Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Dad

Recently Joshua has really gotten into storytelling.  Most of his stories of late are about his "New Dad."  I'm not exactly sure, but I think it all started after we had some friends stay over one night on their way down to Florida.  They also have 3 kids, and once they left, Josh would weave tales about how he had twin boys named "Eden and Meden" (Eden is their baby girl's name).  Or he and George would tell stories and use their kids' names throughout.  It was quite entertaining.

From there it started becoming "My New Mom" and "My New Dad."  His new mom's name was Bennie (for a while).  So he would tell stories about about his new parents and all of the things they had or did.  He kind of dropped the new mom a while back, and now tells the most creative and outlandish stories about his "New Dad."  For example, his new dad is a HUGE black widow spider who lives on Mars and drives a monster truck/rocket ship/plane.  And anytime there is something he wants that we don't have...that's AOK, because his new dad has it!  He has even offered to let me borrow stuff that his new dad has that I don't have.  So this has been going on for a little while.

Imagine the weirdness when Chris and I watched the movie Coraline last night.  If you haven't seen it, there is this whole thing about Coraline having a "other mother" (and father).  We weren't exactly freaked out, but it was a very strange coincidence!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Flag Football Game

The boys' first football game was last Saturday, and it was a lot of fun watching them play.  Of course the little cheerleaders were adorable too.  It's funny to see how many adults are out on the field with a bunch of 4-year-olds.  Both boys got to run the ball, and of course I couldn't get the camera switched over to movie mode in time, which Chris was none too pleased about.  So we'll be taking the camcorder AND the camera to future games.  It's not exactly the easiest thing to try and pay attention while keeping a (at this particular game, tired and cranky) toddler happy and entertained, but we managed fairly well.  I believe having LOTS of snacks handy was key.  Here are some of pics of the big event:

Both teams gathered on the field before the game.
George's Team - The Bulls (Daa Bullss).
Josh's Team - The Comets.
The super cute little cheerleaders.
Here's the kind of thing that makes 4-year-old football a hoot.
Here's a typical scene: Josh is just standing out there zoning out, a couple of kids are getting individual instruction, and the kid on the far left looks like he's ready for a nap.
Another common scenario with the 4's: In this particular instance it is George being physically moved to his designated spot.
One of the fleeting moments where Blake was relaxed and calm on Daddy's lap.
I'm including this picture just because both of the boys are on the field at the same time (George, far left, #4 jersey.  Josh, second from right.).
George on the sidelines.  The kid to his left is the tallest kid of all in this age group.
This is a picture taken just after George's almost touchdown.  He did get a touchdown, but then a flag was thrown because one of his flags was missing from his belt (but not because someone had pulled it).  At least I captured a shot of him holding the ball.  That counts for something, right?  He's on the left, in purple, holding the ball.  Oh, and there's Josh too, on the far right!
Josh and teammates (and a coach) running to the sidelines.
Josh on defense.  That's a pretty decent stance, I think.
George hamming it up.  You can tell it's getting to be close to the end - the kids are all kind of losing interest in the game.
Josh running the ball, and George on defense.  Brother against brother.  Clash of the Titans.  Peyton vs. Eli.  
What I've dubbed as "The Good Sportsmen Lineup."
Just click on a pic to see a bigger version of it.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Better Chocolate Milk

My boys have never really gotten into plain milk.  When the twins were weaning, I asked the doctor what she suggested since they weren't really drinking it.  She recommended flavoring the milk.  Oh, if only I had known then what I know now.  As I continue on this journey to transition our family to a whole foods lifestyle, I have done quite a bit of research, and from that I have decided to switch from commercially processed (i.e. pasteurized and homogenized) milk to fresh, raw milk.  We are currently drinking raw milk from a small local organic farm (for more information on why to choose raw milk, check out this website), and it is fantastic.  But I digress.  

Not only was I giving my kids potentially damaging milk, I was also loading it up with sugar and chemicals.  I tried just about every flavor of milk mix I could find, and was delighted when there was a sugar-free version that they liked (this is a topic for another post, but I have also given up artificial sweeteners and white sugar).  Needless to say, once I did a little bit of research on natural, nourishing, whole foods (and what foods are NOT of that variety), I realized that chocolate (or other flavored) milk might not be an option for my kids anymore.  

Once we made the switch to raw milk, I once again tried (unsuccessfully) to get the boys to drink plain milk.  I knew I wanted them to get the good stuff that raw milk has to offer, without forcing it on them or making them feel deprived.  My goal is to make the transition as seamless as possible for my family.  So I decided to make my own chocolate milk mix.   

During my search for a wholesome, natural sweetener (that tastes really good and is also versatile), I came across coconut sugar (otherwise known as palm sugar).  You can get this in various forms: block, paste, or crystals.  I have tried all of these, and I have found the crystals to be the easiest and most versatile.  This sugar is all natural, has a low glycemic index, and is relatively low in calories (15 calories per serving).  And it tastes AWESOME.  I have tried many other sweeteners, and this is my favorite by far.  You can find different varieties on, but it is pretty expensive.  The last time I got it I bought 5 lbs. in bulk from Azure Standard.  A better option would be to hit up your local Asian market (I have yet to go to ours, but it's on my to-do list).  You should be able to find a few varieties there and for much cheaper.  But this comprises the bulk of the chocolate milk mix.

The second ingredient is the chocolate.  I have switched from Hershey's brand to Navitas Naturals Raw Cacao Powder.  I think you can get it for a decent price at iHerb or LuckyVitamin.  Or try your local health food store.  

So here are my supplies for the mix:
I am using a sample sized formula can for the acutal mix, and I use a quart sized mason jar for the chocolate milk itself.  The ratio for the mix is (roughly) one heaping teaspoon of the raw chocolate powder to three tablespoons of coconut sugar.  Once you've filled your container, you can either shake it or use a handy-dandy mini whisk like mine.

See?  Isn't it cute?  And it does a really good job.  I use it for lots of things.  But if you do not own a mini whisk, you could use a spoon, or fork, or whatever you choose to mix it.

You will also want to label it.  You could use a Sharpie.  Or, if you're a geek like me, you'll want to use your label maker.  I LOVE mine.  See?  There it is.
And just in case you couldn't read it from the above picture, here is a close-up of my spiffy little label.  
So once it's all mixed up and you're ready to make the chocolate milk, you'll need to add a heaping spoonful of mix per cup of milk (more or less, to taste).  It does not just dissolve by stirring it in.  You can blend this in a blender (fastest), or if you're not in a hurry, you can use the shake method.  I usually shake it up and stick it in the fridge.  Then every time I open the fridge, I give it a good shake.  It takes several times before the mix gets all dissolved, but it happens eventually.  Now pour and enjoy, like so:

It is truly delicious, and also much more nutritious than the chemical-laden, sugar-filled store bought syrups and powders.  We love it!