Sunday, January 30, 2011

Are you a "Tiger Mother"?

So I am usually opposed to using this blog as a platform for controversial issues, but I just couldn't help myself when I saw Amy Chua on the Today Show.  She was promoting her new book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  Now keep in mind that I have not actually read this book and I was trying to keep an open mind when listening to her speak about the book and how it was a recollection of her journey through motherhood, raising her two daughters using a strict cultural philosophy.  In the interview she explains that the foundation of her family was one of love and respect, and in the next breath she is telling of how she used verbal threats and name calling to achieve excellence with her children.  Frequently throughout the interview she compares "Western" and "Eastern" parenting styles, which seemed to be a huge generalization and almost an excuse to defend her extremist ways.

It's not surprising that this book has grabbed the attention of the media, child development experts, and most of all parents.  It sounds like Chua's approach to parenting is highly controversial, forcing us to examine the fine line between wanting our kids to succeed, and demanding excellence at the expense of our children.  I guess success is all relative.  Chua is a Law Professor at Yale and her children are both on their way to academic success, but I wonder how they interact and maintain relationships with people.  Although the importance of education and learning has always been held high in my family and my husband's, it is clear that social and emotional factors play a key roll in a child's development.  In this interview, Chua boasts that her children were never allowed to attend play dates or play on the computer.  The true irony is that, as I watched this interview, my 15 month old son was watching a Baby Einstein video on my computer, and after the interview was finished we left for a play date.  I guess my "roar" is more like a "meow".

Watch the full interview at the link below:

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cleaning Green

The rind of a lemon is exceptionally bitter, w...                           Image via Wikipedia
During my first pregnancy I started to be concerned with using harsh chemicals for cleaning.  I guess I never thought about it before that, because when cleaning the bathroom or the kitchen I would spray a thick foam of "Scrubbing Bubbles" or some other store bought surface cleaner and wipe down the bathtub, sinks and counter tops.  I never really thought about wearing gloves, or whether I was inhaling those chemicals while I sprayed them.

After Dylan was born, I was also concerned about what I used to clean things that he would come into contact with such as bottles, nipples, toys, highchair, etc... Now that he is mobile and getting into everything the same concern is there, except it extends to all surfaces around the house including carpet, tile, refrigerator, toilet, area rugs, trashcans, you name it, if its within reach Dylan will either touch it and/or put it into his mouth.  So here are some ideas for "chemical free" cleaning solutions.  Most of the ingredients may be things that you have around your house already.

Mix 1 cup lemon juice and 1 cup water in a spray bottle.  Spray when needed 

To disinfect porous surfaces rub a lemon over surface to clean and deodorize onion and garlic smells and to disinfect any bacteria that may be living on the surface. Also use on wooden cutting boards, cutlery, and bowls.  Also use citrus to remove coffee and tea stains from cups.  Simply sprinkle a pinch of salt on a piece of orange or lemon peel and rub the marks off, then wash as usual. 

Use lemons to disinfect and clean your microwave oven.  Open the microwave door and remove excess debris using a damp cloth.  Set cut lemon wedges into a microwave safe bowl of water. 2 to 3 cups of water should be sufficient and 2 to 3 tbsp. of lemon juice is a simple alternative if fresh whole lemons are not available.  Place bowl in microwave oven for about 2 to 3 minutes or however long it takes to boil water in your microwave. This creates the lemon soaked steam that will cut the grease.  Let bowl stand in microwave for at least 10 minutes. The water will be very hot and by letting it stand, there is time for steam to build up inside microwave oven.  Remove bowl carefully from microwave. Set aside.  Wipe the inside of the microwave with a warm damp cloth or rag. This will remove the surface grease.
Olive oil is a safer and more effective shining agent than many cleaning standbys, such as ammonia, which can dull and even corrode chrome and stainless steel.  Use a few drops of olive oil on a soft, dust free cloth and wipe down stainless steel surfaces.

Sugar is abrasive and works great if you have dirty, greasy, or oily hands.  Simply rub them with 1 Tbs. sugar and rinse with warm water.  This also works great for softening calluses and removing dead skin from hands and feet.

1/2 teaspoon oil, such as olive (or jojoba, a liquid wax)
1/4 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces. Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely.

Keep spray bottles filled with straight 5 percent vinegar in your kitchen and in your bathroom and use them for cleaning.  The smell of vinegar will dissipate within a few hours. Straight vinegar can be used for cleaning the toilet rim. Just spray it on and wipe off.

Vinegar Spray: Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82 percent of mold. Pour some white distilled vinegar straight into a spray bottle, spray on mold and soap scum, and let set without rinsing if you can put up with the smell. It will dissipate in a few hours.

Read more at Suite101: More Environmentally Safe Household Tips: Save Money with These Alternative Green Solutions

For additional idea on Green Cleaning check out the link below:
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Colorful Solutions

Happy New Year everyone!  Here at Mush Homemade Baby Food, we have a lot of exciting plans for 2011! These changes include improvements to our website, new locations for our baby food classes, and the addition of guest writers for our blog.  So keep your eyes open for these new developments!  In the meantime we will continue to bring you great homemade baby food ideas, baby product reviews, and anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of motherhood.  So lets start the year off with some "colorful" information, shall we?

Colorful foods seem to be more appealing, this is true for adults and for children.  If your baby is at the stage of eating pureed foods, you know for sure that those bright orange, green, red, and yellow colors are as natural as they come.  But what about babies that have progressed to finger foods and those toddlers that eat a wide variety of adult food?  How do we know that what they are eating isn't loaded with artificial food dyes?

While blue 1 and 2, red 3, and yellow 6 sound like something you may find in your child's crayon box, they are actually artificial food dyes that are used to color candy, beverages, baked goods, and tons of other things that we eat everyday.  These artificial colors are approved by the U.S. and may contain toxic substances and are actually banned from use in other countries because of their potential link to some types of cancers and disorders.  Pretty scary.  So next time you reach in your pantry for that food coloring, think about reaching for some other pantry or crisper items that may color your food just as well.  All the following suggestions are based on coloring about 1 cup of butter cream frosting. You may have to experiment with quantities of natural dyes until you achieve the color you want when coloring other foods.
Yellow/Orange: Add 1 tsp of turmeric for yellow color. Turmeric gives you an eggish color and is great for making tofu more appetizing without changing the taste. Stale turmeric is fairly flavor neutral.  Also try orange or lemon zest, ground cumin, saffron, carrot juice, or chamomile tea to produce a yellow or orange color.

Pink/Red/Purple: Use blender to puree about 14 fresh or thawed frozen raspberries, mix juice directly into the icing using a metal strainer to separate the seeds from the juice.  This creates a blush or pale pink.  Beet, blackberry or pomegranate juice works great for a dark red/purple color.  Again you will need to puree the blackberries and pomegranate seeds in the blender and separate the seeds from the juice using a metal strainer.

Green: Puree 1/2 avocado until smooth to produce a pastel green color. Mix this into your frosting.  Steamed and pureed spinach will give you a dark green color.


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