Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Summer Challenge! Tasting Ice Cream Like A Connoisseur June 28, 2009

Ice cream, sorbet, frozen custard, frozen yogurt, gelato… these are the culinary treasures of summer. Lucky for us, Los Angeles boasts some of the finest purveyors of frosty delights in the country. Now that summer is upon us, I propose a season-long exploration for the entire family, in the good names of gustatory pleasure and the spirit of adventure!

I’ve compiled an alphabetical list of LA’s most highly recommended ice cream parlors; There are enough tempting destinations listed to visit one frozen-delight outlet per week until Labor Day, with room for visit to a stumbled-upon treasure (comment back if you find an ice cream parlor the rest of us need to visit!) or to make a second visit to a favorite place to sample another flavor!
 
Al Gelato 806 S Robertson Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90035. 310-659-8069
Charlie Temmel Ice Cream 1313 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291.  310-664-9564
Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream 1525 North La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90028.  866-767-3423
Milk 7290 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036. 323-939-6455
Pazzo Gelato 3827 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026. 323-662-1410
Scoops 712 N Heliotrope Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90029. 323-906-2649
Silky Smooth Ultra Creamery Beverly Center Mall-7th Floor 8500 Beverly Blvd. Store 752, Los Angeles, CA 90048. 310-659-9992
 
Taking a cue from wine connoisseurs, equip yourself and your kids with a notebook to record impressions. On Labor Day weekend, celebrate your newly refined palate with a trip back for what is—in your esteemed opinion—the “very bestest” frozen treat in Los Angeles.
 
Just like tasting wine, paying special attention to your ice cream can be an adventure that will deepen your appreciation for both the treat and the various methods by which it is made.
 
Here are some fun tips for tasting like a true connoisseur
 
Begin with your basic senses. Keep in mind that you can smell thousands of unique scents, but your taste perception is limited to salty, sweet, sour and bitter. It is the combination of smell and taste that allows you to discern flavor.
 
One a fresh page in your notebook, enter the name of the ice cream shop, the date, and the flavor you chose. Then, eat! Be sure to make additional notes in your book using the following as a guide:
 
Look: What color is it? Did you choose a treat with bits of fruit, nuts, chocolate chips? Can you see them? Does your treat have a smooth, creamy texture, is it soft or firm, light or heavy? Is it melting quickly, or holding its shape?
 
Taste: Take a bite, and allow it to slowly melt on your tongue. Depending on which flavor you chose, you might detect the taste of berries, chocolate, vanilla, spices, or citrus. Sweet tastes and salty tastes are mostly tasted at the tip of the tongue. Bitter tastes are mostly sensed towards the back and rear sides of the tongue, and sour tastes (like citrus) are mostly tasted at the sides of the tongue, at the middle and towards the front.
 
Is it melting quickly, or slowly? What flavors did you notice first? Did any additional flavors appear as the ice cream melted on your tongue? How sweet is it? How does the texture feel? Does it taste better eaten from a spoon, or licked directly? (I’m told there really is a difference.) Does the flavor persist long after each bite, or does it disappear? Close your eyes and search your imagination: what does the taste make you think of?
 
Explore: What is the funniest flavor the shop offers? What is the weirdest? (Scoops features flavors such as (Fois gras and Sweet cream, Earl Grey Ginger, and Riesling Cherry!) How was it made? (Does the shop use an old family recipe? What kids of equipment are used to prepare the ice cream? How long does it take? How often do they make it?)
 
Sure it tastes good, but is it good for me? Some shops will offer information such as calories, or fat content per serving. Silky Smooth Ultra Creamery uses excess butterfat, yet is 90% fat free. (How do they do this?) Be sure to add notes about nutrition in your ice cream notebook, if it happens to matter to you. With dessert, often one is better off not knowing.
 
Lastly, give your ice cream a final rating overall: perhaps grade it A, B, C or D, or give it a ranking from 1-10. When you find one you like, don’t keep it a secret. Comment below and spread the good word!
 

Win a Lux Gift from LA Boxing!! June 26, 2009

For new mothers, there is no greater joy than welcoming home your newborn baby. However, along with that bundle of joy came another not-so-wonderful bundle in the form of “baby weight”—those extra pounds packed on by all that extra eating you did during gestation for the healthy growth of your infant.

Now that  Baby (and bathing suit season) are finally here, it’s time to wave bye-bye to post-pregnancy pounds! (My youngest is two, and I’m still trying to shake the final eight.)

There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

For all those looking to slim down, boxing is a fun and effective way to help moms get rid of their post-pregnancy weight. Classes are guaranteed to burn up to 800-1000 calories per hour! Boxing workouts are also notable favorites among celebrities such as Victoria’s Secret models Adriana Lima (who just announced her pregnancy!) and Marisa Miller, The Office funny girl Jenna Fisher and six-pack wielding Matthew McConaughey and Mark Walberg

LA Boxing, the nation’s leading boxing, kickboxing and MMA organization, is saluting new and veteran moms with a very special gift for one lucky Motherhood, Marriage & Other Wild Rides reader, featuring:

  • LA Boxing t-shirt
  • A 30-day trial membership certificate for the location of your choice
  • A pair of lux pink boxing gloves   

Just comment below to enter! One winner will be selected randomly on Monday, July 13! If you are not a mom, enter to win this as a baby shower gift, or give it to your mom, sister, BFF, partner or wife. With over 120 LA Boxing clubs  nationwide, there is certain to be one in her neighborhood.

While you wait for the announcement of our winner, try this simple at-home workout to help quickly shed pounds, courtesy of the fitness gurus at LA Boxing:  
 
Begin with 3 minute rounds concentrating on the following breakdown with 30 seconds break in between rounds:
 
1. Shadow box for the first minute: Keep hands always up (do all combinations with hooks, uppercuts, and straight punches)
 
2. Power punches second minute (punching hard every punch)
 
3.  Shadow box the third minute
 
Do as many rounds as you can, starting out with five to six rounds. As your stamina increases, add one knee after every combination using the opposite side knee of your last punch. Then, if you feel strong and are not over-extending yourself, you can add 10 squat jumps (jumping as high as you can in the air, then squatting as low as you can) during your break time.

Simply comment to win! One lucky mama will be contacted by email on Monday, July 13, 2009.
Special note: If you are new to motherhood, you are likely so tired you can barely think about getting to the gym, and that’s perfectly natural—and recommended! After Baby arrives, every mom’s best advice is to rest up for at least six weeks, or until your doctor gives you the greenlight to get back into a fitness routine.
 

Top 10 Foods to Help Little Ones Sleep Better June 22, 2009

We’ve  certainly had our issues with bedtime. Both our boys require strategic, point-by-point operations before they will agree to close their eyes for the night. We’ve tried everything (and I do mean everything) to put them to sleep, including altering their dinner options to encourage a restful sleep.

Regardless of the book or manuals you read, what works and doesn’t work in parenting is often learned through trial and error. As far as the foods we’ve  been choosing before bedtime, apparently we’ve been following the wrong tack.

While many stand by a high-protein pre-bedtime routine, (citing the side benefits of turkey because it contains sleep-inducing tryptophan), researchers have nixed this connection. It turns out turkey, like most foods, just doesn’t contain enough tryptophan to put you to sleep, explains Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of The Food & Mood Cookbook: Recipes for Eating Well and Feeling Your Best

This comes as a surprise to me. As a former macrobiotic, I thought I knew a thing or two about the food-mood connection. Instead, Somer recommends we choose light but high-carbohydrate snacks in order to boost levels of serotonin (the brain’s sleep chemical) without overloading  the digestive system. Of course, it never hurts to wash them down with something warm and soothing, such as a cup of herbal tea (chamomile or lemon balm) or warm milk. Perhaps I’ll try incorporating a little tea-party ritual with the boys before bedtime.

The Top 10 Foods to Promote Sleep
Try one of these yummy foods about an hour before bedtime. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your little one (and you!) get a good night’s rest tonight!

  • A 4-ounce baked potato topped with salsa
  • Half of a whole-wheat English muffin or raisin bagel drizzled with honey
  • 1 slice whole or multi-grain bread smeared with almond or cashew butter
  • Half a cup of pasta topped with marinara sauce
  • 2 cups air-popped popcorn
  • Fresh strawberries dunked in a little fat-free chocolate syrup
  • A handful of oyster crackers and one piece of fruit
  • A small slice of angel food cake topped with berries
  • A frozen whole-wheat waffle, toasted, with maple syrup
  • Half a cup of pretzels   
 

Parenting Examiner Column – Week in Review June 20, 2009

My newest parenting column is now available on the LA edition of Examiner.com, the premier online brand for local information and events. Examiner.com is a fresh, innovative online local news and information source. Powered by a diverse group of contributors from around the country, Examiners are “credible, passionate, knowledgeable people who talk about their topics and share their knowledge in a fun, useful non-pompous way.” (Eesh, alert me if this comes off as pompous!)

Michelle Trela, Family & Parenting Channel Manager for Examiner.com, generously commented: “You hit the mark on pretty much everything I look for: localization, hyperlinks, photos (and you even used a slide show! Very few new Examiner are brave enough to try one, so bravo, it came out great!), clean writing (nice sense of humor, too!), a good headline.  Keep up the great work!  This is really top notch work; I look forward to seeing what else you have to write.”

Here are links to my articles from this week. I’d love to see your comments—especially any requests to cover whatever topic that matters most to you! Thank you for taking the time to check these out:

 

I’m Officially an Examiner in LA!! June 14, 2009

I’m so excited! At last, my newest parenting column is LIVE on LA’s Examiner, a fabulous online magazine!

 I’ll be writing articles regularly about parenting, family health and advocacy, fun weekend ideas, and (cheap!) things to do in Southern California!

As a treat, I’ll occasionally feature kid-friendly recipes (because we all love to to eat!) and some crafts, activities, travel tips, along with debates about vaccines, education, daycare, standardized testing and everything in between. Check out my first article here.

Subscribe at my new Examiner page, and watch for more great parenting info and fun stuff for kids!

 

Camping at Lake Piru June 9, 2009

Get brave and dirty! Try a campout with your preschoolers!

 Last weekend, we took the kids camping at Lake Piru in Los Padres National Forest near Ventura, Calif. Our boys, ages 2 and 4 years, were very excited, and spent the week before our trip “practicing” in their turtle-shaped tent at home. My husband has his father’s old 1985 speed boat, and we were curious about how our little ones might fare on a cruise about the lake. (They’ve been boating on it since birth, but each time seems to be an entirely new adventure!)

The campsite at Lake Piru is a lot less rural than I’d hoped—Tiny spaces in a former oliver orchard butting up to neighboring campers on either side—and while the fabulous sunsets, and chocolate brown cows on the surrounding picturesque hills created a tranquil setting, the overall “campground” aspect felt a little more like tailgating than getting back to nature. Like all things in life, even strangers camping only 50 feet away (with their late-night banter and dubious musical tastes) have a silver lining; So much exposure to other campers allowed our children fleeting interactions with other young ones new to the concept. The boys also made friends with rollicking doggies of all shapes and sizes, and (truth be told) I’m neither ready to go “deep woods” with a 2- and 4-year-old just yet, nor am I ready to stray too far from a decent coffee place when I know I’ll be spending the night on a blow-up mattress.

The economy what it is, the boat launch was virtually deserted all weekend, with only a lone skier on the lake, although it is a popular spot for trout, northern black bass, catfish, bluegill, sunfish and crappie fishing. We enjoyed high-speed rides with our friends and little guys, who were both giggling hysterically and urging their father to go faster, faster! When we let down our anchor in a quiet bay, they thought nothing of jumping right in the lake–I was so impressed! 

One unexpected benefit of the empty boat launches was the combination of wide open space and the perfect kite-flying wind caught between the mountains and water. (My husband scoffed when I packed a kite: “how do you suppose we’ll fly a kite in the woods?”) When I pulled out our Mater and Lightning McQueen kite, the boys cheered! The string was nowhere to be found, so I removed the kite’s tails, connected them, and we used them as a makeshift string. The wind picked the kite right up, and we were off and running! 

While we had packed a toy bulldozer and an excavator, along with some sand toys, the boys ignored them. They were too interested in exploring rabbit holes, and collecting sticks, and throwing stones into the woods. One thing that surprised me was the ongoing ordeal about who was going to collect the water and help scrub the dishes after every meal. To be fair, I put them both to work, but they weren’t happy about it. They each wanted to be “the one” who helped. (This is the kind of debate I’d like to see more often!)

Each night, the boys were exhausted. When we tucked them into bed, the would roll about in huge fits of giggles—they were so thrilled to be sleeping in a tent! They were giving us big kisses and hugs and cheering, and it was nothing short of adorable. Until early in the morning, when our littlest early-riser had me up at 5am, walking the perimeter of the campground, again and again, until around 8 am, when he finally settled down enough to eat breakfast—or rather, pick the chocolate chips out of the otherwise nutritious trail mix.

Check out the slideshow! After reviewing our fun, I realized we all need our hair cut.

 

Twittering Moms Share Their Secrets for Motherhood Happiness June 5, 2009

Filed under: motherhood — rjlacko @ 10:40 am
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Mom, blogger and tweeter Meagan Francis (aka: The Happiest Mom), authors a cheerful blog sharing her thoughts about being a happier mom.

Curious about what other moms do to be and stay happy, she asked other moms on Twitter to share their rules for happy motherhood, in 140 characters or less. She received some great advice::

  • Choosing battles, relaxing expectations, & sticking up for yourself (”I’m not getting up again until I finish my coffee”) — @kt_writes
  • Get out of the house & explore w/your kids, even if it means you don’t get your list of “shoulds” done. — @motherofalltrip
  • If you did the best you could with the tools you had at the time: NO GUILT over your kid’s life choices. — @damamat
  • I’m not a mom–a dad. But I still gotta submit “choose your battles” as top notch advice from both sides of the parentfence. — @terrybain
  • My rule for happiness in motherhood “Keep your sense of humor.” That was the one piece of advice given to me by my mom. — @mammaloves
  • Children grow from the delight they see in your eyes. — @isabelkallman
  • Happy Rules: Choose your battles. Know it’s not original but it helps keep you sane with teen/tween girls in the house.–@leangreenmom
  • Stop comparing! Just as children are different, so are mothers & mothering styles — @cyclingwidow
  • Go barefoot and eat popsicles with the kids. Enjoy their childhood with them; it’s okay to be silly sometimes! — @laanykidsmom
  • Every so often, stop everything, really look at the beautiful girl I’ve made, and be awestruck. Tell her so. — @andrea_mcd
  • Time is short. Try to love every minute with them before they leave — @marthaandmeblog
  • Every day, do one thing that feeds you- whether it’s a single deep breath or a splurge at the salon or 5 pages of your fave book. — @srgruber
  • Here’s one of my Happy Mom Rules: “Don’t let the youth sports cartel run your life” — “You’re a Good Mom” (Sourcebooks 2008) — @jensinger
  • My mantra lately has become ACCEPTANCE. Kids will wreck stuff. Kids will melt down. Don’t try to change it so much. — @somethinggirl
  • My rule – perfection is not a requirement for the job. — @mbhide
  • Don’t make problems where there don’t need to be (aka don’t sweat the small stuff). Let them wear ridiculous outfits, etc. — @mayberrymom
  • One of my rules is to do something outside of motherhood that makes you happy; it makes you a better mom. — @urbanmama
  • “Happy Rule:” Don’t expect things to go a certain way. Allow yourself to be surprised.  — @toyfoto
  • It sounds cliche but don’t sweat the small stuff, let things go quickly, and laugh hard–especially when you’re the maddest. — @jennyann23
  • Learn & adapt 4 my family. Don’t be afraid to reject things that don’t fit for your family. Take a step back before responding — @playactivities

I love these answers! Cheers to all the moms! If I were to add mine, I might advise: In everything you do, tell them–with your words, your actions, and reactions–how very loved they are.

 What about you? What’s your personal number-one rule for being a happy mom? Write it in the comments below or follow me on Twitter! @RebeccaLacko