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."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Goodbye Goodnites!

My name is Lindsey and I'm the mother of a reformed bedwetter.  I hesitated to even post this online because the child who suffered with bedwetting is quite sensitive about it.  It didn't seem to matter how many times we tried to be reassuring or supportive. It didn't matter how many times we told him he wasn't the only one and that there's a significant family history of bedwetting.   Lately, it had become a BIG HUGE EMBARRASSING fact of life for the kid.

After endless purchases of pull ups and goodnites, conversations with the doctor, trying to wake at regular intervals,  limiting drinks before bed, and (mistakenly) just winging it, we discovered a (highly expensive) product that saved the day (so worth it!)

If you have an older bedwetter (remember my kids are 7&9... and in the interest of protecting the privacy of the one who dealt with this,  I'm not narrowing it down), give the Chummie Elite Bedwetting System a try.  We purchased ours on Amazon.ca, albeit somewhat leerily.

We started using it layered (underwear,  sensor,  good nite, pajamas.)  The first few nights were rough.  Waking up multiple times, having to change the underwear and clean the sensor with each awakening.  I'm not one for stripping a bed at 2 a.m. so that's why we opted for the extra goodnite layer.  I feel for mothers of newborns everywhere. 

Fast forward a few nights and he was down to the alarm going off once a night and dealing with it himself - the bedwetting diminishing from a full soak to just a dribble and many mornings waking up dry.  Another week went by and we waved adios to the goodnites. 

Then the true test: would he wake up to pee during the night, wake up dry, or flood the bed again without any system (AKA cyborg gear) or backup protection.  We made it a week without any incidents at all.  We had a dribble incident one night after that initial week, but he woke himself up before it was a mess. We've made it another two weeks without any accidents or minimal wakeups.  Success!

I'm raving about this product.  Pricey, yes.... but so worth it for a solution that worked effectively and gave him so much confidence, never mind the cost savings of the goodnites. (A box of 44 cost approx. $24.  We paid approx. $90 for our system.  I figure that's about 5.5 months of goodnites we would have paid for... and no extra bedtime expenses ever again!  In July we can call it even.)  I'm so happy to see him proud of himself and lose that embarrassment that seemed to hit him hard Every. Single. Bedtime. And. Every. Single.  Morning. 

I'm the mother of a reformed bedwetter... and I feel like I probably wouldn't be saying that for years if we hadn't given this system a try.  Goodbye goodnites.  We're glad to see you go! 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Incredibly Delicious Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

I found a fabulous deal on a bread machine via Amazon.ca just before Christmas and I've been using it sporadically for this and that.  Then Christmas and the various hosting opportunities arrived and I had no room for it in my kitchen so I placed it in the basement out of sight.   Last week, I decided to bring it up again and test some recipes.  Some were just "meh" (not horrible... but not delicious).   Others have been pretty darn good.  

These cinnamon rolls though... they go way beyond "pretty darn good" and right into "incredibly delicious."  I've been craving cinnamon rolls all week, but in my mind, they're a weekend treat.  This is probably because of the time factor involved.  I struggle enough to get three of us out the door with somewhat healthy lunches, a belly full, and hopefully teeth brushed.  If clothes match and we remembered our gloves, that's just a bonus.  Forget time to proof a batch of cinnamon rolls, bake them, and clean the sticky fingers after they've been devoured.

Yesterday, I did some quick online reconnaissance to find a bread machine recipe I could use for the dough portion.   I found this one from Food.com and this one from Happy Hooligans.  Then I decided to just do my own thing, leaning heavily on the first recipe, and was filled with shock and delight at the ooey-gooey perfection that sat upon our plates for a very short period of time this morning.  

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls:

Dough:

1 cup warm milk
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast 


Filling:

3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 - 1/2 cup brown sugar
4-5 tablespoons cinnamon


Glaze:

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/8-1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons milk


Add dough ingredients to bread machine in order listed (or check your user manual and see what order you should add them).  Before adding yeast, make a well in the dry ingredients, add yeast, and ensure it's not touching your wet ingredients.   Set bread machine to dough cycle and let it do it's thing. 

Once dough cycle is complete, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until you get a nice even rectangle.  Mine was about the size of my cutting board... but that doesn't really help, does it? Approximately 9"x12" give or take. 

For the filling, spread your butter evenly across the dough.   Sprinkle your brown sugar across the butter. Sprinkle your cinnamon across the brown sugar.   Add some nuts or raisins if you're into that kind of thing.  We gave them a pass this time around.  I already have one kid who refuses to eat these (I know... he's strange!) and the other would probably turn his nose up at them if he found an extra surprise.  Wait... why didn't I add extra ingredients?  I could have split the whole pan two ways!

Lightly grease a 9"x13" baking pan.   I used butter.  Once your dough has been topped, roll into a tight log - use the long side of your rectangle, people.  Pinch the seams to keep it all together.  Cut into 12 equal portions (they should be about an inch or so thick.)   There's a nifty dental floss trick for cutting these... but we only had mint flavour and opted to use a knife.   Place in your greased baking pan, leaving a bit of room between rolls for expansion.

Now.... here is where you can decide whether these babies are going to be popped in the oven right away, or saved for the morning.    Cover with plastic wrap.   If you want to bake them "now", let rise on the counter for another 45 minutes or so.   If you are saving them for morning, place them in the fridge for a slow rise overnight.  I'll be honest and I actually left them on the counter for a bit.... and then put them in the fridge.
In the morning, take your prepped rolls out of the fridge and set your oven to preheat to 375.   Bake for 20 minutes approximately - until golden brown.   Our oven took 24 minutes but it can be temperamental.  

Mix up your glaze while these are cooking.  Let your baked cinnmon rolls cool slightly - very slightly - and spread or drizzle with your cream cheese glaze.  Serve warm!  Straight from the pan.

I know it sounds like a lot of work.... but it really wasn't.  And did I mention they were incredibly delicious.  If your family doesn't mind a tasty carb binge and sugar overload, they'll shower you with affection.  You're welcome.


PS. I've heard you can freeze your prepped rolls.  Just let them defrost on the counter 10-12 hours to rise again after freezing.    Also, the glaze recipe makes a lot of glaze.  I only used half.... so you could reduce the recipe.  Or make another batch of cinnamon rolls later in the week.  






Friday, February 6, 2015

Smoothies and a Painting

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you just want to crawl in bed and stay there?  Monday was a snow day, and as much as I love my boys, I don't always care for thw noise they create.  By Tuesday afternoon, I had a full-on pillow over the head, turn off the lights migraine.  The Advil eventually dulled the pain and my family should love me.  I sucked it up and managed to create a yummy dinner (tex-mex stuffed peppers) without vomiting or passing out.  That's a win, isn't it?

By Wednesday morning I was feeling human and I made it through work and even had a productive day in the office yesterday.  (Oh, hey!  Guess what?  I have a new part-time admin job.... that works with our home life. Score!)  Despite feeling more human, the headache lurked... waiting to ambush me on my only free day (that would be today) - a day with a to-do list a mile long including some Wisdom and Whimsy deliveries.  (Sorry, Aidan!)

So a wise girl rearranges her life... and puts on her sweat pants,  swallows some more Advil, keeps the water glass filled, and takes it easy.  And if taking it easy means painting a sign base, so be it. (Sometimes I find creating without expectations to be The Best relaxant.)

And then my energy levels plummet and I think "Oh, maybe I should have just stayed curled up on the couch..."  and "It's such a gorgeous day, but I wish the sun wasn't so bright!" Ah well...

Now it's lunchtime. I have nil appetite and no wish to take more Advil. I hit the kitchen and hope a smoothie might revive me a little. (Actually,  I make a lot of smoothies and it's usually just to ensure I'm getting a healthy breakfast that's portable. Its just today's variety that we're hoping is a pick me up!)

This beauty may resemble the radioactive love child of a bowl of Cheetos crossed with a creamsicle.... but it's all goodness!   So what's inside? Carrot juice, frozen mango chunks, a banana, and some vanilla yogurt for protein. Maybe the yogurt wasn't the healthiest addition, but hey, at least it's not vanilla ice cream! 

Blended with my $10 Wal-Mart bargain individual Hamilton Beach blender and it's a delicious burst of sunshine in your mouth, creamy and refreshing.  Here's to kissing the remnants of this headache goodbye!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pre-Christmas Wrap-Up... we've survived and we're a little bit humbler.

We have survived the pre-Christmas chaos.  Other than forgetting to buy bacon for Christmas morning (how could I forget the bacon?!?), we are wrapped, ready, and feeling relieved!  I'm also waiting for Amazon in conjunction with CanadaPost to do their thing - one last little gift that slipped my mind and is headed to our doorstep (guaranteed delivery by 8 pm tomorrow - nothing like last minute.)

The boys are on Christmas break.  All my Wisdom & Whimsy orders have been picked up or delivered.  Toy and food drive contributions have been dropped off.  Outstanding clerical duties have been tied up (I hope!) We skipped one big family get-together to take advantage of a much-needed early night on Friday.  Saturday we visited with our in-town relatives on Kevin's side to exchange gifts with the kids and talk with the adults.  Sunday found us hosting my side of the family with so many smiles and giggles and yummy goodies (great turkey, Mom, and the potato soup... delicious if I do say so myself!)  I'm still finding bits of wrapping paper in the cushions.

Kevin & I don't do much for each other at Christmas.  I share my love, he shares his warmth.  This was a concession we made to economizing.... I miss my stocking, but I'm all grown up.  I can handle it.   The boys, however, like to pick out presents for both of us.  Usually I will take them shopping for Kev, and he will take them out for me.  He always makes it sound torturous... and I laugh til I'm blue in the face.  We're kind to each other like that.  He never seems to quite understand that I shop with them regularly... and there's a reason I try to do it while they are at school.

This year, we found ourselves short of time.  I still managed to take them shopping for Daddy... but it didn't quite happen in reverse.  So I took them shopping for me... and felt incredibly awkward.  They chose Shoppers Drug Mart and I tried to not peek.... and then in my effort to shop local and support small business as well, we went to a unique local shop called Coach House Studio.

Coach House Studio features artists and crafters, as well as some other home-and-gift type goods.  Most of it's up my alley... and they have customer service down to a fine art.  Seriously... that means so much to me. A smile. Friendly chit chat.  Assistance when you want it.  Space when you need it. And such an amazing variety of constantly changing goods.... I could browse all day.  The pricing is fair - you have a good range so you don't have to break the bank (although you most definitely could.)  An amazing selection of big & small ticket items for anyone who likes warm & cozy.  

Yesterday the clerk working took the time to help two little boys find mom a gift.  She suggested we walk through the store - jot down ideas or they could remember.... and afterwards, she helped the boys select an item or two, wrapped them before mom could pay, and still managed to keep us under budget.  The boys are THRILLED about their choices.... and I have to say I'm a little excited as well.  Not because I NEED anything... but their excitement was contagious.  I had to keep reminding J not to ruin the surprise... wrapping paper hit the ceiling when they got home and I think they used an entire roll of tape.  But, they were oh-so happy!

In our pre-Christmas chaos, we also had our annual trip to SickKids.  J had been putting together a box of toys and such to donate.  We picked up some small items from the bargain bins at Target.  Kevin & Kaleb hauled it in (while Justin & I ran to our appointment... we were close to being late).... only to find out that people are so incredibly generous SickKids was turning away donations.  I was a little disappointed for him... he seemed to be okay with donating them local though, so we added them to the Operation Scugog bin close to home.   We had good news during our appointment (better ranges than last year) and were told he's a relatively healthy kid.  (We knew that.)

On the way home, we encountered another giving/learning opportunity.   While approaching the on-ramp to the DVP, we saw a homeless man holding his cardboard sign.  My kids are sheltered.  We don't see a lot of social issues like this in our small rural community - yes, there are needs and we encourage generosity... but homelessness isn't as visible.   We didn't have any spare change or cash on hand... and in all honestly, we probably wouldn't have passed it on.  However, mom packed a snack bag for the trip to the hospital that we really didn't touch - granola bars, clementines, a couple of juice boxes.  Nothing exciting. Nothing big.  But sitting at that intersection waiting for the light to change, I at first dismissed the need... and then it hit me.  Why not?  We didn't need it... we were heading to a meal out. So we rolled down the window and passed him the snacks.  Nothing big.... but his gratitude.

Oh, his gratitude was humbling.... and it was an opportunity to discuss and teach... and maybe create just a little more caring in the future generation.   As we drove away I was teary eyed - it's so easy to think we have it bad... but there are so many who have it worse.  It's easy to sit in judgement.... but we never know the whole story.  The questions started... we gave simple, honest answers. We asked questions ourselves... and the boys, they learned.  We may have brought a brief moment of gratitude to a stranger.... but I think we all realised how fortunate we are... and how easy a small gesture can bring a smile.  Hopefully it's a lesson they remember... and the next time they see a need, they don't ignore it, but try to creatively be a blessing.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hurry, Scurry, Fret & Worry

This time of year it's so easy to get caught up in the need-tos... need to do this, need to go there, need to find that, etc.  A season that should be reflective of all the good and joy around us become one big anxiety-ridden to-do list.  The joy gets sucked out of everything and things become an obligation that we just can't wait to be over.  We stress about the bills.  We fret about the food. We worry about the shopping list. We scurry to get it all done.

But how much are we missing amongst the bustle? How many small moments and big treasures are unappreciated or undiscovered because we're stuck just trying to do it all.  How many times do we lose sight of the true gifts around us?

Today I read a devotional with an excerpt from Max Lucado's In The Manger and it hit close to home.  We're no different than millions of people for thousands of year.  Sometimes it's so easy to let everyday life get in the way of an extraordinary life - a life where the truly important things are anticipated and enjoyed.

This statement resonated with me - not just on the "religious" side of things... but also when I think of the other precious gifts around me - my family, my friends, time spent together, memories in the small moments:  "Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival—missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it simply because they weren’t looking."

So amidst my own hustle and bustle,  I'm going to make a conscious effort to not just hang on or coast through while scratching off items on my list.   I'm going to keep my eyes open and watch for the extraordinary among the ordinary and recognize those special gifts... and maybe take the time to smile instead of getting impatient with the overwhelmed cashier.  Give a hug to my kids when they least expect it.  Enjoy the fact we're all snuggled on the couch watching another episode of some superhero show instead of bemoaning all that I have yet to do.  There is so much to discover when you keep your eyes open.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Give generously... and without a grudging heart

Today, I was looking for a verse for a custom project someone requested.  While browsing some keywords, I stumbled across this Scripture - unrelated to the project - but it struck a chord with me nonetheless.

Deuteronomy 15:10&11
"Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.  
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land."

I have been seeing the Pay-It Forward and Random Acts of Kindness initiatives all over lately. They're amazing - really, truly are - but shouldn't giving and kindness be a part of our everyday life? Shouldn't we be teaching our children to look beyond their own little bubbles and reach out to those around them?   How many times do we pass the food bank collection box, say "no" to a charity, or think "I can't afford to...."  

We all have time (precious as it may be.)  We have strengths, gifts, and talents.  We have money - you can always eke out something.   Yes, it's easy - especially this time of year to either A) support a cause because it's expected.... or B) ignore extraneous giving because things are tight.  I want to encourage you to make giving and kindness a part of your lifestyle though - to remember that no matter how bad you think you have it, there is someone out there who is suffering worse.  

See pantry basics at a fantastic price?  Pick up a few extra and toss them in the food drive box even when it's not a major holiday.   Have extra toys lying around (we always get a duplicate of something) from a birthday?  Pass it along to a toy drive, hospital, or family in need.  Use some reward miles to redeem for a gift card that can be used by a family in your church.  Buy a coffee for the person who looks extremely stressed out in the line behind you at Tim Hortons.  Call up a nursing home and see if they have visiting hours.  Donate books to your local school or library.  Spend an hour cleaning kennels at your local humane society.  Find out if your local NICU accepts knit hats and blankets.  Donate socks and soap to a homeless shelter.   One of our favourites:  pick a name off a holiday tree (usually in a local store.) Everyone chooses a gift for the selected name.

Elderly neighbour house bound?  Go for a visit and bring some home baked goodies.   Young mom feeling overwhelmed?  Offer to babysit so she can go to the salon or get some groceries.  Friend who doesn't have a license?  Make a date to hit the mall so they can get some holiday shopping done.

Think outside the box when it comes to helping others in your family, your circle of acquaintances, your community.   Giving doesn't have to be big to be generous - it just has to be heartfelt and done happily.  Giving can be time. Giving can be action.  Giving can be financial.   Remember... it's more blessed to give than to receive.  Make it an everyday thing!

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!