Travel

Our Visit to Kennedy Space Center

It is one of those days in my life that I will always remember exactly where I was. On January 28th 1986, I was in Grade 8 and was volunteering in the Kindergarten classroom when our Principal came in and told us that the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded. That day will forever be ingrained in my memory.  So when I knew we would be travelling to Orlando, I knew that visiting the Kennedy Space Center was one place I wanted on our itinerary.

Kennedy Space Center

I’ve watched a lot of movies and shows about space travel in my life, but until you have actually seen a real rocket or space ship in person, it’s really hard to imagine what astronauts actually travel in.  At Kennedy Space Center, from the minute that you arrive, you are surrounded with actual rockets that have been used in space missions. There were quite a few “wow’s” to be heard from my son as we arrived.

Kennedy Space Center

I usually do a lot of research prior to visiting a place such as this so I know what to expect and what to bring.  I spoke to friends who had visited before and looked over the Kennedy Space Center website but I obviously missed a few things.

  1.  I thought it was more a museum style place and didn’t realize how much time we would be outside exploring.  Bring water, wear your sunglasses and lots of sunscreen.  I was not prepared enough for this but luckily, I was able to purchase these items in the gift shop.
  2. For some reason, I wasn’t convinced you could spend a WHOLE day at Kennedy Space Center.  Let me tell you, there is so much to see and do, you can and we did.
  3. Part of the reason the you can spend the entire day is in addition the main complex, there is the Kennedy Space Center bus tour that is included in your admission and takes about 2 hours.
  4. If you are travelling from Orlando/Kissimeee, it takes a good hour to get there so take that into account when planning your day.  Those 2 extra hours make a big difference, especially if you have little ones.

Regardless of these few things, we had such an amazing experience at the Kennedy Space Center and learned so much about the history of the space program.  Everything was presented in such a way that it was enjoyable for all ages.

Kennedy Space Center

I think my favorite part of the entire complex was the Heroes and Legends Center.  This was more the “museum” part that I was expecting and it also included a 4-D presentation and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.  The presentations were really interesting and both my son and I learned so much.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

The Astronaut Hall of Fame was very eye opening, I know that NASA has been sending missions into space since way before I was even born but I never really thought about all the astronauts that worked these missions.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

Realistically, I could go on and on about our day, but aside from the few items above that I wish I had known, I was glad I didn’t know everything about what I could expect when we got there as it made the day that much more exciting and memorable.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

When planning your next trip to the Orlando area, I would definitely dedicate a full day to exploring all things space related at the Kennedy Space Center.

Kennedy Space Center

Disclosure:  Although tickets generously provided to us by the Kennedy Space Center, all comments, opinions and photos are strictly mine.

Recipes

The Easiest Black Bean Brownies Ever

I am not going to lie, even when I am being really careful about watching what I eat, I still love a little sweet treat every once in a while.  And when I can find a hack to make those treats just a little bit healthier I am all over it.  This super easy recipe for black bean brownies incorporates the sweetness and somewhat healthier version for me all in to one recipe.

Black Bean brownies done 2

And when I say easy, this recipe is EASY.  All you need is 3 ingredients – your favorite brownie mix, a can of black beans and a little bit of water.  That is it!  I have tried this recipe with a number of different brownie mixes and all have turned out delicious.

Blackbean brownies ingredients

The steps to a yummy batch of brownies are this easy:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash and rinse 2/3 cup of black beans.
  3. In a blender add the beans with 1/2 cup water and mix until completely smooth.  This step is very important if you have kids that will run away screaming if there is any sign of a bean in the brownies.  
  4. In a mixing bowl, add the bean mixture to the brownie mix and still until completely mixed.
  5. Pour mixture in to a 9×11 pan.  I used a silicon pan so there is no need for greasing ahead of time.  If you use a metal or glass pan, be sure to great well ahead of time.  I recommend an oblong pan as these brownies tend to have a fudgier consistency.  
  6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow the brownies to cool completely before serving.

Like I said, the easiest brownies you can ever make.  You’re kids will never know that there is anything even remotely healthy in them.  And you can enjoy without all those pangs of guilt.

Black Bean brownies done

 

 

Parenting/Life

15 Things You Should Give Up to Be a Happy Parent

By Carol Tuttle,  author of The Child Whisperer

You want to be a happy parent—but your countless responsibilities make this goal challenging! Don’t lose hope just yet. I have a list of 15 things that keep you from happy parenting. Read through them. Be honest with yourself. Then let them go. Allow yourself to be a happy parent for your child—and yourself!

Here’s a list of 15 things you should give up—and then watch your happiness take off:

1. Give up “supposed to”

We were conditioned by our own early family experiences to believe that parenthood or childhood are supposed to look a certain way. But if you hold onto the way things are “supposed” to be, you may miss enjoying how they actually are. Be willing to question what you prioritize as a parent and why.

2. Give up keeping score
What does your mental score-card keep track of: which parent does more? Who’s most consistent? Which mom contributes most in your child’s class? Who’s most involved in your homeschool group?

Keeping score wastes energy. Just do what you feel inspired and able to do. Don’t feel obligated by others’ contributions. Don’t obligate them to live up to yours.

3. Give up force
As a parent, you have a responsibility to set boundaries. But if a child consistently resists a certain boundary, don’t just force them to comply. Ask yourself and your child, “Why?”

Think of yourself as your child’s trusted and effective guide, not their dictator. When they experience you as their guide, they’re more likely to listen, which means less struggle and frustration for both of you.

4. Give up yelling
If you’re not a yeller, this one isn’t for you. But if you tend to yell when you’re feeling upset, consider this question: has yelling strengthened your relationship with your child—or not?

Yelling usually happens in anger, and it often frightens and intimidates children. It destroys trust and a child’s feeling of safety. Pay attention to times and circumstances when you yell and then commit to changing those scenarios in the future.

5. Give up your need to look perfect
Hear me now: there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Embrace your imperfections. Laugh at yourself. The best parents are willing to always learn, change, and improve.

6. Give up worry
Compulsive worrying doesn’t make your child any safer. It doesn’t make you any happier. And it teaches your children to live in fear. Release your worries, and cultivate gratitude for your child’s safety in the present moment.

7. Give up one-size-fits-all rules
Every child is unique. What works for one won’t always work for another. Certain standard rules apply across the board (for example, everyone needs to speak respectfully). But consider the possibility that being a fair parent doesn’t mean doing the exact same thing in the exact same way for every child.

8. Give up the food fight
If you demand a certain number of bites from your children, you set yourself up for struggle at the table—and you set your children up for struggles with food later in life.

Guide, direct, encourage, and prepare healthy food. Let your child voice their preferences. Focus on healthy overall patterns, rather than forcing a certain regimen at a specific meal.

9. Give up your role as events coordinator
If you feel like parenthood is a treadmill you can’t keep up with, you may be taking too much responsibility for your children’s time. Make plans that support your children’s development, but don’t map out every minute for them.

Downtime is supportive for many children. Moments of boredom allow children to take responsibility for their own time. Make resources available, and then let your children create the experience they want. You’ll all be happier.

10. Give up unhealthy self-sacrifice
As a parent, you generously give love, time, and attention. But you shouldn’t give up your core self just because you’re a parent. When you ignore your basic needs, you teach your children that when they grow up, they shouldn’t take care of themselves.

11. Give up guilt
Parents sometimes fall into the self-sacrifice trap because they feel unnecessary guilt. Guilt can be useful if you use it to recognize where you need to make changes. But overwhelming, paralyzing guilt that makes you feel worthless as a person or parent doesn’t accomplish anything. You are enough, just as you are.

12. Give up one-sided decisions
As the parent, you often have the final say. But you and your child will both be happier if it’s not the only say. When it’s appropriate to do so, involve your child in decisions that will affect them. By enrolling children in the decision-making process, you’ll empower them to make their own good decisions in the future.

13. Give up negative messages
So many messages are repeated to children: you’re too loud, you’re too quiet, you ask too many questions, you’re exhausting, you’re demanding, you’re too talkative, you should make more friends, quit moving, speak up, settle down, smile more.

Try this instead: comment on the exact same behavior in a positive way. For example, you can see the trait of, “You’re too talkative,” as “You really make friends easily.”

14. Give up your own childhood story
What did you experience that you most want your children to avoid? Being teased at school? Lack of money? Feeling not-enough? Your fears may actually set up that same pattern to be re-created. Don’t trap your children now in your fears of the past. Let them go. Create what you want, not what you don’t want.

15. Give up on giving up
I’ve heard from parents who worry that they’ve damaged their child, or that they’ve made a mistake that will last a lifetime. I’ve said this many times:

It’s never too late to be a better, happier parent.
Whether your children are 4 or 40, they respond to genuine love from their parents. The effects of mistakes may take a little longer to overcome if your child is older, but it’s never impossible to show up as the happy, supportive parent that you are meant to be. Don’t give up! You have everything you need to be a good parent.

Ok, deep breath. It’s time to let go of whatever keeps you stuck and let the happiness in!

Carol Tuttle is the CEO of Live Your Truth, LLC and author of the best-selling parenting book, The Child Whisperer: the Ultimate Handbook for Raising Happy, Successful, Cooperative Children, which has sold over 75,000 copies worldwide. She also hosts an immensely popular parenting podcast, that hits weekly on important parenting issues commonly experienced by families of all backgrounds. For more information, please visit, www.thechildwhisperer.com.