Sunday, March 19, 2017

Meal Planning 101

We like to enjoy traditional family dinners. Traditional in the 21st century that is. You know - chaotic: music in the form of my 4 year old giggling at the top of his lungs while continuous pretending to "accidentally" burp and make other eloquent noises while simultaneously having to pee every 3 minutes... fortunately though, the chaos is minimized to at the table and not in preparation. My secret: meal planning. Today I am sharing a little bit on how I do it. I will come back to this post and continue to add different meal plans for the week so be sure to bookmark or pin this page... more simple weekly meal plans and plenty of recipes to come!! 



The How:

  •  Schedule it. For me, that's Sunday. Sunday is our reset day for the week. It's time to re-group, get re-organized and re-prioritize.
  • Current stock in house. How can I use up items that may otherwise spoil this week? --- side note: this is a great way to discover new recipes. The acid in over-ripen tomatoes makes an excellent base for a this pasta dish!  
  • What can be batched up on the weekend to stock the freezer and make use for future meals? I survive by batching up recipes and taking advantage or "freezer to oven" or "freezer to crockpot cooking"... stay tuned as I feature more of these recipes on this blog. 
  • How can I add variety in meals while using the same ingredients? --- I find this is most easily accomplishment by cooking "international cuisine" and rotating the theme, or simply alternative the main between chicken one day and pork the next. We also try to avoid two pasta dinners back-to-back.

The Why:

  • Saves time. Front one-two hours and take advantage of batch cooking to have dinners for a month organized over a short period of time. The daily meal prep during the week then becomes 1-2 minutes as opposed to 30-40minutes. Who has 30-40 minutes during the week to spend in the kitchen?! Between work and the kids, their activities and the remote possibility of 15 minutes for myself, I can certainly make better use of that time than in the kitchen during the week. // The greatest timer saver though might actually be with the dishes...
  • Saves money. No need to eat out. A single meal eating out as a family of 4 is easily $40. $40 can make 5 dinners in our house (depending on the ingredients). I will get a post together about eating on a budget as I get asked about this a lot in our real life. We keep our family food budget to $500 including pull ups and cleaning products and always get asked how. Stay tuned and I'll let you in on our secrets. :)
  • Minimizes/eliminates waste. This goes slightly hand-in-hand with saving money but also, I hate the feeling of not making use of all products and food spoiling when there are so many people that go without in the world. This cuts into my ethics and morals... "waste not" is a philosophy we live by. 
  • Less stress. I like some structure and removing the uncertainly of "what's for dinner" support this aspects of my personality and that has a trickle-effect onto the all members of the family. 
  • More variety. Meal planning guarantees we don't have the same thing back-to-back which is lovely for your taste and fueling your body appropriately.

Sample meal plan:

Note: as I get the recipes listed below posted, I will be sure to link back so please stay tuned!

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Quesadillas & Spanish Rice Spaetzle, Schnitzel & Veggies Spaghetti & Meatballs Chicken Corn Chowder Chicken, Bacon Pasta Toasted Chicken andwiches & Salad Stroganoff & Veggies


What is on your menu this week? Comment below! Until next time... xo

_____________________________________________________

Interested in learning more about our family? We're on You Tube, too! Watch the video below to hear why we started this journey; stay tuned for updates and join us on our adventure! 




If you are interested in really helping out this small You Tuber gain a little traction, please let our playlist run and enjoy a few laughs along the way! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

5 Minute Meal: Chicken Quesidillas

If you're looking for a quick and easy meal that can be made in under 5 minutes, you've found it! These CHICKEN QUESADILLAS are absolutely delicious and fool proof... my 4 year old makes them, too!

Gather your ingredients:

Shredded Chicken
Graded Cheese
Diced Peppers
Tortilla Shells
Sour Cream (optional)

Method:

  1. Warm a pan on the stove (medium heat)
  2. Fold the tortilla is half to give you "the mid-line". Place a thin layer of cheese, chicken; peppers; a little more cheese.
  3. Fold the tortilla over (half moon shape). Place in microwave for 30 seconds.
  4. Place from microwave to pan for 1 minute; flip for another 30 seconds.
  5. Section into quarters with a pizza slicer & enjoy!
You can serve with a basic garden salad for some fresh crispiness or a side of cucumbers.  The quesadilla is surprisingly filling.

Kid-friendly and even quicker, my 7 year old is a fan of the plain cheese quesadillas made solely in the microwave. Add some cheese to a tortilla, heat for 45 seconds and voila! Your meal is set.

Are you interested in more 5 minute meals? Comment below!

Helpful hints:

  • Keep shredded chicken in your freezer. Place 8 frozen chicken breasts into a crockpot with 1 cup chicken broth, let cook on low for 8 hours or overnight. Shred. After cool, portion out into Ziploc freezer bags so it's ready whenever you need it.
  •  Do the same with cheese. We buy cheese in bulk from Costco and use an electric grater to grate en mass. Portion out for future recipes and it's all set when you need it. 
  • These can also be frozen prior to any heat if you want to batch up a ton and have them on hand straight from the freezer. To freeze, simply wrap in saran wrap tightly and then layer in an airtight container for the freezer.



Until next time... have a wonderful day! xo
_____________________________________________________

Interested in learning more about our family? We're on You Tube, too! Watch the video below to hear why we started this journey; stay tuned for updates and join us on our adventure! 



If you are interested in really helping out this small You Tuber gain a little traction, please let our playlist run and enjoy a few laughs along the way! 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Supporting Your Child and Fostering their Passions

Ultimately our role as parents is to guide and nurture the very best in our children. It's so easy in today's society to become distracted and gravitate to the world of comparisons and/or what is within our comfort zone as a parent.

Every child is different.  Every - child - is - different. 

Keep saying that to yourself.  

Each child has different strengths and challenges than their sibling(s).  

Each child has a different strengths and challenges than their neighbour, classmate, friend, cousin, etc.

Ultimately, what is important in raising our children?...  In my opinion, it is that they:
  • are respectful
  • have confidence
  • are happy and healthy
  • can care for themselves and the world around them.


I have two children: one, a natural athlete (this is my comfort zone) and performer - and the second, an artist. My oldest, the artist, has discovered a passion for You Tube videos. This is was a completely foreign world/interest for me. I didn't quite grow up in the pre-television generation but definitely "BC" as my parents always say, "before computers". And, before cable tv in our household... so, the concept of You Tube: video production, editing and the intricacies of You Tube is completely overwhelming for this parent.

My son takes great pride in the story; the creativity; the sharing and; the engagement and interaction within a You Tube channel.  In our case, engaging in You Tube specifically, but regardless of the specific interest/passion, ANY area of interest foreign to a child's parent is a HUGE commitment. The reality of this commitment can be overwhelming but, the investment in time to support and foster YOUR CHILD'S intrinsic passion is rewarded so tremendously. I am writing this to show you just that - and to ask for your help :). Take a few minutes to look at the evolution in his confidence and his development by viewing the videos below and please note:
  • For any child who may be shy, reserved and have developmental delays, I hope these video can show parents some hope and how the efforts made in investing in your child's passion can be so rewarded.
  • You Tube is a beast. It's is amazing and incredible and a remarkable community in itself but --- building a channel and gaining some traction takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and a steep, steep learning curve.  By clicking on a video and/or giving a video a thumbs up and/or leaving a pleasant comment, you can honestly make someone's day. My son is THRILLED to have hit a new milestone in subscribers and seeing this response, knowing he may have made someone else smile, helps to motivate him (and his Momma, too :) )... when you are looking to support your child's passion, having both internal and this sort of external motivation has a remarkable impact. For the latter, I turn to you and am truly grateful for your support.
See the "results" from an investment in a child's passion that is completely foreign to his parents right here...

From this:


to this (over a few - relatively - short months):



Maybe I am bias? I encourage you to share your perspective in the comments on this blog and/or on his videos; what stands out to you?

The reality in letting our children take the lead in inspiring their passions can instill a level of fear in parents. Reflect on this honest statement:
it's human to fear what may be beyond our control and to allow our children's choices, taking such a lead.... letting go of these precious human beings in this capacity and diving into a world of potentially complete unfamiliarity... say WHAT?!?! (This article has some interesting perspectives on this subject that I encourage you to also read.)

Again though, I circle back to my initial statement and reason for this post:
  • A child's passion can foster and nurture critical aspects of a child's development.
  • The impact when you support and foster your child's passion beyond your comfort level can have a significant, positive, impact on their development.
  • My son inspires me every day. He faces what some may see as an uphill battle every day (we have not yet shared, fully, the adversity he faces in this cyber world but that will come - with time) and I firmly believe he has been blessed with a gift to inspire and connect with others. Thanks to technology, this is a platform to do just that. 
With that, until next time... have a wonderful day! xo

_____________________________________________________

Interested in learning more about our family? Now you know how some of the evolution of our You Tube channel but watch the video below to hear about the first spark that ignited our You Tube journey. Stay tuned for updates and join us on our adventure! 




Again, if you are interested in really helping out this small You Tuber gain a little traction, please let our playlist run and enjoy a few laughs along the way! Thanks so much!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Define "that"

Some days you just need to remind yourself to breathe. Today - today is one of those days.

Let's be honest, parenting is hard. Life is hard. We all know there are no "how to" manuals or videos as much as we strive to find them. Or --- potentially strive to create them. Take me for example, here I am writing. Rambling. Sharing thoughts and perspectives, potentially speaking to a handful for people around the world.... why? for what purpose? The good news is that in all this sense of being overwhelmed, it's the outlet and the connection that brings peace. The reality in that "parenting is hard. life is hard." is that parenting brings the greatest peace and perspective to compliment your greatest life worth living.

Becoming a parent was a catalyst in find that for me. As I continue to ramble and circle thoughts, let me define "that". "That" is purpose.

Those who find their purpose without children have the ultimate gift and have earn the utmost respect from me. I am so blessed to know what "that" is for me... "that" is to:
  • live life with a grateful heart.
  • Look for/seek opportunities how you can help.
  • Find peace in yourself. Pride in your values. Be humble.
As I end this week and start this day focused on breathing, I have taken a moment to pause. To write. To speak my mind. To open my heart. When things get overwhelming, know you are not alone. Reach out - whether it be to a person in your circle or to the cuber world. Express yourself. Ultimately, connect with your values. Breathe. Just, breathe.

What is your "that"? How do you get through a tough day" Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time... xo


_____________________________________________________

Interested in learning more about our family? Now you know how some of the evolution of our You Tube channel but watch the video below to hear about the first spark that ignited our You Tube journey. Stay tuned for updates and join us on our adventure! 




Again, if you are interested in really helping out this small You Tuber gain a little traction, please let our playlist run and enjoy a few laughs along the way! Thanks so much!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Parenting Advice No One Ever Tells You


Here's the deal, folks... I am FAR from the the perfect parent and I, in no way, have my act together BUT, I have discovered a few of the ultimate in sanity saving parenting tips that no one ever tells you. Sure, you may have heard that saying before but I promise you, take 5 minutes to experience a few "ah-ha" moments! by reading this post...


1. Stackable plates.

Avoid the sectioned off plates and spend the $2 from Ikea to get their stackable sets. This avoids the Tupperware or random containers tumbling out of the cupboard much like a game of dominos - and with that, also your sanity temporarily crumbling. 

Your kid doesn't like their peas touching their potatoes --- wait! you just read that right, it IS possible for a kid to love peas... make use of 3 bowls. They are cost effective enough and keep things more separated...
Ikea Kids Plates
Available HERE

2. The Crockpot, batch up cooking and/or a good quality blender are your new best friends.

Whenever you are cooking, batch up recipes and stick them in the freezer. This is most significant no only in saving on the cooking later -- but seriously streamlines clean up. 

Take advantage of the freezer to crockpot method of cooking where you dump the ingredients from a Ziploc bag to the Crockpot, set it and forget it! I've link a few simple recipes below.

Blenders are wonderful. Whether it's a smoothly, a sauce or a soup -- Blenders lend to the dump it and press the "easy" button philosophy. Who doesn't love the occasional easy button?!?

FOLLOW the blog as I post more of these helpful recipes in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy THESE easy recipes or, how about this Chicken Cord Chowder?


A delicious Chicken Corn Chowder hits the stop!


3. Avoid the traditional toy bins.

Sure they can be cute for a short while, a VERY short while. Save your sanity by taking advantage of the "out-of-sight - out-of-mind tactic". Add a pictured label if needed to assist with putting away their own toys. On that note, remember that by nature, kids LOVE to clean. We are creatures of habit and a simple label can make this a more seamless process and a process that takes this item off of your "to do" list. 

A system like THIS with basket or fabric storage bins is a great, affordable, option.

4. The vacuum is the most effect means to getting your children to clean their room. An automated vacuum, like the Roomba, is even better. 

No need to raise your voice to get your kids to clean, simply let them know in 10 minutes you'll be vacuuming. Even better, schedule a robot vacuum which regularly turns on when no one if home so their rooom(s) - especially all of their LEGO needs to be clean - otherwise, the robot will pick them up. Voilia! You're not the "bad guy" and they stay on top of keeping their room clean. Win! Win!

5. Get ready to turn up the volume!

Feeling stressed? Don't hit the pause button, turn up the music and enjoy a spontaneous dance party. It resets the energy for everyone... and now you know where my son gets his killer dance moves! ;)


6. It's not about being lazy, it's all strategic and planning for the long-haul. 

Your children offer two extra hands to help you and work as a family-unit. My children know that there are core responsibilities to keeping up the house and the more we work together to accomplish task, the quicker the task gets done AND --- the more time we have to play together. 

So, how many times did you hit your forehead reading this?! Why do these pieces of advice get missed in the "real" parenting books? These are solutions, folks. Give them a go and share in the comments below your best - or worst - parenting advice, strategies and solutions!

Until next time... have a wonderful day! xo

_____________________________________________________

Interested in learning more about our family? We're on You Tube, too! Watch the video below to hear why we started this journey; stay tuned for updates and join us on our adventure! 




If you are interested in really helping out this small You Tuber gain a little traction, please let our playlist run and enjoy a few laughs along the way! 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A toast to 2016!

What a remarkable year. It's been a roller coaster -- starting with the lowest of lows with relationships to the passing of too many loved ones... child mental health issues, diving into new hobbies and the launch of this blog.

This blog has become and outlet and a personal special project. It is one item that has always been on my bucket list and, albeit full of random content and no consistency to posting, it's out there. A few of read and comment --- thank you!!! and even one as "followed". Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You don't always know the story behind the author or behind an individual but can hear how a small gesture can changes someone's day... these small gestures provide empowerment. I am truly grateful for those to take a few seconds out of the their day to click a link to end up on these pages...


This journey all started with my children. My son who BEGGED to start a You Tube channel. The craziness of that is still unreal --- You Tube was of course not around when I was growing up. The internet was not around. Heck, we didn't have cable tv. Within seconds of my son's first video, we realized there was a little bit of magic within this whole new world. I talk about it in this video but - my son has delayed speech and language development. It was quite significant for a long period of time - until You Tube. He is connecting with an audience and that makes all of the difference in his self-reflection...

This then lead us to the community that is You Tube. I had no idea that such a community existed. Community is everything - in so many ways. As humans we cannot exist without it and to discover this whole new community is such a blessing. There are so many people out there, keen - and committed to cheering you on; they don't just do so with words but with action. With that, I encourage anyone who has stumbled onto this page, to click each of the videos below to show support to these truly remarkable people by supporting their channels. If you are engaged in You Tube, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to them, hit that LIKE button and leave a friendly comment.

I am sure I will come back to this post and add to it as I have time to reflect on this last year but will leave you for now with links to these tremendous people... here's to respect, gratitude and much appreciation --- toasting to a wonderful 2016 and continued growth in 2017! Until next time... have a  wonderful day! xo

Kids Wild Ride

Miss Trendy Treats

Sagan and Loki

Toy Trio TV



Fun with the Bugs

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Letters from Santa

Each year, our children receive a letter from Santa on Christmas morning. We read each letter as a family prior to them opening the gifts. The structure of the letter is as such:
  • Recognizing some of the big accomplishments over that last year
  • Acknowledging a strength in their personality 
  • Describing an area for growth with Santa sharing a relatable experience
  • Concluding with another strength and best wishes for the year ahead
Below are our 2016 letters. Please scroll down to read and enjoy a little piece of this special tradition. 

Our oldest son also wrote a letter to Santa in the mail, the post office provided a letter back! Watch his eyes as as read the letter to him in the video below.... this excitement is even more so with these Christmas morning letters. We will try to share a video of that as well.

With that, may your Christmas be filled with plenty of smiles and the year ahead be filled with remarkable blessings. With love, gratitude and respect...

Happy Holidays -- from our family to yours. xo




Dear Isaiah (age 6),

What a special year! You finished grade 1 and have started grade 2. You are walking to school, playing soccer, learning to ice skate, improving with swimming… you are working so hard in many things and I am very proud of you. Do you know what I am most proud of though? --- how loving and caring you are – and how hard you work to learn new things. This is what makes you truly special, Isaiah.

Your strong heart help you share with and care for other people. Your heart also helps you stay focused on tasks and keep practicing things so you can improve and do them with confidence. Your determination is something to be very, very proud of. I meet a lot of children and you really stand out with this, Isaiah. I feel honoured to be coming to your house tonight to bring you something special because of this. This is what makes you such a very good boy. I know it’s one of the things that make your Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma and Grandpa so proud of you, too!

I know you are working so very hard at controlling your body and that that is a very difficult thing to do. Keep taking your big breaths --- that is what really helps me. Did you know that sometimes even Santa gets overwhelmed? There are a lot of things I need to do to prepare for my trip around the world and all of those deliveries; there are so many decisions to make and I don’t always know if I am making the right one.  Sometimes I just want to scream or shake my body but I remember that my energy is better spent on solving the problem or that I need to be okay with the decision I make.  To help me with that, I fill my belly full of air and blow out. I once blew so hard I blew over one of my Elves! Fortunately, he was okay and the Elf even laughed - A LOT - which made me feel better. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, Isaiah – can you do me a favour and try to fill your belly full of air like Santa and blow it out? Write to me next year to tell if that is helping you when you have to make decisions or are feeling overwhelmed.

Oh! Speaking of your letter… What wonderful writing!!  I had to write you a second letter because I was so impressed. Your letters are so clear and I can very much appreciated writing that page out may have taken some hard work and a lot of time. Please know how much I appreciated all of your effort.

With that, I need to write another letter but please enjoy the special gifts I brought you this year. You Mom and Dad asked me to not fill their stockings or bring them anything so they could really enjoy their time with you and seeing you smile.

Have a wonderful Christmas, Isaiah --- and Happy Birthday for tomorrow!! 

Love,
Santa
__________________________________________________

Dear Kayden (age 4),

Thank you for all of the laughs last year Kayden! You sure know how to make me giggle and that is very special. It’s been a big year for you with your final year and Montessori and all of the learning you are doing there. By the time I write to you next year, you will have started Kindergarten. I look forward to hearing all about it.

I know there are so many things to get excited about and some times with all of that excitement it can be hard to calm down and focus on tasks but that is something I really need you to do. You know that it is your responsibility to put your toys away after you play with them. It is important that you do not bring out more and more things until the toys you have been playing with are put away… Please use your energy to getting that task done; there is no need to pout or cry or complain you are tired. I know you can do it.

Do you know what is so cool about cleaning up your toys? You have more room to play and move or practice your Yoga which you are so good at. It’s really helpful too because then you know where to find things the next time you want to play with them. Do you know how I know? One day we didn’t put away the tools in the Workshop because the Elves and me where too excited to eat some of Mrs. Claus’ freshly baked cookies and then go and play in the snow to build a HUGE snowman… well, because we had not put everything away, when we went back to work on the toys for all of the children – including yours – we couldn’t find ANYTHING. It was a near disaster. We spent so much time and energy trying to find things because we didn’t take the few minutes to complete the job in the first place. I learned my lesson, Kayden so I hope you can learn from me so you don’t need to go through that.

Speaking of things you can do, wow!!---- Swimming: you are becoming a fish, Kayden!!  And, you are running so fast when you play soccer. I am so proud of you. Your skills are improving with both activities but most importantly, you are having fun!!

Your writing and letters are improving so much as well. Keep concentrating on your letters; I would love to receive some words in your letter next year, Kayden. That would make your letter to me extra special.  Can you keep practicing your letters and spelling for me? But know – you are not just practicing for me, you will be so proud of yourself; learning new things is a special gift you have the ability to give yourself every day!

I must continue writing letters and preparing for the big day but please have a wonderful Christmas, Kayden! Can you be sure to give your brother a birthday hug from me as well?

Love,
Santa