain dollar amount each month.

Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI, provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are “insured” by workers contributions to the Social Security trust fund. These contributions are based on the individual’s earnings or the earnings of the spouse or parent according to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Title II of the Social Security Act authorizes SSDI benefits. Dependents of those insured under SSDI may also be eligible for these benefits.

Medicaid can provide access to health care to children with disabilities. Some states will approve a child for Medicaid if he or she is already receiving SSI. Other states require a separate application process. However, SSI is not a prerequisite for Medicaid.

Families with slightly higher incomes may qualify for State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), which covers a wide variety of health care needs. S-CHIP is a good alternative for families who do not meet the requirements for Medicaid, but who cannot afford to pay for private insurance.

There may be other financial and health care assistance options available depending on your state. If you are a parent who would like more information about financial and health care options, contact an experienced special needs planning attorney.

To learn more about New York elder law, New York estate planning, or New York Special Needs visit http://www.littmankrooks.com.

Lately we’ve been attempting to lower our overall bread/pasta/carb intake as a whole.  I’m by no means endorsing a carb-free lifestyle– I think balance is essential for the majority of folks– but to focus more on fruit/vegetables, dairy, and protein rather than making carbs the main course has been our goal.  This seems to be most challenging in our house at breakfast and dinner.  Cold cereal is a frequent weekday meal, while eggs with pancakes or waffles is common on weekends, and who doesn’t love pasta as a side dish on a cold winter’s eve?

As a compromise, whole grains come into play.  Whole wheat flour or whole grain pastry flour are excellent ways to utilize carbs while upping the nutritional value and fullness factor.  Adding in lots of fruits and veggies is another way we’ve been balancing it out.  Here’s a recent day:

Whole grain blueberry pancakes.  Using a typical pancake recipe, but substituting whole grain pastry flour (which is very light and fluffy) for half of the flour made these possible.  Adding two cups of frozen blueberries enhanced them further.  This was a two-hour delay morning, so there wasn’t time for eggs or anything extra, but I gave my kids some low-fat cheese sticks and sliced oranges to round out the meal.

Later that day, our meal was chicken potpie with a whole wheat biscuit crust, green salad with steamed vegetables, and cantaloupe.  Again, this was a meal that did include carbs, but the whole grain biscuit crust made it healthier.  Further, lots of veggies on the side meant we ate less of the main course and more healthy greens.  The potpie came from a favorite cookbook of mine, Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, and was made in the crock pot.  I’m sure it can be adapted for a conventional oven (as I’ve made potpie before) but the recipe can be found here.

Stop by to see what we’re having for dinner, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy eating!

I’ve spent most of my life in top physical shape. Two years ago I found myself on the opposite end of that spectrum, when I realized I could no longer shop at a regular clothing store. There was no escaping it, I was obese. I tried several diets including Atkins and South Beach to no avail. Then, a friend gave me a book titled “Eat Right For Your Blood Type”, by Dr. Peter D’Adamo, and the sky opened up.

Dr. D’Adamo asserts that your blood type dictates which foods your body is most capable of turning into fuel. Each blood type (O, A, B, or AB) has a distinctive diet in line with that blood type’s evolution and history. While the right diet can recalibrate your metabolism, speed weight loss, and provide you with energy you thought only teenagers possessed, the wrong diet can cause a host of health problems, including obesity.

The upshot is I lost 50 lbs in 4 months and now follow the diet about 60% of the time. Many in the mainstream have labeled this diet a fad with no basis in reality. In my reality it works just fine. For more information you can visit the author’s website or if you want abbreviated dos and don’t s go here.

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