Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Spirit of Kindness

The Spirit of Kindness...
    At our school we celebrate a week of kindness.  It is something that my husband and I put into place in memory of our oldest son Gabriel.  The award is in it's seventh year.  Each year it has evolved.  In past years a challenge has been issued to the entire school to commit a "class act of kindness".  A class act of kindness is when an entire class works together to do a big act of kindness.
    This year my daughter Grace asked her teacher if their class could create care packages for children in the hospital.  Her teacher asked Grace to tell the class why she wanted to do this.  Grace told the class about the many surgeries she had on her leg, and how much it helped to take her mind off of her pain, when I had packed her a bag full of activities and new dvds that she had never seen, and some little new toys.  When she had finished telling the kids, there was excitement in the air.  The kids all made suggestions of things that they would like to receive in a hospital care package.
    Our family picked up some inexpensive items that kids would like, I sewed up a few tote bags to pack the items in.  I am really looking forward to finding out what kind of things the other kids bring in.  I am hoping that the other children are as excited as Gracie is.

Monday, 30 January 2012

My Disastrous Red Velvet Cake

Disastrous Tales of Baking...
    I love "The Food Network Magazine".  I have been purchasing it since 2009.  I love the pictures, I love the layout.  I pour through each new issue, sometimes at night I lay in bed and look at past issues.  This brings my to the disaster.  I have always been curious about "Red Velvet Cake".  There is a lot of hype about it.  It's huge in Pennsylvania, a state we love to vacation, and yet for some strange reason I have never tried it.  This issue's Food Magazine had several red velvet recipes.  This is the universe telling me to try it, I thought in my dreamy, stupid, self deluded way.
    Sunday was the day to try it I decided.  I would use my new Kitchen Aid mixer, my family would worship me, life would be good.  In my great wisdom I decided to make the cake one hour before I took my oldest daughter Grace to Curling.  Mistake number one.  The recipe called for enough ingredients for a double layer cake, I would just pare the recipe down, mistake number two.  I did not have "cake flour" but I read somewhere that cake flour just has baking powder added to it, no biggie,  I would just add baking powder, also the recipe called for "Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder", mistake number three and four.  The recipe was a bit strange in that the ingredients list was not in order, but all higgly piggly.  It called for the cooking time to be 30- 40 minutes.  I had to leave before the cake was done cooking so in my infinate wisdom I thought it was a good idea to just turn the oven off and leave the oven door open so that it would still have heat, but not overcook.  MISTAKE NUMBER FIVE.  I came home to a cake that looked like something you might see on the surface of the moon.

I am not the type to give up easily (not one of my more attractive qualities).  I decided that I should just make it again, mistake number six.  The second cake, not as moon craterish, but not great.  So the cake did not make anyone vomit, but I don't think that I would say that I could not live without Velvet Cake, well at least not the one I made!  Maybe I should just buy a mix next time I'm in the States, or try some that has been made by someone who has the right ingredients and knows what they are doing.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Black Board Reminder

     I am pretty sure that my kids would forget their own heads if they weren't attached.  Every school morning is a nightmare.  Inevitably one of them (usually Riley) gets into the car and announces that they have forgotten mittens, knapsack, snow pants, homework, sometimes all of the above.... if it can be forgotten, it is.  Many times I have had to circle back to the house after we park at the school because someone has forgotten their mitts (would you not notice that your hands were cold as soon as you left the house?).  I am hoping that my new chalkboard will help... I'll keep you posted.
I went to my local thrift store and picked this picture frame up for $5.00.

I bought a thin piece of wood and had the lumber store cut it to size (why not it's free) $7.00.  I then put a garbage bag on the kitchen table, and painted the board with chalkboard paint( I already had it, but it cost under $5.00 at Micheals.  24 hours later I hot glued the board onto the back of the frame.  I nailed some small nails in too, just to be sure.  I then hung it up, and well you know the rest.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Twist on Funky Crayons

 We discovered a neat little twist on the funky crayons.  I used a Q-tip to push down one of the crayons that had not melted all the way.  When I took the Q-tip out I noticed all of the melted crayon that was on it.  From that this craft was born.  

Friday, 27 January 2012

Funky Crayons

                                        Funky Crayons

I shared with you that today all the busses were canceled and so I kept my kids at home.   I'm not sure if I shared that my kids get bored very easily, VERY easily.  So it was time for a craft.
This craft is super easy and super fun.  I took a latex muffin mould (you could use a regular muffin tin, but this is much easier to get the crayons out of.)  The kids and I sorted through their bucket of crayons.  We picked out the already broken ones (which at our house                            did not take too long).  We peeled the paper off of them and filled the mould 3/4 of the way.  I put a cookie sheet under the tin to collect any drips, and popped it into a 350 oven.

The kids loved watching the progress through the oven window.  I only kept the crayons in for about 7 minutes.  I took them out, cooled them, then popped them out of the mould.  The fun part was making mulit- coloured pictures.   This craft may have saved my sanity!         

Please Let Them Say Snow Day!!!!!!!!!

    I went to bed last night thinking "please let it freeze rain, please let it freeze rain".  When my husband came into the bedroom this morning to tell me to "take my time getting up, all the busses were canceled and everything looks like glass."  I smiled.  I love snow days!  I love them because it means no structure.  I hate routine, I hate structure.  With 4 kids I know that structure makes life easier, but I hate it.  I hate have to's.  This is why I spend my Sunday's preparing for the week, because if I do, it is one less headache.  I try to look the kids clothes out the night before so that it is one less thing in the morning.
    Inevitably one of my kids just diddles around all morning and then is shocked when I tell them they have 5 minutes to get dressed and get to school.  Sometimes  I will send them to get their teeth brushed and get dressed and twenty minutes later I find them in their pajamas having a giggle with one of their siblings.  I spend every morning yelling at someone, sometimes everyone.  I hate that that is the way they start their morning, but I seem powerless to stop it.  The alternative is to ride them every waking second so that they are ready on time, but that is not the way I want them to start their day either.
    This parenting thing is tough.  It is difficult to find the right balance.  Maybe by the time they are in their 40's I'll have it all figured out.  I am a work in progress, I just have to remind myself of that.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

70's kids vs Today's Kids

    A few of my facebook friends have posted this really funny picture of this little boy jumping off a ramp on his Big Wheels.  The caption under the picture says something like "no knee-pads, no helmets, that's just how we rolled in the 70's".  Being a child of the 70's I found it pretty funny.  I grew up in the country. We had a big red barn full of straw.  My sister and I loved to play in that barn for hours.  I used to climb to the top of the rafters and jump into that straw.  We had races where we swam through the straw and pretended it was a swimming race.  We did things that as a parent make my hair stand on end.  As kids we were out from sunup to sundown.  I loved to go into the barn in my bare feet and feel the squish of the chicken poop between my toes!  The adult me gags at this.
   Right now we are a nation of "bubble wrappers".  I am the worst offender of this.  I am terrified that someone scars my child physically or mentally.  I want to spare them all of the hurts this world is more than willing to dole out.  I want to smother them with my love.  It occured to me yesterday that perhaps I am suffocating them with my love.  What kind of children will this generation grow up to be?  Will they think that the world owes them something?   That to get what you want, you just put out your hand?  That when eventually the hurt comes, will they be equipped to deal with it?
    Perhaps as parents it is better to let them experience some physical and emotional pain, so that they learn how to heal themselves, instead of us doing it for them.  Who among us does not have scars?  I personally am loaded with physical and emotional scars, and they make me the person that I am today.  My scars give me cool stories to share about each one of them.  "This scar on my knee I got from a race my friend and I had at the Eaton's Centre.  We were in our first year of university, my very first time on my own.  We had gone to see Jacob's Ladder (man that was a weird movie). . ."
From each scar I learned about how the world works, and what not to repeat.  Every scar is a life lesson.  I am trying to cheat my children of these valuable life lessons.  I am doing their homework for them and they are reaping none of the benefits.  As I sit here and write this I am realizing that the reason I am doing this is for selfish reasons.  It pains me too greatly to see them in pain.  How will I feel when as adults they have not clue how to function in this world.
    I am making a vow to allow them to get hurt, well maybe just a little.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Stored Pancakes = Easy Morning

     I have been trying to give my kids a hot breakfast every morning since January.  Please take note of the fact that I said "trying".  We are a single income family and we have to make every single penny stretch.  Homemade breakfast is more economical than cereal, it's also a great start to the school day with everyone sitting around the kitchen table.  On Monday morning I made a huge batch of waffles.  It was kind of comical really, I had the plain waffle maker going, the Sesame Street waffle maker  going (it puts Elmo and Cookie Monster's face on the waffles, just too cute) and I made Cinderella waffles (well really it puts her carriage on them, still awesome).
     As I mentioned, I made way too many waffles.  I put four to a layer and put wax paper in between each layer of waffles in a Ziplock bag. ( I know that the "Go Green" people will not love the Ziplocks, but I am in love with Ziplocks, my sister-in-law calls me "The Zip Lock Queen".)  I then layed them flat in the freezer.  Yesterday morning I was running late, so my husband just stuck the waffles in the toaster, and it was homemade Eggo Waffles.  It was really great.  The kids were happy, and the budget was still in tact, and technically the kids still had a homemade breakfast.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

My Very First Ever Blog

So here we are, my very first blog.  I have been wanting to do this for some time now, but wondered if anyone would really want to read what I had to say.  Then I thought, well it has never stopped you from giving your opinion before, and here we are.

My thoughts are that perhaps I should blog about what works for us and does not work for our family.  I am a slow learner, and have discovered after only 17 years of parenting that I need to try to rein in the chaos.  This September I decided that it was a fair trade off, working hard Sunday so that the rest of the week would be smooth.  I spend most of Sunday in the kitchen making a weeks worth of muffins, making a weeks worth of sandwiches, baking cookies and cutting fruit.  I put everything into Tupperware containers in the fridge then on school mornings I put it all out on the kitchen table.  The kids then go around the table and pack their own lunch.  There has been a lot less waste with this method.  Inevitably when I pack their lunches one of them comes home and tells me "you know I HATE "insert food here".  I will be honest, with the four of them, it's hard to keep likes and dislikes straight.