2014: My pursuit of my happiness

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Well, it’s the first Monday of 2014! (joy!) Right?! I’m lucky enough to be at home with Callan, playing, cooking and napping as we await the BCS Championship game tonight. I’m rooting for FSU for no particular reason, well maybe because the hubby is and I have no allegiance to either team. 

I’m scared and excited for what this year holds for me and my family. There’s so much uncertainty in our lives, so much out of our control that it’s amazing we even step outside to face it all. But we do. And I will. I will take each day at a time, doing my best, doing all I can do and then leaving it at the door every evening when I get home. I will be present with my family, not preoccupied by outside circumstances or people. I will choose to be happy because they deserve it, and heck, I do too. If it comes down to the dishes or playing airplanes with Callan, well guess what dishes, you get to be dirty just a little longer. My home may be messy, but every moment that created the mess was worth it! 

I’m determined to be the best ME I can be in 2014. I have seriously reflected on my priorities, goals, and dreams and they have changed. Scary when a goal or dream you’ve held on to for so long may not be what you want anymore. And that’s okay, I have to accept that. Now is the time to realize my new set of goals & dreams and work just as hard to see them come true as dreams past. We don’t have to be stuck in one spot, one career, one town, just because it WAS a dream. New dreams may change those things; accept the challenge. Life is short and I want to make as many dreams come true as possible and show Callan that the possibilities  in life are truly endless as long as you never stop pursuing. 

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The time has come…

to take care of myself again! As a mom, wife, nurse, etc it is too easy to forget about ME. I have gained weight, eat crappy or not at all, I go to bed late, forgot about exercise, and drink waaay too much coffee…and guess what? It is all showing in my tight clothes, blemished skin and weak immune system. (can you say 3 week cold?) I need to remember that I’m a priority, too, and that taking time to buy healthy food, to exercise and to leave the dishes for another time are important. These steps will help my physical and mental well-being as I traverse through stressful times in my life. 

I also need to focus on my spirituality and faith. Another area in my life that gets neglected when I’m stressed. And honestly that’s the place I should be running to during these times.

 

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

So there’s been a lot of talk about the benefits of ACV: clears acne, lowers blood pressure, helps lose weight.
I’m trying the recommended 2 tablespoons of ACV a day. Now this raw version is a bit intense on the palate so here’s my little recipe:

-2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
-4 oz water
-1 tsp raw honey (or sweetener of choice)
-dash of cinnamon
-ice cubes

Drink up and see what happens! 🙂 Balancing your pH will benefit your overall health & make sure your body systems are working in optimal condition. And it’s said that ACV can help with upset stomachs, sinus infections, coughs & much more!

More info on WebMD

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Healthy Nachos from Weelicious!

Absolute yumminess! And healthier than the ball park variety 🙂

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Nachos  (Serves 6)

  • Prep Time:1 minutes,
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes,
  • Total Time: 15 minutes,

Ingredients

  • 1 bag tortilla chips (i used 1/2 baked blue corn & half white corn)
  • 2 cups cheese (i used a mexican blend cheese which is a blend of monterey jack, cheddar and queso blanco)
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 2. Place 1/2 of chips in an oven safe dish or on a cookie sheet.
  3. 3. Cover with 1/2 of the cheese and beans.
  4. 4. Cover with the remaining chips, cheese and beans and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted over chips.
  5. 5. Top with guacamol-wee, sour cream, salsa and or olives.
  6. 6. Serve.

Accompaniments: Sour Cream, Guacamol-Wee, Salsa, Sliced Black Olives

http://weelicious.com/2009/11/10/nachos/

Clean Eating: Chicken and Avocado Salad

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Clean Eating Chicken Avocado Salad

(Makes: 2 servings OR 4 servings if topping the halves of 2 avocados)

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shredded chicken (canned or home-cooked)
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup minced, raw, red onions
  • 2 avocados – 4 halves (optional)
  • Dressing to taste

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, no sugar added
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch salt (to taste)

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the salad ingredients until well mixed.
  3. Pour the dressing over your salad and serve as desired.

Nutritional Content:
(Data is for 1/4 the recipe – includes 1/2 avocado)

Calories: 184
Total Fat: 15 gm
Saturated Fats: 2 gm
Trans Fats: 0 gm
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Sodium: 49 mg
Carbohydrates: 10 gm
Dietary fiber: 6 gm
Sugars: 3 gm
Protein: 5 gm
Estimated Glycemic Load: 3

How will you educate your child?

The ABCs of Montessori Education

by Jennifer Lacey

If it’s time for you to decide on the type of education you want for your child and you’re seeking an alternative to traditional modes of learning, you may wish to consider Montessori-affiliated schools as a viable option. Located throughout the United States, these schools may be able to provide the child-centered environment you idealize to foster your child’s learning and exploration of the world surrounding her.

History

Maria Montessori was born in 1870 in Ancona, Italy. In 1896, she attained considerable recognition when she became the first woman in the country to become a physician–a considerable feat for any woman living during that time. Dr. Montessori spent most of her time observing the learning methods of young children. Through years of observation and study she came to the belief that children teach themselves and build themselves from what they find in their environment.

In 1906, Dr. Montessori founded the Casa dei Bambini, or “Children’s House” in Rome, after giving up her medical practice to work exclusively with a group of sixty young children.

Dr. Montessori’s work gained attention in the United States during her visit in 1913, which coincided with the creation of the Montessori Education Association by the famous inventor, Alexander Graham Bell. She continued her work throughout her later years and received worldwide recognition when she became a three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Montessori died in Holland in 1952, and her work continues through the Association of Montessori Internationale (AMI), located in Amsterdam, as well as in numerous schools around the world.

According to research published by the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association , (NAMTA), there are an estimated 4,000 Montessori schools located throughout the United States and 7,000 worldwide. Montessori programs mostly serve children between the ages of three to six, although they are not limited to early childhood education. Many such programs serve infants and toddlers to mid-teens. NAMTA claims that published studies show children who are educated through the Montessori method will be well prepared for their later life academically, socially, and emotionally.

Dr. Montessori believed in the concept of a “prepared environment.” This theory is based upon her observations that a child’s learning environment can be designed to optimize a child’s independent learning and exploration. Such an environment will facilitate a wide range of activity and movement in the classroom.

An example of a prepared environment can start in the home. “If your four-year-old wants to dress himself in the morning, place three sets of weather-appropriate clothing in a drawer that he can access and from which he can choose, because you don’t want the child to choose a T-shirt and shorts for a cold day! If he did the latter, you would have to correct his choice, thus hurting his sense of independence,” explains Frederic F. Catlin, Head of School at the Montessori Community School of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Learning materials in the Montessori classroom are designed to facilitate activity amongst children. Educational materials may consist of maps, puzzles, colored beads, as well as geometric shapes, all of which are located within reach of the children. “As a doctor, Maria Montessori designed her materials to fit the needs of any child, disabled or gifted. The materials can be broken down into individual pieces or combined,” says Cathy Kalkus, Primary Class Director of the Montessori School of Alexandria, Virginia.

This approach is far different from the traditional means of education and learning. “Montessori learning is child-centered; traditional learning is teacher-centered. In a traditional, teacher-centered environment, the teacher tries to control all aspects of the class. With Montessori, the teacher, whom we refer to as the ‘guide,’ creates a learning path for the child to follow, and also allows the child the freedom to pursue tangents of knowledge,” says Mr. Catlin.

Montessori Misconceptions

There are many opinions as well as misconceptions regarding the Montessori way of education. Some critics say that the classroom environment is unsupervised, with children acting up and doing whatever they want with little or no intervention.

“Montessori uses a multi-aged classroom,” explains Mr. Catlin. “Because the program adapts to each child, there is no rigid curriculum for each grade level, thus allowing the fluidity of a multi-age setting. This environment also allows older children to mentor younger children and for the younger ones to become motivated by seeing the more complicated works of older children.”

Most Montessori educators will agree that if a child is acting disruptively with the classroom materials, the teacher will intervene and encourage the child to use the materials appropriately.

Other concerns pertain to whether children educated under the Montessori system will be prepared for a possible transition to a school that provides a more traditional way of learning. Ms. Kalkus believes that this is entirely possible, since Montessori-educated children, “…tend to do very well when they transition to other schools. Mostly this is because they have learned how to learn. They are independent, resourceful, and socially secure. They tend to be excellent readers, and are very good at math as well.”

Words of Advice

“Parents who are interested in Montessori education should visit a school and observe a classroom. Watch to see if the children are moving independently and purposefully, and be sure that it is a child-centered, and not a teacher-centered environment. Most Montessori guides receive their certification from a MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education) training program that is affiliated with either the AMI or the American Montessori Society (AMS),” says Mr. Catlin.

Ms. Kalkus agrees. “Parents should absolutely, without exception, visit the Montessori School they’re considering and observe. Schools can vary within a certain framework and the parent should be completely comfortable with their child’s school. A well-functioning class can be breathtaking to watch. Children learning, laughing, socializing, and helping each other speaks for itself.”

Further Information about Montessori Education

The Association Montessori International-USA (the U.S.-based counterpart of the Association Montessori Internationale)
410 Alexander Street
Rochester, New York 14607
Phone: (716) 461-5920
http://www.montessori-ami.org

American Montessori Society
281 Park Avenue South, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10010-6102
Phone: 212-358-1250
http://www.amshq.org

North American Montessori Teaching Association
13693 Butternut Road
Burton, Ohio 44021
Email: staff@montessori-namta.org
http://www.montessori-namta.org