Archives for June 2014

Recipe Spotlight- Kara’s Fruity Buttermilk Pancakes

I love to experiment in the kitchen! Sometimes my exploration leads to greatness, and sometimes it leads to my kids begging me to never make a recipe again. LIke the time a year ago when I had this vision in my head of creating a delicious and healthy  tropical mango/quinoa pudding for my family, which somehow instead resulted in a burned and mushy goo with just a hint of mango. I tried sprinkling a little coconut on top to redeem it, but I’ve unfortunately had a hard time convincing my kids to eat quinoa ever since.

Try as we may, we can’t have homerun recipes every time can we? But if we keep trying, we will at least create a handful of family favorites.Out of all of the successes/failures and everything in between that I have experienced in the kitchen, there is one recipe that has proven to be a crowd pleaser time after time. Several years ago, I was experimenting to find a delicious and healthy pancake recipe, and after a lot of experimenting, I came up with this recipe. I have fed these pancakes to dozens of adults and children throughout the years and have never had anyone refuse to eat them or complain.  Needless to say, we make this recipe at our house  a lot and they are now a family tradition. Be warned, the recipe makes a lot of pancakes, so I often save half of the batter in tupperware for the next day’s breakfast. I also sometimes make them for breakfast and then pack a pancake sandwich for my kid’s school lunches (two pancakes held together by some peanut butter and a little bit of honey).

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Kara’s Fruity Buttermilk Pancakes:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill is my favorite brand)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 3/4 cup Applesauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups of fruit (blueberries and diced apples are our most common choices)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together buttermilk, milk, applesauce, eggs and melted butter. Keep the two mixtures separate until you are ready to cook.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. You can flick water across the surface and if it sizzles, it’s ready!
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, using a wooden spoon or fork to blend. Stir until it’s just blended together. Do not over stir! Toss in fruit and stir into mixture. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/3 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot with maple syrup, peanut butter and applesauce, fresh fruit and yogurt, or any topping that sounds good to you!

Give them a try and let me know what you think! And please send any recipes our way that are your family favorites!

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For the Love of Reading

Many parents with young children and school aged children have been hearing the words “Kindergarten Readiness”  a lot in the news over the  last  several months in Oregon. Governor Kitzhaber and the Oregon Department of Education released the recent results of the state kindergarten assessment. Since this release, there has been a lot of buzz and conversations between early childhood and K-5 professionals as well as among parents about what needs to be done to better prepare children for school.

Early literacy is one of the main components of the assessment. According to this article from Oregon.Gov, “The early literacy measures were designed to assess fluency in the identification of letter names and letter sounds. Early letter fluency is a key contributor to later reading development and academic success.”

All of this information can be very intimidating as a parent. While it is great for parents to be aware of what the standards are so that they can do their best to help in prepare their child, there is no need to feel inadequate or despair! In fact, early literacy can and should be a joy! There is no need to sit your child down and drill them endlessly with flashcards or to buy into the idea that they need to be plugged into technology that will help them become readers. Young children are naturally so curious and happy to learn new things. Perhaps one of the most basic yet very important things we can do for our children is to read to them daily from infancy on. This tip sheet from www.readingrockets.org offers some great ideas for parents looking to promote early literacy.

One of my very favorite parts of being a parent so far, is the opportunity I have to slow down and take the time daily (and often several times throughout the day) to read to my children. Even my eight year old who is self-proclaimed book worm, loves to snuggle up and be read to still. Not only does reading to your child promote early literacy, but it also promotes bonding. I know there will be a time when my children are too big and too cool to snuggle up on mom’s lap for stories, so I will hold on to these sweet and fleeting moments for as long as I can. Some of my sweetest memories are from the time I spent reading through all of the “American Girl” books with my oldest when I had 3 small children at home (and when I  was often glued to the couch anyways nursing my 3rd child).

The current craze at our house are the "Elephant and Piggie" books by Mo Willems My children think that these books are absolutely hilarious, and they are amazing early readers. My kids love to act them out as well!

The current craze at our house are the “Elephant and Piggie” books by Mo Willems My children think that these books are absolutely hilarious, and they are amazing early reader books. My kids love to act them out as well for fun!

 

In addition to the tips from www.readingrockets.org, here are a few of my own tips that have worked in my own family to instill a love for literature and reading:

  • Go to the library often! I would be embarrassed to admit how much I have spent in overdue fines over the last several years (they probably should consider naming a wing after me), but it has been worth it. My kids love going to the library and can be talked into doing many things if they know that there will be a library visit afterwards.
  • Encourage your family members to gift books instead of presents.  When my first child was born, my mother-in-law started the wonderful tradition of giving our family the most recent “Caldecott” award winning book for Christmas. Our whole family is excited to see what the new pick will be each year.
  • My children love it when I share with them my favorite books from my childhood. Just the idea that I loved a book when I was little is enough for them to want me to read it over and over. My oldest and I have recently bonded over our love for “Anne of Green Gables.” I have been waiting to introduce her to this and other books and series like “The Little House on the Prairie” since I knew I would be a mom.
  • Use social media as a way to find out what others are reading to their children. I have found new favorite books and authors for my children by simply asking other people what they are reading.
  • Read what interests your children. I have to admit that reading comic books to my son is hard for me to do sometimes. I wouldn’t personally consider some of his choices the finest literature , but he is so happy and excited when I take the time to read them to him.
  • Let your children listen to books on CDs or Play aways (available at your local library). The “Magic Tree House” CDs have made many long road trips more bearable. It also has been an excellent alternative to screen time for my kids!

For you worried parents out there wondering if you are doing enough to help your child, take a deep breath and release your worries. Blue skies in, grey skies out! Helping your children to love reading/being read to is truly one of the greatest gifts that you can give them. Please feel free to share any additional tips that have worked for your family as well as what you current favorite reads are at your house right now!

(I will be taking over for Felicia on the Parenting Success Network blog. Thank you for all of your wonderful articles and tips Felicia! I am the mother to 3 children and have enjoyed teaching Parenting classes in Corvallis for the last 7 years! I love working with children and families and am very excited to be a part of this network! –Kara)

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Setting the Scene for Summer: keeping teens safe

This week’s blog post is submitted by guest contributor, Julie Greene. We hope you enjoy her post and look forward to future posts from Julie.

My parents worked full-time when I was growing up in Florida, and I can remember long summer days hanging out with my friends at the pool or on the beach.  We were pretty good teens, but were definitely tempted to get into trouble now and then when opportunity arose!

A generation later, more kids are spending summers without close parental supervision.  And they are still tempted to get into trouble now and then!  Not surprisingly, surveys show that vacation months have the highest occurrence of first-time alcohol use among young people.  In fact, about 32% of youth who drink initiated their alcohol use during the summer (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004). It’s tempting to think, “What’s the big deal?” but research shows clearly that people who initiate alcohol use at an early age (15 or younger)are as much as five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

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There are several things we can do to reduce this risk for our teens.  The most significant is to work closely with our kids to establish clear rules around unsupervised time.  What are their chores and responsibilities while you are gone?  Kids that have the opportunity to contribute to your household are less likely to get into trouble.  Do they understand your expectations surrounding drinking and other risky behaviors?  We all know that kids don’t always listen, but those who know your expectations are much more likely to. Here are some additional safe summer tips for parents:

  • Know where your teen is at all times, and who they are with
  • Check-in periodically by phone or text, or through another adult
  • Get to know the parents of your teen’s friends.  Talk to them and let them know your family rules.
  • Be physically present when you can.  When you can’t, try asking a neighbor or other adult to check-in occasionally.
  • Consider getting rid of alcohol during times that your kids will be home by themselves.  If you do have alcohol in your home, be sure to lock it up.

Have a great summer and take time to have fun with your teen!  Kids who are close to their parents are more likely to make positive choices.

Julie is a mental health specialist for the Linn County Alcohol & Drug Program.  She facilities parenting education groups for clients in recovery from substance use.  Julie has a son in high school and a daughter in college.

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Listening and Learning part 2: processing grief with children

This weeks blog post is submitted by guest contributor, Tanya Pritt. We hope you enjoy her piece and we look forward to future contributions from Tanya.

A couple months ago I wrote about the death of my first grandchild who was just three days old. Grief continues to come in waves and as we approach his expected due date we are all struck with the pain of a lost life in our family. In my role as the director of Family Recovery Nonprofit, Inc., I work with mothers and children as well as adolescents. Their stories of grief and loss are as painful as mine. We work with children up to six years old in the women’s program who have experienced the loss of a parent, grandparent, or sibling. We have learned that their grief varies depending on the developmental stage of the child and who they lost.

Young children express their grief differently than older children and adults. The loss of a parent impacts their feelings of safety and stability. The loss of a sibling, especially a newborn whom they haven’t been able to bond with is shocking, confusing and scary. Where other family members had been joyous and plan-full of the pending birth, the shock of losing the baby born premature leaves everyone reeling. The normal feelings and communication among members are replaced with hushed tones and quiet, soft crying to moments of debilitating sobbing. These reactions are normal but to the child they are confusing. My (step) grand-daughter witnessed her mother’s and my son’s grief and became withdrawn, even with family members. She, a new eight years old, is so attune to her mother’s feelings that she clings to her side. She was even quieter, more shy than normal. She has only recently begun some of her activities that she had stopped following her brother’s death two plus months ago.

It’s hard to prepare for losses such as we have experienced. There is an innate denial that anything like this would ever happen to us. And, that said, there seems to be a place in parenting classes that could address grief and loss in an academic way to acquaint parents with what will surely happen during the time they are raising their children. Parents could become aware of normal childhood responses to a death in the family, as well as danger signals that can impact behavior later. Most child and adolescent psychiatrists agree that it is normal during the weeks following the death for some children to feel immediate grief or persist in the belief that the family member is still alive. Long-term denial of the death or avoidance of grief is unhealthy for all family members and can later surface in more severe behavioral and emotional problems.

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In our family, my son and his wife could not plan or have a memorial service for the baby. We all accepted this as their choice and as their limit in the experience. That said, as family members we have individually responded with some sort of memoriam to honor our baby. Some of us will get tattoos; others will get together and talk, others will offer prayer and remembrances at family gatherings and annual celebrations. This works for us. Other families might have funerals and the questions arise, “what do I do when my child doesn’t want to go to a funeral?” Children who are frightened about attending funerals should not be forced to attend, however, some type of remembrance is always recommended.

Kimberly L. Keith, an expert on children’s grief describes the grief stages as: Children’s grief comes in stages just like the grief an older child or adult experiences. And, as adults, the grief process is neither linear nor cyclical; it progresses through and back and forth and is reawakened with each new loss to some degree.

Disorganization – Initial expressions of grief in children range from regression, temper tantrums, and exaggerated fears in younger children to physical symptoms, lack of concentration, and mood swings in older children. The disorganization of early grief is a true crisis for children, but parents and loved ones can help the child through this stage.

Transition – Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair follow the stress and chaotic behaviors of the disorganization stage. Many children will exhibit true depression. More common are symptoms of withdrawal, aggression, and giving up in school.

Reorganization – When painful feelings are expressed their emotional energy wanes, and detachment becomes possible. During this stage children have more energy and motivation for moving forward to a positive resolution of their grief.

Though children’s grief follows this progression, it is complicated by the circular nature of grief. If you’ve experienced grief in your life, you know this to be true. Just when you have moved forward in your resolution of grief, a reminder of the loss floods you with emotions that bring you right back to feelings of despair and great sorrow. Adults can recognize and understand what is happening with their emotions; children often cannot. Parents must recognize the circular nature of grieving to help their child through difficult times during their development.

The final consideration in helping children live through grief is the developmental stage of the child. It’s important to note that a grieving child’s developmental stage may lag behind his chronological age. Regression is expected and developmental accomplishments take longer to achieve.

Preschoolers can express grief in a variety of ways that includebedwetting, temper tantrums, crying/sometimes excessive, emotional dis-regulation, regressing back to thumb-sucking (if this was a prior behavior), clinging to a parent/or both, behaviors that include stubbornness and fears that may include fears of losing a parent.

Helping preschooler’s and young children with their grief includes answering their questions, simply and honestly with respect to their age and encouraging them to share thoughts feelings. In a time where time itself seems to stand still it is important to maintain some routine, some normalcy. This does not mean “business as usual” but rather consistency with rules and attempts to engage the child, nurture them, and hold them. As painful as it is for all members, it is necessary to communicate with each other, helping the child communicate their feelings. As odd as it may seem, play is important. Especially role-play (dolls/action figures) can help a child communicate thoughts and feelings. Teach the words that identify feelings.

Elementary school-age children express grief some of the same ways at home and away from the home either developing or enhancing school related problems. They may have trouble paying attention or they may appear preoccupied or worried. They may not sleep well and be ill-prepared for the school day. Consultations with the teacher are necessary as the teacher is your first line of support when your child is at school.

Hospice states:

“When a family member dies, children react differently from adults. Preschool children usually see death as temporary and reversible – a belief reinforced by cartoon characters who “die” and “come to life” again. Children between five and nine begin to think more like adults about death, yet they still believe it will never happen to them or anyone they know.

Once children accept the death, they are likely to display their feelings of sadness on and off over a long period of time, and often at unexpected moments. The surviving relatives should spend as much time as possible with the child, making it clear that the child has permission to show his or her feelings openly or freely.

The person who has died was essential to the stability of the child’s world, and anger is a natural reaction. The anger may be revealed in boisterous play, nightmares, irritability or a variety of other behaviors. Often the child will show anger towards the surviving family members.

After a parent dies, many children will act younger than they are. The child may temporarily become more infantile, demanding food, attention and cuddling, and talking “baby talk.”

Younger children believe they are the cause of what happens around them. A young child may believe a parent, grandparent, brother or sister died because he or she had once “wished” the person dead. The child feels guilty because the wish “came true.” Some danger signals to watch for:

  • an extended period of depression in which the child loses interest in daily activities and events.
  • inability to sleep, loss of appetite, prolonged fear of being alone.
  • acting much younger for an extended period.
  • excessively imitating the dead person.
  • repeated statements of wanting to join the dead person.
  • withdrawal from friends.
  • sharp drop in school performance or refusal to attend school.

These warning signs indicate that professional help may be needed. A child and adolescent psychiatrist can help the child accept the death and assist the survivors in helping the child through the mourning process.”

Learning to process grief is a normal part of living and grief does not always have to be related to the loss of a loved one. Grief can be indicative of a move from the area resulting in a change of friends/schools or a friend’s move. Children are resilient and learn to manage grief and loss symptoms from the adults in their immediate world. Information regarding children and grief are many. Trust Hospice for working through the loss of a loved one.

Our family is surviving, my granddaughter has excellent parenting and will survive as well.

 Tanya has been the Director of Milestones for the past 21 years.  She’s  been working in the field of addictions for over 30 years. 

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The Benefits of Family Mealtime

This week’s blog post was submitted by guest blogger, Juliana Meyner. We hope you enjoy her post and look forward to future posts from Juliana.

Eating together as a family has many benefits for us and for our children. It is a special time for nurturing relationship, to listen to each other, to learn and practice social skills and healthy habits. It does not really matter if you can’t have the family sit together at every meal. That is quite impossible nowadays with the demands of our busy life and schedules. Even having breakfast together once a week is a great way to spend quality time together, and to create memories.

According to The Power of Family Meals (www.powerof familymeals.com) a website dedicated to support family well being, sharing a meal at the table has many benefits for children of all ages. It says that “more than a decade of research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less like they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.” Other good reasons researchers found out that are worthy in trying to make eating together a family ritual:

  • Children learn how to be healthy from their parents.
  • Family mealtime helps to reduce stress and peer pressure.
  • More family mealtime is linked to better grades, less behavioral problems and less obesity.
  • Preparing and sharing a family meal helps to connect in a meaningful way. It is a great way to bond and to show that everyone is special.
  • Children learn important social skills, table manners and to respect others as they practice saying “please” and “thank you”.

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Here are some ideas from Welch to help you to make the most of your family mealtime:

  • Pick any meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or even gathering to share a fun, healthy snack .
  • Let everyone contribute with their ideas for the cooking. Why not having pancakes and bacon for dinner?
  • Get everybody involved. Children can help wash veggies, tear lettuce, set the table. Older children can chop vegetables and help to make a salad.
  • Unplug. Make a point to not be on electronics or pick up the cell phone. Your family is the most important at this time.
  • Rituals are important for children too. Have a toast to celebrate the day, ask what was the highlight of the day, check in with your children.
  • Take advantage of teachable moments at the table. Ask what children are learning at school.
  • Make it colorful. Offer colorful fresh vegetables and fruits for dessert.
  • Cook extra portions and freeze it for the days you come home late or take it to work for lunch.

Here is an easy and fast recipe from American Heart Association for you to try and enjoy.

Juliana is a Visitation Specialist with the Family Tree Relief Nursery.



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Tween Suicide: A Local Mom Shares Her Story

This weeks blog post was submitted by guest blogger, Tanya Pritt. We hope you enjoy her post and look for future posts from Tanya.

Suicide Ideation and Attempts in Children Younger than Twelve

There is an issue of suicide in Corvallis. In the last ten months more than seven young people have completed suicide attempts and several others have, thank God, landed in the emergency room where they were revived and stabilized. In the meetings that I attend that involve mental health, schools, juvenile probation officers, and other private providers we are talking about the young people we knew, the community that has been impacted and the impotence we all feel in addressing the needs of these hurting young people.

We have talked about and have actually brought leaders in our community together to address the problem but we have yet to bring parents who have experienced theses issues into the room. We have yet to bring young people whose attempts were thwarted by a medical response into the room. These are the people we need to talk to. These are our teachers.

As a mother who has a child, now grown, that attempted suicide, I am grateful to the medical and mental health community that helped him. I am more grateful to friends and other children that came forth and shared with us their experience. That is where I learned. That said, a lot is known about teens and young adults with respect to suicide risk factors. As I do my own research I came across a couple articles regarding suicide risk in children younger than twelve.

Younger than twelve?

As I researched younger suicide attempts I was struck by the similarities in teenagers. Often it was a response to a loss of a parent or having accepted the responsibility and blame of the family problems that may have resulted from divorce or domestic violence.

Some children, so engulfed in grief over the loss of a parent, actually want to follow that parent’s in death without ever realizing the finality of suicide. It is a concept beyond their understanding when they are young. Some children have shared wanting to copy the act of suicide that took their loved one without fully understanding the consequences of that decision. Experts agree that if a person is old enough to love they are young enough to grieve and grieving as a child requires adult understanding and help to navigate the feelings; to understand what is happening. There is a documented case of a nine-year-old wanting to end his life. His younger brother, 5, wanted to go with him. The two boys took an overdose of pills together.

Parenting instruction now needs to address these issues. We don’t normally think of our young ones as having the capability to thinking about suicide. But many do. Some children may identify with a parent or sibling that is depressed and suicidal. Poverty or domestic violence may introduce stressors too great for that child to feel any sense of hope. Some children may see suicide played out in television as a drama that brings families together in mourning and celebrating a young life. This may appeal to a child who has felt unnoticed or unworthy. Some may want to escape a parent who has given the message they are a burden or unwanted. School-age children who have been subject to bullying are at risk. There have been documented accounts in our community of young people posting intentions on the Internet only to be encouraged to follow through. In our tech-savvy world, even elementary age children can navigate the Internet. These children should not have access to social media and yet, many do.

Suicide is often romanticized and young children often are not able to discern the difference between escaping an intolerable situation and the finality of death.

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There are those children also, with mental health issues as well as psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices that direct children to kill themselves. In comparison to middle and high-school aged youth, who often commit suicide because of problems with a romantic relationships, younger children’s conflicts with parents are potential suicide risk factors for young children.

It feels like the responsibility of raising children is even more critical and fraught with danger today than it was for my parents or even me. Today children navigate social media, hurried and demanding schedules that prevent families from coming together daily as a unit, and societal pressure to grow up quicker than they need to.

I take heart than when my child attempted suicide he was doing so as a response to perceived trouble he was in. I will carry that guilt forever and it motivates me to reach out to other parents and children.

In being true to my Native roots, I have strived to incorporate the following philosophy in my life. Some came early, some came late. It is never too late to start making the safety of children the most important issue in our lives.

As an eagle prepares it’s young to leave the nest with all the skills and knowledge it needs to participate in life, in the same manner so I will guide my children.
I will use the culture to prepare them for life.
The most important thing I can give to my children is my time.
I will spend time with them in order to learn them and to listen to them.
I will teach my children to pray, as well as the importance of respect.
We are the caretakers of the children for the Creator. They are his children, not ours.
I am proud of our Native language. I will learn it if I can and help my children to learn it.
In today’s world it is easy for the children to go astray, so I will work to provide positive alternatives for them.
I will teach them the culture.
I will encourage education. I will encourage sports. I will encourage them to talk with the Elders for guidance; but mostly, I will seek to be a role model myself.
I make this commitment to my children so they will have courage and find guidance through traditional ways. (7 Philosophies for a Native American Man)

Tanya has been the Director of Milestones for the past 21 years.  She’s  been working in the field of addictions for over 30 years. 

 

 

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