Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I LOVE whiteboards (well, my whiteboard reward chart)

Hi friends,

My 4 year old refuses to be taken in by colourful charts and sticker systems. When we were potty training, he didn’t care about putting stickers on a chart. He is only now beginning to come around when it comes to art and craft projects but they must have a messy component like homemade slime or play dough or must involve cutting and gluing paper.

When he turned 4, I put my foot down and strictly implemented some chores for him. Before, we were loosely involving him in chores. He would do little things like put away his coat and shoes but I believe 4 is a good age to take ownership of a few tasks. I could tell he was tuning me out when I was explaining the importance of having responsibilities and helping out so I came up with a reward system. I got a plain white board and glued some felt circles to plain magnets. Now, he gets a magnet for doing a chore. If he receives a certain number of magnets he gets movie night, a reward etc. We also take away magnets for certain behaviours. This usually helps him check his behaviour because he does not want to miss his rewards. It has happened before and he learnt his lesson.

We have recently been playing with the concept of bonus magnets for doing things that are not on his chore list. He is responding well to that. Sometimes we may have a bigger reared, a new Skylander for example. To get the “big reward” he has to earn more that the usual amount of magnets. He has been finding lots of ways to earn bonus magnets like making my bed (he does a good job for a 4 year old) or helping me fold and put the laundry away. Often, he will offer to help out without me asking. Yay!!!

The one thing I do is give him some flexibility. He has 4 chores and he earns a magnet every time he does one. We tally up magnets on Saturday but he doesn’t have to earn the maximum amount possible to get a reward. There are times when he sleeps over at his grandparents or we deviate from our regular schedule so he does not have the chance to earn his magnets. I do not want to punish him for something he cannot control. He has lots of time to learn life is not fair, when he is older.

I actually have 2 whiteboards in the kitchen, hung one on top of the other on the wall. I usually put up his school calendar and our meal plan (written on the board or sometimes I print out a spreadsheet). I also put invitations or special events there too. The bottom one is reserved for the reward chart. I write his chores and the various reward levels plus the things that will cost him magnets on the board as well. This helps me teach him some responsibility around the house. Once his sister is older, I am going to have to get a little more sophisticated with my system.

Here is my system
 
 

XO,
Lucky

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Meal Planning and an Organized Fridge

Hi friends,

I am by no means an expert or the most organized mom out there but I have been doing a few things that have helped me be more prepared for life. It takes a little bit of planning and organization up front but I find that it’s worth it throughout the week.

My husband and kids are messy. Baby Daddy doesn’t really implement my whole “clean as you go” philosophy but he tries. Recently, we started doing a lot of juicing. We were feeling lazy, lethargic and overall crappy so we deceived to so a little system reboot with juices. Off the bat, I refused ownership and laid it on the husband. He is responsible for researching the recipes, shopping and making the juices. It has been great but chaotic.

I still do most of the cooking, which I love, but I like to have a rough meal plan. Dinner is usually veggies or salad and some type of protein. The kids love rice so there is usually a batch in the rice cooker. I also only plan for 4 days. We have Sunday night dinner at my in-laws and my mother-in-law gives us massive doggie bags. We often have leftovers throughout the week too. My son refuses to eat sandwiches or any type of bread. I prefer that he eats something at school so I cook to be able to have something for lunch. I’m fighting the fussy eating but that’s for another post.

Shopping is done on the weekend with the husband. Sad thing is, if we leave the kids with their grandparents, this feels like a date. I like to wash and prep everything as soon as we get home but that doesn’t always happen. In that case, I do it on Monday. Batch cooking is part of the prep. I cook breakfast foods in batches and this makes mornings run a little smoother. Bacon, sausage or hash browns keep well in the fridge and heat up well in the toaster oven. I also portion out meats and label and freeze. I marinade whatever I’m cooking that week. I grew up in Trinidad and “green seasoning” is a must for meats. I don’t really put it on steak or chops though.

Here’s a snapshot of some stuff I cooked on Monday:

 
  1. 3 portions chicken- 2 for the freezer and one to be cooked later this week. Of course, it has been “seasoned.”
  2. Middle row- pork chops, cauliflower jalapeno “rice” and longanisa (a Filipino sausage which the kids love).
  3. Bottom row- steamed broccoli, hash browns and bacon.
 
Here’s a shot of my fridge:
 
 
  1. Top shelf extra milk bags (yes milk comes in bags in Canada), condiments
  2. Middle shelf- cooked food, juices (Baby Daddy makes them in the mornings for consumption that day), wine and condiments that don’t fit on the top row.
  3. Bottom shelf- all the veggies and herbs that we need for juicing. I prefer to put them in containers to make the best use of space. Spinach/kale/lettuce and herbs last longer if you put a damn paper towel in the container.
  4. Drawers- fruit
  5. There is also a drawer under that that has eggs, cheese etc.
  6. Not pictured- doors. One has other condiments and my green seasoning. The other has milk, yogurt etc. for the kids.
I’m working on organizing the freezer. That’s another project on the list.

Anyway, this is just a little insight on something that helps me out. I’m sure you resourceful folks have lots of ideas of your own.

 
XO,
Lucky

Monday, November 10, 2014

Remembrance Day Poppy Craft

Hi friends,

I am not especially crafty but I have been trying to get craftier and come up with projects for Noah. I am always looking for ways to entertain him without a screen and also save my sanity. Remembrance Day is here and with the recent events in Canada’s capital we have been talking about appreciating all that our soldiers and war veterans have done for us. Noah is very excited about pinning poppies on his lapels so I decided to come up with an easy craft for Remembrance Day and so the bouquet of poppies idea was born.

Here is what I used:

  1. Red construction paper
  2. Black construction paper
  3. Tape
  4. Glue
  5. Green pipe cleaners
  6. Scissors
  7. Small jar with rice (to hold the bouquet)

 

How we did it:
 
 
  1. I had a poppy on hand that I used as a template and freehand drew some poppies on the red construction paper. I’m not an artist but I figured imperfect poppies were perfect for us.
  2. Cut out the poppies.
  3. Cut out black circles or shapes for the middle of the poppies.
  4. Glue the black pieces to the middle of the red flowers.
  5. Tape pipe cleaners to the back of the poppies.
  6. Display in a baby food jar that was filled with rice.
Noah is not into arts and crafts but he does enjoy cutting paper and using glue. This project did not take long and it held his attention almost to completion. He wanted to move onto to something else but I managed to get him re-engaged with taping the pipe cleaners to the poppies.
 
 
 

Overall, this was a fun project, with minimal frustration. I’m planning to replicate it with other flowers. Christmas poinsettias perhaps?


XO,
Lucky

Thursday, August 14, 2014

To Every Thing There Is A Season…



Hi friends,

This may get a little rambly, emotional and philosophical.

This morning, my son said to me, “I’m going for a run Mom, like you.” Those few words stopped me in my tracks in a good way. I was so happy that I was doing something good for myself and influencing him in a positive way. I have never really been fit and I have been very lazy. I used to be very skinny but even then, I wasn’t fit. A while ago, I changed my mindset. I can’t pinpoint the exact cause and it has been a gradual process and I am still not where I want to be but I decided to do something for myself. I needed time to myself and the best way to get that is by taking time to work out. I want my family to be proud of me but I want to be proud of me.

I have been thinking about my life lately and where I am, where I came from and the ideas that I had in my head of how my life would be. In my youth, as is the case with most young people, I arrogantly thought I could control every aspect of how my live would play out. Ha ha ha ha ha. I can laugh at myself now. Some things are exactly what I wanted and some are not.

Firstly, I do not live in the country where I was born and spent the first 18 years of my life. It is very hard to move away from friends and family when you are at the junction of childhood and adolescence and adulthood. I am fortunate to still be friends with many of my high school buddies but those relationships have also changed. I am closer to people that I may not have been very close to in high school and vice versa. Similar circumstances bring us together, marriage, kids, life experiences have a way of creating bonds.

Right now, I am writing as my two little monkeys play around me. I have to pause often, to break up a fight or play a game or soothe a boo boo but I am lucky that I have this time to express myself. It is very funny how your priorities change as your life does. I always had goals- finish school, get a job, buy a home, get engaged, get married and all of that happened. Then, baby # 1 and baby #2 came along. We hoped and dreamt of them so we were ecstatic to have them. However, I no longer had the drive or desire to focus on the career I was in. I didn’t want to deal with the petty politics, the travel, the long hours and the stress so I gave it up after baby #2. I also gave up my income. That still is a big adjustment for me. I have always had my “own” money. Now, Baby Daddy brings home the bacon, I freelance but that is inconsistent and I cannot rely on that right now as a regular source of income. But, frustrating as it is, I LOVE spending my days with my little ones. I am privileged that I can do that right now. I get to see them go through all of their stages, although I wish I could skip the challenging ones.

So for today, I will remind myself to appreciate what I have and be grateful for my life. After all, I could be stuck in some gross airport, waiting on yet another delayed flight with a chauvinist boss breathing down my neck. I’ll take the snotty noses and snuggles from my boy and my girl instead.



XO,
Lucky

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Opting out/leaning back from overscheduling the kids.

Hi friends,

This morning I read a blog post on banishing the playdate from DadNCharge. He wrote about how parents tend to overdo things. I agree and I am guilty of this as well. This summer, I am taking a different approach to my kids’ activities, especially since I am home fulltime with the two of them. Noah starts fulltime JK in September and I really wanted him to just be a schedule free kid this summer. I had to step back and opt out of some activities because I realised we have been overscheduling him a little. He was getting aggravated and tired and didn’t want to go to activities and we were always rushing to get to an activity on time. I was constantly having to plan, schedule, rush and arrange childcare or someone to help when Baby Daddy had to travel for work. Not pleasant at all.

Despite my efforts to have a free range summer, we still have Noah enrolled in a half hour tennis class that he takes with his Dad on Saturday mornings. This is mostly as a result of the tennis brainwashing that comes from my husband (and family).  The baby doesn’t have anything going on. She busy growing.

I don’t know how many chances I will have to spend summer days with my kids and I want to suck out every moment of enjoyment that I can. I am keeping to bedtime and mealtime schedules (mostly) but we are having a lot of days where were have no plans and just go with the flow. We have fallen into a pseudo routine. We have breakfast, they play, I try to work, they have lunch, I clean up, baby has a nap and Noah gets screen time, I try to work, the baby wakes up, we have snack time outside, we play in the backyard/go to the splash pad, then it is dinnertime, bath and bed. Of course there are still meltdowns and refusals to eat (by the 4year old) but for the most part, we are enjoying ourselves.

I’m sad to say but I can already see the end of the summer. The Boy will start school and I will probably need to find a more steady income so we are not relying 100% on Baby Daddy’s salary. In the meantime, I’m going to avoid anything that will harsh out my summer and squeeze my babies as much as possible.

PJ day/wreck the house in record time day.
 

XO,
Lucky

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Working on finding balance.

Hi friends!
 

I’m still on my CrossFit high. I usually do the 6am class but Baby Daddy is travelling so I have to do the evening classes. Scheduling childcare so I ca workout when he is travelling is a fulltime job. I had to make a spreadsheet. I’m giving myself some props though, in the past I would have just missed the classes and vegged out when the kids when to bed. I don’t want to give in to 100% laziness. I don’t want to go back to feeling crappy and I pay so much for my membership so I don’t want to miss classes.
 

Today I took the kids to a picnic in the park. They were more interested in playing than eating, it was good to chat with some of my mom friends. Baby Daddy has not even been gone 24 hours and we miss him madly. Noah was playing a game and stopped playing because he wanted to finish it when his Dad got home. The look on his face broke my heart when I reminded him that Daddy wasn’t going to be home tonight. Poor monkey. Julia got so excited when we face timed with Baby Daddy. She kept saying “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” over and over. The way these kids love their Dad makes me giddy.

 
I’m going through my new Paleo cookbook to meal plan for next week. If I don’t plan out the meals, I make poor choices. I get so hungry after my workouts, I don’t want to eat crap because I’m delusional from hunger. I think I’m going to prep some slow cooker meals. I love my slow cooker. It’s a lifesaver. I’m getting hungry again now.

 
I have to do a run tomorrow. I’m on week 6 of my training program. Yesterday I ran 2 10 minute stretches. 6 weeks ago, I wanted to die after running 1 minute. 5k is the goal (without dying). Ok, I’m going to sign off now. I’ve blabbed on enough and my legs are aching from today’s workout.

My monkeys at the park.

 

XO,

Lucky

Monday, July 7, 2014

Call a spade a spade.

Hi friends,

Lots of ranting and non-PG language today.
As I get older, I noticed that I have less patience with people and their BS.  I want to give in to my anger and call out people when they are being asses but the rules of manners and good behaviour ask us to step back, calm down and then react, calmly. CALM. I’m really starting to hate that word. I would love to say screw that and just tell people off. In my case, this step back technique has the opposite effect. I stew and over analyse and get even angrier. Unhealthy, I know but I have a hard time letting things go. I try to forgive but I never forget, ask my husband.
I can be overly sensitive and emotional and I expect too much from people. I let my brain run away from me and place too much importance on silly things. I have acknowledged this and I try to rise above it. Do men suffer these emotions? I wish I can pick up some skills from my husband. He can lets things slide off his back while I want to kick people in the throat (I only kick people in my daydreams). The one thing I absolutely HATE is the excuse, “person x is just being person x.” No, if person x is doing and saying asinine things, person x is an ass.
The other thing that drives me nuts is people giving their opinions they have no relevant experience to the situation. I am sure I have been guilty of this and will probably still judge (as a first instinct) when I should not. Parents experience this daily when people who do not have kids give input when they should shut up.
One of the internet’s tips to dealing with anger is to write. So there, I wrote it. This is has been one of the most negative things I have put out there but I am not sorry. At least in this moment, I am not. I do feel a little better. I’m going to be silly with my babies now. That usually cures a bad mood.
XO,
Lucky