Words To Live By:

"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you finish the work."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nativity Family Ornaments: Kid-crafted

Today was a lazy day.  As in we sat around in our pajamas, ignored the to-do list, and just spent enjoyed some down time together.  Some of us (read: those over the age of 18) had a sleep in, ate a yummy breakfast (bacon, eggs, and fresh biscuits), slowly did some chores, and just didn't worry about the rest.  My dishes are done.  A few loads of laundry made it through. Following on yesterday's theme, just decided to "be".  We've all been out-of-sorts and a little stressed out and I think some days relaxation is just what the doctor ordered.

Kevin & the boys popped by a vendor event at our church last weekend.  A friend of mine was there with her son who had his own table at the event selling Perler bead ornaments beside me.  Kaleb came home with a head full of ideas about how he can make things and sell them at my table with me.  The crafter and entrepreneur in me jumped up and down inside with excitement.  The slightly more neurotic realist wondered how we would actually carry this out without 1) either of us tearing our our hair and 2) coming up with ideas that he could manage with limited supervision.  I figure if he's selling his product, he should be spending at least equal time putting it together.

We browsed Google and Pinterest all week to come up with some reasonable ideas.  We hit Michales to pick up supplies.  We (he) learned that sometimes it's easy to get so excited about a project that the whole of it becomes overwhelming. ("Mom, I need to just think about one thing at a time.  My head hurts because there are so many ideas in there.") So today we took some time between video games, movies, and an AMAZING game of Simpsons Clue to put together his first batch of creations.

Behold, Kaleb and his Nativity Family Ornaments:

Yeah, he's pretty cute!  He was so proud of himself for using the drill to put holes in all his stars.  Justin got in on the action using "wire cutters" to trim our wire to length.  Kaleb added the wires to the stars and twisted together. Mom manned the hot glue gun... but then he stuck the pieces together.  This basket full of goodies is his end result.  He's planning on coming to my next show with me and selling these ornaments.  We're still working on the whole process of understanding that he has to pay for the supplies out of his sales.  Overall though, one proud mama here... love this kid!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Making Memories

It's been FOREVER since I've last blogged (with the exception of the random posts that are always rumbling in my head.)  It's not that I don't mean well... it's just that I'm a bit of a procrastinator.  My later never quite seems to show up and then flies by entirely.   I think this is just a side effect of too many balls in the air as well - something gets missed, no?

In spite of the busy-ness (wait!  Is that right? Or is it bus-i-ness? Let's just call it chaos), I think it's important to spend time with a family - to balance, regroup, and remember that the little things are important.  We don't always have to be go, go, go... and in all honestly, the days go by so fast, we need to "be" together before it's too late and they're off having little ones of their own (yikes!)

With this in mind, and my whole scheme to shop local, support small business, etc. with the holidays approaching, I'm still guilty of shopping from some of the big box stores and internet retailers, because let's face it, money talks and we're all on a budget.   I like to mix it up - for little girls, I think it's a bit easier to go the whole handmade, shop local gamut... Frozen princess tutu anyone?  With little boys who aren't so little anymore, I find it's a bit harder.  So I'm the mom... and the aunt... that I'm sure the kids dread getting presents from because I want to build the brain (books and puzzles), encourage togetherness (board games or family passes) and spark creativity (Lego and craft kits).  

That's where family game nights and the geniuses at Hasbro capture my attention.  I'm also a fan of the 4-gift Christmas (something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read) but we'll be shaking it up a little because most often the need and wear categories are the same and that didn't fly so well last Christmas.  This year I'm using this version as my guideline rule: Something you want, something to read, something to share, something you need...

I've already been sale watching and picked up some classics for our family to play. Battleship and Twister are our latest acquisitions and we may have picked up two extra boxes to give to certain other little boys on our gift list.   My boys love Sorry & Trouble when they're at Oma's so Santa picked up that on sale as well.   Battleship battles with Daddy become intense.  I'm surprised that no one leaves the table wounded... but it's also full of laughter and light-hearted accusations of cheating because they usually trounce Daddy's butt!  Simon also made it to our wish list this year... and today, we had a fun surprise waiting in the mailbox.

I signed up for Influenster a few months back - it's a product for review social media based experience.  If you qualify for a campaign, you get to try something out (VoxBox) and blast your friends and followers online with all the deets.  Here is where our surprise comes in.  We qualified for the Influenster Hasbro Gaming VoxBox.... which is right up our alley, all things considered.  

J has been home "sick" with me today.... so he's been hanging around while I've had to run some essential errands (doctor's appointments, etc.)   We even managed to pop by the post office where our very first VoxBox was waiting!  We took it home and he opened it with enthusiasm - they love mail because it's still exciting and doesn't contain any bills yet. Ha!

And what was in the box, you ask?  Our very own Monopoly Junior to play and enjoy.   I just spent 30 minutes with the youngest playing a highly competitive game (he owned more than half the board and bankrupt me with enthusiasm!)  We may have to work on good sportsmanship.... It was a half hour that could have been spent replying to client emails, putting away laundry, vacuuming my floors... but you know what?  It was a half hour that I can't put a price on... because for 30 minutes he forgot about his headache, he laughed, we made memories, and we were together. Quality. Family. Time.

Don't let life overwhelm you.  Take time for what's important.  Also, don't let gift giving overwhelm you.  Gift giving is about more than the price tag.  Supporting all the local entrepreneurs isn't always practical.  So I say do what you can - shop local when it's feasible.  But also, do what you have to.... and just remember that giving the gift of fun, togetherness, and making memories is worth more than you can imagine!  The classics are classics for a reason.

Monday, July 28, 2014


So, uh, has anyone else noticed I haven't posted anything in 5 months?  Funny how things slip to the side....

Today we are midway through our summer break and enjoying 12 degree weather.  I'm wearing pants and a hoodie and not bemoaning the lack of air conditioning at all.  (On those 30 plus days, you could live in another province and hear me bemoaning profusely as I melt into a puddle on the floor.)   In between scrubbing toilets, painting signs, and folding laundry, I've been cuddling up on the couch with a blanket and some sweetheart cowboys.   I've also been half-heartedly planning a grocery list and maybe giving dinner some thought.

Thoughts of food make me think of the garden.... and without the sweltering sun, it's actually pleasant to go out and putter.  I love seeing the results of my early labour.  I love being able to grab what I need with a quick pop outside the door.  Am I crazy about pulling thistles or finding a big fat spider in my sink after washing the romaine?  Not a chance... but the smell of dirt and fresh basil rank right up there with a good book and a great cup of tea on the list of simple pleasures that soothe my soul. 

When it comes to my flower beds and planters, I'm hopeless.  They look fantastic with the first bloom of spring, but about this time of year, they're weedy, scraggly, and overgrown.   My herbs and veggies though?  While maybe not so pretty, the consumable garden always gives me a sense of satisfaction.  

This is the first year I've put in a veggie garden here and I'm having mixed luck.  My lettuce, chard, tomatoes, beans and zucchini are thriving.   My broccoli, cucumber, peppers, and cantaloupe are putting up a fight.   I started my seeds way back when and they all died.  I didn't get to the local greenhouse until late in the season.  My repurposed rose bed has a ton more weeds than my old garden boxes.  The bugs are having a field day with some of my plants.

For me, gardening is an exercise in patience and some days leaves me feeling that no matter the quality or quantity of labour invested, it's all a matter of luck.  Strangely enough, I don't find it frustrating... because many days there has been something homegrown on the table, because next year is another chance to try again, and maybe I'll even convince the kids that, yes, lettuce from the grocery store was grown in the dirt and no, fresh-from-the-ground isn't poisoning you. I'm already playing with a bigger layout in my head for the future... while the perfect zucchini sitting on the counter does indeed leave me feeling satisfied.

Friday, February 28, 2014

No Soup For You

With Old Man Winter stubbornly holding us in his bitter grip, we've been eating a lot of warm-me up meals... stews, soups, and the like.  Especially soups.  My boys DETEST potatoes not cooked in a french fry form - we eat a lot of oven fries.  In spite of this aversion, they will eat a bowl of creamy potato soup (we call it vegetable soup) and ask for seconds.  This is big stuff in the battle of the mealtime, although Kaleb might be cluing in - the last time I made it did not go over nearly as well..  (NOTE:  The following sentence may kill your appetite.  Kaleb has actually vomited his mashed potatoes on the dinner table - I think it's a texture thing - definitely disgusting.)  Growing up, soup was always Chicken Noodle or Dutch Meatball.  Both delicious, but well, predictable.  My mom would, on occasion, make a batch of split pea... blech, no thanks!

A friend from In R Dream posted a photo on instagram the other day of a coconut squash soup she made, recipe from The Naked Label.  I couldn't find the exact recipe (most likely because I don't own the Get Naked In The Kitchen cookbook.)  I have, however, made butternut squash soup in the past.  And the craving for a yummy creamy soup just would not go away.  I picked up my squash at the grocery store yesterday and now have this just-for-me soup simmering on the stove.  My house smells delicious.  My stomach will not stop growling. I might share a bowl with Kevin if he's nice.

If you're anything like me soup and stew recipes change every time you make them.  Use what you have on hand, cross your fingers & hope for the best.  Here is my recipe for Curry Coconut Squash soup, the way I made it this time around. 

Curry Coconut Squash Soup

1 tbsp. butter
1 onion
2 jalapeños
1 large butternut squash
3-4 tbsp curry spices (to taste)
1 tbsp. cinnamon honey butter (or honey, and cinnamon)
1/3 cup - 1/2 cup apple juice
4 cups chicken broth (reduce for a thicker soup)
1 can coconut milk

Chop up that onion and those jalapeños while melting your butter (or oil) in a soup pot.  Sauté until tender, sprinkle with curry spices (I used Epicure Mango Curry Dip).   Peel & seed your squash, cut into cubes.  Add apple sauce to pan and scrape up any bits from the bottom.  Add your remaining ingredients.  I would like to point out that most recipes use honey...not honey butter... I'm aware of this, I just grabbed the wrong jar and it was too late to go back.  It works.    Stir everything together and bring to a boil.  Reduce hit, cover, and simmer on low 25 minutes or so - until your butternut squash is tender.  Your broth itself will taste delicious at this point... if it doesn't, add your favourite seasoning.  If you want to bring this soup all together, you'll need to purée in small batches with a blender or food processor.  Be careful, heat tends to make the lid blow off your blender.  Big mess.  I speak from experience.  If you find your soup too thick, add more liquid - milk, cream, chicken broth.  Once puréed to desired texture & consistency, dish up and enjoy!  This will warm you from the inside and leave Old Man Winter out in the cold.  If you're feeling selfish, keep it that pot to yourself and repeat the Seinfeld line with conviction:  "No Soup For You."

EDIT:  After I pureed this beautiful, delicious soup, I found it slightly runny.  I didn't use a very large squash and probably added wee bit too much broth.  It's still tasty though!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cookies for Breakfast

Today I almost achieved that most enviable of all titles:  "Best Mom in the World."  It was sitting there, just out of reach.  Tempting.  Teasing.  Whispering my name.  Alas, as fate is such a fickle creature, my hopes of laying claim to it were dashed with one quick yell across the house:  "I told you to brush your teeth!  Get going."  I fell off the precipice to wallow with the mortal mothers, resounding choruses of "You're so mean!" echoing in my ears.  Such is life.

I fed my kids cookies for breakfast.  Chewy, yummy, peanut buttery cookies.  With chocolate.  Justin was so excited he insisted he was going to tell his classmates.   Kaleb just didn't want to stop eating.

Now, before you judge me, know that these cookies weren't just any old unhealthy treat.  Besides the chocolate chips, these babies didn't have extra refined sugar, oil, or flour added to them.  It was like eating a glorified bowl of oatmeal and were healthier than most cereals to be typically found in our cupboard.

I just threw them together...I've listed the recipe of sorts below.  It wasn't exact.  A little this, a little that.  You can tweak until it suits your tastes.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies

2 cups large flake oatmeal
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 mashed bananas (bah. nah. nah... you have to see Despicable Me 2)
drizzle maple syrup
1 egg
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.  Mix all ingredients with a fork.  With your hand. Use whatever works.  Drop by spoonful onto baking sheet (I use a baking stone.) Bake approx. 15 mins. 

They're not a decadent melt in your mouth dessert cookie. They're not even pretty to look at... but for a quick breakfast cookie or healthy snack to win you brownie points, they do the trick.  You might just earn the moniker "Best Mom in the World."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fizzles, Fist Fights, & Free Time

Last night I must have known that today would start with a fizzle.  After the post-dinner catastophic clean up, I actually started prepping the monkeys' lunches.  Even with our early start school (thumbs down!), I tend to toss their lunches together in the morning.  We have our rhythm and usually, our get-out-the-door routine progress as planned.

Not so much today.  My alarm turned itself off.  Seriously!   It's not like I forgot to set it before bed.  I would never do that.  I did wake up to my internal alarm, but the morning was a fog of ineptness.   And the kids would not stop fighting over who got to wear which shirt... you know, those pink ones we're wearing to stand against bullying?  (My guys may very well have gone to school sporting blood stains due to the fists that we're being thrown.  It seems we entirely missed the point of Pink Shirt Day.)

We finally got our, uh, "stuff" together and made it to school just before the bell.  And now I'm feeling a little lost.  It's just 9 a.m. and I'm sitting at home enjoying some me time.  Unexpected, unscheduled me time.

I was bribed for it.  I spend a lot of time at the school these days.  Yesterday I  manned the breakfast program on my own (hello, dishes!) in exchange for this morning and tomorrow morning to myself.

What's a girl to do?  Run the dishwasher before noon.  Check. Fasting lab work...that was months overdue.  Check.  Grab some Timmies.  Check.  Now I sit here feeling guilty about my lack of productivity.  But you know what?  I earned a couple free hours and I think Ill just enjoy it!  (Especially after the gong show that started this day.)  Soon enough I'll be surrounded by the chaos of three grade 1 &2 classes "enjoying" another indoor recess.   So here's to a good book, warm drink, and absolute silence while I can.   If only the snow were melting,  it might just be perfect!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Almost a grown up...

There are days when I'm dumbstruck at how grown up my oldest monkey has become.  I look at him with wonder and awe intermingled with a little bit of sadness remembering when he used to need me for things - almost everything in fact.  He's eight years old.  Almost a grown up, according to him.  Halfway to a driver's license to put it in perspective. He hasn't needed my help with dressing, brushing his teeth, or getting his things gathered for school for quite some time.  He can get his own snacks, feed the dog, load & unload the dishwasher, and find a quiet spot to read all on his own.  He helps with chores, plays creatively, and has astounding logic that you can't argue with at all.  He's almost a grown up...

I've noticed his independence developing with little things - increased modesty, bathing on his own (even the shampoo!), not acknowledging me at school, even in how he interacts with Justin.  He wants hugs before bed, but he doesn't want to be tucked in.  "I'll tuck myself in, Mommy." I know this is all par for the course as a parent.  I know our kids do get older, and change, and become their own person.  But in all honesty, there are days when I feel like it's taken me by surprise.  The kid knows how to Google and use YouTube, for Pete's sake! (I shudder at this and want to put super filters and kid-safe software on the computer.)  He's almost a grown up...

This morning I woke up at my regular time and began our regular routine.  I passed him in the dark hallway and stated our regular dialogue.  "Time to get dressed.  What do you want for breakfast?"  To which he replied, "I am dressed, Mommy.  I already ate and now I'm going to brush my teeth."   What???? I hadn't even showered yet and he got himself breakfast?!  He then proceeded through the rest of his morning to-do list with plenty of time to spare and no nagging on my part.  Sweet.  He's almost a grown up...

I volunteered in his class today.  He makes me proud.  He doesn't interrupt.  He listens intently.  He asks questions when he isn't sure about something.  He's helpful with his classmates.  He's respectful and kind.  I left as the class was getting ready for morning recess.  I told him I'd be back at lunch and he could come say "hi" on the yard.  His response:  "Maybe.  I have other things to do at lunch."  Okay then.  He's almost a grown up...

I look at the smile that lights up his face when he gets off the bus in the afternoon.  I observe his pride when he finally gets that difficult homework problem we've been tackling.  I see him save his money and weigh his choices when it comes to spending it.  I watch, bemused, as he sets about his chores and gives just the slightest bit of attitude and a rolling of the eyes.  I glimpse the young man he's becoming, no longer my baby or little boy.  A child that isn't so childish.  He's almost a grown up...

I still get my hugs from this almost-a-grown-up at the end of each day.  More than one, in fact (he likes to procrastinate at bedtime.)  I hope that no matter how independent he becomes, how much he changes, how much he grows, he'll always know that I'm proud of him, that I love him unconditionally, that his hugs mean the world to me.  I hope he remembers that no matter how far he goes, no matter what he does or who he becomes, there will always be a place in my heart where he'll still be my baby.  He's almost a grown up... but I think deep down, in the face of the person he is growing into, I'll always see a shadow of the little boy he's been.