Links to Amazon are affiliate links*

This is now one of our staple dinners that we have all the time! It is easy and I'm claiming healthy, too. All of the food groups can go on these pizzas, and you can even sneak in that spinach or broccoli if you really want to!

Our list of ingredients (obviously you can put anything you want on them, though):

- Pita bread (look for whole grain)
- Sauce
- Mozzarella cheese (look for the full fat option for baby)
- Cheddar cheese
- Pepperoni
- Olives
- Mushrooms
- Onions
- Bell peppers

The sky is the limit, though. Add tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, ham, pineapple, etc. When Caroline gets older this will be a great meal to involve her in and she can create her own pizza! She simply devours this meal and loves it so much. We just cut it up into bite-sized pieces and she feeds herself.

Serve some fresh fruit on the side and you've got a great dinner than everyone will enjoy.

Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes

Love is an interesting emotion. It is confusing, exciting, frustrating, beautiful, and every emotion in between. It's hard to define what love feels like. I know that when I try to explain it to my daughter one day, she will most likely walk away confused as to why it is not a simple answer. I know that the best way to explain it to her, will be to show her. As parents, it is our responsibility to model what love is, with our own relationship, and in our relationships with our children.

As I type, it all gets blurry. What is love? To me, love is respect, love is kindness, acceptance, and compromise. It is admitting when you're wrong and looking at your own flaws. It is inspiration to be the best. Love includes arguing and passion, fighting for the things that are important, and honoring your partner in the process. It is full of high expectations- of yourself and the other person. It is hard. It is being unable to breathe because you are laughing so hard. It is comfortable silence. It is your best friend. Love is no place you'd rather be. And so much more. I could go on forever. There is no simple answer.

Sometimes love is a choice that you pursue. Sometimes love is handed to you in unexpected ways.

In November of 2014, our lives changed when we welcomed our daughter into the world. Everyone tells you it will happen. They tell you that this overwhelming love just slaps you in the face... but you just have no idea and no way to prepare for it until it happens. The love that I felt the instant Caroline was put in my arms is unreal. It is not something that I can even try to explain. I now officially believe in love at first sight, however (when welcoming a child).

Here's what no one told me about, though: No one told me that I'd fall in love with my husband about 1000 fold that day. When you see the love of your life fall in love with your daughter... no words can describe the magnitude of your new love for that person. When I saw my daughter reach out and hold my husband's hand, the tears streaming from my husband's face, my heart just about exploded.

One year later, my heart is still exploding. I love everything about our new life. I love my husband in new and surprising ways. I love getting to stay home with our daughter. I love everything about Caroline and who she is becoming. She is smart, sweet, independent and stubborn. She is a miniature version of my husband. I see myself in her as well, which makes me love myself a little bit more, too!

I appreciate my parents' love for me so much more. And watching my parents and my husbands parents fall in love with Caroline fills my heart with love as well. I've gained a new love for her grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Having a child has simply brought  so much love and happiness to my life. I am forever grateful, and forever in love.

Happy early Valentine's day from our family to yours!

Today is Pinterest Day for the Babywise Friendly Blog Network and the ladies in the group are covering anything to do with LOVE. Be sure and check out our Pinterest Page and check out the other posts today!

Well, my hubby is home on this wonderful snow day, so I am going to enjoy a family day. Just wanted to share some quick highlights of this crazy blizzard that we got a couple days ago. We got about 2.5ft. Hubby just stayed at work Friday to avoid having to drive in the snow to get in and plow. So, we were without him until yesterday, but managed just fine. So glad to have him home again, though!

Caroline is loving the snow- not loving that we are stuck inside, however. We plan on having more fun in the snow today!

Picture of Very First Book of Things to Spot at Home
Caroline is now 13.5 months old, and she understands so much. She loves learning and spends a good portion of her day pointing to objects, pictures in books, etc., and asking us to name these items as she points them out. She says "there" and points. If we don't answer right away, she continues to say "there" over and over, louder and louder! We have a couple of look and find books that we love. Caroline could literally spend all day looking through these books and asking us to name objects. She has learned the names so well, that we can ask her to find the objects we name, and she does so easily! Here are the two books we have and love for this type of language skill building:

- My First Look and Find- Fisher-Price

- Very First Book of Things to Spot at Home - Usborne

Here are several more "spot it" books that are great options on our list from Usborne as well!

So, while Caroline does not say many words, I am not at all concerned about her language skills or ability to understand things. She only has two words (Mama and Dada), and even those she rarely uses. I guess she also says "there" when pointing to objects, but I don't really count that as a word, since I'm not sure she knows that it is a word! We do like to encourage her to talk, however, especially since she understands so much.

Caroline understands that certain words mean we'd like her to try and talk. We ask her to "say thank you", "say more, please", "ask to share", "say apple", etc. She tries! She reverts from whining, grunting, or moaning, to babbling. We praise her for her attempt every time! We also make sure to say "good try" instead of "good job", because we want her to know that, while she didn't say it correctly, she did talk, and we appreciate that!

Her babble is now starting to include more sounds. She is experimenting with different consonants and really attempting to say a few words at this point. She loves trying to say "banana", "apple", "glasses", "excuse me", and "tractor". And, as I said, she talks on command now when we ask her to. She typically babbles the same noises, but she is babbling instead of whining, which is so good!

I have a feeling that Caroline is literally going to wake up one day and just be able to say 5 new words correctly. She likes to practice things on her own before showing us the perfected task. So, this wouldn't surprise me at all! In the meantime, we will continue to encourage her to talk and always ask her to try!

One month ago, I wrote about "Setting Rules and Boundaries with a 1 Year Old". I had reasoned with myself that, since Caroline understood so many other things, she must also understand the word "no". Well, my mama instincts were right on! Caroline definitely understands what "no" means now! While her reaction is not exactly what I'm hoping for, I am thrilled that she understands the word and knows what it means now!

When Caroline hears the word "no", she now looks at me as if to say "wtf mom!?", starts crying, or throws a fit. Obviously, in a perfect world, she'd just move on to the next activity without a care in the world. But this isn't exactly a reasonable expectation at 1 year old- so wtf looks, cries and tantrums are what I'll have to take for now! Regardless, I'm super happy that she understands what I'm saying. We'll work on how she handles it soon enough.

So, why could I possibly want to tell my child no? So many things! Some days I feel like I am saying no constantly, and others hardly at all. Here are a few things I like to keep in mind with regards to the word "no", and discipline:

1. Hearing "NO" is a good thing- Rules and boundaries are essential for all of us. Knowing what is expected of us gives us a sense of security. The same goes for toddlers, and even those furry pets of ours! The real world is full of road blocks, disappointment, and the word "no". In order to set our children up for success, they need to have heard this word. They need to know that they do not always get to do what they want, when they want, that they should respect rules that are in place, and that there are consequences for their actions if they do not respect those rules.

2. Consistency is key- Toddlers are just figuring this world out, and consistency helps them to feel secure. If they know what is expected, and the same results happen each time they follow (or choose to not follow) the rules, they will respect those boundaries. It is unfair, if one day they are allowed to do something, but the next they are not. The inconsistency makes it impossible for them to know what is expected. Clear boundaries and consistent results need to be established. If you look back and think you handled something incorrectly the first go around, feel free to change the consequence, but then be consistent after the change. 

3. Use consequences instead of punishment- Consequences need to make sense. If a child is throwing a toy that you asked them not to throw, and you take away dessert later that evening, there is no connection, and the child will be confused. These types of punishments often cause tension when they are older (high school teacher experience coming into play here). However, if you take the toy away after having told the child "no", they directly associate the consequence with their actions. Try to find the natural consequence.

3. Pick your battles- There are a million things throughout the day that we can say no to. Before you do, decide if it is a necessary no or a convenient one. Safety concerns are automatic "no's". When Caroline decides to take everything off of her shelves, however, and I want to tell her no- this is a convenience no. I don't want her taking everything off of her shelves, because I will have to put it all back later. In this case, however, I choose to allow her to remove items from the shelf. She thoroughly enjoys it, and is learning things in the process. I just make sure to involve her in the clean up process. As she gets older, she will understand this automatic consequence before she ever starts taking things off of the shelf. There are some things that I still stand my ground on, however, aside from safety. For example, Caroline loves to take all of the diapers out of the plastic bag and move them around the room. I've decided that I don't want her to do this. The diapers are not toys, or books on her shelf. The diapers do not fold back nicely, and they end up with dog hair on them (which is not ideal). So, I've decided to say no to this. As long as I am consistent, this is ok. It is perfectly fine to set boundaries like this - even on a non-safety related behavior.  Caroline has learned that the diapers are off limits, and as she walks up to them, she looks at me, waiting for the "no". I say it every time. Sometimes she moves on, and sometimes she cries- but I am consistent with it. Another example, is that, when Caroline is done playing with something, she is to put it away before she gets something else out to play with. If she has blocks all over the room, and then decides to go get her books out, I ask her to help me put her blocks away first. I help her at this age so she sees the expectation in action.

4. Tone matters- Say no in an authoritative, convincing way. Don't get angry, and don't be cheerful about it. Children can tell the difference, and it is confusing. If you laugh while saying no, they don't understand. Your tone cannot conflict your message. And, if you are actually angry, this can bring on a stronger reaction than you anticipated, and also confuse the issue. Try to be firm in your tone, however, so your child knows you are serious.

5. Say "yes" as well- Don't forget that your toddler is exploring a whole new world. They are learning as they explore. So, make sure to say yes to things as well! Say yes to running and jumping in the puddles as it rains! They are learning about water, physics and so much more!

Try to think through a few scenarios that you know you will be needing to say "no" to. Decide what the consequence will be if your child does not listen. Decide how many times you repeat yourself before those consequences are put into action. If you think about these things ahead of time, in the moment will be much easier to handle, and the consistency will come naturally.

Help us put a smile on a child's face with this adorable cuddle bear set! Proceeds benefit Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

We will be collecting donations throughout the month of January to purchase plush bear & book sets. Cleveland Clinic will use these sets to hand out to the young children who come through their doors, hopefully putting a smile on their faces- even if only briefly.

Usborne will be matching 50% of the donations collected through their grant matching program.

Another great thing about the Cuddle Bear sets is that Usborne donates a portion of each sale to the Scott Carter Foundation, focusing on childhood cancer research.

If you would like to make a donation please do so by clicking on the donate button below. Every little bit helps! Each donation of $25 buys one child a cuddle bear/book combo!

Welcome to Babywise Friendly Blog Network (BFBN) Day! This is a new blogging network that I am so proud to be a part of. Each month we will get the pleasure of featuring a guest blogger from the BFBN. Today, I am honored to welcome Carrie from Wiley Adventures. Her post is all about saying no and being consistent with your children. I will be posting some playdate and outing ideas for  your 1 year old over at Chronicles of a Babywise Mom if you want to check that out as well. Enjoy!

Benefits of Consistency: Saying "No"

As a parent of young children, there are days when it feels like all I do is say “no”. It inevitably becomes a part of our every days with young children. As children are learning and exploring their world, it is our job to teach them and show them their boundaries. One of the ways we do that is by saying “no”.

To be honest, this part of parenting wears on me and can be really discouraging and overwhelming. It’s hard to see results during the day in and day out.  A wise older Mama friend once gave me some advice way back when I only had one child. She told me to pick your “no’s” wisely (pun intended J). If it is not necessary to say no, don’t. Say “yes” as much as you can. After that advice, I really try and think through the times that I say no, being intentional to only when it is necessary.

However, it IS necessary at times, ESPECIALLY when our kids are younger with more new things in their world to explore. Being consistent with guidelines can be difficult but can also be really rewarding. Here’s how:

1. Your child knows what to expect

Think through your child's behaviors and your safety concerns and decide (as much as possible) the things you will say no to. Obviously some things will have to be decided in the moment, but think ahead as much as possible.

Also, think ahead to how you will say it. Tone of voice can play a big role in your child's reaction. A firm, but not angry voice, can let your child know you are serious. Angry voices, in my experience, tend to elevate the drama and sometimes evoke the opposite response that you are looking for and most of the time is a heart issue on the part of the parent too.

When you do these things consistently, it creates something that your child can rely on for discipline and in turn builds feelings of security.

2. You know what to expect

Not only for the child's benefit, but it's nice as a parent to have consistency when you discipline.

Think through, know, and practice what you will do if your child does not comply when you tell them "no"and follow through every time. Once it is determined as a family what will happen if a child disobeys then you have a structure on which to rely when the situation arises. Which is so good to have when your three year old draws on the wall (again) after you have said no and your blood is boiling. You take a deep breath and follow your plan.

3. Consistent Results

As with most things you consistently work towards, your results will be consistent. HOPEFULLY if you are consistent to tell a child "no" when they reach for a cord or outlet they will start to remember and obey consistently (for example).

If you are not seeing results that you want or need, reevaluate your plan and make changes. Determine the importance of what you are saying no to (is it a safety concern or just a convenience? Are their other ways to redirect behavior?)

4. Long-term results

Ultimately, working consistently towards a goal  help bring to a point of saying "no" less and less. The concepts stay the same as kids age and new opportunities arise, but the goal is to work yourself out of a job, so to speak.

Consistency has benefits for everyone involved. Don’t forget to take deep breaths and stay the course! It will pay off!

Carrie has four kids (7, 4, 3, and 13 Months) and blogs at Wiley Adventures.

At the start of the year, we decided to let Caroline have a pillow in her crib. Our doctor had informed us that once Caroline was 1 year old, blankets and pillows were allowed in the crib. While she has had a blanket for a couple of months already, we had waited to give her a pillow.

We found a pillow that is toddler sized on Amazon and comes with a pillowcase. We all know that you need a backup pillowcase, so I ended up ordering two of these pillows. Sadly, that was cheaper than just buying an extra pillowcase!

Caroline certainly doesn't mind her pillow, and even stays on it when we place her on it. She does move off of the pillow eventually, however. She seems indifferent about it, really.

We also started letting her have a stuffed animal in bed with her recently. She loves her stuffed animals! She gives them kisses, snuggles, and plays with them, too. She LOVES having one to snuggle up to in her crib. She often sleeps with "Pete the puppy" right on top of her. We've decided to rotate the stuffed animals in the hopes that she doesn't get too attached to one particular one. So far, while she has shown a preference to Pete, she is just happy to have one with her and hasn't complained for a specific one.

It is amazing watching her in her crib. She falls asleep so well- thanks to the sleep training that we did back when she was 4 months old. She takes great naps, and simply loves her sleep. When she wakes, she plays quietly, talks and looks around. She is such a big girl and knows mama will come when nap time is over. 
Lisa Lion
Berry Bear
Lenny Lion
Pete isn't even pictured he's so new!

Back in September, Caroline had her very first day of school! She is in a Mother's Day Out (MDO) program at a local church and attends a 4 hr "class" once a week. It is now January and we are almost halfway through our first year of MDO.

When we first started this adventure, Caroline was pretty easy going about the whole thing. I dropped her off and there were no tears in sight. She would get right to playing and hardly notice that I was gone. She did very well with the adjustment and even took decent naps while at school.

She typically naps for 30-45 minutes in a crib while she is there. They go outside on walks, they play indoors, listen to music and even eat lunch- all away from mama. Her teachers always report to me that she has a great time and eats well. No surprise there- Caroline can always put away a good amount of food! When I arrived to pick her up, she would crawl towards me as fast as she could in excitement.

Starting about 2 weeks before winter break, Caroline entered a new phase. Now when I drop her off, as soon as we enter the room, she starts crying. It is her loud, purple faced cry with tears streaming. She knows that I am leaving her and wants nothing to do with it. The teachers tell me that about 10 minutes after I am gone, she is fine and playing with the other children. I still get good reports saying that she has a good time, takes a short nap (most days), and finishes her whole lunch. When I arrive to pick her up now, she is content and in no hurry to get to me.

I am hoping that this crying phase ends soon, as it is heartbreaking to peel her off of me and leave the room. I know it is just that, however- a phase. I also know that this time is good for both her and me. She gets interaction with other adults and other children, and has an experience away from me. She needs to learn how to handle situations like this because she will be in preschool in no time! I want her to gradually get used to being away from me at times. I am looking forward to seeing how she handles the rest of the school year.

As for me, the 4 hours to myself each week is a much needed time. I catch up on my blog, schedule any appointments that I wouldn't be able to go to with her in tow, and I am starting to meet with schools and libraries for my new book adventure. Last week, I even went and got a much needed massage. A little mama time never hurt!

Now, my challenge is to find a program for next year. The MDO program that Caroline attends, has decided that this will be their last year to offer the program. We are very disappointed, and are now searching for a replacement! This is proving to be a challenge, since Caroline turns two in November. She has a late birthday, and most programs want them to be 2 as of September 1st. Wish me luck!

As mentioned back in December's post, Mama's Organized Chaos is partnering with The Foodie Physician. We get a sneak peek and a chance to review some of the recipes from her book that is being released in 2016! See below for our full review and the recipe!

Her new book, entitled Natural Baby Food, will be published in early 2016 by Hatherleigh Press. You can pre-order this book on Amazon! The book has over 125 recipes and includes food for toddlers and even purees for babies.

As a part of this event, Mama's Organized Chaos discussion group members are reviewing 5 recipes. In December, we tasted and reviewed the Mac and Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower. Stay tuned for tasty reviews of the following recipes as well:
- Sweet potato pancakes
- Turkey Florentine meatballs
- Zucchini tots
- Tropical Rice pudding

Our Review of Mac and Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower

So first off, my personal opinion is that this recipe is amazing! I love the flavor and the health benefits of the cauliflower. My family has already made this twice. The leftovers save and reheat well which is a surprise for a mac and cheese recipe! The preparation is a bit more than I like to do on a weekday with my hands full, so this is definitely a weekend meal that I make when my hubby is home to help prep or distract our daughter. That being said, the prep really isn't all that difficult if you don't have a 1 year old climbing on you! LOL! As a group we rated this meal as Mama approved and baby/toddler approved! The full results with some quotes from our mamas are posted below as well. This is definitely a keeper in my book and we will be making this for years to come!

RECIPE 1: Mac and Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower
RATING Overall Baby/toddler Approved? YES
3 voted yes
2 voted no

My child it weird about textures...
I made it with sharp cheddar (which is what we usually eat) but I think it might have been too rich for them.

RATING Overall Mama Approved? YES
ALL voted yes!

Even the leftovers were good!!
This was great!
My husband devoured it. I never roasted cauliflower before, but I loved that!

RATING Taste (Baby/toddlers thoughts)
Please rate on a 1-5 scale below.
5 loved the taste- 1 vote
4 liked the taste- 2 votes
3 taste was ok - 0 votes
2 somewhat disliked the taste- 0 votes
1 disliked the taste- 2 votes

I liked it, my 11 month old liked it, but my 4 year old, who loves mac n cheese And loves Cauliflower did not. ...I'm thinking the mustard flavor was too much
14 month old loved this! She enjoyed trying to use her fork to pick up the pieces and didn't even seem to notice the cauliflower.
My seven-month-old ate it up. Can't tell like vs. love with him because he eats most stuff, but he definitely gobbled it up!

RATING Taste (Mama's thoughts)
Please rate on a 1-5 scale below.

5 loved the taste- 2 votes
4 liked the taste- 4 votes
3 taste was ok - 0 votes
2 somewhat disliked the taste- 0 votes
1 disliked the taste- 0 votes

I loved this dish!! Definitely making again!
It was good! Next time I think we will use mild cheese and add some bacon (because that's how we roll)
It was tasty! I will add more cauliflower next time. Mine was very saucy (which isn't a bad thing!)
I will probably play with the cheese flavor a little. I liked it, but Daddy wanted more flavor. Bacon is a great idea!

RATING Ease of Preparation 
Please rate on a 1-5 scale below.
5- very easy to prepare
4- somewhat easy to prepare - 2 votes
3- moderate preparation - 4 votes
2- somewhat difficult to prepare
1- too difficult/time consuming to prepare

We really liked it....making it again soon! haha

It was good!

Here is the full recipe for you to try! Enjoy!!!

Mac and Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower
Makes about 5 servings

Skip the boxed macaroni and cheese and make this dish instead! My mac and cheese is easy to make and so much healthier. It gets a nutritional boost from cauliflower, which is packed with powerful antioxidants as well as fiber, protein and an impressive array of vitamins and minerals. Roasting the cauliflower in the oven caramelizes it and intensifies the flavor. You can substitute broccoli if you desire. 

3 cups small cauliflower florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces elbow macaroni, preferably whole grain
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss the florets with the oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until edges are browned and cauliflower is cooked, 15–18 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until a smooth paste forms. Cook1-2 minutes until the paste is light tan in color. Whisk in the milk, and bring to a simmer, whisking often, until a smooth sauce forms. Whisk in the mustard and ½ teaspoon salt. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes until it is thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese until fully melted.

Add the cooked macaroni and roasted cauliflower to the sauce and stir to combine well.

One serving: Calories 425; Fat 19.8g (Sat 11.7g); Protein 18.5g; Carbs 44.4g; Fiber 5.1g; Sodium 479mg