Fresh Strawberry Lemonade

strawberry-lemonadeIts summertime and what says summer more than lemonade? And since we live in California, strawberries are a summertime staple (well, actually nearly all year here). One of my lovely neighbors dropped off a huge bag of lemons so of course, that meant it was time to make some homemade lemonade. After a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market this morning to grab a ton of strawberries (my kids go through them like no one’s business) it was time to make some thirst quenching juice. I thought about adding the mint after I took a picture next to the mint on the table and it ended up even tastier!


  • 2-3 cups strawberries
  • 1½ cups lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3-4 cups water
  • Sprigs of mint (optional)


Blend 2-3 cups of strawberries with 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice into a puree. Strain the strawberries to get rid of all the seeds and itty-bitty parts in a fine wire mesh strainer. If you’ve never done this before, you’ll need to use a spoon to gently stir the puree around so most of it will go down the strainer, otherwise you’ll need to wait a really long time! If you don’t have a strainer, nylons work really well, too (yes I mean torn pantyhose that instead of just throwing away, you cut in to different size pieces to use for various reasons)!

Combine the strained strawberry juice, lemon juice, sugar and 3 cups of water and mix well until the sugar has dissolved.

If using the fresh mint, you want to squish/crumble/crush the leaves to release the flavor, but not so hard that the leaves break.


NOTE: If you serve over a glass full of ice cubes or you plan on adding ice cubes to a pitcher, you won’t want that extra cup of water. But if you’re going to chill the lemonade ahead of time and won’t be serving with ice, it might be pretty tart without the additional cup of water. And of course remember that strawberries can be extra sweet or not, and lemons can be extra tart or not, so you may need to add more sugar to suit your taste.


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Posted in Recipes

To the well meaning mother of older children

Dear mom of older children,

While I appreciate your intention of telling me (repeatedly I might add) to enjoy my children, this has not been an enjoyable morning with those children. Having an overly tired, whiny 5½ year old start the morning off crying (and if you’ve ever heard him cry, you would understand why my nerves are shot by 8:30 when he’s only been awake for 25 minutes) and a now 3 year old who cries the second you put him down and will follow you around crying until you pick him up does not lend itself to an enjoyable morning.

Don’t get me wrong, before the 5½ year old woke up, the little one and I had a very lovely morning playing and being silly with each other. See look, I know how to enjoy spending time with my children.

I am NOT a morning person, and when my 5½ year old is tired he is far from being a morning child. And did I mention that I had to stay up super late working?

What you fail to see is that I am just a mom that needs to take those moments when my children are not looking at my face to release the tension so I do not release the tension on them. So if I’m walking fast in front of my child with the dual purpose of getting him to hurry up and thus not have to keep nagging at him to do so while being able to vent silently as I walk, please don’t stop to tell me to enjoy my children.

Your “kind” words kind of feel like I’m being scolded with a smile. I get that your children are grown, out of the house and you miss those young years. My younger son just turned 3 and I already miss those precious baby moments. You don’t have to remind/warn me of how in a blink of an eye My older son will be asking me for the car keys, then moving out of the house in the next blink.

Time is precious but cranky kid time is NOT precious and not enjoyable no matter how you try to spin it.


Just a mom having one of those mornings


Posted in Parenting

Homework is unnecessary and science proves it!

Just read a WONDERFUL article “Homework: An unnecessary evil? … Surprising findings from new research” I already knew this. Anyone who went to school with me knows how much I ABHOR homework and how little of it I actually ever did. I only received lower grades in the classes that required homework and used it as part of my grade (with Physics in HS and Chem II in college being the exceptions). My mom was a working mom and by the time I got home, ate dinner and then started on my homework is was always so late and I never got to spend time with my mom.  I never got to enjoy being home during the week – I always felt rushed and stressed whenever I feel stressed I shut down and become extremely unproductive. So basically, homework helped me to be unproductive, unhappy and stressed.

My older son is a lot like me when it comes to his lackadaisical attitude towards homework. Don’t get me wrong, he likes to learn – no actually he LOVES to learn. But when he feels pressure, he gets just like I do and goes into his own little world and procrastinates on everything.  This is the reason I’m completely horrified by my son having homework. He’s bright, inquisitive and curious, as pretty much all kids are. We should be fostering a love of learning, not a dread of busy work.

Seriously, other than school teachers, what profession has homework every day? What skills are we teaching them with it?

A perfect example of how unessential homework is, is the school system in Finland. Students do not have more than an hour of homework (in high school and virtually none in lower grades) and yet they have extremely high literacy rates and superb PISA test scores (the international tests to compare across different countries). They have an equal emphasis on PE and sports, music, creative arts, drama and cooking and believe that kids should learn world skills that help them be productive members of society rather than just achieving high scores on standardized tests.1 What an amazing concept, huh?

There was a really good write up about the Milestones That Matter Most in the Huffington Post that addresses this very thing. Interestingly, China has already started taking some cues from Finland and are taking steps to compete in “the global race to teach students the ‘new’ skills like collaboration, creativity and critical thinking“. In fact, it seems as though China is taking notes from the US’s old school book.

In a recent Facebook chat with some people, it became clear that learning to cook, doing taxes, learning how and why to vote, balancing budgets and general necessary life skills have been replaced with standardized testing and boat loads of homework. At the end of the day, I want my son to know how to work/play well with others by listening, collaborating and compromising, rather than competing and always pushing himself to win a race that really doesn’t exist and in the end the only real winners are those people that find balance and happiness in their lives.

What do you think the chances are that the US school system will catch up to the scientific research before my son gets to high school?




Posted in Education, Parenting

Mother’s Day is bittersweet

Before you have kids, everyone that has kids tells you how amazing it is to have kids. Of course, there is no way one can understand how incredibly true this is. I love my kids so much sometimes it scares me.

So one would think that Mother’s Day would be full of joy and bliss, but for me (and I’m sure for many others out there) it isn’t. I miss my mom so terribly much ESPECIALLY on Mother’s Day!

I remember as a child sitting in a diner with my mom, grandma and my aunt on Mother’s Day! I looked around at these beautiful women and their smiling faces and I started planning the day I would get to take them out on Mother’s Day. I would pick each one of them up in my car. As I walked up to the door, I’d have a bunch of flowers hidden behind my back and when they opened it, I’d get to see the look of delight on their faces. Then we’d go to whatever place we wanted to eat at and I would get to pick up the bill and treat them to brunch. And to top it off, I’d have my own little girl to enjoy this moment with, too!

But life had other plans for me.

I never once got to treat my mom to a Mother’s Day brunch before she died. I did get to spend a few Mother’s Days with my grandma before she died, but they weren’t the idyllic moments in time as most of them happened when I was going through my tumultuous years and had a hard time appreciating those moments. I haven’t gotten to treat my aunt because she (as she should) spends Mother’s Day with her kids.

After I lost both my mom and grandma, I still kept a dream of spending Mother’s Day with my daughter. But that didn’t happen either. Don’t get me wrong, I really, really LOVE my boys and can’t imagine my life without them. I just still sometimes miss the daughter I never had and the memories I never got to have in order to make up for the moments I lost with my mom.

So as I see these sweet posts on Facebook of my friends and loved ones with their kids and all of the smiling faces, I’m utterly reminded of how much I miss my mom. The good thing is, I get to look at my cute little boys and see the silly little things they do and for those wonderful moments, I see my mom in their faces!

Posted in Personal

Let’s Cure Cerebral Palsy March 2014

CP Family Network – Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

CP Family Network is partnering with to find a cure for cerebral palsy. We both firmly believe that CP families are our children’s first and best advocates. Between now and March 25, you can make a donation to help fund medical research for the advancement of cerebral palsy knowledge and treatment. Please help us stand for a cure by donating to this worthy cause.

Click here to find out how to donate.

Posted in Cerebral Palsy

My son has strep where?

My son has strep in his anus! Whoa! What? I didn’t even know you could get it there.

Apparently, you can get strep just about anywhere and its more common than you realize. In fact, many of the anal infections get misdiagnosed as a yeast infection or diaper rash.

So how did my son get it? Well, you get it when you have strep on your hands (like from boogers or saliva from a sneeze) and then you touch your bottom. I can honestly say I never thought to wash my hands BEFORE assisting my older son in the bathroom. The other possibility was that he’s been a carrier of strep (most people have strep virus on their bodies but are able to stave off infection because they are healthy) and he got a common cold virus which weakened his immune system and thus the strep bacteria had the perfect environment to thrive (warm body, weakened immune system so not so many antibodies flowing through the system). It apparently happens frequently but goes unnoticed.

How did we notice? Well, for awhile now my son would occasionally complain that his butt (inside) was itchy. We assumed he wasn’t wiping that well. So we had started wiping his butt for him again. Yet, he would still complain periodically about his itchy butt. He also would get little bumps on his butt. He wears a diaper at night time so we thought it was just diaper rash. In fact, we had gone to the doctor before (different one than from today) and he had looked at it and said it was probably just diaper rash, too.

A few weeks ago, my boygs got sick – typical virus style sick – fever, sleepy, etc. After the fever went down he had the runny nose thing going on. Of course, our youngest son came down with the same exact symptoms 3-4 days later as is typical of a virus. Nothing out of the ordinary for flu season.

However, the runny nose has persisted. Both boys continued to have runny noses and the younger one seemed to be drooling a lot more. The older one would complain of his ear hurting sometimes. The younger would sometimes get a goopy eye for a little while. Their symptoms seemed to come and go. I’d think they were getting better, then they’d seem sick all over again.

Earlier this week, I was diagnosed with strep throat (I had a horrific weekend and there was no doubt that it was strep). While talking with one of Max’s therapists, she told me about how she had gotten a strep infection on her arm once. That was the first I had ever heard of strep anywhere other than the throat. I’ve had a LOT of strep infections in my life and was totally shocked to learn this.

Anyways, my husband has been sick right along with me but he had his tonsils removed when he was a kid so I didn’t know what strep looked like without tonsils. So this morning I was doing a search to find out what the symptoms were and an article had come up “Why Your Kid May Have Strep and You Don’t Know It.” And I had one of those “Aha” moments. I Knew without a doubt that Milan had peri-anal strep. I did a quick search and sure enough the images matched his rash on his butt and the symptoms were the same.

I also knew that our younger one had it, too. Because just the day before I had noticed one of those bumps on his butt just like his big brothers.

So I made an appointment to see the doctor this morning and she confirmed it. Both boys had strep butt!

In all of the many, many times I had researched my son’s butt rash, not once had strep ever come up in the search. We’ve dealt with our fair share of viruses, rashes and other typical childhood illnesses. I never once heard about strep in the peri-anal area. Well, that’s not exactly true. I do remember getting tested for it when I was pregnant. I remember the nurses telling me its actually quite common for women to have strep in the vagina or butt areas and that its important to treat it before they give birth.

As weird as all this is. And as cringe worthy as it all is. I felt it is VERY important for me to write this article. Who knows. There might be another mom out there searching for information about the “rash on toddler butt” just like I was and maybe this article will help.


Additional Reading:

Why Your Kid May Have Strep and You Don’t Know It

What A Strange Place For Strep


Posted in Health, Parenting is a genius

Deva Dalporto, the author behind, has come up with another very funny parody. I rather enjoyed her What Does the Kid Say (What does the Fox say parody), but this frozen cover is by far my favorite!



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Posted in Personal

Being a parent of a special needs child brings unexpected joy

Being a parent of a special needs child is a journey that I had no intention of ever going on. It is exhausting, heart wrenching, full of disappointments, etc. But the one thing I didn’t expect is how much joy comes out of it, too.

I’m not just talking about the joy I get when my son accomplishes something that comes so easily for other kids but I know he has worked, tried and cried to do for a long time. When you have a child that is developing “normally” you barely have a chance to really think about how amazing those seemingly little accomplishments are. Think picking up a piece of cereal between your two fingers and bringing it to your mouth is easy? Well, it is if your brain hasn’t been damaged. Let me tell you, the amount of hard work and determination that is required to rewire your brain is outstanding and amazing.

But that’s not the joy I’m talking about. I’m talking about the joy out of just living.

I read this awesome book called The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle many, many years ago. I was completely moved by the book and set out to live a life living in the present moment… but that didn’t last long. There was so much to look forward to in life. I always enjoyed working towards some future goal.  When I’d achieve it, I’d move on to the next and the next. I always felt that those moments of achievement or adventure were those Now moments. But they weren’t and it wasn’t until I began this journey that I realized how important living in the present moment is.

When your child “is not a chart,” as one of Max’s therapists reminds me of, and is developing on their own timeline, you have two choices: be in the moment or not. Not being in the moment is probably the most natural state and it is definitely where I was when I began this journey. I was always thinking about the future, what will school be like, where we’ll go on vacation, what we’re doing next week, heck, what we’re doing tomorrow. I rarely just lived in the moment. Of course, when it came to thinking about Max, I definitely couldn’t just be in the moment. Will he ever walk, will he ever talk? Will his life be normal? Will he ever get married? Will he ever know what its like to be in love or be loved? Will he be happy?

Then one day, a switch turned on (I can’t pinpoint the moment but it did happen) and I started looking at where he is at the moment. And I realized, it doesn’t matter if he walks or talks. Who’s life is actually “normal” anyways? I’ve seen my fair share of marriages ending in divorce. But it was when I started thinking about those last questions that really made me think … Will he ever know what its like to be loved?

I realized that he knows it already. I see it in his eyes when he looks at me. I see it in his eyes when he looks at his brother as his brother leans over to give him a kiss or hug. I see it when daddy picks him up. He knows what love is and he gives it back.

I was so worried about will he ever be… that I never stopped to realize that he is. He is loved right now; he loves right now; he is happy right now.

Now is where I have learned to live (although I definitely hop back on the “what if” train from time to time). And living in the Now is a really good place.

When you live in the now, you learn to look at everything for what it is. You get to see moments that would otherwise pass you by. Its just like the old adage to stop and smell the roses. When you are so worried and focused on where you’re going, you never realize how amazing and wonderful life is right where you are.

Although I would’ve definitely preferred to learn this lesson another way, I am grateful that I have learned this lesson.

Posted in Cerebral Palsy, Parenting

Parchment paper or aluminum foil for the environment

I’ve been doing a lot of baking recently so I busted out the big roll of parchment paper that we’ve had sitting in our cabinet. We ran out of aluminum foil and I wondered if I could use parchment paper to line my pan. I was making Moussaka so using some sort of liner is a must. I really don’t understand why lasagna style pans of corners that accumulate a ton of crap, can’t they figure out a better way? Anyways, I digress. I thought about it and I couldn’t see any reason why using parchment paper instead of aluminum foil wouldn’t work. And guess what? It worked wonderfully! Even better than the aluminum foil that we normally use. There weren’t any tears (even the heavy duty aluminum foil always seems to get at least one tear in it).

Although I prefer not to use any extra disposable items, now since I’ve had kids, the time savings and sanity savings is really just too great. But this got me thinking about the environmental impact of using so much aluminum foil. So I wondered … parchment paper or aluminum foil which is better for the environment?
Bake 'N' Reuse
After a quick search it became clear that parchment paper is the clear winner here.

  • The processing required for making aluminum foil, even recycled aluminum foil, is much greater than making parchment paper.
  • A recent study showed that aluminum leaches into the food when used at high temperatures. Definitely not good.
  • Aluminum use has been linked to Alzheimer’s. Another thing that is definitely not good.
  • If you buy unbleached parchment paper that is even better
  • If you buy parchment paper from sustainable sources that is a full knock out!

I also realized that I really need to buy the Silicone Baking Liners I’ve had on my Amazon wish list. If I use those for my baking needs I won’t even need parchment paper!

Posted in Being Green

Coconut Oil for baby = happy mommy

Coconut oil has got to be one of my most favorite things… EVER! Besides all of the wonderful health benefits (like maintaining a healthy weight ie: you lose weight if you’re overweight, you gain weight if you’re under weight), coconut oil is really great for several things related to baby.

  • Diaper rash – I’ve used a gazillion different things for diaper rash and I can say with 100% certainty that coconut oil is my favorite. Milan was a really sensitive baby and would get rashes for just about any reason. Coconut oil was the best for keeping his diaper rash under control. We put some on after every bath and at most diaper changes. Although if you end up with a severe case of diaper rash on your hands, I HIGHLY recommend Bag Balm for severe diaper rash.
  • Nipple ointment – lansinoh and other lanolin based nipple creams work really well. However, Milan (my little sensitive baby) refused to nurse when I used it. He would fuss at the breast. Considering how hard nursing is to begin with adding another obstacle just wasn’t cool. Luckily, I had been using coconut oil as a moisturizer long before I had him, so I tried it. It worked wonderfully AND Milan never fussed at the breast. As an added bonus, it helps keep the yeast at baby that causes candida and thrush.
  • Moisturizer – As I just mentioned, I had been using it as a moisturizer for a long time. But while Milan was little I could not use anything that was smelly – absolutely no fragrances, no moisturizer with strong scents, even cooking onions around him was a no-no. Luckily coconut oil is a really great moisturizer so I was able to keep my skin moisturized without annoying my baby.
  • Cradle cap – Don’t know what it is? Well, its basically baby dandruff. Milan had it really bad until I started using coconut oil on it. It really helped.


Posted in Breastfeeding, Newborn