From the Editor…
You like me! You really like me!
You guys have been giving Friend of the Family so much love, that we here at Visit Gay Charlotte have decided to take the blog to the next level.
Beginning Sep. 25, Friend of the Family will be a full-fledged page. I’ll keep writing a weekly blog, but the page will have some new features as well. You’ll find a kid-approved recipe guide, a family photo album, Family of the Month profiles and articles written by LGBT parents. The page will also feature a seasonal family bucket list with events and happenings around town.
I want this page to be fun, ya’ll! But I also want it to be a place we can all relate to one another, make connections and create a support system. With that in mind, I’ll be posting a series of play dates each month so we can get to know each other better.
Do you have an event, a recipe or a family photo you’d like to share? Email them to me at [email protected]
I’m also looking for writers; moms and dads who want to share their thoughts and personal experiences in a blog-style format. Interested? Shoot me an email.
Thank you all for your continued support and solidarity!
News To Use
PARENTING LIFE HACKS
There are times as parents, we see some trick another friend has pulled to solve a problem and think, “Yes! That’s genius!” It’s simple, effective and solves some persistent problem that’s been plaguing our brain. Getting our kids to eat veggies, organizing the endless ream of knick knacks, how to display the kids artwork, are all things that sometimes leave us wondering what we could be doing differently.
Voila! A list of parenting life hacks sure to make your tasks just a bit easier.
• Finally, a trick for cleaning glitter! Because we all know that
glitter is FOREVER. Grab a lint roller and BAM! Glitter be gone.
• Keep a small spray bottle in the car to mist hot buckles. It doesn’t have to be cool water, because any temperature water will cool down hot plastic.
• Get your kids to eat their veggies without them knowing it by pureeing kale, cauliflower and squash and freezing them in ice cube trays. Kale can go into smoothies, cauliflower in brownies and squash in mac and cheese!
• For teens: tell them you hid their allowance in their room and they have to clean it to find the money.
• Toothpaste will remove permanent marker from wood furniture. Use white toothpaste and apply directly to the stain. Use a damp a rag and scrub the stain continuously until the rag slides easily across the surface. Rinse the rag and keep scrubbing until the toothpaste and the stain are no longer visible.
• Use empty egg cartons as paint trays. You recycle by reusing the egg carton and the steep sides keep the paint colors separated–plus, it doesn’t spill easily!
• Keep pacifiers clean by carrying them in sauce to-go containers.
• Create lawn art with a cheap king size sheet! It’ll keep the kids busy and they’ll think it’s exciting to paint such a large canvas.
• When your baby is learning to sit on their own, put a laundry basket in the bathtub while they bathe. They can lean against the basket to balance and all their toys will stay within reach!
• Stop kids from slamming doors by using a pool noodle cut into fourths and place one of the pieces high on the door out of reach.
• Have a baby that wakes as soon as you lay him down? Fill a glove with dry rice or beans, sew up the bottom and place it on your baby’s back once you lay him down to sleep. The weight of the glove will mock the weight of your own hand!
• Save bath toys from growing mold on the inside by sealing the holes with hot glue.
• Turn empty lotion or soap dispensers into water balloon pumps.
Secrets in the Sauce
By Jessy Milicevic
Instead of bringing you an opinion piece this month, I thought I’d do something practical and talk about a problem most parents face when it comes to their kiddos.
Yes, the age-old problem of getting your kids to eat their veggies. It’s truly one of life’s greatest mysteries and a real pain in my ass.
Or, at least, it used to be. A couple years back, I bought a cookbook detailing ways to sneak veggies into various dishes. The process of steaming and individually bagging and labeling produce seemed like a time consuming process; plus, if my family didn’t like the meal with the hidden gems, I’d be frustrated at the time, money and food wasted. Some of the recipes seemed easy enough, but my kids would smell pureed squash on chicken nuggets from a mile away.
So I decided I needed to find recipes that were quick, crowd pleasing and could easily mask the taste of the veggies. And that’s when it hit me: spaghetti sauce!
This was during the kale revolution, when the greens were the latest veggie trend du jour, so that’s where my mind went first. I went the grocery store and grabbed some organic kale and headed home. From there, I stripped it off the stalk and steamed it and watched as my greens withered down into a smooth pot of green goodness.
Once the kale had withered down (this process takes about 10-15 minutes) I placed it into a mixing bowl. I added about two cups of the water I used to steam the kale with (because a lot of the nutrients get leached out into the pot of water when you steam a vegetable, so I used the nutrient-filled water to add it back to the kale.) I used a hand blender (But a blender would work just as well) and mixed those bad boys into a green, soupy wonder.
The cookbook I purchased said to puree veggies, measure them and place in individual baggies, but this seemed very wasteful to me. Ziplock baggies can hardly ever be reused, and I hated to throw one away every time I was finished with its contents. Instead, I decided to go to the Dollar General and buy some cheap ice cube trays to use as storage.
I poured the green mixture into each ice cube mold and made room in my freezer to place them next to each other. (At this point, you can’t stack the ice cube trays on top of each other, but once they’re frozen, go ahead and stack ‘em up to save room in the freezer.) After a couple hours, I checked in on from frozen kale and voila! I had frozen blocks of greens that i could pop out whenever I needed to add them to a recipe.
I started feeling adventurous after the kale was successfully hidden in my sauce. I started pureeing black beans, squash and carrots and freezing them in ice cube trays. I began to add one cube of each veggie and one bean cube (for the added protein) to every batch of sauce I made and my family was none the wiser. Even my super-picky-meat-and-potatoes husband was amazed at how yummy it was (although he had no idea just WHY it tasted so good, hehehe.)
We eat a lot of pasta in our family (it’s a quick, easy go-to meal) so the sauce gets used quickly. It’s a good thing, too, because my kids need as many veggies as they can take.
(Hint: I also put the kale cubes in the smoothies I make for my kids and I. Recipe is as follows: one cup coconut yogurt, one cup almond milk, four Tbsp cocoa powder, three kale cubes melted down in the microwave, two bananas and whatever berries I have on hand, one scoop of protein powder and honey.)
If you’ve got an hour to spare one day, create your own kale cubes-and make sure to let me know how your family likes it!
Winter Family Bucket List
Honey, it’s cold outside…
It’s January and in North Carolina, that means it’s finally getting cold outside. Although it can be more difficult to find things to do with your kiddos when it’s chilly, there are still ways to have fun. We’ve listed five interesting, fun and cheap family outings to keep your youngins busy during the Winter months.
ImaginOn: This library and children’s theatre is in Uptown, which is
always a fun trip for kids as the ooo and awe over the skyscrapers and
busy atmosphere. ImaginOn is free and always has a calendar filled
with fun family activities. Parking is free for three hours, but take
the train, get off at 7th street and walk a block over to make it
extra fun. Find something for your family here:
Ice skating: Ice skating is one of wintertime’s most beloved
traditions. Although the outdoor ice rink in Uptown has closed for the
season, indoor skating can still keep your kids busy for hours. Cost
of admission and skate rental is $10. Find their hours and events
Bowling: We’re always looking for indoor activities for our kids to do
when it’s cold outside, and bowling is always a winner. While there
are several bowling alleys in and around Charlotte, Lake Wylie Bowl
and Bounce is our family’s favorite. Put the bumpers up and score high
on a bowling lane and then head over the bounce area and let the kids
jump their energy off. Plus, the facility just added laser tag for the
older kids. Find their prices and hours here: http://lwbnb.com/
Historic Latta Plantation: This Mecklenburg County park is a major
attraction for families because of the beautiful grounds and the
variety of activities they provide. The event calendar is here
(http://www.lattaplantation.org/latta/index.php?page=home) but besides
the large scale events they hold, there is also an Equestrian Center,
the Carolina Raptor Center and The Nature Center.
Pet Palooza: Although this is not something offered regularly, it’s
definitely worth putting on your calendar if your kids like animals.
Held at the Charlotte Nature Museum, this will be an interactive event
where kids can mingle with rescued and exotic pets, as well as learn
about responsible pet ownership. The $8 admission fee also includes
museum entry, so enjoy the Charlotte Nature Museum after meeting the
animals. You could also head down the path to Freedom Park if it’s
warm enough and let your kids play on the newly renovated playground.
When: Jan 16 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Charlotte Nature Museum