Nan-ecdotes: Teething and the Tough Times

Hello friends!

Sorry I’ve been MIA the past few weeks. Spring Break was a great excuse to take a break from Yoga Buds classes, to take a break from the blog, and to take a break to Puerto Rico. Upon my return to work last week, I was greeted by teething-tortured twins, and promptly started planning my escape back to Rincón. I’ve never seen a rabid raccoon firsthand, but I imagine it closely resembles a teething baby.

In addition to gaining new pearly whites while I was away, the twins had started to rebel against their afternoon nap. I basically felt ambushed by sleepy, angry, tiny humans, and to top it off, my car got a flat tire and my lip broke out in cold sores. When it rains, it pours. Right before I booked my one-way flight back to paradise, I came across an Instagram post by @karlareed that helped put things in perspective.

In regards to raising her three children, she wrote, “I’m realizing how at their most difficult it’s almost always a cry for help and a desperate need for connection. I can’t always give them everything they want or even make life easier for them in some ways, but I can enter into their worlds and tell them that they matter and the things they love matter. And that’s how we’ll get through the tough times.” I immediately wanted to give Karla a hug for the pep talk and give the twins hugs for dismissing their misery and wanting to escape them. I can’t help the fact they’re teething (other than with some Motrin), but I can comfort them while they fuss and gnaw on everything… Because times may get tough, but the storm always passes.

yogi-nani

P.S. I was able to bump their nap back an hour and they slept two and a half hours every day this week! I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. 

Nani-Foodi Friday: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

It is my first breakfast post and I am super excited for two reasons: I did not create this recipe and; therefore, I can not be blamed if you fail in its execution. I hope I didn’t get anyone’s hopes up with my last Nani-Foodi post because I do love mixing up my own concoctions, but I also want this space to be an archive of insanely good recipes I have found. Ironically, the recipe I want to share is from SkinnyTaste and it’s titled Insanely Good Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins.

I was watching Chopped the other night on Food Network and one of the chefs was reprimanded for using the wrong descriptive adjectives to label her plates. If Gina (the creator of SkinnyTaste) were to go on the show and present these muffins to the judges with the description ‘insanely good’, I believe they’d applaud her accuracy. But seriously, even the twins would agree if their vocabulary extended past “mmmm” and “more.”

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I made these muffins to give the girls a little variety in their morning diet. They usually eat blueberry oatmeal, so I reaaallly stretched it here. Regardless, any change in diet is tricky with the picky eater (it could be hiding broccoli). She refused to eat it, as expected, while her sister scarfed her muffin down without pausing for a breath. Two can play this game, though.

While she continues to fight my attempts at expanding her palette, I’m learning new tricks. I waited about 20 minutes and then walked into the living room eating a muffin. The girl came running with her mouth open like a baby bird. Now, neither of them can get enough nor can their Mom and I. These will definitely be a new breakfast staple and I can’t wait to throw in new ingredients like Skinnytaste suggests!

Enjoy !!

yogi-nani

March Madness

Hello friends!

I was drawing a blank on a theme for Yoga Buds this week when I came across this post on YoYo Yoga School for March Madness Yoga. While I’m not a huge follower of college basketball, I knew it would be the perfect lesson plan to talk about what collegiate athletes and yogis have in common… a lot of practice. I also decided it would be the perfect class to use my new nifty balloon inflating toy, but I quickly regretted that decision.

After our ‘Welcome Song,’  I mentioned the NCAA Championship and asked if anyone had a favorite team. In attendance were two brothers and their younger sister, and to my surprise, not only were they watching the tournament, but they were all rooting for Gonzaga-“Dad’s favorite.” We talked about what it takes to make a great basketball team and then I pulled out the balloon inflater, which gave a whole new meaning to “March Madness.” The class swiftly went from being basketball oriented to a “who could burst their balloon first” competition. To get the class back on track, everyone held their balloon like a basketball as we moved through yoga poses, but as usual, my plan took another unexpected turn. IMG_3372

As we were about to begin warm-ups, the kids thought it would be funny to rub the balloons in their hair and stick them to their shirts rather than hold them. I decided to run with it and we saw how many poses we could move through without the balloon dropping. Then, we played around with keeping the ball up in the air before moving onto a game that incorporated more yoga poses.

I set up a game that looked similar to Skee Ball with the use of hula hoops and a yoga wheel. After the kids were situated in a circle around the hoops, I handed them each three pom-pom balls. They each took turns tossing their pom poms into the hoops. If they made it into one, they picked a card from the Yoga Pretzels deck and had to hold the pose for a designated time; the center hoop was 5 seconds, middle was 10, and outer was 15. Finally, we moved to our craft for the day.

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I found this craft here, and felt like I had hit the jackpot. Any craft that also functions as a game is a tiny blessing in my book. However, I did make a few adjustments to the supplies (you can check them out on the cheat sheet), since the original post had issues with sturdiness. The kids got to decorate the backboards, assemble the parts, and shoot some hoops before we laid down for final relaxation. I may not have had a Final Four favorite at the start of class, but…

Go Gonzaga and Namasté!

yogi-nani

Mindfulness and Mandalas

 

Hello friends!

If you haven’t noticed from previous posts, I love alliteration. I also love coloring and crafting (see what I did there). So to celebrate the month of March (although I guess May would have worked too), the kiddos and I practiced mindfulness and colored mandalas, which just so happen to be two of my favorite activities.

While there are many amazing mandala coloring books, I went the cheap/easy route by printing off free ones I found online. When the kids arrived, I had them laid out along with markers, colored pencils, and crayons (which also successfully kept the kids occupied while I got everyone signed in). Once we were ready to get started, the kids slid their mandalas under their mats to come back to at the end of class. Then, as always, we began with our ‘Welcome Song.’

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After welcoming everyone into the space, I had them all close their eyes and listen to the noises around them. They heard everything: from the cars outside, to the heating unit, to each other’s breaths. Then, I had them place their hands on their own bellies to observe the movements of their own breath – to notice the expansion of their bellies on the inhale as well as the deflation on the exhale. I told them how this is a perfect way to practice mindfulness, since mindfulness is simply being aware and focusing. I pointed out how they practiced mindfulness before class even started by trying to stay inside the lines of their mandalas, and how mandala means ‘circle.’ After pointing out mandalas around the room – the clock, our eyeballs, the overhead fans, the prints on a yoga mat –  we jumped into warmups.

Sun salutations became a ‘moving mandala.’ We flowed through three and then came to seated to create mandalas with our bodies. I placed a hula hoop in the center of our group circle and we practiced poses that would look like a human mandala from above. Then, of course, we had some fun with the hula hoop.

As our group game for the day, I had everyone come to standing and hold hands. I placed the hula hoop in the crook of my elbow and joined the circle. The aim of the game was to move the hula hoop around the circle and back without letting go of each other. After we finished, we came back down to our mats for final crafts.

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Before we got back to our individual mandalas, we created one together. Everyone picked out a crayon and I started it by drawing a flower in the center of a piece of paper. Each student then added a pattern radiating from the center point until we filled the page. Afterwards, they had the option to finish coloring their own or create another with the supplies I had brought with me.

To finish, we laid down on our mats with our heads together to create one final mandala for savasana. As a perfect parting snack and special take home treat, I offered clementines to show once again how mandalas can be found everywhere, even in the foods we eat!

Mindfulness and Mandalas

Namasté!

yogi-nani

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day

Hello friends!

If you know me outside of this blog space, you probably know that St. Patrick’s Day is my favorite holiday. I like to call it my family’s “Christmas in March.” Ever since I was a wee lassie, my parents have thrown an epic party on March 17th. My mom cooks over 200 hundred pounds of corned beef, my dad’s bagpipe band provides entertainment, and friends, family, and strangers (my Dad likes to extend the invitation to anyone he comes in contact with that week) come from far and wide for the celebration! Needless to say, I was just a tad excited to share this holiday with my Yoga Buds.

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As we welcomed each other in “circle time” this week, I asked each student to share their favorite holiday. When it was my turn, I said, “President’s Day!” Juuust kidding, but I do feel the need to share that one little girl said, “Father’s Day because it’s like an extra birthday for my Dad and I love him so much.” After I regained composure from melting into an emotional puddle, we began class.

Our warm-up this week was something I like to call the “wake up wiggles.” Starting at the head and working their way down to the toes, I had the kids massage and wiggle certain areas of the body to wake them up. Once the entire body was awake, we did an Irish jig to make sure we didn’t miss any spots. Then, we stretched with “rainbow breaths.” From a standing position, I asked them to bend their knees and place their hands on the outside of one of their feet. On an inhale, they swept their arms in an arch overhead, and as they exhaled, their hands came to land on the outside of the opposite foot. With each arch, they pretended to paint a color of the rainbow across the sky. We then came to seated for a little story time yoga.

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This weekend, we read “Lucky Tucker” by Leslie McGuirk. Tucker is a dog who rolls in a leprechaun’s bed of clovers and ends up having the luckiest day of his life. As I read the book, I paused every few pages so we could translate the story into yoga poses. For example, we did downward dog for Tucker, tree pose with one foot doing a jig for the leprechaun, and bow pose for a pot of gold. After building some strength, it was time to put it to the test with a “rainbow relay.”

My early class was a bit smaller and competed as individuals, but my late class was bigger and broke up into teams. I placed foam sticks (every color of the rainbow) at one end of the room for each team and had the kids line up their yoga mats at the other end of the room. The object of the game was to get the foam sticks back to their mats and put them in the correct order of the colors of the rainbow. Each trip to the foam sticks required a different type of movement or obstacle; i.e. crab walks, standing twists on a blanket, or walking on blocks. Finally, we ended class with a simple shamrock craft using green pipe cleaners and rainbow beads.

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Each week brings new faces, new challenges, and a renewed sense of why I’m doing this… and I’m feeling pretty darn lucky.

St. Patrick’s Day Yoga

Sláinte and Namasté!

yogi-nani

The Winds of March

Hello friends!

While laying in bed last week listening to the roaring wind, and simultaneously praying the tree I was parked under wouldn’t fall on my car, the perfect lesson plan to begin March came to me… WIND!

March roars in like a lion so fierce, the wind so cold it seems to pierce. The month rolls on and spring draws near. And March goes out like a lamb, so dear.-Lorie Hill

I started off class by reading the poem above in circle time and then practiced lion’s breath. As we moved through ‘cat/cows’, every time we exhaled in to cat, we roared out breath with our tongues sticking out. Then, we moved on to our yoga journey for the day.

Sometimes, I’ll choose a few poses that tie-in to our theme, but this week I made up a little story to move through our poses. Since I live in the ‘Sailing Capital of the World,’ we pretended to be sailboats venturing around the Chesapeake Bay. I won’t overload you with all the details (you can check them out on the cheat sheet below), but let it be known that I finally found an excuse to make use of my enormous scarf collection. But does anyone really need an excuse to whip out scarves and dance around the room pretending to be wind and waves?? After our boats sailed back to port, we moved off our mats for fun and games.

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Straws and cotton balls made for an easy and entertaining ‘wind game.’ I set up yoga mat squares at one end of the room and each student took 1 straw and 3 cotton balls. Using only their straw and breath, they had to blow the cotton balls across the room and onto their designated square. Then, we used the same straw for one of my favorite art activities, blow paint.

In order to avoid a paint-astrophe, I was the designated paint distributor and the kids were the wind makers. Once everyone was settled with a piece of paper in front of them and a straw in hand, I smeared several different watered-down paint colors onto the paper and it was their job to make the paint dance. While this activity leads to some beautiful art work, it can also lead to light headedness so be sure to take a few ‘breath-breaks.’ Finally, we moved back to our mats for savasana and our ‘Namasté Song.’

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Next week, we’ll be celebrating my FAVORITE holiday with a St. Patrick’s Day class. Stay tuned and ’til then … ‘May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.’

The Winds of March

Namasté!

 yogi-nani

Nani-Foodi Friday: Quinoa Enchilada Bake

Nani-Foodi Friday is back … and with my most successful dish thus far! Who knew the picky eater was just waiting for a Mexican-inspired dish to dive into? Seriously though– look at this child go!

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H trying to eat her bowl after finishing its contents.

I created this meal by combining recipes online that you can find here and here and adding a few twists of my own. It was a little more time consuming than the other recipes I’ve posted because I made the enchilada sauce, but I promise it is well worth the extra effort if you’re weary of too much sodium in your babes’ diets. I also added corn tortillas for some crunch and leftover shredded chicken we had from earlier in the week. I’m no professional food blogger, so bear with me here on the ingredients and instructions (and I promise I’ll eventually learn how to create one of those fancy ingredient cards you can print off… baby steps).


Quinoa Enchilada Bake

Yields: 6 servings       Prep time: 20 mins      Cook time: 20 mins

Ingredients for Enchilada Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2.5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeds removed and finely minced

Instructions:

  1. In a sauce pan, heat olive oil and minced garlic for 30 seconds over medium heat . Add flour and whisk for one minute before slowly adding tomato sauce and chicken broth. Then add all dry spices: chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, sugar, onion powder, and dried oregano. Stir in chipotle pepper and 1 tsp of adobo sauce. (**I deseeded the chipotle pepper since I didn’t want the dish to be too spicy for the twins, but you can always add more heat by keeping the seeds.)
  2. Bring sauce to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until thickened.

Ingredients for the Enchilada Bake:

  • 1 lb cooked shredded chicken or cooked ground turkey (optional)
  • 3-4 corn tortillas (optional)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 10 oz enchilada sauce
  • 1 (4 oz) can of chopped green chiles
  • 3/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 roma tomato

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly coat a 8X8 pan with non-stick cooking spray or oil.
  2. In a large sauce pan, cook quinoa according to package instructions. (2 cups of water for 1 cup quinoa.)
  3. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, enchilada sauce, chiles, black beans, cilantro, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, and 1/4 cup mexican blend cheese. Mix together.
  4. Cut corn tortillas into strips and lay on bottom of the baking pan.
  5. Spread half of quinoa mix on top of tortillas and then lay another layer of tortilla strips. Spread on remaining quinoa mix and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place in oven and cook until cheese has melted, about 15 minutes.
  6. Garnish with diced avocado and tomato. ENJOY!

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I usually find their meals to be a little too bland for my own taste, but this only required some hot sauce (which is required on everything I eat). Corn would have also been a nice addition, but the twins’ mom is not a fan so I left it out. I hope you all think it is just as delicious as we did!!

¡Buen provecho!

yogi-nani