We're so happy to introduce you to our newest blogging mom! Every week or so she's going to share all of her best places, tips & tricks for awesome hiking with kiddos. Cool, right? Here she is:
I’m Jenna and I am SUPER excited to be joining this team of Mamas. I have been married for over 16 years, am a Mama to two amazing littles age 7 and (almost) 4, and am a full-time elementary special education teacher. Add dance, basketball, lacrosse, and swimming, and busy doesn’t even begin to describe our crazy life. I LOVE summers and the extra time to be together. We hike, travel, play, and explore. I have an addiction to soy chais and Arnold Palmers. Happiness is being in the sunshine with my friends and family, walks on the beach, long road trips, and anything Disney.
Deep down inside, I am a runner. I love running. I am one of those people who loves ALL THE THINGS about running. I consider myself a runner even if I haven’t been able to in what feels like forever. Here’s the problem. Running does not love me in return. I am eternally injured. I’ve had two significant stress fractures in my tibia in recent history (one which kept me from running a marathon) and although not related to running, I am recovering from a fall that ended in a gruesome ankle sprain that has kept me from doing much of anything. Now why am I sharing with you how pathetic I am? Because I want you to have a basic understanding of my fitness level so that when you read through these posts, you’ll have a better understanding of where I’m coming from. I was never a fast runner or a pretty runner or any sort of magazine worthy accomplished runner – but I love being active and engaged in something and I loved being able to push myself to go faster or farther. If I was tosum up my running abilities into one phrase, it would have to be “Slow and steady wins the race” or at least limps across the finish line.
I strongly believe we were not created to be inside. Don’t get me wrong, I love a day watching mindless television on the couch as much as the next Mama, but I can last a day and then I NEED OUT. My kids are the same way. We just manage better if we’ve spent time outside. I love going on adventures with my kids and listening to them as we see and experience new things and new places.
Each time my nephews visit, we find a new place to go. My oldest nephew pours through guidebooks and we have found some fantastic places. The problem with this is, guidebooks weren’t written by moms and no matter how “kid-friendly” the author tells me the hike is or could be, it is not the same as when I ask other moms what it was like. So with that, I hope to share with you all the hikes I take my kids on and how I would rate them from a Mom’s point of view.
We’ll talk safety, cell service, bathrooms, terrain, and whether you’ll need a full backpack or just your favorite kid-carrier. We’ll cover mileage, fitness levels, and age limits. Each hike will be done with my kids (age 7 and 4) and will give their opinion as well. I will start with those in and around town and as we get closer to summer, we will venture a bit further out. Let me know if there’s any trails you’ve been dying to try and I will do my best to get on those!
Happy Spring Break to you! Maybe you have fabulous travel plans - Disneyland, Texas, Hawaii? Maybe you're like my family and are just staying home more than usual because everything is super crowded? :) Well whatever - I hope you're enjoying it!
So guess what? The Eugene Public Library's book sale is Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12. You go to this sale, right? If you've never been before, please plan on going - it's a hoot. Wonderful volunteers work for ages to get a bazillion books, cds, and dvds organized at the fairgrounds for eager shoppers to take home.
Here's how it works:
They start giving away timed and numbered entry tickets at 5:00 am Saturdaymorning (I know!! Early!) Doors open on Saturday at 9 am. Truly, I have done this sale for years, and it is chaotic every. single. year. I usually show up around 7:30. They give me a little ticket that says something like "9:20, #118". Then I leave, go get Starbucks, and sit and read until 9. Then I head back to the line, where hundreds of strangers are trying to get themselves in numerical order. It's hilarious. For some reason (probably the fact that it's early on a Saturday morning and usually raining), people are usually somewhat grumpy about this. It's a serious and weirdly competitive affair. My favorite part about lining up is watching the line for the event that is somehow ALWAYS scheduled in the next building over at the same time: a gun and knife show. I find this completely ironic and comical, because - well, it just is. :)
Now, you certainly don't have to be there at the crack of dawn. There are literally thousands of items. If you show up in the afternoon, I think you'll still have plenty to choose from. However, I've heard that it's pretty picked over on Sunday.
Once you're in the door, if you haven't remembered to bring a laundry basket or IKEA bag with you, grab one of the free liquor boxes they offer you (why are they always liquor? Does anyone know? Does the library have an inside man in the alcohol industry?) because you're going to need something to hold all of your fabulous finds.
The event is free to enter, but it's a fundraiser for the library, and there is a donation box as you enter. I try to slip a few bucks in if I feel like I haven't already taken out a second mortgage on my home to pay my overdue fees for the year.
Inside, the kid's materials are at the veeeerrrrrry opposite end of the room from where you enter. They're right in front of the stage. They're sorted really nicely: chapter books, craft books, picture books, biographies, holidays, etc. Most are $1. Granted, you can get books for littles much cheaper than $1 elsewhere in town, but I figure this is for a good cause. They also have a special section with books that are practically brand new, or rare, or super popular, and those are priced a little higher. I found a Disney "Cars" Search and Find book last year that was $2 and oh my word have we gotten our money's worth out of that one. So many fun finds!
The items for sale are mixed up: some are discarded library books, and others have been donated to the library for the sale. Some of them will have library stamps or barcode labels or whatever, but that just adds character, amiright?
The line moves pretty quickly, but it is also very long. This is not an event where you can pop in and out in 20 minutes. It is very, very crowded, and there are soooooo many boxes of materials to sort through. I would also really recommend against taking your kiddos with you, unless you've got a big kiddo who you can count on staying close by you and putting things back where they find them.
So there you go. The library book sale. It's really very fun, and I promise you will leave with a ton of treasures to revive your home reading rotation. And books for grownups! So many! I always leave with a giant stack to add to my already giant stack of "to read" books on my bedside table. One of these days it's going to crush me in my sleep.
Eugene Public Library Annual Book Sale
Eugene Fairgrounds in the Performance Hall
April 11-12, 2015
Hours: Saturday 9-6, Sunday, 10-4
Parking: plenty of free parking
Payment: Visa and MasterCard credit/debit cards, checks with ID, and there's an ATM in the lobby. Cash is fastest in my experience.
Food: I am pretty sure there are vending machines, but who has time to eat where there are books to be bought? So...maybe?
Cost: Free entry, most items cost a buck or two
Resting/Nursing Spots: The volunteers can probably scrounge up a folding chair for you to sit in. There are also benches in the lobby of the building, outside the room where the sale takes place.
Time Frame: Depends on how long you want to linger. I would be super surprised if you could make it in and out in under an hour. (Maybe there's someone out there who can do it? Let me know how?!) If you can, leave the kiddos with someone at home and plan on browsing for two hours or so.
3/17/2015 1 Comment
Okay, can we just take a minute to address the elephant in the playroom? Kid's music. Music for kids. It is the ABSOLUTE WORST. How many times has the following scenario happened to you:
You're in the kitchen prepping a snack for your littles. It's 3:30 in the afternoon and you are seriously wondering how you are supposed to manage staying conscious for the next few hours (So. Tired.), let alone make supper and do all of the evening things. To perk things up, you decide to turn on a little music. Pandora kicks in and instead of being energized, you immediately fall to the ground writhing in agony. Oh, the synthesized instruments! Woe is me, cheesy over-effected vocals! The level of manic energy and pure campiness - WHY?! Your only solution is to stuff your ears with Goldfish crackers and pray that one gets lodged deeply enough to rupture your eardrums.
Here are some of my favorite kid's artists - I hope they save you a hospital bill for a self inflicted ear injury.
First! Shout out to musicians that aren't specifically for children, but that children love anyway! With the exception of a few songs that need to be skipped because of coarse language or mature themes, The Beatles, Alison Krauss, Michael Jackson, Mumford and Sons, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Twilight soundtracks (don't judge), Johnny Cash, Jack Johnson, Garth Brooks, and Jars of Clay are all popular at our house. We also really love show tunes, musicals, and soundtracks. The Lion King, Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, Cars - all so fun.
Musicians that make awesome kids music:
Caspar Babypants - Also known as Chris Ballew from the band The Presidents of the United States of America, this is a guy out of Seattle who will rock your socks off. The Caspar Babypants stuff is catchy, bouncy, and fun, without being obnoxious. (He's playing in Portland this coming Sunday!!)
Elizabeth Mitchell - My all time favorite. An ex-preschool teacher out of New York, her music is folksy, mellow, gentle, and happy. Love her.
They Might Be Giants - Yes, this "grownup" band does kid's stuff. And it is so good. Quirky, humorous, and a bit funky. See also: Barenaked Ladies. Similarly goofy.
Raffi - Classic. Guy with a guitar. If you were a child ever at any point, you've probably heard his stuff. It's still good. We saw him live a few weeks ago and he was excellent.
Laura Veirs - Another Seattle artist, Laura is folksy with a touch of country twang. She only has one children's album, called Tumble Bee, but I think it is really lovely. Check it out.
Justin Roberts - "Intelligent and whimsically rocking" music (I pulled that off his bio). :) He used to be a Montessori teacher, and it shows.
Laurie Berkner - A multi-instrumentalist who used to be a music specialist at a New York preschool. Truly a children's music rockstar.
Charlie Hope - Another preschool teacher (are you seeing a theme here?), Charlie has a degree in Art Therapy for children. Her music is gorgeous, and she has a lovely lullaby album.
A few good bets as far as Pandora stations go: Family Folk Songs, Disney, and Putumayo are all fun. And all of the artists I listed above have cds available to check out from the Eugene library. I'm sure the library has tons of other artists that are so great! Which leads me to...
What did I miss? I am always looking for new music to fill our daily soundtrack, so please let me know who you love listening to!
Remember when you became a parent and you felt like the biggest rookie in the world? How you would marvel at those moms who could tie their newborn to their front in a perfectly weaved wrap seeming as if they’ve been at this parenting gig for two dozen years?
With every new stage my oldest child begins, I am reminded of my rookie status as a parent once again. And so I am settling on the fact that there is no parenting expert and no baby whisperer that I should aspire to. Rather, I am most at peace when I approach other parents just as Dorothy followed her path to the Wizard of Oz…I may not quite know what I’m doing, or how far I’m going, or why the yellow brick road goes this way or that, but I DO know I need companions with heart, brains and courage to journey along this road with me!
So at GoMomGo we want to share the emerging wisdom in parents who are seeking to do the best they can while allowing lots of grace for mistakes along the way. Once a month we will interview a real mom or dad who is making an impact in some way in their family and in their community with hope that, like Dorothy and her friends, we can all inspire and encourage one another.
Meet our first mom - a mother of twins who is learning the arts of essential oils.
GMG: Let’s start with your name & what your mom super hero name would be.
Mom of the Month: Ashley Banks, The Incredible Oil-Wielding Baby-Wrangler!
GMG: And tell us a little about your kids.
Ashley: I have a girl and a boy. They are 17 month old twins! They are complete opposites in just about every way...personality, physical abilities, developmentally, etc. It has been a blast to watch them grow together and see their individualities shine.
GMG: How about a big dream you have for your family?
Ashley: To travel! I want to make memories, experience cultures, and see the world with my family. We would love to make some of our trips focused on serving people around the world who are less fortunate. My husband and I have been on mission trips pre-children and, once they are old enough, we plan to bring them along as well.
GMG: When you’re not on full on mommy duty, what do you like to do?
Ashley: Run! I am blessed to run regularly with a great group of moms. We are currently training for the Eugene Half Marathon...fittingly on Mother's Day weekend. I am also a part-time barista at Starbucks, volunteer with Dove Medical, and enjoy participating in mom's group at church and supporting my husband as he finishes his Master's degree. My life is full!
GMG: What’s something new you’re currently learning about?
Ashley: Essential Oils! I want to be able to fully support my fellow oil-lovers in whatever their needs may be. That takes learning and research on my part so I can share what I know about how to use them safely, effectively and efficiently. Luckily, essential oils are amazing and fascinating, so I am really enjoying the learning process! I have a Bachelor of Science in Community Health; learning about health and wellness and sharing that knowledge with others has always been a passion of mine. Seeing others reach greater levels of personal health is a true blessing.
GMG: Can you tell us a story about how essential oils have helped you and your family?
Ashley: The first Young Living product that I ever experienced was Thieves Spray. I was coming down with a sore throat and cold-flu symptoms and a friend gave me their bottle of Thieves Spray. They instructed me to spray one spray onto the back of my throat. I did and it did have a bit of a burning feeling, but soon began to numb the pain. I did this a couple more times throughout the day and the next day my symptoms were gone! I was a believer. This was about 4 years ago and I still have that same 1 oz. bottle of Thieves Spray (it doesn't expire and a little goes a long way!) and use it to this day. It has kept me from getting sick a countless number of times!! When you look up this product in the Young Living Product Guide, you will find it listed with the cleaning products. While not all the cleaning products are ingestible, all of the ingredients in the Thieves Spray are 100% ingestible! That's when you know it is a truly safe and all-natural product…when what you use to clean your counter doubles as a chloraseptic.
Since that time, I used a few essential oils here and there. It wasn't until just over a year ago when my twins were born that I really started committing to Young Living oils as an alternative to many OTC children's medications as well as household cleaning and personal care products. A friend introduced me to the wonderful world of a Young Living wholesale membership; I got the Premium Starter Kit and am so grateful for it. We have made it through this relentless cold/flu season unscathed and I am thanking my oils!
GMG: Would you divulge a bad mom moment in the last month?
Ashley: My two littles are becoming quite skilled climbers. I was cleaning the kitchen recently and looked up and my son had climbed onto the TV stand and was standing on top of it. He had a huge grin on his face of course and he didn't fall off, so it could have been worse. It is now a constant battle to keep him off of it! I need 10 arms!
GMG: And the best mom moment in the last month?
Ashley: We had two pretty rough teething bouts in the last few weeks. Entertaining the non-teething child, while comforting the teething one, and making it to the end of the day still feeling like a sane human is accomplishment enough for me!
GMG: Brag a little bit about your mom friends…
Ashley: I’m grateful for them believing I am not crazy! Sharing common blessings/challenges of motherhood helps me to realize I'm not alone in this and empowers me to know I can do it well too. I am blessed to know so many amazing moms and I cherish them all.
GMG: What do you think is your strongest mom skill?
Ashley: Carrying two children and a diaper bag and whatever else and loading them all into the van by myself. I don't even have a remote clicker to unlock the van!
GMG: Before you became a mom, what were you up to?
Ashley: I managed a Starbucks and supported my husband while he finished his undergraduate degree in Texas. He is now getting his Master's at the University of Oregon. The twins were born the week he started the program...it's been a crazy couple of years.
GMG: What’s your favorite thing to do as a family in Eugene?
Ashley: Trying out new, local places to eat! During the summer, we like to stop by Saturday Market after Family Music Time at the Eugene Library. Finding a new place to hike is always a favorite as well.
GMG: And how do you stay sane through the rainy season of Eugene?
Ashley: We just discovered Open Gym at Kipsters...the kids LOVE it! It was so fun to watch them take on new challenges! We will definitely be going back regularly.
Thanks Ashley! We were so happy to meet you!!
You can learn more about essential oils via Ashley’s Facebook page.
She shares on a different health topic each week and how you can incorporate essential oils for support and wellness related to those topics. You can also follow her essential oils diary on Instagram @lavendersongs.
Is it just me, or is feeding your family just SO MUCH WORK? Every morning, they wake up, and they want to eat. So I make food, and then I clean it up. Then we repeat the drill every two hours or so. Then, finally, at the end of the day, right around 5 pm, when I feel like I am going to melt into a puddle of desperate exhaustion - they have the audacity to demand yet more food. And every night, I'm like, are you even kidding me right now?!?
So clearly, I have zero suggestions for supper solutions. Look elsewhere for your meal time magic. However. Snacks? I've got a snack that makes at least the eating times between the actual meals an absolute breeze.
Are you ready for this?
The Best Granola Bars Of All Time - Chewy, No-Bake Goodness
These handy little guys are so great to have around for quick and easy grab on the go snacks. They freeze really well, so I always make a double batch. That way I can have one to chop up, put in baggies, and throw straight in the freezer. Pull them out and in a few minutes they will thaw and be ready to go. The recipe below is for one batch, which makes 16 bars in a 9 by 13 pan.
All that being said, I wouldn't exactly call these a health food. They're similar to the Quaker Oats Chewy Granola Bars. Maybe not super low calorie or whatever, but really, really tasty.
Here's what you're going to need:
2 1/2 cups Rice Krispies
1 1/4 cups oatmeal (I like quick best)
1/4 cup ground flax seed OR wheat bran OR additional oats
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup peanut butter (if you avoid nuts, Sunbutter works fine here)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
First. This recipe only takes about 15 minutes to throw together, which is awesome. However, it's not a great one to do with littles. Most of it is done on the stovetop, and you need to work sort of quickly at the end. So, there ya go.
1. Dump the first 3 ingredients into a big bowl. That last one? Flax seed OR wheat bran OR additional oats? Doesn't matter what you choose. You're the boss. I just use whatever I've got - usually flax. If you happen to have wheat germ, or oat bran - any of these will work. Probably nutritional yeast too? Whatever. Stir em up.
2. In a small pot on the stove, mix the next 3 ingredients. Let them melt together over medium heat. It will take some time - keep a close eye on it and stir it pretty often.
3. Once it starts to boil, set the timer for 2 minutes. Stir and boil until the timer beeps. Don't cut corners here. There's something about the boiling that helps the bars stick together.
4. After the required 2 minutes, take the pot off the heat and stir in the peanut butter and the vanilla. Now here's the deal with the peanut butter. Measuring it is sort of a pain. So I...don't. I seriously hold up the measuring cup and eyeball it. Trust me, it will be fine.
5. Dump the honey mixture in the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir it all up. Keep stirring until everything is evenly coated.
6. Wait about 3 or 4 minutes to let the mixture cool, and then mix in the chocolate chips. Don't wait too long, or it will cool too much and it will all have a hard time sticking together.
7. Pour the mixture into a greased 9 by 13 pan. Want to use cooking spray? Go for it. Want to put your hand in a baggie and dip it into butter and smear it around in the pan? That works too. It's also more fun. ALSO! If you want to, you could use muffin tins, mini muffin tins, or even a melon baller/cookie dough scoop to make these into whatever shape your heart desires. Again, you're the boss
8. Use your hand (the baggie! Use the baggie!) to press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Really press it. The goal is to get it all to stick together so that the granola bars don't fall apart.
9. After about an hour, you can cut and eat them. So tasty. Kids love them. Adults love them. You are now a snack time winner.
Okay one last thought - this recipe is based on one I got from a little website you may have heard of called Pinterest (aka How to Spend an Hour of Your Precious Time Feeling Like a Failure) (kidding - sort of). Here are my two big tips for using recipes from blogs:
1. Read the recipe ALL THE WAY THROUGH. I can't tell you how many times I've started a recipe and then realized that it has to be refrigerated for 3 hours before serving, or that the beans need to be soaked overnight, or something else random that means I can't serve it when I thought I was going to.
2. Read ALL of the comments. Even if there are a hundred or more. Wasting time or ingredients is so very frustrating, and sometimes there are super helpful comments that can save you that trouble.
Okay, please let me know if you try these! I bet you will love them!
Megan Defferding is the mom to two super fun boys who love to find great stuff to do all around Lane County! Check out her blog series, Happy Adventuring, weekly on GoMomGo.
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