Lunchtime success!

  I am really proud of my planning and research of recipes for my daughters kindergarten lunches. Although I had a lot of things to get done, I am glad i was able to get the Tupperware and groceries needed to make the ideas I found off pinterest and recipes.com. I can now say I followed through on my own plans, rather than spitting out ideas and never bothering there after. Its very easy to do that!

  I was able to get the silicone cups for her lunches as well as a thermos and containers she can open herself (thankgod I thought of that). I love how her lunches look all sectioned out. I have been trying to make smaller portions with bigger selection to help watch her diet and nutrition. Of course I have to pack fun snacks but I like to add a variety of fruits and veggies to her diet. Kids are so darn picky and she’s getting to the age where other kids influence her thought on her once favorite things. (We all know what that’s like).

  I have been sneaky and creative by getting her to eat foods with hidden veggies. It actually works. We are pretty plain eaters. I do not like to put syrup, dressings or heavy cream on or in anything. We eat plain waffles with fruit or plain pancakes because I put peanutbutter or chocolate chips inside. We also do not use ketchup or mustard ever. (Gasp). We don’t add much salt or pepper to things.

  I’m kind of boring in the condiment department. But I do love adding a few ingredients to everything. I love almonds, honey and vanilla extract. I also love cinnamon and nutmeg. I add those things to many common recipes to add variety. I am excited because I tried out a new mini muffin recipe that is really good so far. Introducing the newest flavor combo:

   Chocolate chip squash muffins!

1 Gerber baby food squash container.
1 mix of Betty crocker muffins
1/2 cup water (just add a tad less water)
1 teaspoon honey
1 sprinkle of cinnamon

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I thought about adding some other types of vegetable puree but squash seemed like a good experimental flavor. You can use a whole grain or oatmeal muffin mix as well. Also, honey is just a favorite of ours and it makes it sweet enough to hide the veggie flavor. I couldn’t get my daughter away from the batter.

  

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   I am excited to try more veggie muffins this week. I have decided to use paper cups and then freeze four or six at a time in Tupperware. I originally tried zip lock which was stupid because they stick together. By freezing it, I can defrost small amounts and stick one or two in her lunch box to add some variety.

  

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  So far I am creative and on a roll! She loved her lunch today and helped me pack tomorrows! Ideas are always welcome so please post to me if you have awesome recipe suggestions!

       

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Yum!

feministingmama

Diving into feminism and kindergarten!

  Today went as magically as could be imagined. My daughter loved school and cannot wait to get back tomorrow to her classroom. I was so proud that she ran onto the bus, until she gave me no hug and left like I was invisible. One point for independence. I so needed the tissues more than her. Independence is good though. It means I did everything right. Being a single mother for the past five and a half years has served me right. She needs me a little less. That’s what parents should be. Support and encouragement towards becoming self sufficient. Although I will never be able to imagine a time when we have to part, I am so proud at the reality of my daughter having to move forward with her life. Every tiny step she takes on her own, from her first steps to the steps onto the bus today, she is becoming herself. A person with dreams, inspirations and a desire to grow.

  I am so inspired by the feminists I am reading currently into in all of my courses. It is really amazing to be able to apply my studies to my life. To actually use what I am learning to shape my own life and experiences. No thanks to square dancing or calculus, I am not earning a relative career in those topics. I am not earning a degree in applied math or science. I will not be studying anything mind numbing like some of the courses I was forced to take in early public school. I am proud to have hand selected and earned my position in my field. I hope to luck out and find my career after becoming a graduate student. I truly believe that through praying and focusing, I have been led to the best directions for myself. So far, all my courses have further educated me to a direct interest. I have almost solved the age old question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”

  I think that writers like Wollstonecraft and Beauvoir had great points about how women were treated as an “other” or “unbeing” in society. What’s worrisome to me are the many women around me who choose to be inferior and grounded in their lives. I feel like women are so afraid of taking on the responsibility to become more.

  Although I am proud to be a mother as well as a sole provider for my household, I know that it is a hard to juggle and keep up. Not many girls are willing to juggle a child along with their studies and a job. I also think a current problem that is digressing the progress of women is many uneducated people choose to hold their own success back. I do not think that becoming a mother is a setback by any means. My motherhood journey is what launched my success and my drive grew stronger with becoming responsible for another person. I grew into my multiple roles. It is never easy and I do have times where I feel the weight of my juggle act. But its liberating. I enjoy that I am able to have all the experiences and benefits that I do. I have them because I chose to pursue everything. I get scholarships and aid because I have learned how to form relationships with colleagues and professors enough to get recommendations. I have also learned to apply my skills and better my weaknesses. As I mature, I continue to grow and expand my knowledge of the world around me. I am not the same person I would have been had I not had my daughter.

What bothers me are the people who choose to do nothing. No mental stimulation or personal growth. People who choose to be stuck how they are. For years or sometimes forever. What the problem with doing nothing is, is that those who do nothing change nothing. You do not help out your peers in any struggle when attributing to the causes. When you ignore problems or live in cycles of oppression, you encourage it to exist. When you do nothing to support your peers as humankind, you cause gender divide. Society is structured with dichotomies of relationships, caused by resistance to change. It becomes a problem when we raise our children to be racist, sexist and ignorant out of a lack of desire to change our ways. Its selfish. And lazy.

  One thing I do to support changing the way I was raised is to reinforce equality and positive images in the lessons I teach my child. I make sure I explain family structures and love in a variety of ways. I teach her that love is love, regardless of sexual orientation. I teach her that gender differences is nothing but the difference of genitalia, not in her looks or ability to succeed. I highlight all of her characteristics. Without telling her she is boyish or girlish. Its a constant effort on my part to watch my language, verbal and non verbal, as well as what I choose to give her. I select what films we view and I think about the kind of stories I tell her. I care about how she feels. What she thinks. And I support her to progress in whatever she loves. (Unless its something like destroying my homework). I take pride in my choices. Seriously. Because those choices are making my child who she is.

I have taken my daughter on my campus many times as well as to my classes. We have also been attending different organizations since she was a year old. I have been involved I. Student government, the school paper and have worked hard to help change my colleges to be more family (kid) friendly. I have been stared at. I have pushed limits. I have asked questions others dared to. And pressed for changes others never bothered to ask for. Out of their comfort or ignorance. I have taken a few years to realize I am so made for my field that I was meant to be where I am.

Its pretty great to feel like you belong. Like something in you just feels at home with your choices. When I am in my classrooms, although anxiety of homework rattles my brain, I am excited to learn. I do not take for granted any of the privledges I have in my life. Its important to be thankful. Above all, I am tired of people blaming others for their short comings or failures.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you aren’t happy with your life, change it. You can shape your life based on your choices.

When you feel something is not right or you work so hard to make something wrong feel right, it may be time to move on. And when you choose to give up on your dreams, you are to blame.

If you wont even try, you lack ambition, not options.

feministingmama

“All by myself”

 
  We finally have made it to September. My daughter seems so excited for kindergarten. I have been shopping for what I can to prepare for kindergarten. I was so excited to receive my silicone baking cups in the mail finally!!! I cannot wait to use them for organizing her school lunches.

   Today we picked up some more finger foods and snacks for her lunches. I also found some pretty cute Tupperware. This is what my life comes to. I am excited about lunch containers. Its a new chapter in her life so I want
everything to be perfect.
   

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I am trying out new recipes for my daughter to add in new food groups she isn’t used to. I also need to amp up my diet which now consists of anything I can get at campus or junk. No breakfast. And cookies. I am horrible during the semester. I snack way too much and end up not feeling 100%. I need to focus on eating the right types of food. Also, I need to live off water. I am a maniac when searching for beverages because nothing seems to be natural anymore. I hear so much about GMOs and added dietary chemicals. I search for 100% juice or it goes back on the shelf.
  
   So far this past week I have labeled books, prepared her backpack, and tried to encourage her as much as possible. I am dealing with my own stresses but trying not to let it show. I have trouble hiding my feelings from my daughter. She is the only one who can see right through me. She knows all my weaknesses and fears. She knows my happy face. My angry face. She will even walk into time out because she knows my “I have had it up to here” face. You all must know what I mean!

  What is bothering me is that her going to kindergarten is a big marker of independence for us both. I am starting to decide what career I want. The clock is ticking. I have to come up with answers. I need to get a plan that is fail proof. I have no where to live after I graduate. I have to find an apartment, find a steady job and get a car. I have to make sure its in the area so my daughter can stay in her district. I need to do it all by myself. The lesson of the week has been that phrase exactly. What I am most afraid and eager of is having to and needing to do this all alone.

  I have been in a serious and committed relationship for three years with a man who is not the father of my child but the only person she knows most besides me. He met her when she was only two. She is nearly six now. We are both college aged and busy with our own paths. We have made it through so many things that I feel like we are almost invincible. We thought long and hard about some major decisions and decided to follow our own hearts but in different directions. No, not a breakup. Physically. As in latitude, longitude. He is going to go to Africa to serve and help people. I am going to finish my college degree and find the career of my dreams. With all of our friends all rushing to be married or pregnant, we have been very different. We have stayed committed and happy without rushing to be more than just our ages. It has made us happy and closer than ever to follow through on our own life plans. Something I learned a long time ago was that giving up your dreams for any guy is not love. Its settling. And abandoning your own passions. I’ve done it before. And I got a daughter out of it. I am so thankful for that. But now is my time to get it right.

   I had to say good luck and see you later to my best friend, my only real love last night. He will leave tomorrow evening on a days journey to Africa. I am so blessed to have him in my life and to have his family. We are so in love and in sync with each other. I never really felt loved by anyone like I do with him. Though we both cried and had a hard time parting, we feel joy at the great experience we are giving each other. To be able to grow and follow our own paths. When both of us are done in a few semesters, we can then be reunited and see where our five year relationship. We have plans for the future together but first we need more than ever to complete our own goals. He is my hero and I admire him so much. For all that he does for others. He constantly puts others well being before his own. He is active in church and also a well adjusted guy. He has been the best thing to ever happen to my daughter. She is so excite for him to go to Africa and see zebras. She tells everyone about him nonstop. I never thought I would find someone to whole heartedly accept myself and my daughter, for all that we are.

   I can honestly say I have loved him fro. The start. (Really, I said I love you the first week). I dated a lot after my ex, even though Bella was a baby. She never met any of the guys really. Unless I was friends with guys I did not want her to be raised meeting all different guys. Still, I was only seventeen with a baby. I did want to date. I went through a whole lot of frogs and didn’t feel right with any. I felt like I could just skip being emotional to avoid being hurt or abandoned again. Love was not for me. Until I met him. Now some friends ask me If I’m open to dating while he is away. Its not on the table. When you know, you just know.

 

I have had a lot of obstacles but I finally know what I want in my life. I know who I want to be. Who I am. And who I want to spend my life with. I am thankful and happy for the friends i have. For the memories I am making with my daughter. I can actually say I am at peace with my life. All because I am not afraid to do things by myself. To accomplish my goals and make my own dreams come true. Like I deserve.

Love is having your heart walk whole outside of your body. For me, half beats strong in Africa and the other half is cuddled up on my lap. I finally found my home.

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feministingmama

Sale-a-holic

   So… I have a confession. I am a sale-a-holic. A functioning one. I do cut coupons. I also love to stock up on sale groceries. But my madness goes so much deeper. My brain is literally hardwired with knowledge of shopping. Where to do it, how to do it and what to pick out for others. When I have to shop for something, I plan it out. I make lists and compare prices. I think of what I have already that would match or go with whatever new thing I want.

   I do not wing shopping. It must be well thought out and saved for. I dig and delve through racks. I like to even go back and circle the same spots in stores like Home Goods, Marshalls and Target. I know if I look hard enough I will find awesome things. So this year,  for my daughter, I went kindergarten clothing hunting. When I say hunting I so do not joke. My friends are always blown away with my finds. And I’m proud of them because I know it took deep thought and plotting to achieve sale shopping.
  
   I love to go to stores like H&M and Gymboree for my belle. I also find awesome things in the racks of JcPennys kids section. I raid the clearance first. I shovel through sizes and sections, grabbing things I like or love. I grab anywhere from a 6x to a 10. I have learned that different materials stretch or shrink on my child. I have also learned what is worth splurging for as well as what is a complete rip off. For instance, elastic waisted, adjustable pants are a total keeper. Those spandex leggings however are a complete waste because they fall throughout the day and give a lovely view of my five year olds ass crack. I also look for cuffable jeans and leggings that scrunch because she can wear them much longer without her ankles having to dangle out from her crazy growth spurts. All this stuff below was from children’s place, H&M and gymboree. Leggings were $4 each. Skirts all on clearance for less than $6 each. Socks five for five.

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   I have remembered and/or noted what colors stain easy. For instance, as lovely as white lace is for my daughter, I always avoid stark white tops. I avoid shirts that have attached necklaces or beading because they always break in the wash. Patches however are awesome. I wish I had a whole bucket of patches for when she rips a hole in her favorite pants or sweater. That’s what my grandmother used to do. I ask my daughter what she likes and she just shrugs, continuing to run around like a nut. So I have gotten to know her quirks. She does not mind tags like some kids. However she hates those pants with the weird little slip cuff button and zipper. Loathes them. So we do not do those. 

   I have come to adore handmedowns. My aunt has given me many bags of clothing, which always spruce up our clothing selection. What I do not like just goes into donation for someone else. And anything too stained or worn— do not throw out people. I have asked my digital spouse what to do and I learned how to make headbands from old shirts! That’s right. There is a use for them after all. Here is proof:

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I made all of the above headbands from old shirts and beads. By hand too. I will post about that another time!

   I have bought clearance shirts from various shirts and then spruced them up at home. Its a good way to save but also unique. I can assure that half of what my daughter has, no one else will. Sure a bunch of six year olds won’t care. I am thrilled because my inner fashion designer is getting to live a little.
  

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    I couponed for Gymboree and children’s place recently. The clothing is always priced pretty good but I know if I go on certain weeks, the clothing is on sale. I’ll buy a bathing suit or jacket for my daughter to wear the following year. I go as far as grabbing things a whole year ahead because it is that dang cheap to do!

  

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  Sweater shopping for kindergarten was the best. I hunted like crazy for comfortable sweaters in a size 7 or bigger so she can wear them a good two solid years. The butterfly sweater was $6 at GAP clearance. The bottom two were from marshalls for $9 each. Still great even though that was their full prices. Adorable. Versatile. Able to be washed and worn a million times.

    My greatest find of all had to be saved for last. Mostly just to see if everyone is still reading. My drum roll find from searching over an hour-no joke and going through every shoe box in the damn kids section were two pairs of Sperry’s. Both were on sale and in awesome colors that match everything. In the mall a pair is about $65 for kids and adults its well into the $90s. Gross right? What the hell are shoes made of that they cost so much? I have always wondered. At marshalls I was able to find these adorable babies for $20 each. That’s $40 for two pairs of shoes….whaaaa???? Unimaginable.

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      All because I am a sale-a-holic.

feministingmama

Lunch art – healthy and adorable

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   As part of my countdown to kindergarten, I have been tirelessly researching lunch ideas for my five year old. Knowing she isn’t very fond of vegetables or meats unless they are craftily mixed into meals, I have found the best solutions online. Pinterest has come to my rescue again. I feel if anything like I have a digital spouse. I can find anything on pinterest. House ideas, DIY projects, affordable solutions and my favorite- recipes!!
   One awesome thing I discovered was multiple ideas on how to create snack drawers! By bagging and sealing many snacks ahead of time, I could just grab something each day for my child’s lunch box. Why is that so simple and yet I never thought of it? Thank you digital spouse. Simply purchase a dollar store (dollar tree is our favorite) container bin in a cool color and label it with an index card as “snacks” if your super crafty like me! Sure we can identify the bucket by looking at it. But what about your little kindergartener who is very observant and very obsessed with opening the fridge? Its educational.
   Next, get some super cheap and awesome zip lock bags (Target makes bright colored ones) and a sharpie. If you feel up to it, do what I do and stock your kitchen junk drawer (come on, we all have one) with post its, tape, index cards, markers and cute stickers. The dollar store has all that stuff so you wont be spending a lot and you will spruce up the lunches with labels. Your learning child can get used to the items along with their words.
    Make sure you get a variety of snacks for them. Kids go through so many fazes with food. One week they love strawberries. The next week they think they are the scum of the earth. Get some dips like cottage cheese, peanut butter and even wowbutter (made with sunflower seed oil). Its great to provide dips when packing celery, cheese sticks, pretzels, biscuits, fruits chopped and finger foods. Raisins are great but can get boring too. Try some dried fruit or craisins to mix it up a bit.
    My daughter loves grilled cheese and quesadillas so I have looked up things I can add to them. I loved the idea of grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Also. Adding spinach and mozzarella cheese fried on bread. I have slipped many vegetables into wraps and quesadillas. Sour cream or home made dressings on the side are good for kids who love to dip.
   

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  Wrap roll ups seem like the best invention in the world. I have wrapped up spreads, pbj, deli meats and veggies for her then cut it like sushi. One thing I saw was rolling up pbj in wheat wraps and freezing them. You can thaw it anytime or pack it frozen so it’ll be thawed by the time lunch comes around at school.
   

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On the subject of frozen foods, i saw these fruit cups on a woman’s blog and fell in love. My child hates applesauce by itself. I want to buy frozen fruit bag varieties and sort them into each cup. Then every cup is covered and froze again. Pack it in a small ziplock container to be thawed by lunch time. It keeps fruit fresh and saves you money since fruit won’t go bad so fast if frozen!!
    My last favorite that I will be trying are the muffin recipes I have been finding. Any can be googled but a good suggestion of mine is weelicious and allrecipes.com. I have both mini muffin and regular sized tins which I use at least once a week. We use paper cups to avoid having to spray butter ( I end up inhaling it and feeling gross). The recipes call for ingredients like baby food, meat, spaghetti and even bacon!
One fun idea is to make mini corn muffins with chopped hotdog slices in each muffin. Another recipe was for delicious zucchini and cheddar muffins. Many required just flour, baking soda, chopped fruits and baby food puree. How cool and useful huh?
   

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Well I am way too busy to sit around all day during the semesters and cook/bake for my little one. I am not a stay at home mom and am the only bread winner. So I have decided to make efficient grocery lists based on these recipes. I also use small accordion recipe folders for ideas and coupons. You don’t have to tackle it all at once. Spread ideas out and see what items are on sale during each season. I also think that setting an hour on the weekend to prepare this stuff and then freeze it is awesome!!! If you lay out a chunk of time on the weekend, you van pack lunches super fast during the week. I know this weekend I’ll be hitting up dollar tree and trader joes for most of the ingredients and supplies. So worth it in the end. I also am ordering rubber cupcake baking cups on amazon( sets of 12 for less than $15.00) which are reusable for baking and great for dividing foods in a container.

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Well that’s it for now! Can’t wait to post when I try it all out!!!!

feministingmama

T-minus 19 days until kindergarten

  The whole year has been an added bonus to holding my child back from kindergarten. Not so much in my pocket, since i paid an extra year of daycare. However I have not regretted holding her back after finding out she scored significantly low in her evaluation scores in both communication and physical activities. I would swear my child is a genius because of her knowledge of the alphabet, shapes, all things ponies and cooking skills. Apparently those skills are not enough to achieve kindergarten readiness. Besides, having an ultra late November birthday like me, she would have been the youngest in her class. I was four with the fives. Five with the sixes. Sixteen with the seventeens. And seventeen while going into college. Her evaluation scores were not what psyched me out. What I thought about and said to the principal was “how will she feel when everyone gets their permit before her and her friends are all doing more mature things?”. He laughed but he was on the same wavelength. One whole year makes a world of a difference.
    I have been coping with the idea of a new schedule for myself and my daughter. Going into kindergarten means that we both will have shorter days and a bigger work load. To help prepare, I have searched for tips on kindergarten readiness and talked with many parents. Since every child is different, I have tried to focus on how my child learns. Her obsession with horses has helped me find ways to teach her about animals, life, counting and responsibility. Her speech has come a long way in that her vocabulary has grown. I have managed to balance my homework and readings out with having a child by reading materials to her. Of course she has no idea half the time what I mean, but I am planting a seed. I have been able to write a lot about mothering in return for my assignments. The juggle has worked out in my favor.
    While ignoring my own upcoming courses, I have been shopping for items for her school supply list. Of course I was eager to obtain it so I stalked the school website until I found the PDFs from last year. Figuring it was the same supply list, I got everything and then some. On the list were pony folders, extra glue, safety scissors and the coolest lunch Tupperware I could find. She was able to settle on a backpack and lunch box after much searching. I wanted her to pick out things she liked based on interest not gender. She originally wanted a ninja turtles backpack but was shy around the boys in Walmart all fighting for one. I explained to her that it did not matter which one she had as long as she liked it. The end result was a Disney backpack. Predictable but cute.    

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   The funniest part about being a feminist and teen mom is that some people think I’m going through a phase. Or that I am trying to rebel against society. In a way I am. I stand up for what I believe in but I do not raise pitch forks and raise havoc on all things pink. I adore ruffles and flowers on my daughter. I also love that she rolls around in the dirt and gets rough. Why do we all assume that being dirty or wearing dusty denim is masculine? Think about it. We teach our daughters all the time to be submissive, ultra feminine and spotless. To cross their ankles and wear white socks. Girls are not expected to be wild or dirty. I raise my own child to just enjoy life. To take the time to stomp in the rain puddles and pick out black and green “boyish” toys. Its not betraying my gender to play with some trucks. And I won’t be betraying my feminism by wearing dresses and heels. Its knowing I can choose what I want and so can my daughter. So when she dresses up for kindergarten and chooses toy story sneakers to match her pink skirt, I will be proud to send her off.
   What parents ignore is that society sets the precursor for gender identity. Having isles marked by girls and boys items helps pave the way for segregation in toys, lunch boxes, bedroom decor and later on in life careers and education. We don’t take it serious enough when we direct our kids to boy or girl approved things. We take for granted the ability to be an individual, a unique person. When my daughter steps into public school, my wish is for her to see people as people. I only wish other children could too.
    With less than three weeks left I have bought everything I could think of. Aside from that set of stainless steel vegetable shape cutters on amazon. I have looked up fun and healthy lunch foods, gotten every supply I could and interested study tips til my eyes were hurting. I have coordinated outfits, purchased story books about moving up into kindergarten and even redid her bedroom to fit her new “change”. OK also to force her to like her own bed permanently. We are taking this new experience with extra excitement. She is my only child so I do wonder if I go overboard sometimes. Then I remind myself there is no such thing! 🙂

  

feministingmama