Another Halloween is upon us. Whether it is cold and windy where you live, or a perfect starry night , for one day and night we embrace our fears.
And for those with young children it can be a time to turn fears into fun. For the first few years (before they associate Halloween with getting tons of candy) you can really shape this day. You may want to consider holding off on the elaborate baby & toddler costumes, since you will have many years to come when you will be up into the wee hours of the night finishing off that costume. (As the Mother of Three, I can tell you that no holiday required as much work as Halloween).
But as the sun sets and its glow fades, giving way to the night, what a wonderful time to close the lights and have only a few candles shining. You can sing a song, tell a simple story, or just cuddle. Anything that will make your little one (and bigger ones) feel safe in the darkness. Of course there will be interruptions as you answer the door to hand out candy to the trick or treaters. But the footsteps running up to the door and the loud knocking can be part of the fun too.
It all sounds so much scarier in the dark but if we can help our children enjoy it instead of being afraid , what a great Halloween treat that would be.
I know that you have a lot to do to get ready for Halloween. But here is an easy recipe for making yummy roasted pumpkin seeds from that pumpkin you bought to decorate your house (see my previous blog for carving an Enlightened Pumpkin). This is also a good teaching lesson for your children — instead of throwing away — look first to see how it might be used. An added bonus : pumpkin seeds are very healthy for every member of your family !
After you have carved your pumpkin into a Jack-O-Lantern (or if you aren’t carving this year, after Halloween, cut open the top of the pumpkin and with a strong metal spoon, scoop out the pulp and seeds)
Itâ€™s best to start the seeds as soon as you can since once they dry out itâ€™s almost impossible to separate them from the stringy pulp.
1) Separate the seeds and wash them thoroughly by rinsing under cold water. Use a strainer and let the water run over them, pull out as much of the pumpkin pulp as possible. Then dry the seeds with a towel or napkin.
2) Preheat oven at 325 degrees. Use a lightly oiled baking sheet and toss the seeds around a little bit to get an oily coating, then spread them out , all in one layer. Sprinkle with sea salt. Â I find that stirring every 5-10 minutes works well and on average (depending on how plump and moist the seeds are) it takes 25 minutes.
3) When the pumpkin seeds are golden brown remove from the oven and let cool. Once they are cooled, place them in an airtight container so they donâ€™t go stale. But at our house they usually donâ€™t make it that far.
A Spicy Alternative : Â Instead of sprinkling the seeds with just salt use some cumin, ginger and a touch of cinnamon. Not recommended for young children unless you know they enjoy the spices.
If you have a favorite Pumpkin Seed recipe please share it with us.
P.S. If you have the time, you can also roast the pumpkin. After removing the pulp and seeds, just discard the stem top and cut into large pieces (leaving the skin on). Place pieces in a roasting dish and roast at 375 for 1-2 hours or until tender . Remove pumpkin from oven and let it cool, then peel the skin and mash the pumpkin in food processor. The roasted pumpkin can replace canned pumpkin in any recipe.
I recently came across a post: The Long Term Rewards of UnderIndulgenceon Green Baby Guide that addresses how new parents tend to over indulge and over stimulate their babies.Â So many new Moms worry if they do not run out and buy the newest toy or participate in the latest trend- they would be depriving their baby- or even worse he or she may fall behind the other babies and be scarred for life!
Imagine a scene now of your child 40 years from now sitting with a therapist: “I could have done better for myself Doc, but my parents did not get me the newest version of the electronic counting games when I was 6 months old….it ruined me!”Â Â I think not! Of course we all mean well- but need to ask ourselves if babies really need so much “stuff” and would it be wiser to save the money we want to spend on the newest and fanciest and smartest new toys so we can teach them to value the more precious things in life.
Is under indulgence the same thing as deprivation?Â We think not!Â Buying fewer, thoughtful gifts and treats for your child will allow him or her to have an enhanced sense of appreciation, plus youâ€™ll be helping lighten the load on our planet and your pocketbook.
I have commented on this line of thinking before.Â Over the past years it has often been considered a keystone of good parenting to “push” your baby to walk, talk and read as early as possible. Surrounding them with learning toys to teach the alphabet or putting them in front of educational T.V at two months old forces our little ones to grow up at an alarming rate. I could quote lots of research but I prefer to speak Mother to Mother and ask you to allow your natural instincts, your intuition, to be your guide regarding whether what I am saying rings true for you.
Our precious babies are born with senses that have not been tainted or tarnished by the world. They are a spiritual treasure and it is no wonder that everyone loves a new baby. So why can’t we allow a baby to be a baby?Â What’s the hurry? We live in a hurried world and our babies often grow up to be hurried children. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Having a new baby gives us an opportunity to see the world through our babies’ eyes. We can take the time to quietly rock them to sleep, singing a lullaby, and surrounding them with peacefulness and calmness. You don’t need any money to do this or even a good voice.
We can sit patiently and wait as they slowly open their eyes and begin to take in the world around them. We don’t need to surround them with expensive mobiles or clutter their cribs with all the latest stuffed animals. And most of all we can just enjoy our time with them and allow them to awaken to the world around at their own speed. Each baby is unique, each baby will learn to speak and walk in their own time. We can honor this time by being patient and protecting them from the inpatient world around us.
Pumpkins waiting to be carved - Click Photo for free templates to carve a beautiful pumpkin
One great way to get in the Halloween spirit and to begin a great family tradition is by carving pumpkins. Now wait, it is easy to do and the results are so cool. Children of all ages love this. When they are very young, they just watch you do it and enjoy the results. As they get older, you can cut the pieces and they can push them out of the pumpkin until they are old enough to do some or all of the carving.
In case you still don’t know what I am talking about, here is the quick run down. You cut off the top of the pumpkin and use a big spoon to scoop out all the seeds and stringy muck. You don’t have to get it perfect. Then you are going to use a template to trace a design (more on this later) onto your pumpkin. You will cut out the design and when finished , put a votive inside, light it, Â and put the top back on. You put it in your window if there is room or outside by your front door. In the dark , everything that you have cut out is glowing orange from the candle light and looks wonderful.
One of the things our kids enjoyed the most, was the sharing of our finished carved pumpkins. When everyone was done carving. We would take each pumpkin, and bring it into the bathroom (because it was the darkest room in the house). Close the door, light the candle inside the pumpkin, put its top back on and then close the bathroom light. The only thing you see is the rich glow emanating from your pumpkin. Your carvings come alive and we would all ooh and aah. Everyone felt so good about what they had created. As the kids got older, the carvings got scarier.
The World Wildlife Funds has free templates to download for Polar Bears, Rhino, Turtle, Tiger, Gorilla and a few more. Or you can make your own.
A Few Tips :
Carving – You will tape the template onto your pumpkin. You trace the design by using an awl or pen to poke small holes along the edges of the shapes. After you have poked a few holes lift the edge of the paper carefully and peek to make sure you can see what you have poked. Sometimes you have to press a little harder than you think. When you are done , remove the template and you can use a marker to connect the holes (this is not required but can make it easier to cut out shapes). Then you cut along all the edges of the shapes with a carving tool. Remember the “black shapes” on your template is what you will be cutting out. Don’t throw out the template yet as you may need to refer to it a few times ( it can get a little confusing about what to cut out and what to leave intact)
Carving Tools – You can buy a set for just a couple of dollars at the local supermarket. It will include a small zig zag shaped carving tool and an awl for poking the holes. Some sets are very elaborate but you don’t need all that other stuff.
If you sprinkle some cinnamon on the top of the pumpkin that you cut off, then when you put it back on and the candle warms up the inside it will give off a nice aroma
Remember not to use a big candle or you will have the smell of burning pumpkin !
If you want to do this today, then rub some vasoline on all the cut edges to keep them from shriveling up ( I had to go out and purchase vasoline just for this purpose because it really shouldn’t be used for anything else )
So many new parents are challenged to find the right balance of solid foods for their infant or toddlers.Â Unfortunately, many resort to unhealthy convenience foods filled with preservatives and other unnatural ingredients to feed to their new baby.Â The process of introducing new foods to your baby can be a confusing maze filled with fear of choking, developing allergies or bad eating habits.Â It is important to introduce your baby to healthy eating habits from the beginning to encourage life long health and nutrition.
Making your own baby food is not as difficult or time consuming as you may think.Â It allows the parent to be in control over the ingredients going into their baby’s system and can be a rewarding experience as you nourish your baby with fresh whole and nutritious foods.Â An added bonus- you will save money when you invest in fresh ingredients over expensive processed baby food. Â I found this video from with step by step directions and excellent tips!
Let us know if you have any baby food tips or resources that have helped you!
I sometimes hear parents new to cloth diapering complain about their cloth diaper covers leaking- even after double diapering.Â Â It can be frustrating for even the most patient & well intended parent when their seemingly “fool proof” cloth diapering system fails.
But you have to realize that sooner or later everyone experiences some leakage. That’s why disposable diaper makers spend millions every year trying to improve leakage problems. Now they have put chemical pellets in the middle of the diaper to turn baby’s liquid waste into a solid gel to help prevent leakage. (Cut one open and you’ll see what we mean – if you are really adventurous try pouring some water on these pellets and see what happens)
Leaking seems to be more prevalent with newborn babies, everything is very runny, and you haven’t quite gotten the hang of this diapering. But rest assured it gets better and easier. Before giving up- try some of these tips (and remember disposable diapers leak too):
Make sure you are using the correct size diaper cover for the baby’s weight. You would be surprised at how many parents are unknowingly using the wrong size for the baby’s weights.Â Cloth diapers are not necessarily a “one size fit all” .
The infant sizeÂ (16″ long by 12″ wide) will fit inside the newborn and small diaper covers so much easier (up to 16 lbs.). Then they make great diaper doublers for your bigger baby (a doubler gives you extra absorbency for night time and as your baby gets older and wets more).
The Regular size diaper (21″ long by 14.5″ wide) is better suited to a baby over 16 pounds.
Be sure that the diaper is covering all of the diaper cover. It works best if you spread the diaper out into an hourglass shape so that is covers the diaper cover.Â If the diaper is too long, fold it back into the diaper cover.
Tuck the diaper completely inside the cover , so that a wet diaper doesn’t “hang out” and get the clothing wet. I know there are parents whose children have very thin legs and they recommend letting the diaper stick out of the legs just a little bit , to fill out any gaps. You can try this method as well.
Are your cloth diapers too thin?Â Do they have enough layers? There are many different qualities of diaper on the market. If you are using a thin diaper you may need to change to a “diaper service quality” diaper.Â The thicker the diaper the more absorbent it is. By thicker, I mean the “weight” of the cotton diaper. It’s important to have an absorbent diaper that is not too bulky and doesn’t take hours to dry.Â The “prefold” style usually works best.Â It’s thicker in the middle than on the sides.
Looks for cloth diapers with 6 layers in the middle and 4 layers on each side. (thus they are called 4-6-4) However, there are many diapers labeled as “Diaper Service Quality” that are not , so watch out !Â Â Â The best quality are the super absorbent diaper which has 8 layers in the middle with 4 on each side(it is called 4-8-4). It is an absolutely thick and luscious diaper.
One of the most frequent questions to come my way is:Â
How do I safely clean my baby’s cloth diapers?
Great question!Â One of the common misconceptions about using a cloth diapering system is that it is messy,time consuming and is difficult to clean and maintain.Â But this simply not true!
In the old days you needed pins, rubber pants, and time to fold a long flat cloth into a diaper. Now with cotton pre-fold diapers and diaper covers, it is quick and easy to change your baby and clean her diapers.Â Â Here are some tips to cleaning and caring for our product, Diaperaps- though I am sure you will find this advice helpful no matter what cloth diaper brand you are using.
For First Time Use : Wash & Dry diapers before using.
Wash & dry white diapers 2x. Wash & dry unbleached diapers 4-5x (or until a spoonful of water poured onto a dry diaper is absorbed.) The additional wash/dry
cycles for the unbleached diapers are necessary to remove the natural cotton seed oil from the fabric.
For both styles, the diapers will shrink, fluff-up and become more absorbent after washing. The diapers will get much thicker and softer and have a â€œquiltedâ€ appearance.
Regular Washing Routine
1. Place wet or soiled diapers in a dry diaper pail.
2. Empty your pail of diapers into your washing machine.Â Run a cold water rinse cycle to help prevent stains and odors. Wash a maximum of 3 dozen diapers per load.
3. Wash on HOT water with a long cycle. Use Â½ the amount of recommended detergent. Rinse 2x. Optional : adding 1/3 cup of baking soda to your wash helps to remove detergent residues and odors.
4. Dry on Medium or High heat.
Donâ€™t use fabric softeners, they create a film on the fibers which hinders absorption. Do not use chlorine bleach, use non-chlorine bleach when necessary.
For Soiled (Poopy) Diapers
If you use a flushable liner, peel off the soiled liner & flush in the toilet. If you donâ€™t use liners, shake out the poop into the toilet. Occasional sunning of clean, wet diapers will reduce or eliminate staining. After sunning, toss in the dryer to soften them up.
HINT: If odors are a problem, mix a little water with some Borax or baking soda and cover the bottom of the diaper pail. Change this solution with each load of diapers.
How to Launder Diaper Covers:
1. Machine wash warm (up to 105 F or 40 C) Gentle Cycle.
2. Tumble dry low about 20 minutes or hang to dry. Fasten velcro closed before washing to prevent lint buildup or covers sticking together. No iron. Non-chlorine beach only, if needed.
3. Make sure your dryer is on the lowest setting . Never leaveÂ in a dryer with high heat temperature or in a commercial laundry as this will cause damage to the waterproof lining and may result in leakage.
4. Diaper covers should not go in the diaper pail with the diapers. For stains treat promptly. Rinse first with cold water. Wash with non-chlorine bleach only.
Over time the heat from the dryer may cause the waterproof lining to turn a slight yellow in color. This is normal and will not affect performance.