Monday, 2 February 2015

Leftovers: 10 Different Ways to Serve Chilli

In the never ending struggle to find something else that my kids will eat, but is healthy for them, I have been experimenting with chilli (don't add them I am adding all types of veggies to the latest batch). It's in my arsenal that my boys both enjoy and is good for them. So, I make a big pot of chilli with the intention of there being lots of leftovers - some to freeze, but also some to eat for a few days. Here's one of many nice recipes for healthy chilli that can be tweaked for your family's tastes: Rainbow Chilli. I add meat, too - beef, pork, or chicken.

So, I figured out 10 different ways to serve chili to change it up and keep the leftovers "new":
  1. Chilli served topped with chopped avocado and greek yogurt
  2. Chilli hotdogs
  3. Chilli burritos 
  4. chilli served in a bread bowl
  5. chilli tacos
  6. chilli spaghetti
  7. chilli sloppy joes
  8. chili served over nacho chips
  9. chilli burger
  10. chilli poutine
What is poutine you may ask? Fries served with this yummy gravy and cheese curds developed in Quebec. But, it has evolved into a kaleidoscope of poutine. Check out 38 poutine dishes that will knock your Canadian socks off!

Anymore ideas for leftover chili?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Blog Dare January 2015: 2014 was a hectic blur

Prompt "2014 was..."

A hectic blur.

I returned to work after a year off maternity leave. Staying home was not an option.

2014 was trying to figure how to make it all work while trying to stay somewhat sane, somewhat clean, and somewhat rested.

2014 was finding daycare and then having to find new daycare for multiples.

2014 was trying to figure out a new budget and stick to it.

2014 was trying to find balance between work and home life.

2014 was trying to figure how to get the poor animals some downtime from twin toddlers. (I have never seen two pugs so happy to see their crates some days). The cat still hasn't forgiven me.

2014 was realizing I would have to completely gate off my kitchen. Then realizing that it's only a matter of time before they will climb over said gates. I'll leave that problem to 2015.

2014 was stepping on Lego. Lots and lots of Lego.

2014 was looking forward to potty training after loads and loads of clothe diapers (plus a few boxes of disposables).

2014 was about accepting pajamas as a perfectly acceptable type of daytime clothing for both children and adults on weekends.

2014 is about accepting that sometimes good-enough is perfectly fine. 

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

To make resolutions or to not make resolutions?

Different years I have made resolutions and other years, I have not. I will admit that most years that I have resolutions that I've broken them eventually. Rules are made to broken, eh? It's like it they are there tempting you to break them... or, rather, question why you made them in the first place?

I'm making my Oldest Minion wrote 5 "goals" for the New Year as part of his holiday journal and then after the obligatory 5 lines are take up, then talk about what he would like to do in 2015. So far he has play with water swords in the summer and build forts in the Winter. Fair enough and doable. So, taking a page out of his book, I should keep my resolutions reasonable.

1. V1.0 Get more sleep. (Not going to happen)

1. V2.0 Wish for more sleep? (Doable. Check.)

2. V.1.0 Eat better. (Why is this always on the list? Rather vague. I can do better).

2. V.2.0. Eat less chicken fingers. (Also not realistic).

2. V3.0 Eat all real-meat chicken fingers. (Done).

3. V1.0 Try to work out more. (Yeah.... need I say more?)

3. V2.0 Take the Minions around the block on the weekend at least once. (Works for me.)

4. Learn new children's songs. (I think that's reasonable thanks to YouTube. Check out 7 8 9 by the Barenaked Ladies if you haven't already)

5. V1.0 Do more things with the family out of the house. (That's a big commitment.)

5. V2.0 Do more things with the family out of the house starting this winter and summer will take care of itself. (Winter Wish-list here I come. And note to self, if I tell the Oldest Minion about it, then I have to do it.)

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Keeping Up with Reading/Writing Over the Holidays For Older Kids

My oldest Minion (aka offspring) is in elementary school and what could be termed a reluctant reader/writer. He'll do it, but begrudgingly. Heck, I know more than a few adults like that, but we gotta do, what we gotta do. Sure it's easy enough to get them to write a letter to Santa, but what after that?

We've made a lot of progress this year and don't want to loose that motivation over the holiday break.

1. Our creepy plastic holiday goblin Elf on the Shelf helped.

Sure, I wasn't keen on the Elf on the Shelf, but his teacher had one last year and he loved it, so what are out going to do? Get on the bandwagon kicking and screaming I guess. If I have an elf, I'm going to make it useful. The elf left little blank mini-books with  instructions for oldest Minion  to write holiday stories for his brothers. Bonus, he had to read it out loud to his brothers.

2. Writing a holiday journal.

My oldest Minion had to write a holiday journal every second day over the holidays. If you want a keepsake, you can keep one, too.

3. Write mini-stories around Christmas ornaments.

Assumption = you celebrate Christmas. If you do and put up a Christmas tree, then have the kid(s) pick a Christmas ornament off the tree and write a little mini-story about it. If you don't celebrate Christmas, then you can pick any culturally significant or interesting object to write about.

4. Books under the tree!

Giving books under the tree is a great way to get them read afterwards. It might not be a hit on Christmas morning, depending on the kid, but it can be. We have a 30 minutes reading time per day that we try to stick to, so that helps. It's all Star Wars and superheroes here.

5. Book advent calendar.

Wrap 25 books (thank you Pintrest) and put them under the tree. Unwrap one and open every night. They can be your own books, or books from the second hand store. Use newspaper for wrapping to make it sustainable. The kids can even decorate the wrapped books with numbers and holiday themed stuff.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Winter Wonderland or Snowpocalypse? Things Parents Can Easily Forget in Winter

Our family lives in a place where there 50/50 shot you’ll be trick or treating with a snowsuit under you costume and it stay through until April (May if you’re not so lucky). Technically, there are places which are way colder (not that many), but there are days when you face bone-chilling, frigid sub-zero temperatures. One those days, it certainly is tempting to just give up and stay housebound during the winter months. Bundling up two toddlers and a squirrely eight year old is not my idea of a good time, but hibernation while tempting, doesn’t seem to be the answer either. There can be, and is, a happy medium. On those days when the sun is shining and wind-chill isn’t too bad, we try to get out as a family.
Bathroom Break - Try to “encourage” everyone to go to the bathroom before you suit them up, even if they say they don’t have to go. Nothing is worse than getting everyone ready, only to hear, “I’ve got to go!”

Layers Are Your Friends - Make sure to have the appropriate clothing for the weather. If you are going to be outside for an extended period of time, dress in layers. For little athletes who might be into skiing or skating, moisture wicking materials make an excellent first layer. I personally prefer fleece as a middle layer because it’s soft for kids, but wool can also be used. A waterproof/windproof, lined outer layer can finish off your cozy ensemble. For extra coziness, wear two pairs of socks and even mitts. Mini-mitts or mini-gloves can fit nicely under a heavier pair of mitts.

Mind the Gap! - What’s the gap? The little bit of wrist or ankle exposed with the mitts or boots ride up. There are long mitts that come out past the wrist or elbow which can help. But, what about kids who at times refuse to wear their mitts… like my boys? For toddlers, this quick and easy trick was a lifesaver…  socks! I put socks (clean ones borrowed from my older son) over their mitts, then slipped their jacket on. If you want an added craft, you can even let them, or older siblings, decorate the socks.

Sunscreen? What? - We so easily can forget this in the winter. You can just as easily get a sunburn in the winter as in the summer. If outside for an extended period apply sunscreen to any exposed skin.

Take Kleenex – As another twin mom reminded me, don’t forgot the snot rag for the endless snotty noses.

Last, but not least… mitts vs gloves? - Mitts are warmer than gloves, more easily trapping body heat, but gloves can be easier for dexterity.  I guess it depends on what you need them for. I recommend mitts for younger children, but for everyone I recommend keeping a spare pair of dry mitts to change into if need be.
Finally, don’t eat yellow snow, and enjoy your time outside!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Embrace The Cliché: I Love my Minivan!

“I’ll never drive a minivan!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that, usually followed by a rant about how ugly they are and how bad Soccer Moms drive. If you believed those people, you would think your life was over the day you “give in” and put the key in the pitiful ignition.

I was never one of those parents. I proudly drive the minivan of minivans… a silver (slightly rusted) 1996 Uplander. I embrace my minivan with its crushed Cheerios (I hope they’re Cheerios), crusty Kleenex (we mean to pick-up but no one really wants to), and the lonely mitt who lost its mate, wallowing at the foot of the twins’ car seats.

There are perks to driving a minivan. Hello, priority parking! Who’s going to question a minivan with two car seats, a booster seat, and a parent schlepping out a twin stroller from the back? Easy escape for your brood - sliding doors on both sides! Some drivers also have a tendency to give minivans a wide berth. I’ll take all the space I can get on the road. Also, you can put the nosiest kid in the back row, a full two rows back from the driver’s seat – bonus!

A minivan is slightly less likely to be stolen as it’s not exactly a high target for car thieves. Oh, and natural camouflage. Flocks of minivans line the street outside my son’s school when I pick him up from daycare. Three of us happen to drive the same make, model and colour of minivan. It can provide a little humour on a Monday evening seeing someone else trying to open your van and getting nowhere fast. At least you’re not the only one having a bad day.

And, yes. We even have the obligatory stick figure family on the side. We were going to be “cool” and get the geeky Star Wars ones from online, but my oldest son feel in love with ones at the dollar store. Sure, why not, kid? I’ll embrace that cliché with gusto. I’m proud of my family whether other people think I’m a dork or not.
Want to know the only thing I regret about my minivan? Not getting the extended version! We have so much stuff we had to get a trailer when we go out of town to the grandparents (I only wish we were joking).

Finally, yes, I have driven it to a soccer game. But, I’m mostly a Karate Mom and have the belt to prove it – so be careful before you knock my ride!

Minivans Rule!