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!! 


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?


Sunday, December 18, 2016

6 Questions to Ask Your Child Every Day

I asked my 4 year old for a list of his favourite things. His responses were surprising. The simplicity and authentic responses are inspiring:
  1. Making friends
  2. Fighting monsters
  3. Eating Popcorn
  4. Making apple juice 
  5. Cuddling with Mommy - EVERY DAY
  6. Watching my brother's iPad
  7. The bear story: Baby Baby, Baby Bear, What do you see?
... had he not seen his brother's iPad in the background, I am not sure this would have made the list. That said, he is now distracted by a matching game and cheering himself on as he randomly pairs Pokemon cards. "Mom, the game told me I am AWESOME!" Yes, buddy --- you are awesome. Very awesome.

This got me reflecting on the questions we ask our children; the perceived responses we might have and; other questions and responses - the dialogue - with my children I thrive on experiencing each and every day.

We have a routine at the dinner table:
1. How was your day?
2. What did you do today?

By asking this question in routine, the responses have become overwhelming but exciting. We receive the ultimate play-by-play, i..e
"I woke up. I came downstairs. I ate cereal for breakfast. I walked to school. I got to school. I put my backpack down. I walked around at school. The bell rang. 'Ring! Ring!' I went in my class. I put my backpack down. I put my indoor shoes on. Wait. I took off my boots and then I put my indoor shoes on..."

3. How did that make you feel? 
Whether a situation they are describing it something that make them happy, sad, frustrated, angry. We have them connect these emotions with the situation. You see, my oldest has anxiety (read more here -- I also talk about parenting the self-punishing child here) and any opportunity to discuss his emotions and learn during moments of pauses versus in the heat of the moment, it something we welcome.

4. What was your favourite part of your day?

5. What did you learn today?

And, of course:

6. Do you want to dance? 

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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Review: American Housewife

"The wealthy town of Westport, Conn., is full of cookie-cutter mommies and their seemingly perfect offspring, but the members of the Otto family can't be counted among them. Confident housewife Katie Otto shares a home with her husband, Jeff, and their three children Taylor, Harrison and Anna-Kat, and while she loves them all dearly, she recognizes they probably aren't going to land themselves in a magazine spread anytime soon. The matriarch knows her family is beautifully flawed, and she's far from sorry." (Wilkipedia, December 15, 2016)

In short, all moms should watch. You'll find yourself nodding and laughing with the presentation of real-life circumstances. The writers maintain consistent humour while casually touching on some more serious subject matters. Sure, some of the humour may be offensive to some but - sadly - it is the presentation of reality. The constant stereotyping and hypocrisy of the Katie does not get lost and for that reason (combined with intermittent stronger language), I would suggest this is not appropriate as a family show; rather, one to watch with your girlfriends. Provided you don't take this show seriously, you can sit back, relax and enjoy. 


Subscribe on You Tube:
Connected to You Tube after our (then) 5 year old continuously expressed interest in making his own videos. We stumbled onto some remarkable benefits -  most significantly - supporting our child's speech development. Creating the videos allows him to listen back and see if he thinks others are understanding him. The support through him seeing comments and "thumbs up" reminds him of the importance of clarity and annunciation...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

20+ Simple but AWESOME Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids!

When it comes to the stocking, we are keen on small traditions and fostering some activities to help calm the excitement of the day. When it comes to affordable, and useful stocking stuffers, pick 10 for this list and you are set! Let just get right to it.. I have included links to products from Amazon so you could actually complete for stocking holiday shopping right now!

>>> The nice thing about online shopping, apart from avoiding the crowds, you can set a firm budget and it seems to be easier to stick to! From the list below, you can fill a fun stocking for $20... or more depending on the specific products.

Amazing Stocking Stuffers for Children - you'll both love!!
  1. Card Game/Playing Cards
  2. Dice - standard or learning dice
  3. Travel Style Board Game
  4. Book
  5. Bookmark - or pick up a bookmark craft set from the Dollar Store
  6. Colouring Book/Activity Book
  7. Crayons/Markers
  8. Shopkins or Pokemon Cards - these items can be individually wrapped to have some extra fun on Christmas morning!
  9. Water Bottle
  10. Puzzle
  11. Toothbrush
  12. Bubble Bath/Shampoo
  13. Stickers/Temporary Tattoos
  14. Hot chocolate mix
  15. Cookies/chocolate/candy
  16. Socks
  17. Lego Minifigurines
  18. Sport Ball  
  19. Christmas Ornament - a craft kit from an arts/craft store like Michael's or a personalized ornament are great options! 
  20. Orange --- if our family the stocking always included a Christmas orange (or three for a healthy morning snack!)
See the excitement of our kids opening their stocking last year in these quick videos - each are less than a minute:

Thanks for stopping by! From our family to yours, happy holidays! Until next time... have a wonderful day! xo

Thursday, November 24, 2016

50 lunch options as good as ice cream!

Scrambling for lunch ideas and faced with some adversity, i.e.:
  • your kid does not eat sandwiches
  • you're in a peanut-free environment
  • heating foods up or refrigerating foods during the day is not an option
  • you need something simple -- minimal (if any) prep involved
Here are over 50 kid-tested AND APPROVED snacks to have on hand for kids and lunches for just that circumstance!

A little prep on Sunday, dividing items into Ziploc bags, small Tupperware containers or a bento-style plastic container... pick - or let your child pick - 4 items from this list (perhaps 2 fruit/veggies, 1 protein, 1 carb) and you're set!

  1. Carrot sticks
  2. Cucumber slices
  3. Sliced red peppers
  4. Green beans
  5. Sliced or diced melon
  6. Grapes
  7. Apples
  8. Oranges
  9. Pear
  10. Banana
  11. Nectarine
  12. Broccoli (& dip)
  13. Sliced or diced mango 
  14. Peach
  15. Pineapple (I divide up a can into small tupperware containers for the week)
  16. Strawberries
  17. Blueberries
  18. Blackberries 
  19. Raspberries
  20. Dried cherries --- or fresh, pitted, cherries if you're up for it
  21. Seaweed --- you might be surprised!... nearly all children in my son's class ages 3-6 eat and LOVE seaweed
  22. Salad kit - lettuce, dressing, croutons & my 4 year old preps at school
  23. Corn (I divide up a can of corn kernels and my 4 year old loves them cold) 
  24. Sunrype dried fruit bar
  25. Raisins
  26. Dried pineapple
  27. Dried mango
  28. Craisins
  1. Yogurt -- freeze yogurt tubes and they are thawed by lunch
  2. Cheese
  3. Hard boiled egg
  4. Sliced or diced ham 
  5. Sliced turkey
  6. Sliced chicken breast
  7. Chicken nuggets/popcorn chicken in a thermos 
  1. Fish crackers
  2. Ritz cheese sandwich crackers
  3. Any other variety of cracker
  4. Bread slices or bread with butter
  5. Macaroni in a thermos
  6. Spaghetti noodles with Parmesan in a thermos 
  7. Snack pretzels
  8. Cold pancakes
  9. Muffin
  10. Cinnamon roll 
  11. Crescent roll
  12. Pita bread
  13. Naan bread
  14. Tortilla roll 
  15. Cold pizza
  16. Fresh German-style pretzel
  17. Dry cereal
  18. Granola bar
Do you have items to add? Comment below!

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Message for Mommas: Be Proud

There's a lot we can learn from our children: pride in the simple things - for one!!  My son built a single-block tower with Duplos nearly the size of himself and check out that smile!  Have you taken a moment today to be proud of a simple accomplishment?

Mommas, take this quick note as a reminder to pause, breathe and learn from your children. Be proud of the simple things: your children are safe and happy. That --- is enough. 


As much as we hear this message, I find -  as moms - we still don't take a minute to pause and give ourselves some credit. Not just give ourselves a break but give ourselves some credit. Rather then keep trying to check off the 562 boxes from the unwritten list that we have set out for the day --- you know that list that often seems oblivious to those around us?! --- take a minute to reflect on a small, simple thing you have done.

My husband and I had this discussion recently. I am seemingly the eternal optimist and he has been more of a pessimist. But, we have reached a crossroads where the influence of positivity is having a notable impact on our marriage. The ability to shift perspective to focus on the successes and achievements is transforming our marriage: the recognition from simple awareness and that moment of pause to --- taking the moment to be proud yields a meaningful impact - and that is empowering.

This photo of my son and the discussion with my husband also helped me reflect on the need, as a mom, to not simply pause as a strategy in self-care but to take a minute to be proud. I encourage you to take even 15 seconds to stop what you are doing during the day and just breathe. Then, reflect on one thing - no matter how seemingly small - and give yourselves some credit.

Look at that smile in my son's face... I hope he got your smiling, too! Accomplishments are not something to be swept under the rug. Put down the broom. Breathe. Be proud of the simple things: your children are safe and happy. That --- is enough.

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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Parenting Perspective: The Chapter on Supporting Your Self-Punishing Child Begins

My son is sensitive and loving, a true old soul. But with this aspect of his personality comes the "self-punishment". Combine this with anxiety (I talk about his anxiety here) and numerous developmental delays and a typical day presents that many more opportunities for my own personal growth. This perspective is critical to save my sanity. My sweet boy is gift to teach me greater patience, a deeper love and to value and hold onto every precious moment...

I love this photo of him. I think you can see a bit of his precious soul through his eyes and smile.
My six, soon-to-be seven year old, has made frightening, devastating, comments. From "I don't want to live" --- and shying completely away from concretely discussing it only to comment, "I can't tell you what I sad again because it would make you really, really sad." This is certainly want breaks my heart the most but then there are moments like yesterday where he declares his own punishment.

He started crying, balling. In the moment I couldn't understand why but soon learned the trigger (within a series of items) was receiving cereal instead of toast for breakfast. Anything pertaining to making a decision, he gets COMPLETELY overwhelmed. Even the option of having both so that he does not necessary have to make another choice becomes, yes, another choice for him. The crying, red tears, tears streaming down his face --- after nearly 40 minutes he realized this is not an acceptable response for the situation and that there should be a consequence. He begins:
  • You need to take away my Pokemon card, forever.
  • When I get home from school, I am just going to stay in my room for the rest of the day. 
  • Don't have a birthday party for me. I don't deserve it.
And, he continues... continues declaring punishments for the next 20 minutes.

I had to leave for work and this stayed with me all day. Last night I spent the evening reading a spectrum of articles on "when a child self punishes"; "how to support a child who self punishes"; "understanding a child who self punishes".  Additionally, I have reached out to various local therapists to meet and discuss so I can better get out of my own head on this subject. I am by no means an expert but I can say, reading other parents' perspectives last night on similar circumstances helped so I thought I would share my situation, thus far, albeit with no particular resolve because sometimes I know you need to hear "I can relate"; "You are not alone". And, from the "expert" articles I read last night, a common them was:

"This is a surprisingly common issue for children." 

With that, again, you are not alone. Yesterday was not the first time we have gone through this situation. This has been going on for nearly two years and as he matures the consequences seem to be getting more in depth rather than lesser. 

I will update as we make our way through this parenting chapter... With some positive resolve, here are a few strategies I found from "When a Child's Guilt Goes Overboard" that we are going to try. 

"Here are a few suggestions, but you should find what works for your family:
  1. Change the self-talk. Tell him he may apologize but he may not “insult” himself. That is your son he’s insulting and you don’t want to hear it! Explain that it is not his job to give the punishments, it’s your job. He can express his feelings once, but then needs to move on to something on the list.
  2. Draw or write an apology note. No matter how small or large his mistake, this gives him a way to focus on the person he upset instead of himself, and express his remorse.
  3. Make a gift of some kind. This is a great way to use some creativity making someone else feel good, and he will probably learn that this makes him feel better as well.
  4. Spend some time alone. Separate from a punishment, he can go hang in his room or some comforting place.
  5. Use that energy as exercise. Running off his mad, even if it’s at himself, is a healthy way to get these feelings out. A punching bag in your basement, a jump rope, push ups or sit ups are healthy ways to push out his mood.
  6. Do a good deed. When he is feeling  like he is a disaster as a person, have him do something kind or helpful for the world. Clean up some litter, rake for a neighbor, do an extra chore around the house.
  7. Create art or music or stories. These are excellent media for ridding ourselves of negative emotions."
SOURCE: When a Child's Guilt Goes Overboard,  Ask Doctor G: Parenting & Youth Development Expert,, accessed November 16, 2017

Thanks for letting me connect and being a part of your day... hold onto a positive perspective throughout the challenges of your own parenting journey. Each present tremendous opportunities for growth and development... through that growth and development, we can empower, inspire and support.

With gratitude... have a wonderful day! xo

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Recipe: Chicken, Bacon & Feta Pasta

I've already let you know the deal - I am a huge fan of easy and cost-effective recipes that are family-friendly. I function by choosing a base ingredient that is prepped in advance, can be used in multiple recipes and suits the freezer-to-stove top or freezer-to-oven style of cooking. I am also keen to batch up a single recipe so that I can then easily rotate through meals during the month. Not only is this more cost effective but it is significantly more effective on the clean up.... saving time and money- that's how I roll!

With my recipes, you'll find strict quantities are not always mentioned. The emphasis on EASY is just that --- most often I am just throwing the ingredients in and enjoying dinner 15 minutes later! Ratios might apply and I'll note those but I encourage you to enjoy a little taste as you go and alter occasionally. Find what works for you. Add in a strict "no kids in the kitchen when Momma is cooking routine" (we have specific times for kid-friendly cooking but this Momma needs some peace when prepping dinner after work).... this--- then gives me 10-20 minutes of relative tranquility. Self-care as a Momma needs to be infused into our daily living and this is one strategy I accomplish just that!

Back to the recipe! While doing a mass batch up of chicken, I talked about shredded chicken - here - I also batch up diced chicken. My preference is for thinly sliced chicken breast I let cool, portion the chicken out and freeze in Zilpoc freezer bags. Of course, opportunities for diced chicken recipes are nearly endless but here's a one-pot, 10 minute recipe I discovered when searching for recipes with slightly over-ripe tomatoes... Chicken, Bacon & Feta Pasta

One other note for batching up before we get started, diced onions! Another great ingredient to take 30 minutes one day to diced and portion out, freeze, and then make use of just as you need!

Great one-pot dish! Alternatives can included spaghetti squash instead of pasta noodles for a gluten-free option.

Chicken, Bacon & Feta Pasta

- Diced Chicken
- Diced Onions
- Garlic
- Spinach, optional - if frozen cubes, we just use 2; if fresh, 2-3 handfuls
- Diced (cooked) Bacon (we buy from Costco). 1/4 cup is sufficient
- Diced Tomatoes
- Sliced mushrooms, optional --- we love mushrooms!
- Feta - 1/4 cup is sufficient... really depends on your taste
- Parmesan
- Spaghetti noodles (spaghetti squash is a great gluten-free alternative)

1. Thaw your chicken
2. Boil water for spaghetti noodles
3. Sautee onions and garlic in a dash of olive oil
4. After 1 minute, add spinach
5. After 1 minute, add mushrooms
6. After 2 minutes, add tomatoes
7. Add bacon
8. Once water is boiling, cook noodles for 10 minutes; drain, rinse with warm water, and add to wok; toss current ingredients
9. Toss with feta
10. Add in Parmesan or serve and add the Parmesan at the table

Great as a one-pot dish or serve with garlic bread or salad.

Side note: I will also batch up the spaghetti noodles so make a spaghetti night that same week a little easier --- one less pot to wash!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Recipe: Chicken Quesidillas

Switching the tone after my last post and back to sharing another recipe. Is that how parenting works? --- one minute consoling a child, the next minute - getting dinner on the table, the next minute - reading stories, the next minute...

I let you know I am a huge fan of easy and cost-effective recipes that are family-friendly. Here is another great one!

I am keen to choose a base ingredient that is prepped in advance, can be used in multiple recipes and suits the freezer-to-stove top or freezer-to-oven style of cooking. I am also keen to batch up a single recipe so that I can then easily rotate through meals during the month. Not only is this more cost effective but it is significantly more effective on the clean up.... saving time and money sounds good to me; how about you?!

Shredded chicken offers just that! I throw chicken breasts in a crockpot overnight with a small amount of chicken stock... shred in the morning and divide out for a variety of different recipes. Today, let's talk about delicious chicken quesadillas!

Family-friendly chicken quesadilla
- Shredded chicken
- Sour cream
- Grated cheese
- Tortillas shells
- Cumin

1. Mix shredded chicken with sour cream, dash of cumin (as needed for your taste) and small amount of grated cheese
2. Fold tortilla in half to give you "the line"
3. Spread approx 3 tbs of chicken mixture on half of the tortilla; top chicken mixture on tortilla with grate cheese
4. Fold tortilla over and wrap tightly with saran wrap. For good measure, I then groups and store all wrapped quesadillas in a Tupperware container.

1. Unwrap portions; thaw/heat for 30 seconds; turn; heat for 30 seconds in microwave
2. Pan fry in a non-stick skillet

We serve with Spanish rice or a taco salad.

The cost breakdown on this (based on current Canadian dollars) - 20 quesadillas:
Chicken: $10
Tortilla Shells: $10
Grated Cheese: $5
Sourcream: $3.50
Cumin: $3.50

Keep in mind, you'll have sour cream and cumin for plenty of other recipes based on this grocery list (you may even have chicken left over as well!), $1.60/serving.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Hug Across the Border

When this appears in my Twitter feed:

I need to say something. This is not okay. I am not judging Trump supporters; I have heard the exact same statements be said about Clinton - specific to being "scary, scary, scary" and "having nightmares".  I honestly do not feel well informed to comment on anything meaningful pertaining to politics. I do feel "informed" though, as a human being, to reach across the border and hug this child.

"Informed" I use in the latter loosely. I don't need to be informed to do so... I live with compassion and integrity. I know this child does as well. This raw emotion, shows his heart and soul... a heart and soul that is so pure, so authentic and so, inspiring. You, stranger whom I do not know, your heart is gold. Your family and loved ones are as well. The influence of your compassion is powerful. You have reached the heart of someone thousands of miles away and you should be very proud of who you are.

Much love. xo

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cooking on a Budget: Rice

Extending your buck. That's how I try to live life both because of a personal desire but also, out of necessity. I am sure you might be able to relate.

My friends are always surprised at how we keep our monthly food (including toiletries, etc.) to $500 for our family of four. We do so through meal planning and relying on a few core staples. Rice is one of those staples. As I begin to share some of my favourite - quick and easy and cost-effective (relatively healthy) - recipes, I thought I would start with a basic...

Rice. Now, slightly contradictory with the healthy comment I just made but using the "it could be worse" thought, we make use of Jasmine Rice. A $30 bag from Costco lasts 2 months and can be batch cooked in a set it and forget it approach. There are a few "wins" for this Momma there so, I am taking it. Of course, I am sure you can make use of your favourite brown rice with a higher fiber content should you prefer.
The basics...

No matter the quantity, the method for "plain rice" is the same:

1. Briefly "roast" stove top your desired rice, dry, in olive oil to enhance its flavour. This can be as quick as 2-5 minutes. Remember how many cups of rice you have scooped in!

2. Add water - the ratio is 2:1... 2 cups water for every 1 cup rice.

3. Cover; bring to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes.

5. After 5 minutes, let simmer for another 20 OR, simply turn off and remove from heat. I use the latter if I am heading to work so I come home and the rice is set! Fluff the rice just once to keep it from turning to mush.

Now, what to do with this mass of rice you have just made?!? Let it cool and store in Ziploc freezer bags. I layer (and flatten) the bags, flat, on a cookie sheet maximize use of space in our freezer.

When the dinner-of-the-day calls for rice, I pull a bag and let it sit in the sink for the day. When I get home, in just 5 minutes, I can have it warmed - stove top.

I make use of this plain rice as a base or side for butter chicken, curried recipes (I used cream of chicken instead of cream of mushroom in this recipe), pork chops or shredded pork... I'll share these recipes later and hope to connect back to update the link. For now though, I have linked you to a few of my faves from All Recipes.

Jasmine Rice is a great base!

Spanish Rice...

So easy and always hits the spot! Perfect as a side or a base in a Mexican casserole dish, burritos, fajitas, etc.

- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 4 tsp Cumin
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- Garlic, optional
- Chicken stock, optional
- Prepared Rice

1. Blend (we use a Blentec and love it!) the tomatoes, cumin and chili (I keep the ratio as 2:1 but you can modify for your preferred taste). Add garlic and chicken stock powder to preferred taste. With the Blentec, I blend for all of 20 seconds. This sauce also makes a great enchilada sauce!

2. Warm your desired amount of rice and add sauce. I typically use 2 cups rice with a 1/2 cup sauce.

The Spanish rice and be cooled and frozen as well for added ease in the future. The extra sauce can also be frozen in a Ziploc freezer bag.

Spanish Rice/Mexican Rice

Fried Rice...

If you're not sensing a theme yet, "quick and easy" hits again! We make use of fried rice as a main or a side depending on the extent of ingredients we add.

- Olive oil
- Onions (1 small, finely chopped)
- Garlic (3 cloves... we make use of the prepped fresh garlic from Costco and add 2-3 tsp)
- Sliced Mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
- Bacon Bits (I use the real bacon bits from Costco as the price is right for the amount... alternatively, cook bacon (oven or stove top - I always cook bacon in the oven for ease and chop)
- Prepared rice (approx 4 cups)
- Peas/corn/diced carrots, optional
- Chicken or pork - shredded or dice, optional (I only add chicken when make this a meal in itself)

1. Sautee the onions and garlic*
2. Add mushrooms  - if adding carrots, add them first
3. After about 5 minutes, add bacon
5. After about 5 minutes, add/combine rice
6. Add soy sauce, cook for approx. 5 minutes
7. Add peas or corn, cook for another 2 minutes... enjoy!

*Note: If adding additional protein (beyond the bacon), warm your shredded or finely diced chicken or pork in a separate pan with a dash of soy sauce as you begin to sautee the onions and garlic.

Basic Fried Rice
To re-cap, if you want to make all rice bases in this post and batch up for 20 meals, below the potential cost breakdown. Keep in mind, you'll have plenty left over for other recipes from this grocery list! Based on current Canadian prices.
  • Jasmine Rice: $30 
  • Frozen Peas: $3
  • Soy Sauce: $3 
  • Bacon Bits: $12
  • Onions: $1
  • Garlic: $1
  • Olive Oil (I buy the 4litres at a time from Costco so this lasts awhile!): $20
  • Diced tomatoes: $1
  • Mushrooms: $3
  • Chicken stock (powder base): $5
  • TOTAL: approx. $80 ($4/meal; $1 per serving)

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

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Parenting a Child with Anxiety

My son has anxiety. It is draining. It is exhausting. It challenges every ounce of my being. It tests me in ways beyond measures. It can most easily be recognized by the tears streaming down both of our faces. 

The other day was photo day at soccer. An environment which may not be comfortable for all but one that the 40+ other children they could cope reasonably well with. This is not me comparing or singling out my child. This is me being observant and open to learning how others handle such circumstances. The result: 2.5 hours of crying until he cried himself to sleep. Again, this not be comparing or singling out my child; this is me knowing my child and understanding from the dozens of medical professionals he has seen, he has anxiety.

When friends try to help - for me, a wall goes up.  A thick, impenetrable wall. I know people are meaning well but the reality is: we just want to dive into a bubble, my son and I, so we can talk; so he can express himself and I can remind him, without distraction, I am here with you. I love you.

It's not about whether or not it's going to be okay because in that moment, that is not a message he is able to hear; that is not within the realm of his reality...

If you are cornered by a lion and someone were to say to you, "it's going to be okay?" - you might have some choice words. For someone to think that by saying those words, in that moment, those "actions" are going to help with the circumstance?... Think about that. Really think about that. That is what a child with anxiety faces when they are triggered.

I relate my son's anxiety to being cornered by a lion

The reality is these situations that to most are simple decisions or day-to-day circumstances are completely overwhelming and outright terrifying for him. This --- this is anxiety.

On a day-to-day level, from public appearance, he can cope well. But, when he doesn't - and we don't always know what the trigger will be (yet) - it is not about whether or not he copes well; right now, it is that he does not cope. "Fight or flight" --- he takes off like a rocket-ship... and he is headed to a universe that is presently completely unknown to us but, guess what, we are along for the ride.

We've tried to talk with other parents about his anxiety but are often met with:
"He seems fine to me."
"He's learning at his own pace."

I can tell you these are not helpful or constructive comments. Although we appreciate the place these messages are coming from, I am writing this to share another perspective. When you know there is something "wrong" with your child it is not about labeling him - or perhaps more appropriately - feeling bad that he HAS a label. The "label" is a part of who he is. That is not something to be dismissed; it is something that must be acknowledged. It is a reality. It is his reality. It is a part of him and all of him is someone to be embraced.

We are new to this. This world of parenting a child with anxiety... it's not easy but we are learning... we are trying to keep breathing. We are letting ourselves cry. And we are reminding ourselves:

Until next time.. have a wonderful day! xo

p.s. I will keep you updated; if you have a child with anxiety, please do not hesitate to reach out.  Comment below or share some links to helpful resources to the comment section below.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

When Empowerment Comes from Unexpected Places

I recently talked about an empowering situation that occurred at the most unexpected place, a funeral (read here). I am embracing these emotions as we deal with another sudden death.

I like to think I am strong and relatively stress free; I can handle a lot but death, it breaks me. It shatters me. I can go in one direction and hold to an extreme end of being stoic and exhaust myself OR, let the guard down and be completely vulnerable. The latter is my preferred path and I am so grateful to be allowed to express this completely transparent honesty. I say "allowed" as this has not necessarily always been the case. I was at work and a blubbering me. Blubbering mess does not adequately describe my emotions... but, I didn't run and hide --- although, I was very much tempted to do so. By embracing this aspect of me and being that vulnerable, I was able to grieve and cope...

This blog is another extension of vulnerability for me. Although not many many read or follow, it's a platform for me to find my voice and express myself with more transparency than I have done before. More significantly, it provides a platform for me to not solely express myself through these mediums, but -- in person. In real life?!?  How about that?! ---

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

 *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
Please follow us on You Tube. We invite you to be a part of our life's adventures!
Learn more about me in this "Small You Tuber Tag". 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What Street in Heaven does Oma live on?

Children make profound statements. They enlighten us with their honesty. They keep us thinking. They catch us off guard:

"What street in heaven does Oma live on?"

This was my 4 year old. Calmly. Confidently. Sincerely. He was asking a great question.

We recently had to say goodbye to our family dog and 10 days later, my husband's Oma passed away; he had to fly half way around the world to be with his family. So, in a short period of time, my kids lose their dog, learn a family member has died, and suddenly their dad is on a plane to be away for a unknown amount of time. Change. Life. Transparent life.

We hid nothing from our children and are doing everything we can to support them through these changes. It's a lot for anyone to take in. It's a lot for parents, too. Combine your need to grieve with supporting your children as they grieve and being present, really - really present, to answer their questions... it can be draining. It is draining.

Through this, I feel like our children are experiencing a great gift: coping with grief. Holding memories. Talking openly. These are such critical life skills for them to develop. As a parent, when a sequence of difficult events are occurring -- I hold onto that: what a blessing it is for our children to develop these skills so young. What a gift it is for us to be trusted to lead them through this journey. What a privilege. They don't know this yet but these life changing last few weeks are carving a new chapter in the story they are writing.... that of life and that of resiliency. Messages which will be forever woven into every coming chapter they write.

Their resilience inspires me. Their honesty humbles me. They make me so grateful.

"There are no streets in heaven. It's where a great people we love gather when they pass to watch over us. We carry our memories and their good values in our hearts; how amazing is that? (Pause) Actually, there are streets in heaven: people we love are in heaven and the street runs from watching over us and goes right into our hearts."

"That makes sense, Mommy."

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

Be a part of our journey, click here, to follow us on You Tube. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A New Approach (?) to Engaging Parent Volunteers

Friendly reminder - if you want to engage parents - motivate and inspire new volunteers - please, please, please do not be condescending or pass judgement. Be grateful for the capacity they are assisting. Focus on building an inclusive community that give members a reason to engage - AND provide a sustainable commitment.

Everyone is aware that parents are continually asked from every school, group or organization their child (or children) are a part of. It can be heartbreaking when you cannot be more involved... please respect that and do not put down others when they are not able to assist. It seems some forget that people cannot be in two or three places at the same time...

I know volunteer roles often "fall on the same people" but I am a firm, sure - possibly naive - believer that it is possible to create a sustainable volunteer base... but, the pillars to doing do include: respect, gratitude, understanding & trust. 

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

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Breathe, Mommas. Just, breathe.

I recently tweeted, "I aspire for that 'someone' to be my children." --- in reference to this quote:

This is one of my life mantras. I am a very centred person. Someone who has a strong faith; strong values and lives with integrity and morality. I am grounded by looking and feeling the "good" in the world...

When your day starts with your 3 year old giving you a HUGE hug and saying, "I love you VERYYYYY much." you can - and should - take a moment to step back and proudly acknowledge to yourself, "I am doing something right." Do you, though? Or --- do you let those moments pass you by?

I encourage you to pause. To breathe. To take in that moment. Stop all that you are doing and just.... breathe. Allow yourself to smile and feel your heart warm. Let that moment empower you. Hang onto that moment if even just for a few seconds.... I assure you, you'll be back to picking up spilled milk before you know it. "It" is just spilled milk. "That" moment... "That" hug was more that "just" a moment. That was a list of compliments you should be proud of:
  • You're doing awesome!
  • I am proud of you!
  • I really do care for you more than anything!
  • I thank you.

Now, aren't those moments worth appreciating?! Your child is appreciating you. Hold onto that and acknowledge that.

"That someone".... That someone is definitely you. ((((Hugs)))

 *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Please follow us on You Tube. We invite you to be a part of our life's adventures!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How does your child inspire you?

"Education begins the moment we see children as innately wise and capable beings. Only then can we play along in their world."

How does your child inspire you? Their innocence? Their drive and determination? Perseverance? Integrity? Passion?... I encourage you to take a moment and relate your child's behaviours to personality attributes. Here's an example:
  • Our 3 year old snuck into the kitchen at 3am, moved one of the dining room chairs so that he could reach the top shelf, took a bag of mini-marshmellows and a bottle of multivitamins in a child-proof container, and went back in his room...
Sure, there are many things "wrong" with this behaviour and his actions were certainly less than desirable but, through this we can recognize:
  • determination
  • witt
  • intelligence
  • strength - physical and mental
  •  ....
What POSITIVE personality attributes do you see in such actions? I challenge you to think about your child's perhaps less than desirable behaviour or action and be inspired but what their actions highlight about their personality....something to think about. Comment below with your stories. 

In reflecting on our child's behaviour and actions in that moment describes above, we can also take a moment to appreciate, the kid has moves.... for a laugh, watch this clip of his dance moves --- he calls it the "step and jiggle". Have a great day!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Live through the eyes of a child. Be present. Be grateful. Be humble.

Well, I bellyflopped on the 30 day blog challenge but I will try again --- maybe not quite yet, but I will try again. I did recently take a huge leap and post my first You Tube video. Please, check it out below.

I have found myself contemplating a lot recently:
1. What do I want out of life and;
2. How will I get there.

The overwhelming response to this is relatively simple: live through the eyes of a child. Be present. Be grateful. Be humble.

I am very blessed with being built as an exceptionally emotional person. For the longest time I was completely ashamed of this. I am not a "pretty crier". I am a mess. A real, real mess. But, at a funeral I had an epiphany. As I wore my sunglasses throughout the celebration and blubbered uncontrollably, someone commented to me to the effect of, "you're at it again. When I saw you at my dad's funeral I thought, 'wasn't it my dad who died?'..." For the first time in my life, I owned this aspect of myself and respectfully replied, "this is who I am. It is a part of me I cannot control; it does not help to know you are judged but I am proud to show people how much I care." Others who had heard the remarks immediately supported me. I was not seeking validation of any form: I am a firm believer you cannot rely or expect any external validation; you must be empowered from within. For the first time in life, I embraced this core piece of who I am, spoke from the heart and held my head high. That was an empowering moment which certainly came at the most unexpected time and place.

With these emotions, I find myself reaching out more to people and speaking as I do with my children to complete strangers. If someone has said something that touched my heart, I let them know just as my children speak the same. The innocent and pure heartfelt emotions and expressions of a child whether sweet and endearing or frustrated and perhaps more strong-willed is something we should embrace as adults. With that, a toast to pureness, innocence, respect, appreciation and gratitude... Cheers!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Bucket List

Well, I didn't quite make it 10 days in the 30 day blog challenge but, that is reality. I will regroup to meet that goal again. Getting a blog going has been on my bucket list but, as you can tell, I am not certain what to write about. It is a personal journal of sorts and my "focus" remains on "life's ramblings". What is on your bucket list? Do you have one?

Here is how my list is looking so far:
1. Renovate or build a house
2. Blog or post videos regularly
3. Complete my Master's degree --- I waiver on this one but it's something I always come back to. I think that makes it "bucket list" worthy
4. Launch a successful fundraiser for a not-for-profit
5. Expand a garden to grow my own food
6. Own a rowboat and spend a Sunday (regularly throughout the summer) on the water in the harbour near our home
7. Create a relaxing outdoor space
8. Establish and commit to a physical activity routine
9. Live debt-free

But, ultimately, I want to:

10. Guide my children to find something they love, a passion, a talent, and support them whole-heartedly in whatever that may be.

I think the first 9 items on my list are to ensure I am whole to be able to give even more to my children.... I want to live a life where I am "there" and "present" without reservation.

And, without reservation, I know I am completely procrastinating on the day... What are you doing today? Will you be checking anything off of your bucket list?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Crockpot Recipe: Chicken Corn Chowder

You know those days??? Well, I can tell today is definitely going to be one of them. I used to be impressively organized with meals: everything prepped on the Sunday and meals set for the week. Then, schedules changed. The boys' activities started up and we were racing in all directions and I ended up with a fridge full of food that no one was around to eat.

I have committed to setting a few minutes aside to write this post - day number 9 since the challenge began... I found the time and made it a priority so I can re-group and re-strategize with meal planning. I can do it. Thinking on the menu tonight, a version of a crockpot chicken chowder. Scroll down for the super easy and comforting recipe.

To make Chicken Corn Chowder:
  1. Diced: potatoes, carrots, onions into the crockpot
  2. Pour chicken stock over
  3. Set and forget for 8 hours on low
  4. When I get home from work I will through it in the Blentec; once blended toss it back in the crockpot
  5. Add: cooked diced or shredded chicken and corn
  6. Cover and let cook for another 20 min or so
  7. Toss a little bacon and/or chedder cheese on top
Simple, comfort food with ingredients all on hand. Yay!! What are you having for dinner tonight? 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Day 8: My Favourite Time Saving Tips

I missed posting the other day. Well, actually, I had a post all set, forgot to hit "post" and ended up having a really, really long day and the original content became irrelevant. So, let's see if I catch up with a post this morning and another later today (or will do so another day -- but, 30 posts in 30 days WILL happen). Being short on time has me thinking about some of best time-saving tips as a full-time working mom which help ease the chaos of the day. Here are a few; I encourage you to add yours in the comments below.

1. Batch up cooking - freeze and save. I'll post on pulled pork later and how I get 8 family dinners (32+ meals) for about $30 cdn so, keep an eye out for that.

2. Use your crockpot. The biggest impact this and batch up cooking seem to have on saving time - is the clean up.

3. Engage your children in household responsibilities at an early age. The reality is you cannot do it all yourself but more importantly, each member of the household has a role to play. Make it part of the routine.

4. Establish some sort of routine. Our greatest time saving routine tips:
  • As soon as the boys get home from school, shoes are put away, jackets are hung up, back packs are hung up, library books are put in a special location designated for just that and they take their lunch kits to the kitchen. Having that library book place is key to save you from searching for books later; promptly going through lunch kits is also key if you have kids like my boys and they come home with half eaten items... the mess after even a few extra hours takes that much more time to clean up. 
  • Same thing from coming home from sports activities - especially swim lessons. We wash out the suits in the sink at the pool and the second we get home, towels and suits are hung up to dry. Failing to do this results in added laundry and the only laundry time saving tip I have is to lessen the amount whenever and however possible.
Now, it's your turn! How do you maximize your time?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 7: Insanely Accurate Personality Test

Personality test. You see them all the time on the internet. I stumbled across this one on Twitter yesterday and WOW, it was extremely accurate. Try it for yourself: 

Below is my result. For the 20 people who make have read a few of my posts, I am not sure you have a sense yet as to how accurate this is:
Your charm and wit attracts many people, and have an inner peace that no one can disturb. You get sad for others and their situations, but should learn to not let it completely get you down!

How telling - and accurate - was this for you?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Day 6: He did it. The gift of running.

My six year old ran his first cross country race. We really were not sure whether or not he would start. We thought there would be tears. But, we also thought it was possible to be an activity he would enjoy. And, he did... eventually.

There were hundreds of kids participating; an overwhelming scene. He happily played with his friends before-hand and seemed eager to participate. This was very much to my surprise. I anticipated him becoming overwhelmed early on but he handled this part of the event with ease. To see the excitement in his eyes gave us hope he may have found an activity that "clicked" for him. He loves to run and, of course, it's such a great activity for his well-being but the potential stress surrounding the events left much uncertainly. His 3 year old brother was all too eager though, so I took him from the start/finish area to cheer from the mid-way point.

Dad stayed with our six year old and as it was time to start, the crowd gathered closer and as I am told, the hesitation rapidly set in. There was a sea of people and it was not something a parent could talk him into. We were so fortunate that his teacher was also the cross country coach. They have an amazing relationship and as my husband said, "She knew just what to say. Just how to approach and encourage him. She just knows him so well." It is truly remarkable to have a person like that in our son's life. If one cannot bring him out of his "shell". He shuts down. Completely shuts down. He is the child who will scream, hide and either frantically moving or freeze completely. In this state, there is no communication to be had. He has to experience his emotions and after an hour if we are lucky, then talk about his feelings. When he speaks about his feelings, he then usually triggers another response as he seems to feel heavily guilty for his "inappropriate" behaviour.... and the cycle continues. When he was younger these "episodes" could last six hours, easily. Rather than frantic, pacing movement thought he'd flail his body..... he is learning. We are all learning.

I need to pause as a I write this. If anyone stumbles across this and has a child who has some anxiety and more emotionally sensitive.... with patience, tremendous patience, your child can learn to cope. We are going on four years now and I may go as far as to say he is thriving. Our version of thriving. Just last week I still had someone say to me, "oh gawddddd, I could never deal with THAT." They stood up and walked away shaking there head. This was their reaction to my son's behaviour in a particular situation. He was transitioning to a new activity within the scope of the day, and he was needing a little extra support to do so. He had started to stress and swatted his hand at me which then followed tears and repetitive, "I am sorry!!  I am sorry! I am sorry, Mommy!  I didn't mean to hit you. I shouldn't do that! I am sorry!!" --- followed by massive tears. So, with this response --- why would we even "expose" our son to a new activity in a crowd of people? Quite frankly, how else will learn to cope? And, our son asked to participate. We will support and encourage him in anything he chooses --- within reason. ;)

Back to the race....His age group had about 200 kids. After words of encouragement from his teacher, he started with the crew. At the half-way mark, closer to the finish line I guess, we saw the first runner... the first hundred runners.... more and more runners..... and then, we saw this:

Our guy is in the foreground with the hat. He was running. He didn't look happy but he didn't look miserable. We'll take it. He lined up to receive his participant and placing ribbon, 184th. You couldn't see he was sad. When he finally opened up about his feelings, "I didn't get first." It was that "simple" of a statement. The little guy that shuts down has a fiesty, competitive nature in him. My response, "No. But, you did your best and that makes Mommy happy. Did you have fun?" The conversation continued, "I pushed people, Mommy. Other people were pushing. There wasn't room for everyone. I pushed some red guys. Some blue guys. And some green guys. But, not some yellow guys. Those are my team." ---- and, that left me speechless.

Running has brought something out of him - and that is a tremendous gift.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Day 5: What day is it today?

So much for the 30 day blog challenge. I plan on trying to re-group though and perhaps may tweak the challenge to 30 posts in 30 days. Things have become a particular whirlwind. You know that phase where you feeling like you are spinning your wheels and nothing tangible is moving forward. My list of "to do"'s is growing rapidly and willed with so many random tasks:
1. Source out a bagel provider
2. Recruit volunteers
3. Obtain event sponsors
4. Build & launch not-for-profit website
5. Build & launch event website
6. Update resume
7. Create not-for-profit promotional materials
8. Manage not-for-profit Facebook page - source and schedule content
9. Post to digital calendars
10. Submit food event license/permit
11. Develop registration forms
12. Create not-for-profit welcome package
13. Write sponsorship contract
..... did I mention all of this is volunteer work?!... While also working full time and the whole being a mom thing.

Keeping up with this hobby (the blog, my son's videos, etc.) has been a challenge but it also makes it that much more important. I know I need to re-group and re-prioritize.... break tasks down into more manageable pieces. And, I know I need to take some time for myself through all of this chaos.

I know I am not in this alone, all the this volunteer stuff is falling on my husband and me but that is it. It would be great to have a team behind things but they are busy too. I respect that. I respect people who are able to say "no". I am apparently not one of them and really need to do a better job of that. It really is taking everything in me to not "throw in the towel" on some of these volunteer items, but I
know it can be done. It's just getting this year behind us and then things will be easier. Succession planning is key and that is one element that is very much staying on my radar: how to set things up so that they can be transferred and sustained. This is the current issue we are in. The organization has been around for 30 years and there does not to be any record keeping that is being shared....

Okay, rant over. Clearing my head and setting a plan to move forward. To get through this weekend, ideally we will launch the core website and have bagels sourced out for an event on May 14th. Then, on Monday we can submit the food/event permit. Okay, bite size pieces. There. There's a start... and now onto make packing lunches, and getting myself ready for the day. Thanks goodness it's Friday. Thank goodness I can wear yoga pants to work. Thank goodness for coffee. Lots and lots and lots of coffee.