Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Free Flying

I love kites.
So does Maddie.
A perfect day. Wind. Blue skies. Freedom.
Doesn't get much better than this.

A Bit Behind

I guess I wore myself out with the daily posts last week. Nieces A & G came for a sleepover on Saturday. Literally seconds before their mom and dad were about to drive away, Maddie upchucked all over the kitchen. Much to Maddie's chagrin, the sleepover was canceled and A & G were sent home with their parents.

Sunday, we were 3 for 5, sick with the stomach flu. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Needless to say, the housework has been pushed aside and we haven't had school since last week. Somehow, that didn't seem as important as lying on the couch and munching crackers.

We're on the mend and feeling MUCH better now. Just don't expect too much!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Go Green Tip #5

The fifth and final Go Green Tip!

5) Yard sales! You've got all sorts of greenery going on here - you save money, reuse items so less factory gunk, cheap entertainment, build relationships with vendors, hone your bargaining skills and plus it's just plain ol' fun! If you hold your own, you will also be able to clear out clutter from your home and make a little extra cash.

Here's an example: Buying a new snowsuit will cost you over $50 (for kids). At a yard sale, you could easily save 90% of that!

Of course, it takes more time than going to Walmart, and there are no guarantees. However, what were you going to do on Saturday morning anyway? Watch SpongeBob? I rest my case.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Go Green Tip #4

We all know the old tip about turning the tap off when we brush our teeth. It saves gallons of water! I noticed a while back that whenever we get a glass of water, we always run the water for what seems like forever just to get the water cold. I'd probably die of shame if I calculated how much water was wasted just from this habit alone. So, on to...

Go Green Tip #3 - Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge. Always cold, always handy! It'll save you water, it will save you time and best of all, it will serve as a reminder to drink those 8 glasses per day.

Another water saving tip - don't shower or bathe. Ever. LOL, just kidding. Please practice good hygiene :)

Happy Day After Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Romanian Cooking Class

Romanian Cooking Class last night! We made Mamaglia (type of cornbread), meatball soup and cabbage rolls.
Here's the cabbage roll mixture. There's all sort of good stuff in there: ground pork, bacon (not super Kosher, I guess), rice, parsley, pepper, oil, etc). We made little balls with the meat mixture and wrapped them up in sour cabbage leaves. And, please, no comments on my hand! I know, it looks a bit freaky there...
Richard was the official photo taker last night. He was getting frustrated that the lighting was crappy. That is, until he realized that he kept sticking his finger over the flash bulb. :) That's moi in the red sweater with the shadowed head.
Meatball soup! Very yummy, even the next day. The kids even ate it!
Mamaglia and cabbage rolls. There's a certain je ne sais quoi to the cabbage rolls. There's just a hint of sour/pickle-y/spicy taste in the background. A bit of horseradish was just the ticket with this meal. Yummers!

Earth Day Crayons

Here's a fun activity you can do with any age.

Go through that box of old crayons and pick out all the blue and green stubs. Have your preschooler separate them to sharpen their comparison skills. Cut up the longer crayon pieces so that they are about lima bean size.

Put some paper muffin cups into muffin tins. We used little ones because we didn't have many crayon bits. Fill the paper liners with the crayon stubs. Make sure you put the green ones in first so that you can make some realistic looking continents.

Bake in the oven at about 300 degrees F for as long as it takes to dress a 3 year old, brush your teeth and fill a sippee cup. In laymen's terms, about 5-10 minutes. Don't over bake them! They need to melt completely, but not get soupy. If they get soupy, the colours won't stay separate. Let them cool completely, and peel the liner off.

And there you have it...little baby Earths!

Happy Earth Day!

Go Green Tip #3

#3 - Baking soday and vinegar! With little kids around, I try to avoid chemicals when I'm cleaning. The smell of strong cleaning solutions gives me a headache, so I assume it has the same effect on them. My kids also love to taste things they shouldn't, so I try to avoid poisons if I can. Enter - sodium bicarbonate!

Baking soda is not just for cooking. It's a bit of an abrasive, so it works wonderfully in your sinks, in the bathtub (gets rid of that bath ring quick and easy) and on your stove top to get all that cooked-on stuff scrubbed off. I also like to spoon some into my kitchen drain (2-3 Tbsps) and chase it with a swig of vinegar. It will bubble and fizz and before you know it, you have clear, sweet smelling pipes! Okay, the smell is akin to pickles for a bit, but that's better than sour milk and old food. It's not harmful to the environment, or your health and it deodorizes like nobody's business! A cup of it in stinky places helps with odours, too.

As for vinegar, try mixing a half-and-half solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Use it to clean your windows, your hardwood floors or even as a mild all purpose cleaner. Again, the pickle smell is a bit of a turn off, but open some windows and the problem is solved!

Happy cleaning!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Go Green Tip #2

Before I post my Go Green Tip, I just wanted to clarify something. I KNOW that my tips probably won't save the world, at least, not in one day. I wanted to post tips that were easy, quick and required little effort. As a mom, I'm tired of reading about all the big things that I should be doing but are either too expensive, difficult or unrealistic when your entire day is already spent wiping noses, putting kids to bed and breaking up fights. Example: Get a Hybrid car. Um, yeah. As great as that would be for the earth, I'm already picking nickels out of the floor mats in the van to pay for Timbits at the drivethrough. So, here's the Mom-friendly Go Green Tip of the Day!

#2 - Cereal boxes! When you're done with them (or any food boxes that come with the snacks in a waxed paper bag), keep the boxes! Shake any crumbs from the waxed paper bag and take the bag apart at the seams. Fold that up and stick it somewhere. Ta-da! Free wax paper! The cardboard box can be kept and used to wrap presents or make crafts. If someone breaks a plate or glass, you can put the glass shards into the cardboard box and put it safely in the garbage after taping it shut. No more bloody gashes on your legs from the glass slicing through the garbage bag! Yay!

My favourite are the pizza boxes. Most of them have a perfect round of cardboard inside. Those cardboard rounds make great masks once you decorate them and cut out eye-holes. You can make all kinds of kid stuff with them - practice clocks, steering wheels, frisbees, etc. You can also line them with foil and you then have a cake plate that you won't mind if it gets left at a pot-luck or at someone's house.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

In order to properly celebrate Earth Day (this Wednesday, the 22nd of April), I've decided that I'll be posting one green tip per day for the entire week. Normally, I'm not a "Go Green" type of person. I am conscious of what I do and don't do to help the environment, but I'm not to such an extreme that I'm making jewelry out of pop can tabs. I also can't stand when I look up green tips that are, in my opinion, so inconvenient that they are almost impossible to do with a cheerful countenance. And, I do like to have a cheerful countenance. You can tell because of all the smiley faces I use. :) See? :)

For example, I can't realistically replace all my windows to conserve heat. It's way too expensive, and plus, what would I do with my old windows? Put them in the dump? A semi-realistic goal is eating local. Since our area has a rather short growing season, I have to compromise and shop for non-local in order to keep my family healthy during the winter months. However, here's my first tip:

1) Keep a garden. If you have space, make it a big one. You can eat from it in the summer and freeze/can any leftovers. If you don't have much space, try using pots or hanging planters. Those will fit even on a balcony or windowsill. Not only is it organic (provided you use non-treated seeds and no chemicals), it's fresh and healthy! On the green side, it doesn't need to be transported so there are no fuels used or gases emitted from being trucked in from elsewhere.

Tip #2 coming tomorrow!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rabbit Stew, Num Num?

I tried my hand at Rabbit Stew today. It went well - I didn't get grossed out by the dark meat. I cut up some onions and tossed them in. I cried like a baby...stupid onions. In went the celery and the carrots. It smelled pretty delicious and if you didn't think too hard about what it actually was, then it could have been any kind of stew.

Luckily, the kids and I had been to the library this morning. They borrowed The Fox and the Hound and watched it this afternoon. They've been playing "foxes" for hours and so when it came time to serve up supper, I just told them it was fox food. Foxes eat rabbits, right? They fell for it!

On my end, I think the rabbit tasted just like roast beef. The flavour was pretty good, but after a couple bites I made the mistake of taking a closer look at the dish. Ugh, shouldn't have used flour to thicken the gravy. It had a sort of cloudy, congealed look to it...the only word that comes to mind is viscous. Like the inside of an eyeball.

And then, I bit down on a sliver of bone. And another. And again...by this time I was wondering how the poor rabbit died. Bludgeoned? If any of you know me well, grit does not go over well with me. My stomache revolted and my throat closed down. I'll try again some other time with a different recipe.

I've eaten all sorts of weird stuff (scorpion anyone? No? Mealworm? How 'bout placenta?). But, man, the viscousness of it all...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Me & Dr. Michel Odent, BFF and Evah!

I am beyond excited. I am happy-dancin', girly-gigglin', too excited for words! I sent Dr. Michel Odent an e-mail yesterday and HE REPLIED!! How cool is that?? I think we're best friends now (okay, that's an exageration. Slightly). Not the news I wanted, but it's alright. He wrote to me! Me!

This is almost as awesome as when I wrote to Prince William in the 7th grade and confessed my undying love to him. His mother's maidservant wrote me back on embossed paper and politely told me not to bother him again. The stationary smelled so good...royal if that makes any sense...mmmmm....

I'm so pumped I think I'll do 6 loads of laundry today. Seven!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Study on Peanuts

Here's an interesting link regarding peanut introduction and allergies:

Food Allergy Advice May Be Peanuts

When Maddie was born, they told us not to let her have peanuts until she was at least 2 years old. We were pretty careful with that, and nary a peanut entered her mouth (though one did get shoved up her nostril...). Recently, the age limit had been boosted up to 3 years. With Eva, we probably made it to about 1 year because Maddie kept sneaking her bits of toast at breakfast. With Graedy - well, I'm not sure. Considering the amount of PB&J we eat and my girls' generous natures, there's probably a reason he's so chunky.

Now, this link demonstrates a new study that goes totally against all the "old" advice. It suggests that early introduction to peanuts may actually prevent peanut allergies. Hunh.

This is what really gets me as a parent. From one child to the other, and even from one season to the next, the rules are constantly changing. Put your child on his belly to sleep. No! On his side. No! On his back! No! Back on his side. We never know where we stand.

It seems to me that parenting, especially mothering, has become so trendy and "statistical". We've conditioned ourselves to ignore our gut instincts, that sixth sense that is engrained in us women, in favour of mothering magazine articles, studies that will be replaced and disproven within a couple years and chatroom advice. There's no such thing as doing the best we can - it's all about doing what everybody else says is the best.

The truth is that 25 years ago our mothers were being bombarded with information that they believed was the best, most modern information ever! And now, we look at them wide-eyed in disbelief that they were so stupid as to believe that letting your babies cry themselves sick somehow built strong lungs and that sleeping on their bellies would prevent aspiration and that Carnation milk was the best nourishment money could buy.

In 25 years, our daughters will look at us with that same look of disbelief.

Monday, April 13, 2009

When You Give a Mouse a Cookie...

Do you know that book? When you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want a glass of milk. If he gets a glass of milk, he'll want a straw. Then, he'll want a napkin. Then a mirror to see if he missed a spot. Then, a haircut....

That's my life lately! We've had trouble with water in the basement. Okay, no problem, suck it out with the pump. Take out the first stair in the basement to dry out the underneath and crap. Rotten boards, unfinished (???) foundation. Need to replace the studs and drywall. While we're at it, should refinish the stairs. No sign of the water letting up, so trench digging begins to find the drain tile around the house. No drain tile. What?! Sewer starts looking iffy...

And so, when you get water in the basement, you'll want a sump pump. If you need a pump, you'd better check for other damage. If you rip up the stairs, you'll have to replace the staircase. If you do too good a job at checking for damage, you'll need to pour cement. If it's that bad, you'll need to fix the leak with trenches. If you dig trenches, you'll have to put in draintile. Everywhere. You'll have to dig up the front step and the lawn and the driveway. If you dig up the step and lawn and driveway, you'll have to replace them all. While you're at it, may as well replace the septic tank. While you're at that....

I have a head-ache.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pizza Hot

The Homeschool Group went for a tour of Pizza Hut last week. Maddie didn't realize that it was Pizza HUT, not Pizza HOT. Even after I explained that a hut is a little building, and that it means that you're in a building that makes pizzas, she still didn't think it was a great name for a restaurant.
The Assistant Manager showed us around and gave us the 101 on pizza making. Here she is pressing the dough for the personal pizzas.

Each kid got their own pizza, and free rein to decorate it. The girls went with classic pepperoni and cheese. Don't tell anyone, but Eva coughed all over the garnishes. oops.

Eva, with her pizza creation.
Maddie with her pizza creation. At this point, the conversation went a bit like this:
Me: Do you think you'd like to work at Pizza Hut one day?
Maddie: NO! When I grow up, I want to be a mom! (eye-roll, since I should know that already)
Eva: (squeaky voice) And I want to be a honey!

I don't know what the job description is for a honey...

My voracious Graedon-ator...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday, Thursday

Ah - Thursday! Normally, not a special night except that it is THE night to watch TV. A little Survivor, a little Grey's and a bit of Private Practice. Wake up sleepy and cranky the next morning and realize that honestly, what do I care if Izzy makes it through the surgery or not? And do I really want to sit through another episode filled with challenges that are really just the same games as the last 10 years only slightly tweaked to fit the country they're in this season?

Anyway, that's not where I was going with this post.

Ah - Thursday! The day my awesome SIL volunteered to host a sleepover with my kids. The evening we have a free sitter. The night the hubby and I can stay out late and have some good old adult fun.

And yet, all I can think of is how great it would be to hit the sack early tonight - say around 8:30? Survivor be darned. I need my beauty rest. Is that wrong?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Look

Ah, spring is here! Kind of. I thought I'd give my blog a make-over. I wanted something lighter, funner, more spring-y. What do you think?

The Post in Which I Make a Partial Decision to Announce an Announcement

I've been avoiding my blog a wee bit lately. There have been some crazy developments happening around here and frankly, I'm not all that ready to talk about them. Writing it all out on paper (or screen) makes it all so final, and I'm terrified of being the one to put the last nail in the coffin.

I suppose that puts you in a pickle. After all, those of you who read my blog (um, this is being read, right? Hello? *crickets*) are probably clutching at your hearts and holding back the sobs. "Egad! Whatever shall I read whilst I sip my steaming cuppa morning goodness?"

I'm still going to write. Don't worry. It just might be total crap, or it might be total confusion. After all, like I said on the first blog entry I wrote - this is my therapy.

The family stuff will still be here. Reason #2 for the blog was so that the family could get a sneak peak at my younguns and feel like the distance wasn't so great. So rejoice in the fact that there WILL be more pictures of Eva on the potty wearing shiny gold evening dresses.

I knew that'd please you!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Garden

You know it's one of those days when your 3 year old tells you she is "playing with her special pretend garden!". You know it's one of those days when you say "that's nice, Babe!" and keep right on going. You especially know it's one of those days when it takes you a full 30 seconds to register that the special pretend garden is in fact, the cat's litter box.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chore-Store Grand Opening

The Chore-Ganizer is a huge success. HUGE. So huge in fact, that Maddie invited both her cousins and all the neighbourhood kids (2 of them boys, so the girlie stuff in the store won't do) to come to the Chore-Store and shop at their leisure. Without telling me. Because they do chores at their house, you know.

I need to stock up on some boy toys. And some for the Chore-Store, too.

And, yes, Kendra, you can shop too.

Made You Smile!

Chore-ganizer Spinoff

I didn't invent this. I admit it. I just thought that it looked DIY-able, and since I had everything I needed at home, I tackled the project.
It's time my kids worked for their room and board. They're 3 and 5, so in no time they'll be scrubbing floors, doing my laundry and giving me pedicures (okay, okay...). Seriously, good work ethic by having responsibilities around the house is an important thing to learn. Therefore, I present: The Chore-ganizer (Patterson style).First, the girls each fashioned a bank out of a used hot chocolate container (go green!). The covers have a little slot on top to slip the poker chips in.

I listed some jobs that I thought they could handle and took pictures of the completed work. Some of them include "Changing the Toilet Paper Roll", "Watering the Plants" and "Brush Teeth". I then printed the pictures and stuck them on index cards. Also in this picture are the Chore Dollars.

Each day, I put a couple Job Cards into their "To Do" slot. As they do the jobs, they move the cards into the "Done" slot. When all the jobs are done (and done right), they get a Chore Dollar to put into their bank.

Now for the fun part! Every Sunday, I set up the Chore Store. I bought little things and tagged them according to their kid worth. For example, even though the bubble wands only cost me 25 cents, I still put $4 on them because the girls really like them, and they are messy. I want them to work for it. Some items will require them to save their Chore Dollars for a couple weeks. I'm anxious to see it they will go for the quick fix $1 items, or if they'll save up for the bigger items.
So far, so good. They're treating it like a game and getting some jobs done around the house. I need ideas for kid friendly chores, though, since I'm having to rotate half a dozen every other day. Maybe that pedicure? Leave a comment and give me your 2 cents worth!