Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Last NaBloPoMa & The First Day of the Holiday Season!

Well, it's been 30 blog posts in 30 days - I wrote every single day - without fail! And only one was technically published late and that was 100% due to Blogger being down last night!

I am proud of my accomplishments - writing everyday and using my writing muscle was incredible! What's the thing about habits? Takes 21 days to build a habit - I wonder if I'll want to keep writing every day... We'll have to see but certainly as our holiday preparations take flight, I'll have lots to write about!

Today, my son was sick - three illnesses in three weeks - but it did give me time to do a bit extra around the house! Like decorate our tree! Although I put it up a few days ago, I'd not sorted through my decorations (which was on my 52 Weeks or Organizing task list, which I can now cross off AND post a successful article to the Org Junkie on Friday). Although our tree has always been an eclectic mix, this year, I started working on a theme - a Nutcracker Christmas! It's early days and having a three and a half year old helping certainly made it interesting!
I also finalized my plans for TroubleMaker's Christmas Countdown calendar! Here is a sneak peak of it and how I've set it up. My husband was the voice of reason - he suggested we not "pre-load" all the trees as TroubleMaker's curiosity and love of candy would likely have all the cones emptied by Day Three! I'm so excited to start this tradition with him tomorrow!

But like all good little kiddies, I need to find my pillow! Thanks for dropping in - NaBloPoMa has been a fantastic event and has allowed me to read many new blogs and share in the excitement and fun and I hope you've enjoyed me too!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Think before you Speak - a lesson for all!

I remember being told as a child to "think before you speak!" It wasn't that I said anything particularily offensive or that I was mean or spoke out of turn but into everyone's life, a thing best left unsaid enters. Now, as a parent, I've waited for these moments but parenting a young child, we've not yet really encountered this.

Today, however, I read something that made me stop.

It was an article about taking the stress out of holidays and adhering to four simple rules to make the holiday season simple. What caught my attention was the opening statement of the fourth rule: "Kids hear way too much adult conversation these days. It amazes me what adults say in front of children".

As a mother and an aunt, I could relate to this statement. I know I've said things that I probably shouldn't have in front of my son and in front of my niece and nephews. Nothing horribly inappropriate but an off hand judgement or comment about one thing or another or a snide remark about a person's sense of fashion. If I had to rationalize why, I'd likely chalk it up to "They are too young to understand."

I happen to know that this is one of the largest fallacies in life. Children understand - they understand far more than we give them credit for (any parent or education could tell you that). And even if they don't comprehend all the words, the tone of our voices give them far more information than words likely could.

Growing as a person and as a mother is always a positive experience for me - even if it makes me see just how wrong I've been. The article allowed me to grow - it shared three simple questions to ask yourself before you say anything in front of a child. The questions are:

1. Is it true?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it kind?

If what you are saying can measure up, you're in good stead. If not, think of your audience and start again! I also think this can be applied to every person in nearly every conversation. Maybe if we all start trying to be nicer, the world could be a better place!

Monday, November 28, 2011

MPM: I heart Good Food!

I'll admit, it's 9:30pm on Monday night and I've not got my menu done... I started it Saturday morning - I actually have the next 30 days blocked out on a piece of loose leaf AND I did another monthly layout on the computer. I have a few meals picked here and there (from a new cookbook I was given) and I decided that the way I laid the month out gave me a good cross section of days to block assign a "meat" too as the meal foundation. (I will try to remember to post the PDF tomorrow so it makes more sense).

But that leaves us with nothing planned for this week! Thankfully, I did shop with eating in mind so I'm going to try a few new things this week! What's on your menu this week?

November 28 to December 4
Monday Perogies & sausage
Tuesday Savory Chicken Noodle Bake
Wednesday Slow Cooker Pepper Steak
Thursday Fried Egg Sandwiches
Friday KD
Saturday Calzones
Sunday Beef Dip

Thanks for stopping in - I'm linking up with the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! See you again soon!

Here is my PDF! A day late!
Monthy Meal Planner Calendar View (Dec 1 to 30)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

We Have a Tree!

I mentioned a few days ago that the tradition in my family was to put our tree up a week before Christmas. Since being on my own, there have been years with no tree, years with a white tree (do not ask - I did not buy it, I did not want it but it was purchased for me and I knew better than to say what the hell was my ex mother in law she thinking?!) and years with the tree up at the beginning of December.

I've noticed there are a number of houses in our neighbourhood with their trees up already. Typically, I don't succumb to pressure but as I walked to work one morning, I was thinking "why don't we put our tree up!" - it's our house, our life and there are no hard and fast rules that expressly forbid trees going up before December 1! This year I also decided to put up only one tree... Our house has two floors - the main level and the garden level (fancy term for "basement"). Primarily, we are downstairs but I've always wanted to put one upstairs. The year TroubleMaker was born, we purchased a small 4' tree to put up because I didn't have the time or energy to put up, decorate and chase a nine month old away from the 7' tree!

Anyway, I decided to put the 7' up downstairs... This wasn't "easy" - in part because I did not organize all the Christmas decorations as I'd planned to last January and because it meant removing, relocating and rearranging the family room to accommodate the tree, TroubleMaker's table and toys.

Seven feet of tree and 500 mini lights later, it is up! The decorating process will take a bit longer as I'm still planning that out!

November 27 and my tree is up! Yay! It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays, even if it was +9 with rain today!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Inventing a Countdown Calendar

I've been giving a lot of thought to making a countdown calendar for TroubleMaker. Advent calendars were not something we did as kids but I always knew that I'd want to do one with my little ones, if I ever had them. TroubleMaker is getting old enough now that I really want to have something special for him. But as the end of this month rapidly approaches, I'm still "without" an idea on just what to do or make!

I don't want to spend a lot of money - Christmas, for us, is about family and sharing and being together so I know I want to have a list of "things" to do and not worry too much about little gifties for each day. I like the idea of including a chocolate for each day but my concern is that he's going to want to eat the chocolate every morning before breakfast! I also know, somewhere in this house, I have "things" - holiday pencils, erasers and other such stuff. I did a fun Countdown calendar years ago for my niece so I know had leftovers (but where, or where can they be?!).

So I've been searching online, on Pinterest and blogs for inspiration... And there are SO many good ideas out there!

But none seem just quite what I'm looking for! But I have lots of ideas and thoughts in my head that I'm going to try and put together tomorrow! Need something fast and quick? Check out this cute idea!

Here is a simple print, cut and stick countdown calendar. It's cute, bright and easy! Thanks for reading - see you soon!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Take a deep breath and de-stress!

I am on my way to work - today is exactly one month until Christmas! I've got lots to do between now and then but most importantly, I want to spend as much time with TroubleMaker and making crafts as possible.

I have a difficult time managing my expectations; I set high standards for myself and others and that often leads me right down a path of disappointment. When I set out to do something, I know what is required and with that knowledge I try to lead others. All to often I am met with resistance or even revolt. Revolt in the sense that my requests are ignored or done to a lesser quality than I set out. This leaves me disappointed and upset every single time.

Over the years, I've learned to understand that I cannot expect the same level from others. I often joke that I've lowered my expectations of others so that the disappoint me, I joke but I am all too serious when I say it. It sounds cruel and snotty but I have found that I really can't expect a lot from others and that's okay! I have a way of doing things and naturally, because they are important to me, I strive to excel. Others have their own way and they apply their own value to the task.

Learning that was liberating for me. Understanding that it was pivotal! I know this may seem an odd thing to write about but better learning to manage my expectations worked to relieve much of the stress the holiday season! I know longer search for the "perfect" anything - the presents, the trimmings and even my Chrtismas decorating doesn't have the same meaning. I feel that by lowering my expectations I've come accept life as it generally unfolds instead of trying to fold it to my will.

This doesn't mean I've stopped placing high expectations on myself or that I've stopped hoping for the world to come my way. I've got ridiculous "to do" lists and with the advent of "pinterest". I've come to see a whole world of people just like me with my same reality.

There is a silly cliche - shoot for the moon for you never know when you'll land amongst the stars- I like this because it is kind and remembers that sometimes, success is just in trying.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like... Craftapoloza!

I've been excited to be able to write this post... It's been WEEKS in the making - mostly because I'm married to a fantastic photographer who takes my 20 second set up, gotta take a picture of this before I sell it/give it away/eat it snaps on his point n' shoot into works of art... In this case, he did grab his DLSR but still... His patience with me is very good. ;)

My contribution to the playschool craft show fundraiser turned out so well. TroubleMaker was extremely patient with me as we wandered around Michael's as I looked for inspiration. I knew I wanted a centrepiece and a mantle swag and I'd had the glass block presents in my head before we got to the store.

The Nutcracker has special meaning for us... We love the ballet and one of our favourite photos from TroubleMaker's annual calendar was the "Nutcracker Christmas".

To infuse some our family into the decor, I added a Nutcracker tucked away inside the vase! I then filled it with miniature Christmas ornaments and made an arrangement of silks and sparkly bits!

The glass block presents caused me some trouble - I had a vision in mind for them and it took some experimenting to get the affect I wanted. The craft blocks I was able to get were clear which meant whatever I stuffed inside was visible. I purchased white LED's to stuff and then to create the soft look I wanted, I interspersed white sparkly "snow". Utilizing the LED's meant the bulbs stay cool so they can stay on for long periods of time without adversely heating the stuffing! I wrapped them with ribbon that matched my Perfect Bows with the intention of making smaller bows to attach to the wrapping but I decided it was "too much" and to pull the design together, I hot glued a pointsetta from the bunch I'd used in the centrepiece arrangement. I also repeated the motifs in the mantle swag.

The end result was fabulous! Like any artisan, the nervousness of having your creation accepted is ever present - however, when I walked into the Community hall on Saturday morning and saw MY creation on the door prize table blew me away! Being able to overhear all the positive feedback from the people streaming in and filling out their entry form made me feel even more positive about my work! I hope you enjoy!

I'm sharing (for the first time) with Flaunt it Friday over at Chic on a Shoestring, be sure to check out all the craftiness! Thanks for stopping by!

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Traditions

As a child, my family had traditions like many others families. Our tree went up a week before Christmas, Santa always wrapped our presents, and we were allowed to open one present on Christmas eve. Years passed and the traditions changed. People came and went but a few constants were always in place. My grandmother's fresh buns, torterierre and hanging our stockings on New Year's eve are ever present in my family.

As I approach another Christmas and my son's fourth Christmas, I'm becoming keenly aware of my burning need to create traditions and memories. We've adapted the stocking tradition - TroubleMaker hangs one on Christmas Eve (as was his father's tradition) and on New Year's Eve - the change has been that the New Year's stocking is filled by the Nutcracker instead of the Angel or Baby Jesus as was my father's family tradition.

I've got a list of activities planned for the entire month - kind of an alternate take on an Advent calendar. We'll be baking together - an annual family tradition my sister, mother and I started over 10 years ago (we're still working on the date - but you can read more about our Bake-A-thon's, if you'd like!). Candy Cane Lane is a big deal here too and I know we want to take him out to look at Christmas lights. The past two years, we've built a gingerbread house and will do so again this year. He helps trim the tree and this year, we are having a "light the house" night!

My husband told me on our first date that I didn't have to experience the world in just one night - we'd have a lifetime together - and that is true but I still have a need to make my son's young moments create a foundation of strength. Thanks for stopping in - I'd love to hear about your traditions and the things you feel make the season special!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sprig Toys: A Review of the Sprigwood Eco-Trucks

Let me start off by saying I have no connection to the Sprig Toy company and I have not in any way been endorsed or encouraged to write this review. As I commenced my Christmas shopping, I decided to revisit a product we first bought for our son for his first Christmas in 2008 and I decided I needed to share my thoughts on this great line of creative kid's toys!

Before our son was born, we began shopping at Scholar's Choice - a Canadian educational toy and learning store. Always on the hunt for interesting, sustainable and creative gifts for our nephews and niece, finding this store was an absolute dream. The staff is knowledgeable, helpful and very much know their products. When we were expecting, it was a no brainer for us to return to this store and find toys for our son.

For us, our toy criteria was simple - good playability, encourages creative, imaginative play, Eco-friendly, simple in design, good construction and when ever possible be "sustainable" and comprised of child safe compounds. Although we only ever planned on one child, we wanted durable construction too!

We found the Sprigwood line based on a suggestion of the clerk. The bright yellow construction vehicles not only smell amazing, they were made in Canada, designed in the United States, made of a composite of wood and recycled plastic and the design and moving parts were simple, durable and well thought out. The first vehicle we purchased was one of the Eco-Trucks - the dump truck to be exact.

We've now had this vehicle for three years. It has been loaded, drug around, crashed, buried, pulled around some more, loaded and crashed and played with over and over by every child that sees it! It has held up better than any other toy TroubleMaker has owned! It looks fantastic still - even if it's a little bit worn on the edges - and it smells as good as it did on the day we bought it! It has as many miles on it as it is a much loved toy and had the string my Dad tied on to it the year TroubleMaker was one finally wore through and fell off this past summer! With a Canadian retail price of $19.99, it is affordable and absolutely a step above all the well known "Construction" type trucks on the market.

Since the first summer brought a few arguments on who was going to get to pull the "Good Guck" around ("Guck is how TroubleMaker says "Truck"), we invested in the "Diggin' Dirt" - the Eco Truck Loader.

Now, TroubleMaker had his perfect toys. A digger to unearth every single rock and stick in every campground we camped in during TroubleMaker's second year of life. Dumping the bucket into the waiting dump truck, emptying the truck and starting all over again. It too had a string tied to it and was lugged around on numerous walks. It too survived several enthusiastic two year old children pulling, tugging and digging!

At some point, we also purchased the Baja Scout. An ingenious product that smells as yummy as the trucks with a clever, faceless character sitting in the driver's seat... The best was yet to be learned about the Scout - when you pump the truck, it charges the helmet on the driver and becomes a batteryless flashlight! Hundreds of pumps, crashes and hours of play later, it is an amazing toy with even more play value as TroubleMaker ages! It's a science lesson and a toy all in one!

And not to be forgotten (well, actually, it was) is the Discovery Rig. Another "kid charged" adventure toy! We bought this last spring for TroubleMaker's 3rd birthday... And forgot to give it to him! My husband just found it, hidden, in our garage two weeks ago... I can't wait to get this one out of the box! Now TroubleMaker and I will each have our own flashlight to play with in our fort!

If you are looking for a well made, well thought out toy, the Sprig Toy line is an excellent choice. With a love for the environment, a dedication to producing a quality product with high play value and durable, kid tough construction any of the offerings will put you in good stead!

All images from the Sprig Toy website.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas Crafty Goodness - paper crafts!

As the holiday season approaches, I am addicted to Pinterest and all the lovelies being shared far and wide. One thing that has been catching my eye is all the great ideas for paper crafts!

For TroubleMaker's Halloween party, I folded some lovely Spooky 12x12 scrapbook paper into envelopes... They were all the rage with the Mom's so this got me thinking about what I could do with some of the fantastic festive 12x12 paper so I've been amassing a whole bunch of ideas!

I'd like to share a few of my favourites with you... And soon, I hope I can upload the pictures of my creations! Enjoy!

Paper Gift Box

Finnish Paper Star Ornament

Paper Wreath

Scrap Paper Tree

Do you have a favourite paper craft? I'd love to see! Thanks for popping in! Hope to see you again soon!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

MPM: A Menu Uninspired

Yesterday morning, I realized we needed groceries. So I did what every mother does - I sat at the table and whipped up a menu in ten minutes and created a grocery list! It's not really original but I'm trying to think of meals that will feed us more than one night. I'd like to "cook once, eat twice" so I'm trying that out this week.

I also took the time to clean out my deep freeze. I had stuff in there from 2009 (leftovers) so I purged and cleaned and made room for lots of nice, new food! The bonus was that I was able to find something we could have for dinner Monday night so it saved me a meal!

November 21-27
Monday Hamburger Casserole (FtF)
Tuesday Lasagna Toss
Wednesday Pork chops, fried rice, stir fry vegetables
Thursday Roast Chicken, mashed potatoes
Friday Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Saturday Nachos
Sunday Beef Dip

Thanks for stopping by and I've linked up with the Org Junkie - check out the more than 250 people playing this week for awesome meal planning inspiration!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Snap, Batman! It's November 19!

Today I am tired. I didn't wake up tired, but a trip for snow pants and a frying pan, some more things at Michael's and the weekly grocery shop wore me out!

During all my planning and shopping I realized I have forgotten about Christmas... I'm all excited to be getting ready for Christmas and to be crafting and planning and baking... But the "Christmas" thing kind of got lost on me!

What am I talking about? Well, presents of course!

As a family, we don't exchange many gifts... The kids "under 16" get gifts, over 16 participate in the "adult exchange". We don't buy for our friends - save for the little boy next door and a couple of other little children but I realized that it's nearing the end of November and I have yet to even make a list...

I very much dislike the consumerism the holiday season brings about. The endless TV ads trying to sell everything to children and the other ads that make you feel like you've done nothing of value for your loved ones if you don't spend hundreds of dollars on the latest gadget. It's all 'gimme, gimme'! And unfortunately, my baby isn't immune either. Although we try to limit his exposure, I know we can't shelter him from everything and he is influenced by things outside of our home now too (his school mates, the babysitter's house, his cousins and friends).

We are working towards trying to incorporate practices and activities that reinforce the things our family values as being 'important'... giving back to our community, sharing with our fellow human beings, taking part in charitable work, giving of our time and love.

Presents can be non-materialistic in nature is one thing we keep trying to introduce to him but we are continually met with resistance... I'm not sure how we will get past that one, but try we will!

What traditions do you have that you do year after year - or hope to keep doing?

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Week that Would Not End

Last Sunday night, I made a comment on Facebook - something to the effect that if someone had seen my weekend, could they please tell it to come back as I had missed it... I think that was the "jinx" for my entire week. Typically, I am not superstitious. I used to be really superstitious and then I kind of (for lack of a better term) outgrew it. But I am beginning to think sometimes, it is possible for me do jinx myself!

Sunday evening, after making the status update, TroubleMaker started running a fever. We had a bit of a night and woke up in the morning to a crabby, feverish little boy. I stayed home and took care of him - treating the fever and snuggling my baby boy all day. Tuesday was a repeat of Monday. By Wednesday morning, his fever had broken but his throat was still sore. I was going to go to work but then my husband got very ill suddenly and I packed in my going to work day as I knew my honey wasn't in any shape to care for an on the mend little boy!

Thursday morning, it would seem things aligned and I got back into the office. The fires at work had been cooled by a super awesome guy I work with and I could catch up, get my breath and get back on track. By home time, I was getting my head together.

But as I waited for the bus, I started seeing flashes of light and jagged black lines across my eye. As I put TroubleMaker to bed, I was seeing flashing lights. Shortly thereafter, my vision started to cloud. Friday, between meetings and fire dousing, I was trying to get in to see an eye doctor. As my ophthalmologist is out of the country until December and he had no relief in place, I started calling random ones out of the phone book.

As it turns out, most of them don't work Friday's! After calling the regional eye clinic at a local hospital, the suggestion was to try and get into a walk-in clinic and get an emergency referral or go sit and wait 10+ hours in an emergency department...

So after my 2:30, I went to the clinic on Campus... The doctor gave me grief: "why did you wait until 4pm on a Friday for this!" he asked. My pathetic reply was "meetings". With good humour he called the on-call ophthalmologist at the hospital and long story short, if my site deteriorates, I'm to go straight to emergency, if it holds, I have an 8am with the specialist on Monday.

I was very happy to see my bus home tonight and I'm glad to be putting this week to bed!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Honey, what does that road sign say?!

The year we were pregnant with TroubleMaker, we took a two week camping vacation. We travelled in our motor home through the Crow's Nest Pass and into British Columbia. We had a fabulous time - even if I got motion sick four wheeling over the back country to abandoned mine sites.

A few weeks before our vacation, I went and saw my eye doctor because I was seeing flashing lights. He told me to watch for curtaining and sent me on my way.

Well, a week or so into our vacation, after having a super nice hot shower (reason number 74 on why we don't tent camp anymore), I notices that my glasses were dirty... I cleaned them and one eye was still dirty.

A day or two later, my husband asked me to read the street sign and I had to tell him I stopped seeing out of one eye two days before.

Long story short, my retina detached 3/4 of the way around my eye. A couple of trips to a retinal specialist, incredible pain, dental picks in the eye and voila! Reattached retina! A few weeks later, eye sight back to normal.

Fast forward four years and on my way home, I saw flashing lights. Then a web of black and now, well, I think it's teetering on the edge of something. It's fuzzy (like my glasses have smudges) and my eye kind of hurts. There are rainbow flashes of light and the black spiderwebs have subsided, mostly.

Most people would panic - until I can't see again, I think I'm ok... I guess it's just been one of those weeks!

*update - since I can still see, albeit very clouded this morning - I think I have an iritis - something I've suffered from since I was 19. Most commonly seen in people with rheumatoid arthritis, but I thought I'd be "immune" because of the methotrexate! Guess not!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Your Popsicle leaked all over your quack quack duck!

Sick = 2
Healthy = 1

This morning, as I was getting ready to leave for work, I hear "Corrie! Can you bring me a bowl!?!?!" I ran to the kitchen, got a bowl and ran it to the bathroom.

I emailed work to tell them I wouldn't be in again today.

Having the house down with the flu sucks. I probably would be less cheery if I was sick. Although I've had a headache on and off for two days and I had an hour or so this morning where the world wouldn't stop spinning, I'm doing OK.

The conundrum plaguing me at the moment is what to make for dinner... TroubleMaker has eaten a scrambled egg and a piece of toast... All day... This is unusual to say the least. No one is hungry but I know I should feed the masses something...

So here we sit, my husband asleep in his Easy Chair, TroubleMaker rocking in his rocking chair, watching TreeHouse and me sitting here worrying about silly things like food, work and noting funny lines from the kid's programming I've been exposed to for the past couple of days... Maybe I'll just go do dishes and grab a shower instead...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Something for Nothing

Recently, a story about hundreds of "Run for the Cure" t-shirts winding up, unopened, in a trash bin made the news here in Edmonton. It turns out, it was an "mistake" the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation admitted today. Generally, the spokesperson said, the shirts are donated to developing countries to help those in need. For some reason, this lot ended up in the bin.

I'm glad they realized their error but perhaps it is time we took a bigger look at the entire idea. So many places give things to their supporters as a token of their appreciation. T-shirts, bags, buttons, pens... The continual giving away of free stuff boggles my mind. I'm not a huge volunteer but in the past few years, we've amassed a silly collection of t-shirts in support of everything from Pride week to Adopt a Pet week. The majority of them have never been worn. TroubleMaker is the only one who wears t-shirts in our house and I can assure you, these are all too big for him!

I'd like to understand the point of asking someone to donate their time and/or money and then giving them a reward. To me, this is a gross waste of money, time and effort. Honestly, I am donating my time or money (or both) because I believe in the charity I'm supporting. Giving me something as a token of goodwill doesn't make me want to donate more time or money - it makes me ask the question "how much money went into making this t-shirt that is only going to end up in a dresser drawer never to be worn until we donate them to Goodwill?"

I am troubled by the idea that in order to get any person to do good things, a reward is required. I know in most cases, an 'entry fee' is charged and part of that fee goes to the production of the gifties, but imagine just for a minute that if the $5 it costs to make the t-shirt (that will likely end up as a cleaning rag or in a bag for charity) was actually put towards the charity, calculating $5 per shirt, times (a conservative) 5000 racers per location times 60 locations (number of participating sites across Canada) equals
$1500000 (in case you can't read the zeros like me, that is 1.5 million dollars).

That is a considerable number, don't you think? Maybe it's time we all just said "NO" to all the kind ideas that cost millions of dollars and put the money back towards the important things - like finding the cure!

Monday, November 14, 2011

MPM: A new week

It is Monday morning after a very busy and tiring weekend... TroubleMaker is sick - he`s got a fever and various other symptoms. He must be sick - he napped this morning and he`s eaten nothing yet today!

I am very pleased to announce that the prize Blue Door Interiors created for the Craft Fair was the DOOR PRIZE! I was absolutely stunned and amazed to see it at the door and being able to overhear all the wonderful comments it received during my two hours working the door. Sometimes it is so nice to hear honest and unprompted feedback on your work. No one knew it was my work, of course, and I only told a few of the playschool Mom`s later in the day that I had indeed created it myself. I think the event was a big success for the playschool.

Relieved is the word I'd use to describe my present mode. The "big" events are done and now I can focus on getting my house in order for the upcoming holiday season - and beyond! I have so many plans rolling around in my head, it will be awesome to transform them to reality!

This menu is easier too as I'm "recycling" a couple of dinners that didn't get prepared due to company and last minute menu changes.

November 14 - 20
Monday Gramma's Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
Tuesday Cream of Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup with sandwiches
Wednesday Taco Bake
Thursday Chicken bites with Sweet Chili Sauce, oven fries, sweet peppers & mushroom saute
Friday Waffles (?)
Saturday Ginger Fried Beef, Fried Rice, Stir fry veggies
SundayCrock Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken

Thanks for stopping by and I've linked up with the Org Junkie - check out the more than 250 people playing this week for awesome meal planning inspiration!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How would Super Nanny handle it?

Sometimes, since becoming a parent, I just don't know the answer. I know this happens to many parents and my affliction is not new or unusual but it certainly would be nice if there was a definitive handbook that was given to each new parent and how to deal with 'difficult situations'. As an employee, we've employee handbooks that outlines the codes of conduct, expected behaviour and the like. Additionally, there are often collective agreements, bargaining teams and even arbitration to get us through disagreements.

As a first time parent (and I don't think it would be any easier if we had more than one child), we bumble and fumble our way through and make mistake after mistake and never really reach any mutually satisfactory understanding that makes the conflict any easier. I know I try to do a few things when I parent my son - I try not to channel the devil when speaking, I try to keep my temper in check, I don't make promises or threats I don't intend to keep and I try to learn from the mistakes I make. I am not always successful. In fact, I am likely far less successful then I like to think I am.

Today was a bad day. We've had company all weekend and we were running around doing the things life demands. TroubleMaker was clearly over tired, out of sorts and just done. He wasn't listening - he didn't want to listen - or perhaps that was just my take on it. More correctly, he wasn't able to listen. Not because he woke up this morning wanting to make his Dad and I crazy mad... Not because he's a 'bad boy'... Not because of anything more than far too much mental stimulation that has sent his little mind and body into overdrive.

What started off as a rough morning morphed into a terrible afternoon. He was tired, likely hungry, in need of a way to let off steam and I became obsessed with him needing to wash his sticky hands. He has sticky hands 90% of the time. He's three - it's like part of his uniform. Sticky hands, disheveled hair, wild dinosaur shirt and even crazier pants and red socks - that is my son.

I lost my temper, he was in a time out, my husband and I had a heated discussion (over the fact he doesn't listen - he doesn't and we agreed upon that but it was just one of those angry arguments because we were both frustrated). More time outs, more tears and then I just gave up. He wasn't being bad, really, certainly he wasn't listening but I was the problem.

Sometimes I just don't know how to communicate effectively with him and that is what confuses me and upsets me the most. My entire life, I've always been able to find or learn the right answer to most of the things I've needed or wanted too. But I can find no clear and concise answer on how to speak so my son listens.

Oh, I know there are a host of books, self help gurus and well meaning "reality" shows that will teach me everything I need to know about parenting my son. But none of them are good enough. None of them know me or my son or our situation. Every child - my child - is unique and there cannot be any cookie cutter answers. I've read and tried a few different things but none of it really works. Certainly, there are times when he does listen and he is 1000% amazingly capable. Other times, it's like a completely different child has been left in my care.

I also know I'm the problem. Knowing this still doesn't give me any idea how to get him to listen the first time I ask, not 75 times later and once I've blown my lid and done my Elizabeth Hurley impersonation of The Devil.

How do you cope and get a child to focus and listen? More importantly, how do you keep your cool??!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Night

I remember a long time ago when Saturday nights were spent on the couch with my Mom and sister, a couple of movie rentals, a bowl of popcorn and a cinnamon pull-apart... Then it morphed into jam sessions with friends, a bottle of rye and several rounds of cards... Time changes things...

Now my Saturday nights are pizza parties and kid's shows or family suppers or recovering from exhausting events.

And I like it just fine.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Teach your children well...

I don't speak often of my parenting philosophy. The beliefs I've adopted are mostly because I read about various parenting styles prior to and during my pregnancy and truly felt certain methodologies fit with my "style" and personality.

We, for all intents and purposes, "attachment" parent. What does that mean? Essentially, there are eight tenements to AP and they are as follows: (information from Attachment Parenting International)

Eight Principles of Parenting:
Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
Feed with Love and Respect
Respond with Sensitivity
Use Nurturing Touch
Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
Provide Consistent and Loving Care
Practice Positive Discipline
Strive for Balance in Your Personal and Family Life

I can tell you if you read the information provided on API's website, you will go "Well, I already do that!" In theory, attachment parenting - or parts of it - are what we do every single day as parents. A lot of the beginning foundations are what most miss - and I like to think it has more to do with lack of knowledge than anything else.

I breastfed. I, in fact, breastfed TroubleMaker until he was much older than is typically "normal" by today's Western standard. I was so gungho to breastfeed that I likely sacrificed some of our sanity in ensuring our breastfeeding relationship was successful (pumps, pills & patience, OH MY!). I "wore" him in an Ergo baby carrier (best $100 every spent - it was the #1, must have baby "device" for me). Due to choices that had more to do with my husband's insistence that certain parenting "tools" were a marketing ploy by greedy Corporate America, we carried TroubleMaker every where from birth. We did not have an "infant carseat" and our stroller was a heavy duty jogging stroller that was cumbersome and too much of a pain in the butt to use for simple running into the store for milk shopping trips. We co slept - and again, it was at my husband's insistence. He did not want our newborn baby in a different part of the house. What started as co-sleeping morphed into bed sharing. And yes, we did try to "sleep train" him when he was about 8 months old and it failed. Miserably. I don't know who cried more - TroubleMaker or me? It was at that time that I accepted TroubleMaker as a child who did not sleep and this freed up a lot of my misery and expectation. We cloth diapered - which has nothing to do with AP, but I need to push my environmental agenda where ever I can.... ;)

We had TroubleMaker - it was a decision his father and I made. We sought out what we thought would be the best path forward. We read, we studied, we changed our minds. We've cried, laughed and have learned we can love another person in a way that can likely not ever be truly explained. We are happy - even if we don't always know the right answer or the correct path forward.

Looking back at the past three and a half years, we've done a few things right and a few things we could have done better. Each day is a new lesson and we all learn from one another. We make mistakes and sometimes he gets too much candy and watches too much TV. But he is always loved and always our first priority.

No matter what philosophy you ascribe too, love your child, protect your child and always make time for fun and laughter.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Lesson in Herding Cats

Today, I was the Roster Mom at playschool. Because of our craft show on the weekend, there were a few extra kids in the class today. They painted and played and hollered and yelled. It was kid chaos but lots of fun was had. Snack time was interesting but it's what happened after snack time that this post is all about.

Miss Kelly (our teacher) decided it would be good to take the kids to the park. It's early November, there is no snow and it was crazy warm today (like +11 warm - milder than most of our early spring days). So after each child was done their snack, they were allowed to go get their coats and outdoor shoes on and wait to go to the park. Many of the children are quite capable of getting themselves ready like this and those who are, did it.

Parenting lesson #564 - If one kids sees you helping another, every other child suddenly forgets how to dress themselves.

And because it's so mild, many didn't have mitts. But because Miss Kelly has been down this road before, she's armed with half a dozen spare pairs... The downside was some of them were gloves.

Parenting lesson #742 - never, ever try to make a three or four year old wear gloves.

Can you guess how long it takes to get 15 youngsters dressed and out the door to go to the park (including herding them back in after they rush the door when an unsuspecting parent arrives early to pick up their child?)?

Twenty five minutes!

Once we get out the door, it is pandemonium. We are down to 14 kids now but considering there are only four directions (North, South, East and West), they manage to take off if forty different directions.

Parenting Lesson #7 - unless you can run really fast, never try to chase down a fleeing child. They will outrun you.

Once we get to the park it is technically time for school to be over so we're down to seven kids as many of the parents actually made it over to the park from the preschool before we were even half way to the park!

We finally arrived at the park - 45 minutes after we started trying to leave the school! I honestly think it would be easier (and far quieter) to herd cats. I never thought I'd ever use that analogy but I'd never rostered by myself before!

I truly believe that looking after children is the hardest job in the world. Trying to teach them certainly entitles a teacher to sainthood! Children may be our future but their teachers are the real heroes!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Twas the Night Before...


Twas the night before preschool and all through the house,
Every creature was stirring, except we don't have a mouse.
Mama in the kitchen, cooking with care,
Dad snapping pictures, tension in the air.

The cookies were baked, pies ready to go!
All were tied up pretty with a sparkly bow.
Running around, our motors were blazing,
Pulling it together was nothing short of amazing!

Christmas in a Box was tidy and nice,
The blocks of glass looked just like ice!
The swag all pretty with glitter and bows,
And lights that sparkle on the winter's snow.

As the night progressed we weren't sure we'd be done,
But there wasn't an option for this busy Mum!
All snuggled in bed and in our easy chair,
We hope to see you all at the Beverly Craft Fair!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trauma: NaBloPoMa Writing Prompt

I started a different post this morning, a light and hearty romp reuminating about he pending weekend and my desire for it to hurry up and get here. But as the day progressed and my Blackberry had me running from meeting to meeting, building to building, I came to realize I need more week (this week) and less weekend... So upon sitting down tonight to finish that post, i realized that the idea had been lost and I must start anew.

I was a loss so I decided to take the "easy road" and headed over to BlogHer and try spurring some inspiration off the topic d'jour.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Has anything traumatic ever happened to you? Describe the scenes surrounding a particular event.

This did not help. It isn't that my life isn't without trauma or tragic events. It is that I am not comfortable sharing any of them publicly. I am not hung up on privacy or being 'discovered', but my history isn't just mine and sharing anything would be an invasion of other people's privacy.

So where does this leave me? With a nasty case of "Writer's Block".

Writer's block sucks! No matter which way I turn or what I think about today, it all seems wrong and stupid and unintelligible! YIKES! I once told someone I had writer's block for a decade. It wasn't untrue, really. After separating from my first husband, I was actively being treated for clinical depression and was medicated. The antidepressants absolutely zapped my ability to write. I'd sit down to write and nothing would come out. The most I'd achieved was part of a sentence.

Eventually, I found my words again - but honestly, it wasn't until I started my blog that I started writing again. So the thing that helped me find my voice, has suddenly taken my voice again.

Is that irony?

I know I'll get past this and tomorrow, I'll be back to my normal self, writing and postulating and continuing to participate in NaBloPoMa throughout the month, but write now it's a struggle!

Is this long enough? Does it constitute as a post? The post itself kind of reminds me of what NBC constantly told the world about "Seinfeld" - it was a show about nothing... Well, friends, this is a post about nothing!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 7, 2011

MPM: another week!

I'd like to tell you it is actually Friday morning and I'm getting the "jump" on my menu planning... In part because this coming weekend will be chaos. I have a TON of baking to do for a fundraiser for TroubleMaker's preschool and I have to put together Blue Door Interiors' contribution to the Raffle table - again, a fundraiser for the preschool.

I'm waiting for all the commitments my big mouth got me into to pass over - not only am I Roster Mom at preschool next Thursday, all the parents have to help set up for the 18th Annual Beverly Heights Community Craft Sale. It's a huge event that is put on solely by the preschool parents. I have to help with set up on Thursday PM (after school), work my two hour shift the day of the show and help with clean up/take down... But I consider myself lucky because it is a fantastic school and it is a small commitment - the director is in crazy overdrive!

My Mom is coming to town this week and I only have three days at work (YAY!!!!)... I'm sure they'll be a dinner out or we'll order in once but my Mom loves when I cook and I love that she cleans the dishes up after! It's the perfect arrangement!

November 7 - 13
Monday Omelets
Tuesday Breaded Pork Chops with fried potatoes
Wednesday Chicken nuggets and fries
Thursday Mushroom and Chicken Linguine
Friday Taco Bake
Saturday Crock Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken

I'm still working out a few meals but I'll be checking out all the great blogs and menu plans being shared at the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Two Burned Fingers and other tales of fun

It is Sunday afternoon and I'm sitting with my feet up, relaxing and nursing two burned fingers... Which, I might add, makes it a little awkward to type! My weekend has been incredibly productive and although I didn't think I'd make it through everything, I have nearly completed all that I set out to do on Friday night.

This isn't something that happens to me - I usually set out a whole list of plans and get half way through it before collapsing in a worn out heap, disheartened and disappointed that I didn't get through my "to do" list. But today, I am victorious!

I baked up a storm and because my son's internal clock didn't realize it was daylight's savings and because I forgot it was going to be daylight savings and I put him to bed half and hour earlier than normal meant we've been up since 5am.

yes. I said 5am. It was like a cruel joke. i tried convincing TroubleMaker that it was the middle of the night but he was HUNGRY! Then he heard his Dad get up and that was it... We were all awake!

He got up and ate a bowl of Rice Krispies and I started making the icing to decorate the cookies. By 7am, we'd iced polar bears and stars and packaged them up and then we got breakfast underway! By 9 am, I felt like I'd worked half a day, I was so accomplished!

Then I got to work on the Christmas in a Box decorating package and that's where it all began to fall apart... Nothing I put together looked right and things didn't fit the way I had envisioned. After seeking my husband's input, he suggested we go back to Michael's and pick up a couple of extra things - things I'd discounted because of the cost.

An hour later, I was armed and it all went together in just under two hours! I spent three plus hours in the morning trying to get it to work with no avail, and suddenly, it all fit together like a perfect fit puzzle! In getting together, I burned my fingers - after repeatedly telling TroubleMaker to be extra careful because the hot glue gun is indeed extremely hot - I went to secure a pine cone to the swag and CONTACT! I called to my wonderful son (who was in the bathroom washing his face and hair and hands and the bathroom) and he happened to have a icy cold face cloth he ran to my side.

The damage was done and I now have two blisters on my fingers but my package (save for the "box") is complete! And it looks great - I'm so excited! I'll have pictures soon, I promise!

So I'm positioned now to be absolutely, comfortably, 100% ready for the fundraiser! And it's an amazing feeling.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Small Successes! Operation Bake a Lot Completed!

I got very busy right out of the gate (or bed, as it really was) this morning. After a hearty breakfast of poached eggs and toast with bacon on the side, it was time to get down to business! Having pre-made the pepparkaka dough Friday night, I was ready to roll (figuratively and literally)!

We got the cookies rolled and cut (polar bears, gingerbread men and stars)... Then I made shortbread and next ginger sparklers! Then we were off to the big box craft store to get all the things I need to put together the "Christmas in a Box" decorating package for the playschool raffle. I swear that took longer than the baking. I was so undecided - you know what it's like when you get a vision in yoru head and everything you see doesn't match that vision? Well, that's what my trip to the store was! I was so frustrated and TroubleMaker was "sooooo bored!!!". I finally settled on a few things - a centre piece and a mantle swag with a few other bits and bobs to round out the package. The only thing i forgot was "the box"... So at some point, I'll have to figure that out too!

Tomorrow is the big assembly and pepparkaka icing and packaging. And then, I'll be free!!! Well, that is until the next big thing I cook up to do!

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaBloPoMa: Under Pressure

Commitment. It is an evil word and one that I tend to over do. How about you?

My issue is time. There just isn't enough of it in a day. I need more hours, less work (well, my paid-for work), and likely better organization skill. I have a constant running mental inventory of things that I need to get done. My mental "to do" list.

The fact is, I think I am far more capable than I am. Perhaps that is the wrong way to phrase that... But my cluttered head is not putting the words together so I'll give an example of it instead.

I have ten things to do this weekend:
bake: pepparkaka, ginger sparklers, shortbread, a pie and two apple crisps
make: create a $100 "Christmas in a Box" home decorating package
prepare: pizza, a menu plan
help: my husband de-decorate from Halloween and hang up our exterior Christmas lights

To me, right now, this list seems completely reasonable... However, having been down this road last weekend with all the preparations for the Halloween party, I know something will not get done. Likely a few things will not get done. I do not have the luxury of not completing the first two (bake and make). Those are promised commitments for TroubleMaker's playschool fundraisers.

Sunday night, I'll be upset and lamenting how much I didn't get finished that I want too but I'll be powerless to get a Mulligan on the weekend.

So what is the answer? I don't know. It's my style to try and get lots done in a limited amount of time. I rarely succeed but I can't stop planning everything the same way! Weekend after weekend, I fill my calender with unmanageable tasks and every Monday, I'm faced with the reality that I didn't accomplish everything I'd set out to do.

I wonder what the answer is - I hope I find it soon... You should see the list I've set for myself to get ready so I can start "new" in 2012 and stop setting myself up for failure!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaBloPoMa: Hot Topics

I have, as a rule, tried to keep my personal beliefs on certain topics out of my blog. My beliefs are mine and I do not expect anyone to agree with me - that's why beliefs are opinions and not facts.

That said, this morning, upon logging into my Facebook account, one of my favourite politician's (doesn't that sound like an oxymoron) status was
Now I'm getting guff from the other side because I said I don't like abortion. Does anyone who's ProChoice, as I am, really LIKE abortion? Justin Trudeau

I do not know the full context of the conversation and nor does it matter (to me). What got me thinking were the the fact that the Federal leaders of this country would take the stance that because one supported abortion, one would there for like and support the procedure. And because Mr. Trudeau said he didn't LIKE abortion, he's being criticized because how can his dislike of abortion still translate his support of a woman's right to chose. As I said before, beliefs are opinions so they don't matter but I wondered how common it was for ProChoicer's to LIKE abortion. Would it be possible? Should it be possible?

Regardless of one's opinion (pro choice or not), I always thought and assumed that abortion was not a happy thing to undertake. No one should like abortion, no one seeks out pregnancy so that they can have an abortion. It is an invasive, medical procedure.

As it stands, I think it is completely rational and logical to be ProChoice and not like abortion. The two do not go hand in hand and nor should they. It has been decided that part of living in Western, Americanized society is that we are free to make choices for ourselves - whether or not anyone else agrees with them. These freedoms do not only apply to this topic.

It is likely a circular argument, much like abortion itself and in the end, no one really wins so is it worth arguing about anyway?

PS I am in no way wanting to start or engage in a debate. This post is simply an observation.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaBloPoMa & We-Design-Day: Tricks of the Trade

Working in the field I do, I'm lucky to happen upon some things that make life easier! I'm able to get tips from industry professionals, ask questions of the various building trades and best of all, I get to practice on someone elses "stuff"!

Recently, I came upon the most genius of inventions.

After spending an afternoon trying to figure out how to hang my surface mounted fluorescent light fixtures to my newly suspended t-bar ceiling grid, when I went back to work Monday, I posed the question to the amazing people I work with. And I received the answer!

Caddy Clips! Technically, they are Caddy "Twist On" Fixture supports, and they make hanging lights to a suspended ceiling a breeze!

It is as simple as unscrewing the two pieces, clipping the support piece on the t-bar and then positioning your light and screwing on the butterfly nut! It took me less than five minutes to install the lights. Five minutes, my friends... FIVE MINUTES! It was and is a marvel of engineering.

They are available online for sale and are completely worth the effort to get. I can assure you they are simple, easy and far cheaper than the usual light installation techniques.

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to sharing some more tricks of the trade in the coming weeks!

PS I'm excited to share this with you and have it be my second post for the NaBloPoMa event!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Daily Writing for Fun, Prizes but mostly self improvment


I do not commit to things very often... Yes, I've been married twice but that doesn't count! I happened to discover today that it is the first day in the NaBloPoMo event. What is that? Well, you can read more about that here but essentially, it's a daily writing exercise being promoted and run by BlogHer. It is a chance to write daily and grow your writing talent and improve yourself through subscribed (maybe prescribed?) writing activity... I hope to find a theme or get my act together and write about stuff but today, I'm going to use their "prompt" post to begin my month.

What is your favourite part about writing?

From the time I learned to write, the thing I loved most about it was the self expression it created. Whether it was telling stories in my primary school journal about winning a race or writing song lyrics, writing has always been my "thing".

Writing, for me, has been therapeutic and depressing. I've often written to work through my stress and sadness. Pouring my heart and life out onto the pages before me - the agony twisting in my words, my sickness running out like spilled milk. Other times, my voice was lost, buried inside, unable to express the pain.

Words are joy, my joy and finding them again (through blogging) has helped me find my voice, and for that, I am thankful.


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