Father’s Day Food for Thought…

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Karen Hendricks

Here at Off the Merry-Go-Round, because our contributors are all women, we tend to talk from a mom’s point of view but a lot of our articles truly can and do apply to our spouses, “the dads,” too. We have several dads who follow our posts, and we welcome more fathers to join our community–because all of the latest research seems to point to a growing number of dads who are “stepping off the merry-go-round” and either trimming back on their careers or switching to “stay-at-home” dad status.

The latest stats on fatherhood, in the news thanks to this weekend’s Father’s Day, are pretty surprising:

  • Nearly half (46%) of all American fathers say they don’t get to spend as much time with their children as they’d like.
  • About half of all parents say they spend more time with their children than their own parents spent with them (46% of fathers and 52% of mothers said this).
  • There are 2 million American stay-at-home dads (2012 figures)–a number that has nearly doubled since 1989.
  • 35% of all stay-at-home dads say that illness or injury is the reason they are home with their children.
  • Nearly half of all stay-at-home fathers (47%) are living in poverty.
  • Nearly half of all working parents say they’d rather be at home raising their children, but they need the income from their jobs (48% of working fathers and 52% of working mothers said this).
  • 27% of all American children under the age of 18 are living apart from their fathers.

(All of these statistics are credited to the Pew Research Center.)

So, while some dads are more connected with their children by staying at home as primary caregivers, there’s also a large number of dads who are not living with or connected to their children’s lives. What an extreme spectrum of family life. Doesn’t it feel like so many other areas of our society, especially reflecting political values, where people are moving further and further away from each other’s viewpoints and finding they have less and less in common?

We talk about the struggle to balance our working lives with our family lives quite often here at Off the Merry-Go-Round… it would be great to include more fathers in that discussion. It is a challenge, whether you are a mother or father, single parent or married, working part time or full time, etc. There is indeed a lot of common ground that we can share among all parents.

I think there’s a lot of “food for thought” here… so while I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day, celebrating with your Dad, husband and/or other significant father figures in your life, take time to reflect and think about our society’s changing roles. How involved was your dad, what is your husband’s role, and what are you observing from your friends/family?

Read More:

Growing Number of Dads Home with the Kids

5 Facts About Today’s Fathers

Why Are Dads Staying Home?

 

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Lessons from the Playground

Today we welcome guest blogger Lisa Cadigan! This talented mom manages the blog Daily Presents: Finding the Extraordinary in the Everyday, where this piece was originally published. You can learn more about Lisa in the bio which follows her article.

playgroundlessons1

By Lisa Cadigan

My family and I spent Saturday at a state park where we hiked for a while until we reached a playground at the end of the trail.  It was a beautiful day; the first peek of spring getting ready to burst forth in all of its splendor, and it felt great to be outside basking in sunshine under tall trees with the people I love most.

The kids had been looking forward to reaching the playground during a good deal of the hike – particularly my son, who often forgets to realize that he is actually presently having fun.  He often chooses to look for what may be coming that’s potentially better in his future rather than realize that the moment he is already occupying is pretty good, too.  We are working on that.

By the time we reached the playground, both kids were happy to be there.  They had been getting along pretty well all day, which I always view as a small miracle, and I hoped their shared adventure would continue now that we had reached the much anticipated playground destination.

Unfortunately, though, shortly after arriving at the playground, my daughter tripped and fell on the suspension bridge, leaving a painful red mark on the side of her belly.  She started to cry.  My son rushed to her aid, trying to make her feel better, a little afraid that it might somehow be his fault, I think, because he often feels that everything is his fault (which sometimes it is, but not always – this is another thing we are working on).  He started to give her a big bear hug and sing a song we had made up for her when she was a baby.  She got angry and started yelling at him that she was NOT a baby.  Plus, the hug was TOO MUCH.  The brand of help he was offering was not what she needed at that time.  We tried to explain this to our son; to thank him for trying to help, to tell him we were so glad he was looking out for his sister, but that part of helping people is listening carefully to find out what they need and then to offer THAT to them, if you have it to offer.  The truth is, I am not sure my daughter really knew WHAT she needed, because when he finally left her alone she became angry that he wasn’t paying attention to her anymore.  He was frustrated that his efforts were unsuccessful.  She was looking for an apology for the stupidity of his efforts.  My guess is that she just needed a little alone time to allow the sting to go away, and then an acknowledgment from him that he loved her and understood how much it stinks to fall and hurt yourself; that he was there for her while she healed.  He couldn’t magically heal the red mark, though.  Her body was going to have to do that in cooperation with a little time and space.

Later, when we sat on the deck in our yard, my daughter’s previously bruised belly poking out of her shirt in the warm sunshine, I hoped that she was feeling the soothing rays of the sun more acutely than the bruise; that maybe the bruise was even making her a little more aware of the warm sun, so that she could convert her anger at the stupid playground equipment that bruised her and her brother who couldn’t adequately comfort her into gratitude for the warm sun that was presently soothing her skin.  I hoped her brother would check back in with her to see if she was OK later, when she was a little more open to feeling his unique (and sometimes trying) brand of love.

I am supposedly a grown up now, but I still hike and play the playground games from the points of view of both my son and my daughter. I don’t always know how to comfort the people I love when they need comfort.  I struggle with giving them what they need in the times that they need it.  And I can get really frustrated when my efforts don’t work.  On the plus side, I am getting better at living in the present and at looking within myself to heal some of my own wounds and find my own peace, although I still need to remember that

a)    having the space and time to look deeply is largely possible thanks to the people around me who make a gift of that time and space.  I can’t take that for granted.

And

b)   my methods of finding peace may not work for everyone. Pushing my methods to find happiness and peace onto others in an effort to “help” rather than just giving them the time and space to figure out how these things work for themselves is like giving big bear hugs and singing baby songs.

Hiking and playground games seem to be my life’s work.  I don’t think I will ever master the games; but I keep playing them and playing them, varying the methods and strategies to keep it interesting.  The longer I play, the more apparent the simplicity of the rules becomes, and yet the act of playing still makes me breathe as hard as I do when I hike up a mountain.  Somehow knowing that hiking to a playground is simply the act of putting one foot in front of the other doesn’t make the work of the actual hike any easier.  But with practice, I am finding that it is possible to enjoy the feeling of the burn in my muscles when I play hard.

Today I am thankful for the people in my life who play with me every day.  May we continue to play without keeping score, and graciously offer “do-overs” whenever necessary.  May we take breaks when we need to, help each other up and try again when we stumble and fall, revel in the best moments of the game, remember the best views on the hike, and use all of the memories to help us appreciate the new moments as they come.  And at the end of the day, we need to give a high-five to all of the beloved peeps on our team, saying, “Well done.  Let’s do it again tomorrow.”

web-bio-lisaOff the Merry-Go-Round is a place of community & inspiration for parents who have scaled back their professional careers in favor of quality family time… and from the first moment we met Lisa Cadigan, we admired her excellent sense of balance between career and family. “I have been given a great gift – the ability to find joy in simple moments, the ability to find longer and longer periods of balance and peace in a busy, hectic life,” Lisa writes on her blog Daily Presents. Professionally, Lisa established Cadigan Creative, “laying a foundation for the elusive balance between career and family.” You can find out more about Lisa’s graphic design and marketing services on the Cadigan Creative website, where she also shares stories about how people are using creativity, kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. Brava, Lisa!

Saying Goodbye to the Baby Years

Final school concerts, awards assemblies, graduation ceremonies… chances are your family calendar is dotted with these events over the next week or so (maybe longer, if you’re making up lots of snow days, ugh!). Along with these milestones and rites of passage, come lots of welcome changes but also bittersweet moments for us as parents. We thought it was the perfect time to revisit Jennifer (Smith) Schuler’s blog post “Saying Goodbye to the Baby Years.” Sniff….

By Jennifer (Smith) Schuler

If You Have to Say Goodbye

When you are only able to have one child (for whatever reason), simply put–you treasure him extra much. It’s not that I love my child more than anyone else loves theirs, it’s just that there is no little one coming behind him as a distraction from my sadness at seeing him grow up and move forward in his life. I think I just hold him a little tighter sometimes because of that.

I have always relished snuggle time with my little boy.

I have always relished snuggle time with my little boy.

This fall is going to be so incredibly difficult for me because I do not want to let my “baby” go. Although I was able to stay home with him and have a lot of quality time together, I don’t think parents ever feel as though they have had enough time for that. And no matter how hard you try to slow time down, it still won’t stop.

Kalli Dakos’ “goodbye poems” can bring comfort to children and their parents during difficult times of loss and change. Still, I can’t freeze my son in time. This fall, he is beginning a Pre-K program at a private school where he will attend through 12th grade. Don’t get me wrong – we found an amazing school that incorporates all the educational and personal philosophies we want for our little boy. Once we looked at the benefits to our son having a whole-child education in a smaller classroom and campus environment, it was a no-brainer.

My son’s new school also offered a 5 full day summer camp program with different weekly themes. What a great way for him to adjust to his new school in such a fun way! Perhaps the fall, then, would be less of a shock. We chose two sessions separated by a week between. The beginning of the first week was somewhat hard for my son to acclimate to, especially the first day. He was in a new environment and experiencing a rather long day even though rest and quiet time was built in. After a couple of days, he adjusted fine yet every once in awhile he would fuss at morning drop off–wanting me to walk him to his group’s classroom meeting place instead of going through the carpool line.

I was so torn in these situations. I knew that having him become comfortable with this drop off routine would benefit him for the fall, yet he is still so young and I didn’t want to force him nor upset the start of his day. I decided to go easy and help him adjust slowly over a two week camp experience. After the two weeks we had an opportunity to enroll him in the final two weeks of camp, and he was very excited! He had done it. He had successfully adjusted, and enjoyed his time at camp and on the school campus! This Monday, drop off was a snap…for my son.

It was me who did not fair so well. Sigharen’t you going to miss me? Luckily my fellow blogger, Chris, wrote a wonderful piece on adjusting to the “emptying nest” and I found her tips applicable to my situation too. Her blog also offered fresh perspective on what these early years have really been about – and they weren’t always easy for sure!

Let me add a few suggestions for those of us sending young children off to Pre-K or kindergarten this fall. We can do this!

Saying “Goodbye” with Grace

* Pack plenty of tissues! Don’t leave home for that first day of school without them, or walk your child to the bus stop without a wad stuffed in your pocket.

* Try hard to wait to cry when your child is out of sight. This is something I likely will not achieve, yet it is a noble goal. I am pro showing-your-feelings-in-front-of your-children (within reason), yet at such a young age kids sometimes still confuse emotions. And, you really can’t explain “bittersweet” to them. The more cheerful, upbeat and excited you are, the more likely they will follow suit in their responses to going off to school.

* Establish sacred alone time. Carve out time for just you and your child amidst the busy school week in any way you can. Sneak in a moment of reading time cuddled up on the couch, sing songs while your child sits in the bathtub, listen to their school experiences while you’re cooking dinner. You don’t have to spend large blocks of time staring into your child’s eyes to have spent quality time together.

* Use weekends for “regrouping.” Spend some quality family time together – better if it doesn’t involve big plans or a lot of running around since the school week will have held plenty of that. Just be together.

* Make your child’s bedroom a haven. No matter how much money you have to spend on your child’s bedroom design, there are many things you can do inexpensively to keep their room current to their age-specific interests. It also doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep it organized and clutter-free. If your child has a clean, calm place to retreat to for quiet rest, reading and play he will know where he can go to relax and recharge his energy.

My son is relaxed and comfortable in "outer space!"

My son is relaxed and comfortable in “outer space!”

* Get involved in your child’s education. There are many ways to do this, even for busy working parents. If you can’t volunteer in your child’s classroom or serve on the PTA, you may be able to take off a day from work to go on a field trip or offer to prepare learning materials at home. You are supporting your child’s learning experience as you sit down together to review homework assignments and prepare for the next school day.

* No matter how many children you have…You’ll always be sad when they leave the “nest.” There are many phases of your child’s life. You will say goodbye to them all.

One morning, I went into my son’s room to make up his bed with clean sheets. As I smoothed out the covers and neatly arranged his soft pillows, I realized that although he seems to be growing up more every day he still needs me. And in one respect or another he always will. So I might be saying goodbye to my son’s “baby” years, yet he will always be my baby.

No matter how old my son gets, I will never stop holding him and rejoicing in who he is becoming.

No matter how old my son gets, I will never stop holding him and rejoicing in who he is becoming.

What was it like for you saying goodbye to the baby years? Did you find some ways of coping that we can all benefit from? If so, please share them with our OTMGR community!

Living With Lyme (Part 2): Preventing Tick Bites

This post, originally published in May 2013, still contains very timely information as we approach summer 2014. We are republishing it today in hopes of spreading the word and continuing to educate families about the prevalence of Lyme Disease, in conjunction with May’s Lyme Awareness Month. 

By Mary Ann Filler

Are there changes that you should make to live a healthier lifestyle? Perhaps you need to get more sleep, drink more water, or eat healthy and exercise to lose a few pounds. Information about healthy living can be overwhelming and confusing. But one fact is certain–prevention is the key to good health. And yet many of us do not take measures to ensure our health. In fact, sometimes it takes a major “wake-up” call for us to take action and make positive changes.

I’m going to address a subject that seemingly may not apply to you. If you or a loved one doesn’t have Lyme Disease, you may wonder why you would need to concern yourself with what I have to say. Of course, it is your choice to take heed or not. However, I hope that you will educate yourself and take precautions before you have no choice! “They Won’t Get It Until They Get It,” is a common saying in the Lyme community. May this saying NOT apply to you!

As mentioned in my first “Lyme” blog, Living With Lyme (Part 1), Lyme Disease is both difficult to diagnose and treat.  In his book, Lyme Disease Solution, Dr. Kenneth Singleton suggests that for every case of Lyme Disease that is currently detected, there are as many as ten or more cases of Lyme Disease that go undetected or undiagnosed.  These cases often result in chronic Lyme Disease, which causes debilitating and many times irreversible disease that is difficult to treat.  As a result, preventing Lyme Disease should be a high priority for everyone.

What are some measures you can take to prevent Lyme Disease?

 Be Aware that Ticks are Your Enemy

First, be aware that the primary vector for Lyme Disease is the bite of a tick.  The majority of information in the news perpetuates the belief that only the tiny deer tick, also known as the Blacklegged Tick, carries the Lyme bacteria.  In the interest of time, I’m not going to debate that belief; I’m just going to state that I don’t believe ANY tick is a good tick, and that all ticks have the capacity to carry and infect you with disease.  AVOID ticks if at all possible!

Note:  While not popularly held by “the mainstream,” it has also been suggested that fleas, flies, gnats, mites and mosquitoes may also transmit Lyme disease.  It is certain that these pests do transmit other diseases and it makes sense to avoid them as well.  In addition, humans have possibly passed Lyme and other tick borne diseases along in pregnancy and via blood donation or organ transplant. 

Know Your Enemy

A tick is a tiny parasite that feeds on the blood of animals and people.  They do not have wings and cannot fly or jump.  Ticks get around by walking or hitching a ride on an animal.  When the tick latches on to get a blood meal, it may transmit a bacteria “cocktail” that it obtained from a different host in an earlier feeding in the life cycle.

Life Cycle of a Tick

Life Cycle of a Tick

The length of time that a tick needs to be attached to transmit disease is somewhat debatable; most sources agree that it takes 24-48 hours.  Regardless, proper tick removal (how to remove an embedded tick properly) is critical to preventing the tick from infecting you with disease.

Tick Size Comparison

Know Where and When to Expect Ticks

Since a tick bite is the primary vector for Lyme Disease, you will want to know that tick bites may occur ANY time of the year, but most often during early spring to late summer.  As the weather gets warmer, ticks become more active and more likely to bite.  Ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through vegetation such as leaf litter or shrubs.  Small animals including birds, mice, rabbits, squirrels or chipmunks can carry ticks on to your property.  In addition, if you have a pet dog or cat that frequents your yard or walks in suspect areas, they may carry ticks in to your home.

Caution Tick Habitat

Take Precautions Before Going Into Potentially Tick Infested Areas

When frequenting areas that are potentially tick infested, wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be seen.  In addition, pick clothing that is made of smooth or tightly woven fabrics making it more difficult for ticks to latch on to you.  Tuck your shirt in to your pants and your pants in to your socks.  Of course, long-sleeved shirts, pants and closed toed shoes are preferred.

 Choose a Tick Repellant that is Right For You

Applying a tick repellant helps to reduce the chances of getting bit by a tick, but you will have to decide which repellent is right for you.  Many sources will tell you to spray yourself with a bug repellant that contains DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide).  While DEET is an effective agent for tick repulsion, caution must be used when applying it, as it can be toxic to the nervous system, and it’s not the most pleasant to use (not to mention the environmental impact).  Avon has a product line that repels ticks and is DEET free.  However, it still contains a chemical called Picardin.  There are natural alternatives including essential oils, but unfortunately little testing has been done to show that these alternatives actually work to repel ticks.

While many people are aware that they should spray their skin with tick repellent, they are unaware that treating their clothing may be one of the most preventative measures available. When sprayed on clothing and camping gear, Premethrin is highly effective in repelling and even killing ticks as well as other pests.  Premethrin treated items kill ticks on contact.  However, Premethrin cannot be applied directly to your skin.  Spray clothing (especially socks and shoes) and gear a day before you will be heading in to the woods.  Once clothing is treated, the Premethrin is still effective through 6 washings.  Premethrin can be purchased on-line or in stores that sell outdoor gear.  As with any chemical compound, follow the directions for use very carefully.

Tick-habitat-sign

Take Extra Precautions If you Spend Time in forested areas.

If you camp, hike, or hunt, you may want to consider purchasing clothing that is pretreated with Premethrin by checking out Insect Shield Clothing (www.insectshield.com).  Pretreated clothing can be washed up to 70 times and still be effective.  When hiking, stay on the path as much as possible.  Also, use a hiking stick to push any branches that may be across the path out of the way.  Spray all sleeping bags and tents with Premethrin.

 What Should You Do After Spending Time in Potentially Tick Infested Areas?

 After an activity in a potentially tick infested area, when arriving home, immediately place all clothing in the dryer (prior to washing) on high for 1 hour.  The high temperatures from the dryer will kill any ticks that may be hanging out waiting to latch on to you or your pet once inside your home.

If you are camping, remove your clothing and place in a plastic bag; close the bag with a plastic tie until you can get home.  Loose clothing lying around a tent or camper may provide an opportunity for ticks to latch on while you are walking around or even sleeping.

Shower as soon as you are able using a brush.  Do a through tick check.  Ticks can hide under armpits, behind knees, and in the hair.  Having another person check in difficult to see places would be the most advantageous.  Of course, an adult should inspect children closely.  Caution:  ticks may look like a small freckle and can be almost undetectable!

Tiny Tick!

Tiny Tick!

Apply a Tick Treatment to Your Pet

If you have a cat or dog that spends time outside, make sure to apply a tick prevention strategy to them as well.  As with treating yourself, you will have to decide which tick treatment is best for your dog.  Of course there are the once a month applications of flea and tick protection or the flea and tick collar.  However, if you’re looking for a more natural/chemical-free approach, you may want to consider, Natural Flea and Tick Defense.

If you prefer, you can make your own spray using essential oils.  One source for recipes and ordering essential oils is experience-essential-oils.  This source recommends using a dog shampoo that is infused with essential oils when you bathe your dog as an added precaution.

Again, the efficacy of many of these items is debatable.  Our family has chosen to use natural alternatives and to create a tick free zone in our back yard for our dog.  Unfortunately, I no longer walk my dog off of our property due to an increased risk of picking up ticks.

 Modify Your Landscaping to Create a Tick Free Zone

Harvard Health recommends doing a “tick drag” in your yard to determine whether or not you have ticks.  Attach a square yard of white flannel to a 3-foot stick and tie a rope to each end of the stick.  Drag the cloth over the lawn and leaves, and examine it for ticks that have latched on.  Do this several times.  Use a cloth mounted like a flag on a stick to determine whether you have a tick problem in your bushy or grassy vegetation.

Reduce your risk from getting a tick bite on your own property by clearing shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation away from patios, play areas and playground equipment. Clear leaf litter and mow regularly.  Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from areas where you and your family spend time.

If you think you have a tick problem on your property, University of Rhode Island Tick Encounter Resource Center, suggests a dual action treatment plan for your property that includes host-targeted Tick Tubes and the habitat-targeted perimeter spray.  When used together in a program, they provide outstanding protection from tick encounter, especially for backyards.

To be honest, prior to being diagnosed with Lyme Disease, I thought very little of tick bite prevention.  Now, our family has taken action to reduce the likelihood of getting a tick bite.  We have hired Natural Lawn of America to spray our lawn.  The company has a more organic approach to lawn care and pest control.  In the upcoming months, we will also be placing Tick Tubes on our property.  We keep our lawn mowed and clear leaf debris.  In addition, our dog is no longer allowed to venture off of our property for walks, and he is treated with the shampoo mentioned above.  I personally believe that preventing your pet dog or cat from encountering ticks can be one of the biggest precautionary measures you can take.  I haven’t done any hardcore research, but I understand that veterinarians are encountering tick borne disease in dogs in record numbers.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late…

At this point, I would encourage you not to wait to incorporate the tick prevention strategies that apply to you.  If you will be spending time in the woods this summer, I cannot stress enough the need for you to protect yourself and your family members.  Please do not wait until it’s too late!

Web Sources:

http://www.rodale.com/natural-tick-repellants-protect-your-yard?page=0,0

http://labs.russell.wisc.edu/wisconsin-ticks/on-people/

www.ilads.org

http://www.tickencounter.org

http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/

http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/lyme/lyme-faq.shtml

http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/lyme/fact_sheet.htm

http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/recognizing-and-avoiding-tick-borne-illness.shtml

From Beth’s Kitchen: Mom’s Best Potato Salad

IMG_7787

By Beth Heeschen

Join us in welcoming Beth to “Off the Merry-Go-Round!” Look for her blogs “From Beth’s Kitchen” on a regular basis–you won’t want to miss her outstanding recipes and stories. Read more about Beth’s fascinating background on our Bloggers page. For her first article, we thought a Memorial Day-inspired Potato Salad recipe would be perfect… enjoy!

In Iowa, potato salad is taken seriously… very seriously.  The season begins at Memorial Day Picnics, and doesn’t end until the high school football team has shut off the lights at the last home game.  The bowls of yellow, mayonnaise laden potato salads line up at church picnics, family reunions, holiday get-togethers, and tailgate parties.  All of them alternately placed between bowls of “not potato salad.”   Lined up like aspiring contestants waiting to be crowned, but never being recognized with anything other than a knowing nod, and comment of “this is really very good.”  Alternatively, you’ve blown it if your potato salad is met with the inquisitive “interesting, what’s in it?”…Sound the gong! Iowans go to great lengths not to be rude or overly praiseful.  You become very adept at reading into subtleties.

It is very important to bring THE best potato salad.  It’s a matter of humble-pride, and you want to be the humble crown bearer.  Everyone in town knows who makes the best potato salads, as it is discussed after the aforementioned gatherings.  In the small Iowa town I grew up in, it was a well-known fact that Vi Roberts, who worked at the courthouse, was the reigning potato salad queen.  For years… and years… and years… Finally she decided to take five pound orders and set up a nice little side business for herself.  It also expanded into some fabulous meatballs, but that is for another blog… There were many wonderful second place potato salads, that shifted around from person to person, and year to year.  I like to think, and believe, my Mom’s was one of these.

In true Iowa fashion, simple is best.  Potatoes, eggs, and mayonnaise are the standard.  Other secret ingredients can be added to enhance these primary ingredients, and are what makes each potato salad unique.  Add to your own peril, anything weird like radishes would be deeply frowned upon… and NEVER EVER use light mayonnaise!  ENJOY!

MOM’S BEST POTATO SALAD:

2 ½ lb Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed and unpeeled

½ C Finely chopped Vidalia Onion

4 Hardboiled eggs, 3 finely chopped, 1 sliced

2 Celery stalks, finely chopped

˜  ˜  ˜

1 T White vinegar

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

1 tsp Celery Seed

˜  ˜  ˜

3/4 C Hellman’s Mayonnaise

1/4 C Miracle Whip

1 1/2 T White Vinegar

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

˜  ˜  ˜

Salt and Pepper

Paprika

Use potatoes that are similar in size, or put the larger ones on the bottom of a pot.  Cover potatoes with water and boil until a fork easily pierces.  Remove using a slotted spoon to a strainer (avoid dumping, as it might damage the potatoes).  If using potatoes of different size, the small ones will be done before the larger.  Cool completely.

Mix the white vinegar, Dijon, salt and celery seed in a small bowl.

When potatoes have cooled, scrap off skin with a paring knife, and cube into desired size (I find that ½” works best).  Place in bowl, and add vinegar mixture.  Stir until completely coated.  Add onion, eggs, and celery.

Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and add to potato mixture.  Fold gently until completely coated.  Salt ad pepper to taste.

Garnish with sliced egg and paprika.

Mom's Best Potato Salad

Mom’s Best Potato Salad

 

Happy “unofficial” summertime, this Memorial Day weekend!

What are your traditional Memorial Day picnic dishes?

Gardening: Good for the Soul

A hidden treasure found inside my hanging fern... I am watering it carefully these days!

A hidden treasure found inside my hanging fern… I am watering it carefully these days!

By Karen Hendricks

As I’m writing this, a gentle spring rain is falling… music to my ears, because it means my garden is being watered. How many of our Off the Merry-Go-Round readers also maintain gardens? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s compare notes and exchange tips…

Every spring, I love rediscovering one of my favorite hobbies all over again–gardening. Through the long winter months, I enjoy dreaming about and planning my next gardening adventure, but it doesn’t turn into reality until I pull on the gardening gloves and actually start digging in the earth. What is it about gardening that draws me back year after year? There are many wonderful reasons, but one underlying and main reason: it feels good for the soul. There is something that resonates within me, deep down. And it’s certainly time spent “off the merry-go-round” of busy, hectic days.

I’ve compiled a free-form list of words, triggered by brainstorming about gardening and why it’s so good for the soul:

  • nature
  • peaceful
  • God’s creation
  • therapeutic
  • exercise
  • weeding
  • planting
  • nurturing
  • rewarding
  • earthy
  • healthy
  • beauty
  • green
  • growth
  • discoveries
  • wonder
  • sunshine
  • outdoors

Come with me and take a tour of some of my gardens, through photos, below… I hope it inspires you and touches something within your soul too.

Nothing says "spring" like a pot of pansies by your front door. This is one of my favorite spots to catch a cup of coffee or tea.

Nothing says “spring” like a pot of pansies by your front door. This is one of my favorite spots to catch a cup of coffee or tea.

 

"Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts." - Shakespeare

“Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.” – Shakespeare

 

The vegetable garden... a (mostly) blank canvas, waiting for this year's crops.

The vegetable garden… a (mostly) blank canvas, waiting for this year’s crops.

 

My husband built me this little "greenhouse" from our home's old windows. The top window is hinged so that it can be opened. It's the perfect place to grow spring lettuce!

My husband built me this little “greenhouse” from our home’s old windows. The top window is hinged so that it can be opened. It’s the perfect place to grow spring lettuce!

 

Nothing tastes as fresh as lettuce straight from the garden... Can't wait for it to grow some more!

Nothing tastes as fresh as lettuce straight from the garden… Can’t wait for it to grow some more!

 

Spring onions!

Spring onions!

 

Parsley in a pot, beginning to grow from seed. I can't live without fresh parsley for summertime dishes, and growing it in an pot makes it versatile because I can move it right to my kitchen doorstep.

Parsley in a pot, beginning to grow from seed. I can’t live without fresh parsley for summertime dishes, and growing it in an pot makes it versatile because I can move it right to my kitchen doorstep.

 

This little bed features white tulips and a thick bunch of mountain bluets... a very unique flower that's one of my favorites.

This little bed features white tulips and a thick bunch of mountain bluets… a very unique flower that’s one of my favorites.

 

A closer look at the mountain bluets... they remind me of bright blue firecrackers.

A closer look at the mountain bluets… they remind me of bright blue firecrackers.

 

Several of our bloggers have recently written about family ties. These irises are very special to me, as they are the same ones that grew in my great-grandmother's garden. A wonderful reminder of her!

Several of our bloggers have recently written about family ties. These irises are very special to me, as they are the same ones that grew in my great-grandmother’s garden. A wonderful reminder of her!

Since Iris is the Greek goddess for the Messenger of Love, her sacred flower is considered the symbol of communication and messages.  Greek men would often plant an iris on the graves of their beloved women as a tribute to the goddess Iris, whose duty it was to take the souls of women to the Elysian fields.”   -Hana No Monogatari, in The Stories of Flowers

What does gardening mean to you? Do you enjoy tending a vegetable garden or flower beds? Any gardening “secrets” you’d like to share? Thanks so much for stopping by for a tour… and perhaps I’ll share photos of my garden again, later in the season! 

Introducing “Chick Clicks!” with a Cinco de Mayo Recipe

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By Mary Ann Filler

Hello, Off The Merry-Go-Round readers! It’s been a while since I have contributed to the blog. I have been back on the Merry-Go-Round teaching 14 credit hours this semester. As a mom of three very active teenage sons, I have had to cut back on extra activities such as blogging. However, I have been brainstorming ways that I can still continue to contribute to the blog without it taking too much time. Fellow OTMGR writer Karen and I came up with a plan… and we are proud to introduce my first installment of “Chick Clicks!”

What are Chick Clicks?

In my new series, I’m going to share online “treasure” with you. Chick Clicks are links to wonderful articles, recipes, projects and more—all online and all (hopefully) helpful to you as a family-oriented mom and wife. I’m looking forward to shining a spotlight on other fabulous blogs and websites written by moms (chicks) just like us, with words of wisdom, helpful tips and tricks that I have personally found useful. Blogs form a great network of resources!

I was telling Karen about an amazing recipe for refried beans that I discovered, and she thought it would be the perfect first Chick Click to share in honor of Cinco de Mayo. So here goes!

Consider: Cutting Down on Processed Foods

Are you familiar with the 100 Days of Real Food website? I have found some really great recipes there.  Lisa Leake started the blog/website when she and her family pledged to go 100 days without eating any highly processed or refined foods including white flour or sugar. They made this decision to draw attention to our society’s dependency on processed food. So, the recipes are very healthy and use only real food ingredients.

Her refried bean recipe is one of my favorites because it’s inexpensive, easy and delicious. In addition, it also freezes well. Beans are super high in protein, iron and fiber, which make them the perfect option for “Meatless Mondays” if you follow that trend. Or serve them alongside your favorite taco recipe for the perfect side dish today, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Ole!

So without further ado… here is my first Chick Click!

Click here for Lisa Leake’s Easy Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Note:

The recipe uses dry beans that are normally soaked overnight prior to cooking. However, according to the recipe, this step may be eliminated. As a side note, I still like to soak dry beans for at least 24 hours and for nutritional reasons that you can read about here, in a bonus Chick Click from the Healthy Home Economist.  

I highly recommend soaking your pinto beans overnight, first.

I highly recommend soaking your pinto beans overnight, first.

 

Load all of your ingredients into your handy crock pot. It is a busy chick's best friend!

Load all of your ingredients into your handy crock pot. It is a busy chick’s best friend!

 

This is how the beans will look when softened and ready for mashing.

This is how the beans will look when softened and ready for mashing.

 

And presto... time for a fiesta!

And presto… time for a fiesta!

Enjoy the recipe!

P.S. Many thanks to Karen for these great pics! 🙂