Book Review: Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It – JoAnn Deak

I happened upon this book and I walked through one of the American Museum of Natural History’s shops (they have several) and was immediately captivated. I am a big fan of explaining neuroplasticity and brain science to kids. An author, neurologist, and educator, Dr. Julia Willis, in one particularly fascinating article have stated:

I found that when students know about how their brains learn they are motivated to take action. Especially when students feel they are ‘not smart’ and nothing they do can change that, the realization that they can change their brains through study and review strategies is empowering. Children, as well as many adults, think that intelligence is determined at or before birth and no amount of effort will change their academic success.

It just isn’t so. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I hold little belief in inherent talent or intelligence. Carol Dweck’s research demonstrates that praising children for “inherent ability” as opposed to effort or hard work is not a good way to instill self-esteem, self-efficacy, or motivation in children.

JoAnn Deak’s book is a great tool if you are interested in explaining brain science to your child. I don’t know why you wouldn’t, quite frankly. Deak’s correct point that even when you don’t succeed at a task, your brain is learning better and better every time how to achieve it. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes practice. Your brain isn’t designed to know how to do anything perfectly the first time, and that’s okay!

Coconut Tapioca Pancakes

Pancakes are a huge thing at our house. I make them all the time, constantly trying different variations rather than good ’ole reliable. Recently my son has had to switch to being gluten-free (like me). Bless his heart, he is doing good with the changes & taking it all in stride.

Gluten-Free Flours can be tricky, my favorite is almond flour. However, I am learning to incorporate different combinations of Gluten-Free flours for various baked goods. (which should be no problem because I LOVE to bake!)

Deliciously Delectable & Gluten-Free!

This recipe is a combination of Coconut & Tapioca Flour. Truthfully, I just wanted to test out the Tapioca 🙂

Coconut Flour soaks up whatever liquid you add to it. In most recipes, you find a call for a high # of eggs. You need the egg to work as a binder, so save a little on calories here I used more ew’s than whole eggs, but you could easily use this with 4 whole eggs.

Mommy’s Panny Cakes as my son calls ‘em:

  • 3 egg whites + 1 yoke
  • 1 cup organic milk – (Lt Soy, Almond, etc)
  • 2 tsp. GF Vanilla Xtract
  • 1 tbsp. Truvia
  • 1/4 c. coconut flour
  • 1/4 c. tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • coconut oil or Earth Bal. butter for frying


Separate your eggs & whip the Egg – Whites until light & Fluffy + good pinch of Cream of Tartar.
In another bowl, combine your dry ingredients & sift together (C/T Flour, Truvia, baking soda, salt)
Preheat your griddle (or pan) to medium heat & add your Milk, Vanilla to your dry mixture
Combine both the wet & dry ingredients
Grease your pan with oil/coconut oil/butter & measure out pancakes about 3-4 in. in diameter.
Flip just past went the bubbles appear. These tended to be a little mushy on the inside, so cook PAST what you think for regular pancakes.

Serve with Butter, REAL Maple Syrup.

*Stay tuned,….I can’t wait to make ALMOND Flour Pancakes next

Easy Peasy Chili & Gluten-Free Cornbread

Okay, quick confession- I’m not good at “girl stuff”. This includes cooking, cleaning, decorating, etc. So, when my blogging friends decided we should have a Chili Party, I hesitated. But, I have a best friend who is a great cook and so I asked her for her chili recipe (which I love) and she obliged!!

The plan is for everyone to try these recipes and then come back and vote on their favorite. I know I can’t wait to try all of these- they look SO good!!


  • 5 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained. Season meat with 1 TBL. Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic, 1 TBL. Tastefully Simple Onion Onion, and 2-3 TBL. Tastefully Simple Wahoo Chili powder
  • 2 cans 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans 15 oz. black beans
  • 2 cans 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 can 11 oz. Mexican-style corn
  • 2 cans 15.5 oz. mild chili beans

Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. That’s it! Heck, even I could make this!

Cornbread (adapted from the Quaker Corn Meal container recipe)

  • 1 1/4 cups Pillsbury Best gluten-free flour blend
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. skim milk
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 egg whites or 1 egg beaten

Heat over to 400 degrees. Grease 8 or 9-inch pan. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil, and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Lightly cover with sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Drizzle butter over the top. Serve warm. 9 servings.

5 Benefits of Baby Swim Lessons

I first went to a baby swim lesson to watch my friend’s son and I immediately fell in love! I was so impressed with all the babies in the pool and with the instructors working with them.
Needless to say, I enrolled my junior in swim lessons when he was 8 weeks old (some swim schools will take babies as soon as their umbilical cord falls off!)

I was a little nervous about my son’s first lesson, but he took to the water naturally. Other than the occasional bad mood, he seems to really enjoy swim lessons.

Many advocates for baby swim lessons promote the benefits of introducing your child to swimming at an early age so that they are not afraid of the water later on. There have been so many parents at the swim school who see junior and tell me that they wish they would have started their tot sooner!

Here are 5 benefits of baby swim lessons, some of which I have noticed already:

It’s Natural

After spending nine months in the womb, babies are comfortable getting back in the water. They are reminded of their cozy surroundings in utero.


A case-controlled study conducted by Ruth Brenner and her colleagues discovered that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged one to four years.
As a part of the swimming curriculum at WaterSafe Swim School, which is where I take junior, they have “survival” tests. As a part of these tests, the instructor will throw the child in the pool, fully clothed. The child’s objective is to roll to his back and reach the wall. This may sound really terrifying (because it kind of is), but there are 18-month-old babies who are able to pass the survival tests. It is quite amazing!


Swimming with your baby can deepen your emotional bond with him or her since the water-resistance stimulates tactile receptors. Additionally, touch for a baby provides him or her with emotional nourishment and a feeling of connection.

Low-Stress Levels

Infant swim lessons are also very soothing so there is less stress. Although no studies have been done, many parents report that their children cry less and are more relaxed after swim lessons.
I can say that junior is very relaxed in the water, he even sleeps better after swim lessons!

Boosts Development

Researchers have reported that infant/toddler swimming lessons can and will increase physical, emotional, and social growth.
Also, cognitive development is increased due to the greater amount of stimulation uniquely offered through swim lessons. According to a study conducted at Griffith University, infants and toddlers who are in swim lessons routinely reach developmental milestones at younger ages and with greater proficiency than the national averages anticipate.
Overall, I have really enjoyed watching my son thrive in the pool and would recommend baby swim lessons to anyone!