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    Summer On A Schedule

    School’s out! Now what?

    If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself asking that question right about now. I have been blessed to be able to stay home with my kids since they were babies. This past school year was the first time all three of them were in school full-time, so I am really going to cherish our time together this Summer. However, it is a big adjustment having them home all day again, and I did not want to fall into the habit of letting them waste half the day staring at a screen. I am a very organized person who thrives on routine so I created a weekly summer schedule for us to follow. It ensures that we DO something every day and also lets us explore the greater Indianapolis area, a still new-to-us city.

     

    Our weekly summer schedule looks like this:

    Make Something Monday – This could be anything from crafts to cooking. One week my youngest son decided to create a Power Rangers costume out of cardboard and we all helped with it. This week we are making homemade lemonade. I love that we are starting out the week by getting our creative juices flowing!

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    Take a Hike Tuesday – So far we have literally gone hiking on Tuesdays, but this will also be our day to just take a quick day trip. One of the great things about living in Indiana, “The Crossroads of America,” is that there are so many fun places to visit on a tank of gas. So far we have explored Brown County State Park and the Nashville, IN area, as well as Eagle Creek Park. We plan to visit Chicago, Cincinnati and the Indiana Dunes as well.

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    Water Wednesday – Wednesdays we’ll do anything from swimming at the pool at the Y, to visiting the water park at the Monon Center, to just running around outside with water guns or playing on the slip n slide. Luckily, it’s been blazing hot this summer so Water Wednesday has been very welcome (say that 5 times fast!)

    Thinking Thursday – Thursdays we visit the library to stock up on new books, and then we head to piano lessons. We plan to do some fun science experiments on Thinking Thursday as well. Requests so far are for the exploding watermelon and the Mentos/Coke experiment (I see an explosion theme here.)

    Fun Friday – Fridays could be anything…just playing with friends outside or doing something fun in the Indy area. Last week we headed downtown and had lunch at Bazbeaux’s and then climbed to the top of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

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    I recognize that we all need our down time (mama included), so I also set up some ground rules for access to screens. Every day, they have a checklist of tasks they must accomplish before they can have screen time. I wanted to be sure that they didn’t experience too much of that summer slide in knowledge, so I included things like reading, math worksheets, and musical instrument practice. They also have a daily small chore to do so that we stay on top of housework since having three boys at home all day can equal chaos.

    I hope these ideas will help you organize a fun and fruitful summer with your kiddos. Make like Phineas and Ferb and find a good way to spend those 104-ish days of summer vacation, before school comes along to end it!

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    Short Rib Wrap & Asian Slaw: Recipe of the Week

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    My husband is an RN and works 12-hr night shifts. He works all weekend, has one night off, and is back at it for two nights. For me, this means a lot of meals for just me and my three year-old. On Friday night I felt inspired to take our leftovers and mix it up. I had made tortillas so my husband would have a bread product for packing dinners and leftover short ribs. When combined with random ingredients from the fridge, they became some pretty tasty Asian-inspired wraps.

    This isn’t the first time I have made something like this, but I did try a few new ingredients since it wasn’t a part of my shopping plan. That’s the great thing about wraps – versatility. I encourage you to try a variety of proteins and veggies! I ended up using Brussels sprouts in the slaw and it was pretty good, although I must say I prefer, and recommend, green or purple cabbage. I also never need an excuse to eat hoisin sauce, one of the few processed foods I just can’t relinquish.

    I served the slaw on the side for my daughter, and she didn’t touch it, but at least I tried!

     

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    Ingredients:

    Makes 2 servings

    2 6 to 8-inch tortillas

    1 cup of shredded short ribs (or chicken, pork, mini shrimp)

    2 Tbsp hoisin sauce

     

    For the slaw:

    6 Brussels sprouts, shredded (or 1 cup of shredded cabbage)

    2 radishes finely chopped

    1 large carrot, shredded

    2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

     

    For the dressing:

    ¼ cup rice wine vinegar

    1 tablespoon sesame oil

    ½ tablespoon soy sauce

    1 small clove of garlic, mined

    1 inch of ginger grated or a dash of dried

    ½ lime, juiced

    Salt and pepper to taste

     

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    Assemble and toss your veggies. Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with slaw. Mix beef with hoisin sauce. Spoon half into each tortilla and top with slaw. Garnish with chopped peanuts or cashews.

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    Cats Meet Kid

    “Jack! Let go of Kit Kat!” That is my rather exhausted and exasperated statement as I wonder why the cats don’t run away when he starts heading for them. How in the world do you teach a 1-year-old to be gentle with animals? As a first time mother I was determined when Jack was born that I was not going to let him pinch, grab, ride, step on, or do anything else that my dogs and cats wouldn’t enjoy. Turns out that is easier said than done. So now the question is how do I maintain my own sanity while preventing my cats from being tortured by a one-year-old.

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    I admit that with a background in behavior, I was sure we would all live in peaceful harmony with me blissfully teaching Jack gentle touches (haha, yeah right). When Jack was a baby and immobile we were fine. I just had to keep the animals away from him. Now that he is walking, running, and grabbing, it is a whole other ball game. He is also very independent and doesn’t want help. He likes to do things his own way and in his own time. The cats are his new favorite toy and pinching and pulling is his new favorite activity.

    We moved to a new house recently and even though the cats now have an upstairs and a basement, they prefer to remain on the main floor where us humans also spend most of our time. I admit I was lax in watching Jack with the cats because they are able to leave the room whereas the dogs can’t. The problem I discovered is the cats don’t leave the room. In fact, they do the exact opposite. They flop helplessly on the floor and meow for me to intervene.

    Jack has also decided that pinching, squishing, and tail pulling are fun ways to spend his time. I decided quickly that I needed to change tactics when I heard my cat meowing and turned around to see that Jack had managed to get his hands on her tail and had no plans to let go. As I quickly pried Jacks fingers off of her, and pushed away visions of tail amputations that danced in my head, I decided to try something else.

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    1. Give the cats an escape route. Since the cats actually refuse to move when Jack is headed toward them, we set up the cat tree on the main floor so at least they could escape upward. I reward them with treats when they are up on the cat tree periodically.
    2. Polite behavior applies to everyone. I am more likely than anyone else to tolerate Jack jumping on me, pinching, and playing rough with me because I know he is a toddler and is simply behaving like one. I have had to adjust my response to him. If he bites, pinches, or hits, I immediately walk away. So far that has been working, he doesn’t do those things as often any more.
    3. Practice “gentle”. We started this when he was an infant and he started grabbing my favorite neckless and yanking on it. I would hold his hand and let him touch it with one finger. Somewhere in his little baby brain this seems to have stuck because he will approach the cats with one finger Then, if he lets me help, he gets to pet the kitty (or puppy). Often though that one finger quickly becomes a hand grab so I have to watch carefully. We also practice this with touch and feel books on the rare occasion he sits down with me to look at a book.
    4. Give Jack another outlet. Stuffed animals are great for him to squish and drag around the house, so I keep a lot of those scattered around to redirect him when he starts acting like he might grab a kitty.
    5. Give yourself a break. This is the most important rule. If I need a break from being referee, then I take one. The cats can hang out in another room for a while, or Jack and I can head out for a walk. I am pretty sure I put this in every post involving pets that I write because it is that important!

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    I use the same guidelines with my dogs, but I admit I was much less watchful with the cats due to their ability to leave the room. My cats are really very tolerant and good with Jack, and I want to keep it that way. As a veterinarian with a special interest in behavior, helping families build positive relationships with their pets is an important part of what I do. I am reminded with Jack, that there’s not a one size fits all approach to this and I need to adjust my plan as Jack grows. 

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School’s out! Now what? If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself asking that question right about now. I have been blessed to be able to stay home with my kids since they were babies. This past school year was the first time all three of them were in...

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