How to Start Toddlers on their Mindfulness Practice

Life with toddlers can be hectic and overwhelming. Oftentimes, there is so much to do that it is hard for me to be present and grounded. For toddlers, understanding the value in quieting ourselves and finding awareness in where we are and what we are doing is a foreign concept, but it is never too early to introduce the little ones to the importance of a mindfulness practice.

This post was written in partnership with Moms Meet and Zafooz. All content and opinions are my own.

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What is Mindfulness?

According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, mindfulness is “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.”

Being mindful helps us to be fully present and allows us to be more aware of ourselves instead of what is going on around us.

The Benefits of Mindfulness

Research shows that mindfulness can help children improve their ability to pay attention, better regulate their emotions and to make better decisions.

For us, mindfulness and deep breathing has been beneficial in calming my boys down when they are upset, which in turn helps them to better express their feelings.

Zafooz meditation cushion

Starting a Mindfulness Practice with Your Toddlers

When introducing mindfulness to very young children, it is important to keep it fun and simple. My twins love their meditation cushions from Zafooz.

Zafooz were created as a relatable way to introduce simple mindfulness practices to children by combining a meditation cushion called a “zafu” with a plush animal. The Zafooz are cushions and breathing buddies in one. All of the designs feature a peaceful animal face to remind children to slow down and focus within themselves.

We have two Zafooz, one for each of my twins. Each Zafoo has its own mantra. Lotus Ladybug‘s mantra is “I am loved.” Mindful Monkey‘s mantra is “I breathe in and smile.” Zafooz are available in four other designs: Bodhi Bear, Tranquil Turtle, Peaceful Panda and Dharma Dog.

Since my boys are still very young and are always busy, I try to incorporate small doses of mindfulness into their daily routines. We like to sit together on the floor of our playroom with their Zafooz. They like to hug their Zafooz or will sit quietly on the cushion for a brief moment. These are simple and quick ways for them to slow down and bring awareness to what they are doing.

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Zafooz – Mindful Monkey and Lotus Ladybug

 

As my boys get older, I hope to expand on their mindfulness practice by introducing them to meditation and breathing exercises. zafooz’s website has great resources for teaching mindfulness to children, including guided meditation scripts and lessons on mindful breathing and body scans. They also have a list of recommended books on teaching mindfulness to young children.

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I hope that mindfulness continues to be a big part of my children’s lives, and we all learn to slow down and be present.

Special Offer

From now until July 22, 2019, save 15% on your own Zafooz cushion by using the discount code breatheBhappy at zafooz.com/shop.

This post was written in partnership with Moms Meet and Zafooz. All content and opinions are my own.

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Summer Grilling with Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil

Nothing says the start of summer like grilling! Although summer still has not officially started yet, hubby and I have already entered grilling season. We recently moved into a new house and have not purchased an outdoor grill yet, but we do have a grilling pan that we have been using in the interim.

Summer Grilling with Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil
Summer Grilling with Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil

About a year ago, I was introduced to Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil and have been using it ever since! To read about some of my previous experiences with Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil check out this post, which details what makes palm oil special, what makes Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil special as well as two of the recipes I made with palm oil:

Cooking with Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil 

Grilling at home with Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil

For dinner, I got out my grill pan and used Malaysian Red Palm Oil to marinate veggies and meat, as well as grease my grilling pan. On the menu were tuna steaks, oyster mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash.

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I sliced the vegetables into long segments and then let them marinate in palm oil, salt and fresh herbs from my garden. I used basil, sage and parsley that I grew from seeds starting this spring. I love having fresh herbs on hand!

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After letting the veggies and tuna marinate and getting the grilling pan hot and nice and coated, I put the veggies on the grill for a few minutes on each side.

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Once all of the veggies were done, I lightly seared our tuna steaks, which were marinated with palm oil and soy sauce. I love those grill marks! Dinner was served and it was delicious!

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I am so happy that I tried grilling with palm oil! To learn more about Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil, visit http://palmoilhealth.org.

Fit Foodie Festival and 5K 2018 – Race Recap

Some of you might not know this, but I have been running for the past 6 years. Having my sons put a bit of a gap in my running, but I finally laced up my running shoes for a race last weekend.

Over the past 6 years, many of my personal goals have been centered around running. My most recent goals actually included my twins (sort of). Before the boys were born, I had the goal of completing a half marathon while pregnant, and this year, I had the goal of completing a race with my sons in their jogging stroller.

I am proud to say that I achieved that goal!

Last Saturday, hubby, the boys, our BOB Duallie Stroller and I headed down to Liberty Station in Point Loma for the Fit Foodie Festival and 5K.

Arrival and Pre-Race

We arrived at Liberty Station around 7:15 AM, and there was plenty of parking! We loaded up the stroller, and then headed down to the festival area. I still had to pick up my packet since I skipped packet pick up on Friday night, as I did not want to drive down during rush hour traffic with the boys in tow.

The lines were a little lengthy but moved quickly. After I got my bib and got situated, hubby headed back to the car to try to take a nap, and I wandered around the festival. Many of the booths were already set up and handing out samples. I was lucky because I could stash so much stuff in my stroller. We had food samples, drinks and snacks for the boys and hooded sweatshirts in there!

Another difference between this race and other races that I have run is that since it was a 5K, I didn’t really feel the need to go to the bathroom before the start. It would have been hard for me to do anyway, since I’m not sure how I would keep an eye on the boys while I was in the port-a-potties!

We took part in the pre-race warm up and then headed to the starting area. Participants with strollers were told to line up in the back, which I did. The start was a wave start, so we wound up being in the 8th wave.

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Getting ready to start!

Fit Foodie 5K

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Almost at the front of the start

Running with a stroller proves to be quite difficult when you are doing a road race. The beginning mile of the course had lots of narrow spots so it was basically impossible for me to run. This section was by far the worst in terms of bottlenecks. It was so narrow and it irritates me so much when walkers insist on starting in early waves and block the entire path. Anyway, I was super frustrated that I couldn’t run or pass people.

A fun element of the Fit Foodie 5K is that the race features snack bites at each mile, but since I was running with the stroller and did not want to stop a bunch of times on the course, I skipped the first and last bite and all of the water stations.

The first bite was a donut, the second was a brownie, which was yummy, and I did not see what the third bite was.

I did not get to take in much of the course as I was more concerned with no running over walkers and trying to make my time goal. There were some pretty spots along Point Loma and we passed this neat ship. Excuse my ignorance, but I’m not sure what ship it is.

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Navy Ship? Not sure!

One of the best things about the course in my book was that it was super flat. There was just one spot where we ran over a bridge and back over again that had an incline. My biggest con for this course was the narrow spots and difficulty in passing people.

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Finish Line Photo by RaceWire

My official chip time was 37:51

I started my running app early and stopped it late, so my time on the app was 38:21. I was more interested in my split times though. As you can see, we definitely suffered from the blockage of walkers and narrow course because each mile got faster as we went. I also met my time goal of 12:30 per mile! Woohoo!

Mile 1 – 13:06
Mile 2 – 12:20
Mile 3 – 12:17 *fastest mile*

As we approached the finish line, I saw hubby on the sidelines and he met us when we crossed. I loved it! My fellow runners get how romantic this gesture feels! I was handed my avocado medal and then another volunteer handed me two more for the twins. So glad that they got medals too! They were amazing troopers through the whole race.

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We did it!

Festival

After we finished the race, we headed to the festival. There were cooking demos and lots and lots of food and a beer garden. We visited some of the booths that I had not already visited before the race.

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Cypress Grove Cheese

By this time, many of the lines were super long and we wanted to take the boys to the park before brunch, so we only went to booths with no or short lines and we also did not see any of the demos or visit the beer garden.

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Salad sample

If I do this race again, I will allow for more time to spend at the festival.

Post-Race Brunch

We had brunch planned for 10AM with my brother’s family, so we had to bow out pretty quickly. We headed to the park and then to Swami’s Cafe in Point Loma.

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Swami’s Cafe in Point Loma

I ordered the chilaquiles, and they hit the spot! After brunch, it was time for naps all around!

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Chilaquiles at Swami’s Cafe

Swag and Medal

I had lots of food samples to try and share! In addition to the booths, finishers also got a tote bag full of samples and coupons as you cross the finish line! Yum!

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Lots of food samples

Overall, this was a great, fun race to do to meet my goal of running a stroller-friendly race with my twins! I might even consider doing it again next year if this race returns to San Diego!

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Avocado medal

 

Visiting the Crayola Experience with Toddlers

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While visiting family in Pennsylvania recently, we decided to spend a rainy day at the Crayola Experience in Easton, Pennsylvania.

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The complex is huge with so much to do for little ones and younger elementary-aged children. I would say older elementary-aged children would not find it as amusing. Although we did not have time to explore the entire attraction and we skipped things that were not age-appropriate for my 15 month old twins, there was still plenty to do for the toddler-aged child.

Wrap It Up

Upon paying your admission fee, each guest is given a shopping bag and two tokens. One of the tokens can be used at Wrap It Up. Here, you can choose a Crayola crayon color and create a personalized label for it. Once your label is printed, you machine wrap it to create the perfect take home souvenir.

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Toddler Town

We spent the majority of our time in Toddler Town. There were multiple activity cubes to play with.

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But the reason why we stayed here so long and actually wound up coming back to Toddler Town a second time was because the twins were all about the giant Light Brite board. They could not get enough of it!

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Rainbow Rain and Stomp & Play

These two attractions are fun digital interactive games. With Rainbow Rain, you can play in melting wax.

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Stomp & Play lets you play games on a digital interactive floor. There was also an under the sea game on one of the walls.

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Colossal Caddy

The Crayola Experience had a number of coloring stations with different pages you can choose from to color in.

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Modeling Madness

With your second token, guests can visit the vending machines lining the room to choose from a variety of different colors of Crayola’s modeling compound.

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Tables were set up with cookie cutters and other tools for you to mold and play with the modeling clay. The boys really enjoyed this attraction. Even just playing with the clay in their hands was great for their sensory development.

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Big Blue

Made from 123,000 blue crayons and weighing 1,500 lbs, Big Blue is the world’s largest crayon and worth stopping to admire.

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The Crayola Store

This gift shop is filled with adorable souvenirs. We took home a few t-shirts for the twins.

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But my favorite thing at the shop was the amazing Pick Your Pack crayon display. Loved the rainbow of colors!

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There is so much more to do at the Crayola Experience. While we got our fill on these few things to do, once the boys are older, I would love to visit again and check out the other attractions and have more fun with my sons!

Gobble Meal Delivery Review

After our move to San Diego last month, I have found myself back in the role of primary meal planner, shopper, cooker and cleaner upper. From time to time, I love ordering a meal delivery kit so that at least part of our week of meals is taken care of.

Last week, I tried out Gobble.com‘s meal delivery kit for the first time. In the past, I have tried HelloFresh, Blue Apron and HomeChef. I found Blue Apron and HomeChef to be too complicated with too many steps. I even wound up at the ER after cooking a HomeChef meal because it was too complicated and my head had mom brain fog. Oops. Is that my hand that is burned??

Gobble.com meal delivery review

Well, Gobble.com claims to provide meal recipes that only take 15 minutes to prepare. I was intrigued by that alone. If that wasn’t enough to sell me, the recipes looked tasty and they were running a promotion for 50% off your first meal kit. Sold!

My box arrived in the late morning, so I had plenty of time to use one of the meals that evening. Like most meal delivery services, the food arrives in a large box with all of the meals and ingredients separated out. The box also contains reusable ice to keep the food cold during transport. Now, this is one of the things that kills me about meal delivery kits. They are so convenient but have so much waste! While you aren’t creating food waste, the boxes, ice and plastic bags produce a ton of waste and is the main reason why I don’t do meal delivery kits more often. This is true of all meal delivery kits and not specific to Gobble.com.

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Trash after I unpacked the box
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Recipes cards and ingredients for our meals

Here is a run down of the meals we picked and how they went:

Meal #1: Thai Pork Stir-Fry with Haricot Verts and Petite Sweet Peppers

The hubster has a very restrictive diet, so I always have to pick meals that either he can eat or that are easily modified. For this meal, I cooked the sweet peppers and serrano chili separately and left them out of his portion.

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One of the things that stood out to me about Gobble’s recipes is that they are basically one pan recipes. It probably took me around 20 minutes to prepare and plate the meal, but the added 5 minutes could have been due to the fact that I had to cook certain items separately due to hubster’s diet.

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The meal was easy to make. Clean up was not too painful and most importantly, it was delicious. I also didn’t go to the ER.

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I did find the portion to be smaller than other meal kits we have tried. On occasion, we have even had leftovers, not with Gobble though.

Meal #2: Miso Soy Buddha Bowl with Quinoa and Avocado

This dish sounded so delicious that I didn’t even notice that it was vegetarian until I started to get it ready. For this meal, I excluded the red onions and avocado from hubby’s meal and the cilantro from mine.

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Gobble was two for two! I still cannot decide whether this meal or the first was my favorite. Again, I felt like the preparation took about 5 minutes longer than advertised, but it was still super easy and a one pan situation.

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Meal #3: Pan-Roasted Culotte Steak with Colorful Veggie Hash and Lemon Tahini Dressing

This was my least favorite meal, both preparation wise and taste wise. On a positive note, though, the only modification I had to make was excluding the dressing from hubby’s plate.

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When I cooked the steak according to the directions, it was definitely not done when I cut into it and this was after it had been resting for a significant amount of time. I wound up having to put the steak back in the oven for longer, which extended the cooking time way past 15 minutes. In addition, I thought the veggie hash was pretty bland, and the meal overall was not amazing.

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Bonus: Chocolate chip cookies

Since it was my first order with Gobble, they added in two chocolate chip cookies into our box! Yum! I just had to pop them in the oven for 15 minutes, and since hubby can’t eat chocolate, they were both mine. Nomnomnomnomnom!

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All in all, I was very happy with our first experience with Gobble and I will definitely be using them again. I foresee it being a delivery once per month and switching between Gobble and HelloFresh.

If you are interested in trying Gobble, they usually are running some kind of promotion for first timers. Otherwise, the meals cost $11.95 per meal if you order 6 or more meals and $13.95 per meal if you only order 4 meals, inclusive of shipping.

You can also use the following link to try out a FREE dinner kit for two: https://www.gobble.com/invites/G0BCvhves

 

 

Hello from sunny San Diego

The last two weeks have been super overwhelming. Moving twice before your twins’ first birthday? Not recommended!

But we can finally get settled in. Downsizing from a three bedroom house with a garage to a two bedroom apartment has been rough. Plus, the moving company broke a ton of our furniture! So we have been having a hard time finding a place for everything we own, and unfortunately, that means purging!

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We have had a little bit of time to explore our neighborhood and hang out with my brother’s family.

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I’m trying not to get too stressed out about having everything in place. There is just so much to do: unpack, clean and take care of my whole family. It is going to be weeks still before I think we can say we are done unpacking and settled.

In the meantime, I am loving San Diego and feel so lucky to live here.

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On top of all of this, I am planning the twins’ first birthday party, which is only three weeks away! ARGH, so much to do!!!