Posted in making time, recipes, Uncategorized

Quick-n-Easy Meal–Healthy Too!

Hello everyone! So glad to be back! I am so sorry to have been missing for so long, but we’re just starting to get back into a normal routine: Younger Son had a B.A.D. leg injury during the last football game of his JV season (2015). That resulted in 11 (and counting) trips to Manhattan’s phenomenal Hospital for Special Surgery—so grateful it wasn’t worse and that we live within a very reasonable driving distance; if it weren’t for the danged traffic on the FDR…)

Anyway, after two separate. dual procedures (one in February and one in June), Younger Son is hopefully on the mend for the long haul. The 2015-16 school year is behind us–it all but did me in; the 2016-17 school year is in full swing. And here I am, hoping and praying to scare out time to spend some here with all of you on a regular basis again! Somehow there is never enough of this ridiculously precious commodity!!

That brings me back to importance of getting an appealing, healthy, tasty meal on the table in record time. Weekdays or weekends, we tend to be very busy people: the day job, kids’ and/or parents’sports or other activities; homework, keeping the house in some sort of living order…

This also ties in perfectly with my last post, about how important meal time is to families in general—or so says MHO.

What you’ll need:

-(Pre-cooked) Rotisserie chicken (Costco’s is awesome, ~$5 for a 3-lb. bird—feeds 3-5-people)

costco chicken

-Broccoli and/or cauliflower florets (I buy a container of pre-cut ones at my produce market—about $2.50—see photo below)

-Potatoes (baked)

-Cooking spray (or oil)

-seasonings of choice

-Gravy (optional–you can make your own with drippings from bird, use a jarred brand, make your with an “instant”–i.e., add water and cook on stove–gravy packet or go to Boston Market and buy some as a “side dish.” 🙂 )

-Aluminum foil

Potatoes:

-Scrub potatoes and poke holes with fork.

-Line microwave-safe plate with paper towel; place potatoes on plate and microwave on high (about 5 minutes/potato*).

-wrap potatoes in foil; finish cooking them in conventional (or counter top) oven, along with veggies.

-butter, sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt—amazing stand-in for sour cream); salt, pepper, chives, etc).

Veggies:

-Preheat oven to 425˚F/~220˚C

-Rinse broccoli and/or cauliflower florets; drain.

-Spray a glass or metal roasting pan with (olive oil) spray. (Lining it with foil makes clean-up that much easier.)

-Arrange veggies in pan; spray to coat veggies with oil–or you can toss them with a little olive oil prior to placing in pan. Season the way you like. (I love garlic  salt and freshly ground black pepper.)

-Roast veggies to desired tenderness (about 20 minutes at my house)**.

IMG_2150

Chicken: 

Cut up.

I’m a fan of putting everything on the table, family style, and letting everyone serve him or herself. You can easily add to the meal by throwing together a simple salad, adding bread—you get the idea. Help the little ones unwrap the potatoes–no steam burns, please! Cut in half; season with butter, salt–however you like!

*If you don’t like microwaving, you can clean, poke, wrap and put potatoes directly in oven; you’ll need about an hour to bake them.

**No fans of broccoli and/or cauliflower at your house? No problem! Any of the following can be seasoned and roasted the same way: asparagus, peppers/onions, baby carrots, brussel sprouts, green or yellow squash.

That’s it! Dinner is done, delicious and pretty darned healthy too. Leaves a parent time to do something fun with the kids or have some quality time to him or herself! Enjoy!

What are some of your get-dinner-on-the-table-in-a-hurry tips and/or tricks? Please share them in the comments! I’m always looking for new ideas, especially those that involve home-style cooked foods.

Be well!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 3)

Hello, everyone. Let’s pick up where we left off last time. Also, if you need to catch up, here is the link to Part 1.

celebrate life plaque

Everyone is busy. Let’s own that.

Let’s also consider some fairly easy ways to work together-time into one’s busy day.

Sometimes, it’s a mindset. If whatever you’re doing is a necessity (i.e., making dinner), find a way to involve your kids. (And yes, sometimes it IS far easier–and faster–to get the job done yourself.)

Meals: Kids can tear lettuce for salad, count out baby carrots for snacks, fold napkins, set the table.

Laundry: Let kids fold laundry or match socks. (A direct, life-skill application of some of the skills kids learn in pre-k, or through pre-k aged activities—more on that in a future post.)

“Table Time”:  Have kids do their homework nearby (i.e., while you’re preparing dinner). Simple crafts a child can complete without a parent’s help are ideal at this time too.  (That’s a great way to work in fine motor skills too! Examples: Make a macaroni necklace, paint a page from a paint-with-water book, etc.) Allow a younger child to read to you while you’re engaged in something else.

Schedule a DOABLE amount of time for something you and/or they enjoy (i.e., snuggle time to read a book, play a game, etc). Even 15 minutes works, and sometimes, two quarter-hour slots are easier to find (or make) than that one 30-minute period.

When they were too small to walk, I’d hold them while I sang and twirled to show tunes I’d play on CDs. (It’s even easier to find songs with YouTube.)

When weather allowed, I’d take them to the school yard, walk behind them while they rode their bikes, dragged them to the tennis court. (Older Son still plays with me every now and again. BTW, this blog-post talks about working in fitness time. Use your creativity to make it work for you and your kids together!)

As my kids got older (i.e., middle school age), just sitting at the dinner table longer with them and their friends—vs. jumping up to get everything tidied up—often resulted in some of the liveliest, bond-building chats we’ve had. We still have them every now and again.

And this segues me right into a biggie: HAVE DINNER (or one meal*) TOGETHER AT THE TABLE, per day, if possible.

I understand parents’ work and kids’ school, homework and/or activity schedules don’t always jive. Even a meal together once or twice a week will suffice—and what’s currently happening at my house these days. (Older Son works until 7:30 PM at least three evenings/week. His commute is 30+ minutes, depending on traffic, and he goes to school all-day Saturday.)

For those of you with older kids involved in extracurricular activities, work, etc, hold the meal until later, assuming you can. Or, set the table and eat as a family with whoever is present. (Lately, Hubby and I are home alone. Most times, we’ll still sit at the counter and eat together, rather than plop in front of the couch while we eat.)

*MAKE FAMILY MEAL TIME A DEVICE-FREE TIME. Parents too! No TVs on, phones or tablets at the table, etc—except, of course, when the US Open Tennis Championships are rescheduled to Monday b/c of rain. Then this Mom is allowed to tune the iPad to the match and have it on nearby while we eat. Being flexible is important! 😉 .

Relative to social skills and the autistic student whose family studies during meals. (I mentioned him in Part 2.) Family meal-time isn’t necessarily magical, but opportunities for sharing with potential resultant bonding, closeness and—yes, life-skill-learning—abound. And for some children, particularly those with special needs, that social piece might wind up being more key than the academics. Just MHO. (Perhaps I’ll talk about that in a future post.)

I hope you found some ideas here. And please keep this reminder: Don’t allow this write-up to make you feel guilty, that you’re not doing enough, etc. (Society will imply that from all angles. Reality is far different.)

So what are some ways you spend (or have spent) time with your children? Don’t be shy! Someone might be inspired!

Until next time,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 2)

Good day! Last time I opened up a discussion on spending time with our kids.

By no means am I trying to provoke guilt. Life tends to be very busy for everyone and everyone has his/her unique situation to deal in and find a way through.

These are the general purposes behind this post:

  1. To generate awareness of how you spend your time relative to your children. (Awareness is generally the first step of  change—and an important seed for “laying the groundwork” for future relationships with your kids.)
  1. To offer from-the-trenches-suggestions to help busy parent(s) work things out in a way that works for his/her/their unique family styles/lives.

Because, folks, when it’s all said and done and those “little ones” have morphed into “big ones,” what (IMHO) will have mattered most is the effort and intention behind all you have done as a parent. Not that it’s easy, especially in today’s work-driven, achievement-oriented society.

mom -n-baby boys
My li’l boys–can’t believe it went as fast as it did! Who knew?

Quick story and then I’m done (for today):

A special-ed teacher/friend mentioned a conversation she had with the parent of one of her autistic students. (Let’s remember that, among other things, autism is a developmental delay of social skills.)

The teacher discussed  using dinner time as a means of practicing and building social skills with“Mom.”

“Mom”—whose two older, non-classified children are honor students who attend an elite, enter-by-testing-only public school in the area—wasted no time answering the teacher. “We don’t have dinner together. Everyone eats while they study.”

I’ll pick up from here next time.

Seize the day!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 1)

Welcome back, all. If you’re a fan, I hope your pick won the Super Bowl–mine got eliminated by the Cardinals, but I suppose Cam Newton provides enough entertainment to make up for it. 🙂

A while back I was cleaning in my kids’ room. (“Is it ever clean enough for you?” a friend asked recently. It’s not so much the “clean,” it’s the constant fending off clutter that collects in small spaces. These clusters of stuff catch dirt and dust, and then you notice them when you’re doing something else…and you have to clean that spot…and the next…)

Inhale.

Exhale.

Back to topic.

In my boys’ room, I have a crate with some of their childhood books I can’t seem to part with. (My “boys” recently turned 19 and 17.)

book crate
Yes, there is a Dick-and-Jane reader in there. Pretty sure it belonged to my middle stepson–he turned 27 last week.  🙂

As I moved things around for a more thorough cleaning than the weekly surface-get-the-house-back-to-baseline regimen, I came across this book:

Bruno the Tailor
Remember when I found the “mother’s day coupons”? I found the blue fabric too. More about that below.)

My father was born and raised in Italy and apprenticed to a tailor. That’s the work he did here, as a naturalized US citizen, until health issues forced him to retire. He died not long after I met my husband, and never had a chance to meet or know his grandchildren.

That of course, goes both ways; his grandchildren never knew him either. So, when I happened on this book (at Barnes and Noble, most likely), picking it up was a no-brainer. It gave me a way to connect my kids to their nonno, and also provided a pattern for making the apron that “Bruno” made in the book.

Older Son and I cut that out together. We never made the time to sew it, but I when I happened across it in the basket at the bottom of the stairs (where I discovered the mother’s day coupons), I didn’t have the heart to throw it out. So, it is still saved upstairs—one more thing I can’t let go of—as a reminder of time spent together when he was younger. The scarf pictured above belonged to his Cub Scout uniform—every grade the scarf changed. I believe this was the last one, before he would have crossed over to Boy Scouts in 6th grade. (And I wonder why I have clutter.)

I know folks are busy these days. I suppose I was too, as that unfinished sewing project suggests.

So…in the interest of brevity, I’ll list more thoughts in the next post, and some ideas following that.

All thoughts on this topic welcome! (For the comment-shy crowd, please feel free to send me an email via my contact page.)

Have a wonderful day,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Exercise and fitness, fitness, making time, mind and body, Parenting, Uncategorized

Working in Exercise–Keeping the Parent’s Body (and Mind) Fit–Part 2

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Thank you for checking back in. Guess “later this week” will have to include a full seven-day cycle for this post. Life gets REALLY busy sometimes, and the best one can do is make the necessary adjustments.

Last time we discussed issues that messed with the morning routine I’d gotten into during my kids’ elementary school days. (This included early-AM exercise.) Once they got older, their schedule changed and this mom-who-works-outside-the-house had to adapt. Here are some of the ways I did.

One: I moved my ankle, wrist and small dumbbell weights from the basement to my bedroom. I exercised in my room—or between their beds—while calling them between counting out reps. (These days, my gear hides in a basket near the TV in the living room, just within reach of the exercise ball.)

FullSizeRender (1)

Two: I shortened and/or broke up the routines (about 10 minutes each): do arms in the morning; legs in the afternoon–often while catching a Law & Order SVU re-run. I get in full-body routines during Dancing with the Stars, too 😉 ).

Three: I learned to multi-task exercises (i.e., combine lunges with arm work, arm work with abdominal work while on the exercise ball, etc). Translation: More muscle groups addressed per move.

Four: I make walking outdoors a priority—15-25 minutes, usually 5 days a week. (I abhor treadmills and exercise machines—I’m far too restless to stay in one spot that long. Reading and/or watching TV while I’m on one just doesn’t cut it for me.)

Dancing: I’ll cue up my favorite YouTube videos of songs I like and just move to them. So many out there—all age groups covered.

Five: YouTube videos: Long and short workouts galore to be discovered—some as short as FIVE (!) minutes. I pick, choose and vary them. Try two or three 5-minute ones and cover a full-body workout in 15 minutes. (This barre workout and Popsugar fitness are currently favorites. If you can past the English girl’s voice in the former, you’ll be just fine.)

Six: Sneak some exercise at work: take stairs, squeeze your back end while in your chair. My little guys at school are doing wall push-ups or jogging—often with me right alongside—by kindergarten.

Disclaimer: CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR, AND USE YOUR JUDGMENT WHEN USING ON-DEMAND AND YouTube VIDEOS. I have a background in anatomy and physiology. I’m no expert, but I am familiar with the directions that individual muscles move, what key muscle groups do, etc, so I can tailor my routines.

I also have physical therapist friends—this is among their areas of expertise. I ask; they help. Even so, I wound up doing something to my hip during a zumba/soca video I pulled up. (Within 2-3 months, I was having serious trouble getting off the floor. I started by chucking the rocker-sneakers, which I still miss. A trip to an orthopedist, my regular practitioner and athletic taping of my knee followed. 18+ months later, I still swear by my tape.)

Disclaimer #2: WORK AT YOUR OWN PACE and DON’T PUSH YOURSELF TO THE POINT OF INJURY. If a workout calls for jumping or running and you can’t–modify (i.e., walk in place, etc). An injury will side-line you big-time and totally get in the way of your purpose.

Having a stated that, it’s a mind-shift, my dear parents and caregivers. And it can be done. All you need is a little flexibility in your thinking and a desire to make it work within the parameters of your particular circumstance.

How do you adapt? All ideas and thoughts welcome—leave yours in the comments or email me privately.

Have a wonderful day,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, content and images. All rights reserved.

Posted in fitness, making time, mind and body

Working in Exercise—Keeping the Parent’s Body (and Mind) Fit–Part 1

Hello all. Told you we’d cover lots of topics here—this one is for moms, dads and anyone in the parenting role who feels there just isn’t enough time to take care of their fitness needs. (Many times, there isn’t. That doesn’t necessarily translate to: “It can’t be done.” A little creativity can take a little motivation down quite the productive path. And regular exercise keeps the mind fit too–a parent “must.”)

“Make it a priority,” is a catch-phrase so readily bandied about in today’s world. Seems to me that  EVERYTHING is supposed to be that. Kind of cancels out what a priority is supposed to be, right?

So how does a busy parent prioritize exercise?

If you’re strictly a “gym” person, the suggestions I’m offering might not appeal to you. I belonged to one eons ago, and even taught one of their aerobics classes regularly for a while. As much as I enjoyed leading the class–it pumped my workout big-time–I don’t miss the smells of the place, nor how easy it was to blow off exercise when I couldn’t get there for whatever reason. (Chances are, I might have made up a reason or two not to go—what are the odds?)

I got into a habit of exercising at home. I was up around 5:30 anyway, doing paperwork and/or writing when my kids were very small—how else does a parent find undisturbed quiet time? By re-purposing small windows of that early AM time, I would manage to put in at least 20 minutes prior to getting my kids up for school (around 7:30). At K-4th grade levels, they didn’t have to be in until 8:45. (Dad was off to work by 6 AM—the house was mine.)

I picked them up after school. They’d stay on the school grounds and played. When I wasn’t doing my session notes (a.k.a., my “homework”) —or chatting with other parents–I’d walk around the school grounds. (Sometimes I’d walk with other parents while we socialized.) During spring and early fall, I’d often take them back to the playground after dinner, and walk or hit a tennis ball against the wall while they rode their bikes and/or played. They were always within eye and/or earshot. I’d also walk around the neighborhood while they rode their bikes ahead of me.

That changed from 5th grade. Older Son had to be on a bus by 7:40. Now both guys are in high school; their back ends need to be in seats by 7:34.

Issue #1: This mom has been getting kids up for school starting at 6:15 for 5+ years now. Their current, earlier schedule killed a good hour and fifteen minutes of “my” time.

Note: My kids have never given me a hard time about going to school. Teens’ biological clocks are naturally more nocturnal, so getting up at increasingly earlier hours is PHYSIOLOGICALLY more challenging.

Issue #2: Mom has to call the kids more often to get them up.

Issue #3: Mom can’t be exercising in the basement when boys are upstairs in their room, sleeping when they’re supposed to be up.

So how does one carve out the time for exercise?

Solution: Mom had to adapt.

Tune in later this week for a list of some of the changes I made. They’re easier than you might think. Maybe you’ll find a game-changing tip–or two!

Until then, have a great day! Please feel free to leave any thoughts you have on the matter in the comments.

Joanne