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.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Day 4: Life's Mantras

Well, after yesterday's less than "sun is shining and the world is glorious post", I thought I would share a few of my mantras. See, not many people know how what I shared with you yesterday. I lost a lot of friends through it all. I keep things in to ensure I am not a burden on others. I can guarantee you though, I am one of the most positive people you will meet. If I can give myself some credit with that: I like to think I am positive but not the bubbly, oblivious, as-seen-on-TV-Valley-girl-bubbly-positive but rather the --- always find the best in every situation positive... And with that, here are things I continually tell myself:
  • "There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."
  • "Work for want you want to achieve; the journey is a gift."
  • "Life is a journey about learning and loving."
  • "Live with gratitude, respect and inspiration. "
I will elaborate more on each of those later and the stories behind how those have worked for me but, it's Monday so I am back to work and the kids are off to school so lunches need to be packed, people need to shower and we need to get this day started!

What words do you live by? Please share in the comments below.

Enjoy today; it's going to be a good one! xo 

p.s. I just received a teaser of the boys from yesterday's photos. Darn my kids are cute!!! Apparently as a parent, humble might not be one of my strengths. ;)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Day 3: Big Day Today!

Family photos. But, wait! I titled this "Big Day Today!" --- for the 20 people who clicked on this, please hear me out. I hate having my photo taken. I hate nearly ever photo of myself. Sure, hate is a strong word but it is incredibly accurate. What I hate even more though is not having any family photos because of this "fear" so, today, I am putting my big girl pants on and making this happen!

Our family has been through a lot in the last seven+ years and at this particular moment we are in a decent place. The years leading up to creating a family were filled with my fair share of health adversity. I became tired. Really, really tired. I would have stomach pain which I would often choose to ignore.... Then, the pain became unbearable. At the ER, my white blood count was off the charts and I was prepped for surgery. Before I made it to the ER, I collapsed. My intestine ruptured. Turns out, I had tumours. Lots and lots of tumours. That was in May of that year. In August that same year, I was stopped at a red light. The truck behind me did not. I broke my neck. These 3 months changed the rest of my life. I continued extensive medical care and procedures for years... Leading up to the last seven. At 32 weeks pregnant, I had a severe placental abruption. I started to crash en route to hospital so was then transported by advanced life support. The bleeding was able to be controlled quickly but we didn't if our pregnancy was viable (we were fortunate and with a team of 13 at his delivery he is now 6 years old). This same child then experience so health adversity of his own. He had a protein intolerance where prognosis is varied but, generally, not good (horrifyingly not good). This isn't meant to depressing so I will stop there and may share more later; this is just our reality. These circumstances can also test a marriage. It's been tough. Really tough. I think you are starting to get the picture.

I didn't think we'd make it. I gave up. I checked out. I started to figure out how to move on. There's a theme there, though: "I", "I" "I" and that is not what makes a family. So, today, I am embracing our family and celebrating, appreciating and savouring who we are here and now: today is in fact a big day.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Day 2: Rewarding Good Behaviour?

Parenting is filled with constant choices and so many perspectives. One choice being allowances and rewarding good behaviour. I am still uncertain as to where I sit on this one, however, my husband is 100% in support of a reward system. I thought it was worth a shot so we laid out some guidelines and let our boys choose a reward to work towards. After nearly two months, this is is what happened:

After a quick search on "rewarding good behaviour" I came across this statement:
We give our children ice-cream if they're "good", chocolate if they're quiet, little gold stars if they eat their greens, maybe even money if they get good marks at school. We praise them with a "good boy!" or "good girl!" if they do something that pleases us. For the modern and discerning parent, the hitting-and-shaming method of "discipline" is passé. Punishment is out, and rewards are in. Why use the stick, when we can better teach a child by using a carrot? (Source: The Natural Child Project)

Although I am a firm believer in positive parenting methods, I would suggest we are far from the strict reward referenced above... and this article goes on to highlight just that with a perfect example:
Here is a good illustration of why we made the mistake of believing in rewards, based on benefits that appear on the surface. When an American fast-food company offered food prizes to children for every book they read, reading rates soared. This certainly looked encouraging - at first glance. On closer inspection, however, it was demonstrated that the children were selecting shorter books, and that their comprehension test-scores plummeted.  (Source: The Natural Child Project)

With this in the back of our minds, we rolled out a reward system with standards: we established a minimum standard for acceptable behaviour and execution of responsibilities - yes, I am referencing my 3 year old as well - and then establish set items that we felt were significantly above that standard. We then, at an unspecified time, agreed to recognize our children's behaviour with the surprise - again, see video. (Feel free to watch a few times if you like. :) ).  On a practical/specific level here is what we established for our children:

6 year old (with developmental delays):

  • Get dressed promptly
  • Maintain a relatively organized room
  • Consistently clean up after himself
  • Work collaboratively to set table for dinner
  • Always clear table after dinner
  • Activity participate in school - and the activities he asked to enroll in: swim lessons, piano, choir
  • Practice piano 
Additional responsibilities which will then become the minimum as he ages:
  • Take out recycling
  • Feed the dog 
  • Take the dog out/let her in as she alerts
  • Put away laundry
  • Put dishes away
3 year old:

  • Respectful communication & use of manners
  • Eye contact
  • Maintain a relatively organized room
  • Consistantly clean up after himself
  •  Work collaboratively to set table for dinner
  • Always clear table after dinner
Additional responsibilities:
  • Feed the dog
  • Help with putting dishes away 
  • Help with putting laundry away
  • Help with taking out the recycling
We are already seeing the evolution of these items - in particiular with recycling. Both boys take great pride in sorted everything.... we will see how things continue, in the meantime feel free to share your thoughts on reward systems and/or the responsibilities you expect of your children in the comments below. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Day 1: "Do something today that your future self will thank you for."

I had a thought: commit to writing one post, no matter how small and insignificant, each day for an entire year. I then googled "365 day blog challenge" which of course then populated my feed with thousands of ideas for content.

But, something stood out.... a 30 day blog challenge! So, here is goes. I am going to commit to posting something, anything, each day for 30 days. Why perhaps crappy and seemingly insignificant content? --- because although I love numbers. I love statistics. I admit, seeing a whopping 20 people clicked on a link to see what I have posted not that anyone has read my ramblings, does inspire me a little. Wanting to see 100 people at least have their interest perked by some a thought I had even if the title is all that is read, provides some odd form of encouragement. So, for clicking -- I thank you. I really, really thank you.

This blog is a hobby. For once in my life, I have a hobby. For once in my life, I am committing to setting at least 2 minutes a day aside to participate in "my hobby".  I am committing to do something for myself for one hour (albeit over the course of 30 days). A whole hour.  This is a huge step forward in my life, I am doing something today that I know my future self will thank me for; how about you?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Facebook vs Reality

You know where "this" moment is captured and posted to Facebook:
Photos cannot be used in any form without written consent of the author of this blog.

Well, the truth behind "THAT" is "THIS" where a child had been screaming and miserable for an hour and completely exhausted themselves...

The above photo was taken from an illustration because - of course - MY child would NEVER behave like that....

That is all, for now. Can you relate?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Critically Important Observation

Can you imagine if Costco has a children's play area like Ikea?!? Any guesses as to how many moms you would then find wondering the isles for samples. Or, hello date night?!?! What is your unconventionally brilliant idea to make life better?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Visit from the Tooth Fairy!!

Big news in our house!!! Our 6 year old lost his first tooth. Well, second technically and second according to him but that was only because he had to be pulled. I talk more about some of his health adversity here and here.  So....

Photos cannot be used in any form without written consent of the author of this blog.

What is the "going rate" for the tooth fairy? Comment below.

Now, because I didn't know this and it completely grossed me out --- apparently it is totally common for the teeth as they fall out to turn greyish/black! I can handle blood, and broken bones (I used to be a lifeguard and had to assist where a person missed the pool on back inwards dive - no issue there), but seeing my son continually play with this little tooth as it was barely attached and turned grey - nasty!!! So, that's it for this post -- you get to be grossed out if you read this far and, if you didn't, you got to see some pics of a darn cute kid (not that I am bias). WIN! ;)