Archives for August 2012

To Leave or Not to Leave

The latest parenting debate is currently swirling around a mother who chose to leave her 10 week old with caregivers while she went on a 6-day vacation in Mexico. The mother, Rebecca Eckler, a journalist wrote an article about her vacation plans for and received heavy scrutiny and criticism from readers. The question readers are asking is “When is it appropriate for parents to leave a newborn?” Some readers are even questioning whether or not newborns should be left in the care of anyone other than the parents for any length of time.

This debate has led me to consider what the research shows. We know that newborns need bonding experiences with mommy and daddy. This requires plenty of attention and time together. But does that time together have to be constant? Will a 10-day break really make a long-term difference in the quality of attachment between the parents and baby?

In thinking about these issues consider the working mother that leaves her infant with responsible caregivers after her 6 week maternity leave. This daycare schedule is oftentimes daily and for eight hours or more at a time. More often than not, these mothers report that their babies have grown up to be bright, responsible, well-adjusted children.

Additionally, mothers that take care of themselves oftentimes report that they feel better about caring for their babies and families. So a 10-day break for mom and dad (at any point in parenting) can be good for the entire family.

The most important thing to remember when leaving a newborn is the quality and trustworthiness of the childcare provider that you have chosen. Family is best, but not always an option. So if you are leaving your newborn with a non-family member (for any length of time) do your homework first. Ask for referrals and references and visit the location where your child will be cared for whether it is a home or facility. If you do not feel comfortable immediately, dig deeper or find a new childcare provider.

Finally, as parents, lets try to support each other rather than judge other parents’ choices. Parenting is not an exact science. At times it can even be described as “trial and error”.  All we can do is what we feel is best for our children given our own personal set of circumstances. What works for one family may or may not work for another and there is nothing wrong with that.

So as the debate rages on, it is worth it to consider what works for you and your family. If you are interested in watching an interview with Rebecca Eckler and two “experts” in the field of parenting and women’s health check out this link to



I Don’t Like It! (Part 3)

This summer I had the pleasure of chatting a friend who gave me a wonderful idea for my final blog entry series I Don’t Like It!

As summer winds down and many parents return to the hustle and bustle of school days, homework, and after-school activities we begin to consider and reconsider ways to make the upcoming school year manageable. One of my biggest challenges is dinnertime. Not only do we need dinner solutions that are quick and easy but my family needs dinner options that can be equally enjoyed by five family members, even the picky ones. So what is a parent to do?

In today’s post I am going to list my favorite “Go-To” weekly dinner ideas. Check out the ideas below and think about some of your fabulous family favorites. I invite all of our blog readers to submit your family’s favorite busy weeknight “Go-To” meals. Hopefully we can get a conversation going and many of us can begin the school year with at least one new dinner idea or recipe.

My favorite “Go-To” meals are:

taco bar – see the first blog entry, I Don’t Like It!

chili bar – This dinner starts with a basic chili recipe and all the toppings (cheese, onions, sour cream etc.) are on the side. Each family can build their bowl of chili to their liking. Additionally, this dinner can be expanded into chili over potatoes, chili over burgers, chili over hot dogs, or chili over corn chips as the week goes on.

tortilla soup bar – Again this recipe starts with a basic tortilla soup (vegetarian or chicken) as the base. All of the toppings (cheese, tortilla chips, cilantro, onions, guacamole, sour cream etc.) are on the side for each family member to choose from. If your soup is hearty enough, this can be served with just a side salad or other vegetable option.

pizza bar – This one is simple and my kids enjoy their part in building their own mini-pizzas. Use your favorite pizza crust to prepare mini-pizza size crusts or use English muffins, french bread, flat bread, or whatever bread you like. Just be sure to prepare them in individual sizes. Again, toppings are available for family members to choose from. If you are feeling creative, you can also have a variety of sauces and cheeses for the pizzas. We like traditional red pizza sauce, pesto sauce, alfredo sauce,  plain old olive oil, and my daughter likes no sauce at all. Of course pizza toppings can be numerous so again, be creative and offer both meat and veggie options such as: ground or shredded beef, pork, chicken, bacon etc. and non-traditional veggies such as kale, spinach, carrots, and beets. Just for fun we have even made dessert pizzas with any leftover crust and toppings such as: sweetened cream cheese, yogurt, chocolate drizzle, caramel sauce, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, chocolate chips and a touch of powdered sugar.

sandwich or panini bar – This is a fun dinner option for us because we feel like we are at a gourmet restaurant or cafe. We start with a basic panini style flat bread cut into individual sandwich portion sizes.  Offer the sandwich options that your family likes such as: various lunch meets, bacon, tuna or egg salad, (a veggie patty would also work here) etc. We also include our favorite veggie options (think of Subway or ToGos) such as: onions, bell peppers, banana peppers, olives, mushrooms, cheeses, pickles, artichokes, spinach, lettuce, shredded carrots and beets, avocado, guacamole, tomatoes and cabbage. Be creative with condiments too. Along with the traditional condiments try other sauces and dressings such as: ranch dressing, honey mustard dressing, and other homemade or store bought salad dressings. To make paninis without a panini griddle, place sandwich on nonstick skillet and put a foil-wrapped brick (or other heavy flat object) on top of sandwich to flatten it out as it grills.

Hopefully one of the above “Go-To” meal options will spark some ideas for you and your family. Don’t forget to be creative and have fun with your family in the kitchen. I look forward to adding your submissions to my dinnertime options for the coming school year.


Family Matters Newsletter – Summer

LBCC Family Connections has just released its summer issue of the Family Matters Newsletter. In it you will find more great tips for reading with your child and family.

Are you considering a career change or are you reentering the “working world” after some time off? If so, there is also a piece on identifying your personal strengths and interests and how this information can make selecting a new career easier.

And finally, the summer issue of Family Matters also includes a brief piece on safety tips for seniors.


I Don’t Like It! Part 2

In today’s post, I would like to share one of my family’s all-time favorite “go to” dinner solutions with you.

We have a variety of eating needs in our family and one VERY picky eater. Additionally, like many families, we have busy schedules with work, school, homework, and various social and extracurricular activities. So our most successful meals accommodate all of these factors. This meal is not only easy to prepare, versatile, and simple, but it also provides an opportunity for all family members to participate in preparing it.

Enchiladas, one of our favorite family “go to” dishes is simple to prepare and satisfies us all. The secret to this dish is not in the recipe but rather in the preparation of the dish which can also stretch this dish into  two or three meals.

We create a DIY enchilada “bar” where every family member can select their favorite fillings and make the “perfect” enchilada for themselves. We begin by preparing  2 base fillings, a meat filling and a veggie filling. We like ground chicken and roasted veggies. We season the ground chicken and the veggies similarly, using ground chile molido, ground cumin, and garlic salt. Next, we grate cheddar and pepper jack cheese. We also use our favorite enchilada sauce and corn tortillas. Once all of the ingredients are prepared and placed  alongside a large enchilada dish each family member takes a turn rolling their own enchilada using the ingredients they desire (a tip for rolling corn tortillas is to put them in the microwave for 10 seconds or less before rolling). I like to fill my enchiladas with veggies and cheese, my daughter likes cheese only, and my husband likes everything in his. Once the enchilada dish is filled, we bake at 350 degrees until the cheese and sauce begins to bubble.

We then use the left over fillings and corn tortillas to make tacos. My son likes his tacos with meat only, and my daughter likes hers with meat and cheese. If I have large flour tortillas, beans, and rice we can also make burritos. Add any extra enchilada sauce to a burrito and it becomes a “wet” burrito. Additionally(or for day 2 or 3), we use corn chips and left over filling and toppings (lettuce, salsa, guacamole, avocados, tomatoes, sour cream etc.) to make DIY taco “bowls”.

The true beauty in thIs DIY enchilada, taco, or burrito “bar” or “bowl” concept is that the preparation of each part is quick and easy and everyone gets exactly what they desire. And most importantly, our family gets to share a delicious, enjoyable family meal.


Lets Talk. Tips for Healthy Family Communication

Today’s blog post is submitted by our featured guest contributor, Rachel Taylor, M.S.  Enjoy the post and look forward to additional posts from Rachel.

Something I hear all the time when working with parents is how busy and stressed out they are.  It seems like a trickle down effect.  Mom and Dad are stressed with work, social commitments, schedules, etc. and that in turn influences how they feel mentally and physically which shapes how they are able to interact with their children.  It’s hard to be patient and take the time to listen when we’re feeling stressed out and pulled in too many directions! It is especially difficult to keep the lines of communication open and remain on the same page.

It can be incredibly difficult to find time when the entire family is together to talk and share.  Between work schedules and activities the kids are involved with, it can be challenging to even eat one meal together.  Setting up good habits and making family time a priority helps to keep everyone feeling connected and invested.

Healthy family communication is often comprised of the following:

  1. Communicating Frequently
  2. Communicating Clearly and Directly
  3. Being an Active Listener
  4. Thinking About the Person With Whom You Are Communicating
  5. Paying Attention to Nonverbal Messages
  6. Being Positive

Check out the one page handout that includes the above information as well as examples of ways to practice these six tips.

It is important to remember that no family is perfect and there is no one right way to be a family.  These tips are a great way to reflect about what is important for YOUR family and what things you would like to incorporate more and strengthen.