Monday, May 28, 2018

We Are Grandparents!



We are on our way home today, after spending three weeks with our new grand baby and his parents.  We cooked them dinner and kept their house in order while they bonded as a family.  And we were thrilled to have the chance to do our own bonding with baby.  We spent hours holding him as he slept and hours talking to him when he was awake.

Ever since our two older children got married 3 1/2 years ago, we have been waiting for one of them to give us our first grandchild.   The stories we heard from friends and family who are grandparents already, made grand parenting sound like the best thing that ever happened to them.  Even having their own children, they would say, could not compare to the pure joy of having grandchildren.  We also heard about the perks and the role we would play as grandparents.  Now that we have our grandson and we've spent some time with him, we know exactly what they are talking about.

The perks of being a grandparent:

(1) Grandparents can spend endless hours with baby.   Parents have things they have to take care of (other children, if any, the house, work emails, etc.) and can't devote as much time to baby as grandparents can.

(2) Grandparents can totally enjoy baby without feeling the anxiety and responsibility that comes with being a parent.  Examples:  Am I feeding the baby enough, too much, with the right bottle?  Why is he not burping, burping too much, spitting up, throwing up?  It is nice not being the ones who have to do all the worrying.

(3) Grandparents can give baby to a parent if the baby is totally not happy.  Actually, parents will run over to take baby when they see that the grandparent is trying their best but cannot console the little guy!

(4) Grandparents can use the lines, "I'm supposed to spoil your child.  It's something that is expected from every grandparent!", to get away with spoiling baby.

Being a grandparent is not all a piece of cake though:

(1) The hardest thing, I find, about being a grandparent is having to bite my tongue when I want to add my two cents.  My friend, Heidi, told me how she gives advice without sounding like she is giving advice.  "Before you say anything", she tells me, "say this."  "I'll tell you what I did (in whatever the situation is).  It might work for you."  Perfect!

(2) Trying to understand how to use some of the new products for baby.  Examples: The swaddle.  It is a piece of 3' X 3' cloth that you place the baby on, then origami the cloth and you have baby all wrapped up and ready for bed.  Well, when baby is Houdini, Jr. and your origami skills are nil, it can be a real challenge.  The Dr. Brown Bottle.  One afternoon I was helping out by feeding our little guy.  He started out very happy to be getting his bottle but, soon, baby boy started to get very frustrated.    I was trying to figure out what the problem was and noticed that the milk was not going into the straw part of this bottle that has many parts.  How was I supposed to get the milk into the straw?!  Help!!  Mom to the rescue.  It seems this complicated bottle has a small disc that you put under the nipple to prevent leakage when carrying it in the diaper bag and it was on.  The straw, even though it looks like straw, does not act like a straw.  It's in there to minimize air bubbles somehow.  Nice to know that after struggling to get the milk up that straw for the past 5 minutes!!

(3) Trying to be supportive when the decisions they are making for baby are hard for an old school person like myself to imagine.  OK.  I am talking about one choice they will be making when baby is ready to eat solid foods.  It's called baby led weaning.  Baby will not eat cereal or jarred baby food.  He will eat whatever mom and dad are eating and his will not be pureed.  It will be cut in such a way that he will be able to pick it up and feed himself.  Having no teeth to really grind the food down before he swallows it, the baby will inevitably choke on the food, but this is all part of the baby led weaning process.  As my son is telling me all this, the horror is showing all over my face even though I am hoping I have my best poker face on.  "What??!!" he yells.  "Oh nothing.  But why??!!"  It's supposed to expose baby to all kinds of foods and flavors early so that he will eat and love everything you put on his plate in the future.  Hmm...  I really have to practice and perfect my poker face look!

I do have to say that we are so lucky to have such a patient son and an equally patient daughter-in-law.  They not only have to figure out how to be new parents but they also have to break in new grandparents!  They are doing a great job at both so far!

And the baby...  He is the sweetest, most beautiful baby ever!  His expressive, adorable face and huge, gorgeous brown eyes make it hard not to smile each and every time we lay eyes on him.  We love him with all our hearts and feel so blessed and thankful that we get to call him Grandson.  We promise to be the best grandparents for him, always, and will figure out how to be just that while living miles away.



Are you a grandparent and snowbirds like we are?  Any advice on keeping a strong bond with grandchildren who live miles from you would be very much appreciated!



Monday, May 21, 2018

Healthier Food And Snack Choices For Our Road Trips


I'm not sure how many road trips we make a year.  At the very least four.  We live in North Carolina half the year and Florida the other half so there and back is two already.  Our family and friends live in New York and this year alone we were there and will be there for our daughter-in-laws baby shower, birth of our grandchild, our soon-to-be daughter-in-laws bridal shower, our grandchild's christening and our son's wedding.  Add ten more ten hour rides in the car!  Then there's a few more vacations and weekend trips to make in between.

I think that we are very fortunate to have such an active retirement life.  The only problem is, since retiring, we have been spending a lot more time in the car and still have old habits of not counting calories of the food we consume on the road.  For some reason we thought it was OK to eat a whole bag of chips, along with our huge sandwich, because we were eating in the car and not at the kitchen table.  And we never left home without a gigantic bag filled with calorie laden snacks.  We finally decided, when we were planning  our trip to New York for the birth of our grandson, that we needed to start making better choices when eating on the road.

Better Choices For Breakfast


Instead of stopping at McDonald's and getting a sausage, egg and cheese McMuffin (470 calories), our new breakfast choices are: 
    
     Cereal* - 120 cals per 3/4 cup
     Greek yogurt (Don't forget your spoon) - 120 cals per 6oz. cup
     Hard boiled eggs (I peel and salt them at home) -  78 cals per large egg

If we did forget our breakfast, a healthier choice at McDonalds's would be to have their oatmeal plain (150 cals) or parfait without granola (128 cals).

*Healthy Cereal Choices (containing whole grains and low sugar)
     1. Cheerios   2. Kashi Honey Puffs or Go Lean Original   3. Fiber One   4. Ezekiel 4:9   5. Grape-       nuts   6. Special K Protein   7. Nature's Path Millet Rice or Heritage Crunch   8. Alpen No Sugar         Added   9. Cascadian Farm Hearty Morning   10. Post Shredded Wheat   11. Uncle Sam Original        Whole Wheat & Flaxseed Cereal   12. Quaker Oatmeal Square Cinnamon

Better Choices For Lunch


We loved stopping at Burger King to get a Whopper for lunch but at a whopping 630 cals (without cheese) this lunch definitely needs a healthier substitute.

Banana Roll-up - (This could definitely work for breakfast also.) - 224 cals
Wrap medium banana with a whole wheat burrito-size tortilla spread with 1 tbsp. peanut butter.

Chicken Sandwich - 240 cals
Instead of buying cold cuts which are very high in sodium, we bake chicken breasts or get an already prepared roasted chicken at the grocery store to make our sandwiches with.  Whole wheat bread, romaine lettuce and avocado spread*, for a healthier fat, makes this a healthy choice.

*1 ripe avocado, 2 tbsp. light mayo and 1 tsp. lemon juice.  Blend and spread. - 30 cals per tbsp.

Better Choices For Snacks

Snacks contributed to the majority of our overeating in the car.  We got in a bad habit of filling an entire grocery bag with salty and sweet goodies.  Eating snacks in the car kept the kids entertained and helped pass the time away in the car.  We could get away with snacking when we were younger and our bodies could work off the calories, not so much anymore!

100 Calorie Snacks



I like 100 calorie snack packages when I'm keeping track of calories.  But the cookies and chocolate snacks are empty calories.  These two snacks are better choices.

Popcorn - 1/4 cup of kernels popped in a brown lunch bag in the microwave with a quick spray of popcorn flavoring and a dash of salt.  Popcorn gives us some of the fiber we need in our daily diet.

Edamame - packaged individually in 100 calorie packages.  (There is no need to cook the edamame although the package tells you too.  I grab the packages and go and they are thawed and ready to eat when I am ready to eat them.)  Edamame is rich in protein, antioxidants and fiber.

Veggie Snacks



I know that vegetables have zero calories if you are on Weight Watchers.   We are not on Weight Watchers but I don't count the calories of most vegetables.  Besides for a few, like corn, peas and potatoes that are high in starch, and higher in calories, vegetables are low in calories anyway.  I do like to use a light ranch dressing so I count the 80 calories for 2 tbsp.  Or I bring individual serving packs of hummus that I get at Costcon to dip the veggies in.  Each pack is 2.4 oz. and are 160 cal.  Making individual portions, using snack bags, makes it easier for us to eat the veggies in the car.

We love snacking on leftover veggies, especially green beans.  I like to roast veggies in the oven with a little olive oil, garlic and salt for dinner.  I always make extra because we enjoy them as a snack right out of fridge the next day.  I will sometimes cook extra veggies for dinner the night before a road trip so we can take some on the road.  

My daughter makes the best pickles.  And the pickles make a great snack on the road.

Fruit Snacks


Fruit is our favorite snack on the road.  We count calories and use portion control with fruit.  I portion the fruit so that each serving is 50 calories which makes it easier to keep track of.

Grapes  - 15 grapes = 50 cals
Apples - 1/2 apple = 50 cals (I slice the apples and put them in cold water with a pinch of salt so they                                                don't turn brown.)
Orange - medium = 50 cals
Blackberries - 6 oz. package = 50 cals (I keep berries in their original packaging when I take them on                                                                the road.)

Other Snacks



The snack that we really miss the most is the chips.  Potato chips, nachos and the rest.  The salty, crunchy snack has always been a treat that we avoid normally but we'd always bring a bag or two on the road with us.  We haven't found a great substitute for the chips yet but have found that roasted beans and peas gives us the saltiness we want and a bit of the crunch.

Garbanzo Beans - 100 cals per 1/2 cup
Peas - 50 cals per 1/2 cup

Roast beans or peas in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Put roasted beans or peas in bowl and add a small amount of olive oil, salt and any of your favorite seasonings.  Mix to coat then return to oven for another 15 minutes.

What do you eat in the car on your long road trips?  Do you have favorite healthy snacks you like to bring in the car with you?  We would love to add your favorites to our list!

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