The Night Before The Night Before The Night Before Christmas Nachos (Or How New Traditions Begin)

rs_560x302-141211103016-tumblr_muzg46TbGd1rmzrqmo1_500

 

Enthusiasm. Don’t you just love it?

One of the best things about being an enthusiastic person is that when you have offspring they often take on this trait.

I know because I have two kids and even though, individually, they’re as unique as little snowflakes, they share my* enthusiasm.

It’s a lot more fun to be enthusiastic when you have other enthusiastic people around you. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

I was in a mall today.

I don’t generally go to malls, ever, actually, but Thing 2 made a special request to go to the mall to buy Christmas gifts for her family, this morning, and well, when a little enthusiastic elf asks for help in elf matters, you just smile and say, “Sure!”, with enthusiasm**.

So, after the grown-ups were caffeinated, we headed out to our local mall to help the Things do a bit of shopping. We went for the divide and conquer approach, whereby the parents each take a Thing and help him or her to find what he or she needs and then meet up to trade Things and do it all over again. It works well for us. It was fun. The mall wasn’t very crowded and the kids were in great I-don’t-care-what-we-do-we’re-not-in-school moods.

We took our time and helped each Thing find the gifts that fit the bill. This was easy for one and difficult for the other. Thing 2 is decisive and goal oriented and was seriously like an elf on a very enthusiastic mission. Thing 1 had a hard time, but mostly because he really wanted to get something special and he wanted to stick to his reasonable budget.

Even though there were no fewer than three fancy schmancy easy-just-buy-whatever-sparkly-diamond-places, he just wouldn’t stray from his logical path. Go figure! Personalities come out in the most interesting ways, sometimes, don’t they?

Anyway, eventually, everyone got what they needed and I was even able to do a bit of secret elfing with Thing 2 and her enthusiasm in tow.

We ended our mall adventure with a teensy stop into the Apple Store (to ogle things we would not buy) and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (just to inhale). We enjoyed the seasonal red shirts the staff were wearing at the Apple Store – though the expendable joke was not lost on us.

Then we all hopped back into the car, which was parked in the same spot*** we always seem to get at this mall, and took ourselves out to a late lunch. We had worked up quite an appetite walking in circles and trying to dodge each other in the mall. It’s a great place to play super-spy, by the way, in case any of you were wondering.

Lunch was delicious. Burgers and fries and root beer****. Hot and fresh and yum! A real treat!

We arrived home just in time for the carb coma to hit, so the kiddos went to their separate corners and Daddy-O and I crashed into a delightful nap. I am a terrible napper, generally speaking, but with fighting the plague and all the running around, I guess I was due for a good one. Oh so dreamy! I guess Daddy-O is the Ross to my Joey, because I seriously can’t ever nap. Thing 2 can even recount stories of my escaping naps when she was teeny. I’m just no good at napping.

I awoke refreshed and with a newfound mission in mind. I simply had to get something into the mail and nothing was going to stop me.

(You should know I have a stockpile of very thoughtful gifts sitting neatly on a chair in my bedroom. I buy these things with every intention to get them sent out to their intended recipients asap, but alas, life happens and there they sit. Am I the only one? Tell me I am not the only one!)

So, I snipped school photos of the Things, wrote out a speedy holiday greeting, located the item and channelled my inner Grammy***** and packaged that baby into a teeny size that really should have been impossible to fit into a standard 8×10 Canada Post parcel envelope, but lo and behold it fit! (Dude at the post office was impressed. I know he was. He just expresses himself differently than I do.) Into the mail it went and we will have a new tradition to add to our already diverse Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, ChrismukkahLa Befana, 12th Night mix because when that parcel arrives it will be a kind of miracle. Plus I know the recipient will laugh and be happy and that’s all that matters really.

When I arrived home, my Things had the TV paused for me (there was a brand new Austin & Ally episode) and were waiting (and waiting and waiting) while I was out making miracles happen and grabbing a few ingredients at the grocery store (Chipits were on sale. W00t!). The plan was to make a simple snacky supper, since we had had a late lunch.

We decided on nachos, but not just any old nachos would do. No sir-ee!

We had to have nachos worthy of a new tradition.

I give you, “The Night Before The Night Before The Night Before Christmas Nachos”.

They were delicious and I can guarantee my little enthusiastic, creature of habit, elf-y, Things will be reminding me next December 22 that we have to make them again.

We are only two sleeps away from Christmas and we still have plenty to do, but you know what? We are all being very chill about the whole thing. There really is no need to panic.

What traditions have emerged in your family over the years that seem so logical, but may be completely unique to you?

What’s your go-to dinner when the hour is getting late?

How are your Holidays going?

 

 

 

 

 

*Daddy-O is enthusiastic too, but he can claim them on his own blog!

**See how well that works out?

***Of course when you go the mall only a handful of times all year, selective recall is strong.

****Guess where we had lunch!

*****Grammy is my Mummy. She could pack an elephant in a matchbox and ship it to Istanbul and it would never escape because the sheer amount of tape used would stand up to anything the world might throw at it.

Source: http://ca.eonline.com/news/605724/weird-holiday-traditions-you-thought-were-normal-but-prove-your-family-is-totally-nuts

Mele Kalikimaka!

Tropical Tree

Today might be a three post kind of day because I have so many drafts, that I am starting to get anxious about it.

Anxiety at Christmas? You don’t say!

Hah!

Who doesn’t have a little extra anxiety during the holidays? I don’t think I know a single person, actually.

However, I have vowed to not be that stressed out Mummy. No way. It’s no fun to be told Christmas is nothing but stress. Or worse, to think it. Especially when you have little eyes and ears watching and listening to everything you do and say. It’s simply not true, anyway.

Christmas is a wonderful season of perpetual hope, and if there is one thing I have learned in my years on this planet* it’s that hope floats. It’s always there and you have to hone your hope holding skills throughout your life, because it’s short. Really, really short. Even when it seems long.

Christmas is what you make it. You can make it all about stuff and spending and stress. Sure! Go right ahead. Seriously, fill your boots, but don’t blame your getting caught up in the commercialism on Christmas. Nope. Christmas didn’t make you do that. Santa didn’t point to the most expensive, elaborate, electronics and say, “By the powers of Comet’s Candy Cane, I command you to buy that!”. Not a chance.

Christmas is simple.

Humans make it complicated.

You have to be human, but you don’t have to be pressured into a holiday that stresses you out.

Cool your jets.

Take a breath.

Remember the wonder.

Breathe in the aromas.

Think back to a time when you believed in the magic.

Embrace the simplicity of an old fashioned Christmas, whatever that means to you.

Know that you are not alone.

Everyone is stressin’ a bit.

No one has *everything* done.

Martha Stewart has a team!

We just have each other.

Smile and know that even when people around you seem to have everything under control, there’s always an element of mystery in how the heck things get done.

For instance, we here at Chez Peady have been having the soggiest December I can ever recall and we have also been fighting a wicked cold, so we are very admittedly behind our typical December schedule. All the things that have not yet been done, were put on the back burner while the things that had to be done got done. School concerts, finding the lost trumpet, trumpet practice, finding the right shoes, making sure everyone was where they needed to be on time, getting a bit of shopping done, making sure I talked to my mother as often as possible, getting to a few charity eventseven one in my Jammies – these all took precedent over making sure the ornaments were in the perfect place.

It’s life and it’s messy.

Look!

Christmas Mess

 

Am I freaking out? Nope. Why should I? Why should I waste a single drop of my precious energy freaking out when it will get done, with or without a grown-up tinsel tantrum?

It always has. I have yet to miss a Christmas. *wink*

So, my best advice to you, as Christmas is festively, twinkling up on us, is to take a deep breath and embrace the merriment.

 

Don’t forget to take care of your own needs, too. You matter! We need you to be at your best**, of course.

This morning I went to Zumba – just so you know I really am practicing what I preach – and I almost jumped for joy when I heard this pop up in the middle of class.

Yes, we did a Hula this morning to Mele Kalikimaka***. It was so fun! Could my Zumba instructor be any cooler?

 

So, tell me, what stage of preparedness are you in for the upcoming Holidays?

Are you about ready to be Dasher and flee the scene?

Are you happily a Prancer ready to take on the task and dance your way through your cookie exchange?

Are you feeling Grinch-like and wondering what the heck is the big deal anyway?

Has your inner Ebenezer reared his Scrooge-y grumpiness?

What is your best advice for having a yule that’s cool?

Leave a comment and share your best tips for avoiding tinsel tantrums.

 

 

*No, I have never lived on another planet. Though there was that time last winter when it felt like we lived on Hoth.

**But we even like you when you are at your worst.

***Mele Kalikimaka**** has been a month-long mind-worm. Go ahead and ask my chicas! Ukuleles at Christmastime? Oh YES!

****Then there’s this, which I saw on Saturday, but wasn’t blogged out until today, hence the edit! COME ON!! This is hulu-arious! (Day #8) Zucchini is the sweetest doggie!

Watching Watches

I am away from home and posting from my phone. This is a first!

This might also be a big fat failure, but I am working with what I have.

On the one hand, I really wish I was at home typing on my Mac Mini with all my creature comforts. On the other hand, I’m lying in bed in a cozy guest room, jammified, with TV on, typing on my iThing, after tucking the Things into their cozy guest room. It’s hard to complain.

It’s been a nice weekend. We came to celebrate a birthday and we did.

Family, whether it’s “yours” or “theirs”, is important and should be honoured. It’s in the manifesto!

The Things love birthdays and very sweetly contribute handmade cards or pictures and like to have a say in what the present might be. We all agree that this year’s was just right.

Tomorrow we will be on our way back home to work and school, but for tonight we’ll just be here now.

Relax.

Breathe.

Chill out.

Flip through channels.

Pause.

Flip.

Watch.

Who buys watches from TV, anyway?

Panda Hugs and Electric Cars or Why I Love WWF Canada

The PandaI love charities.

I am a fan of fundraising.

I have this cockamamie dream that one day I’ll reach the pinnacle of my career as a volunteer and become a philanthropist extraordinaire and spend the remainder of my days making people’s lives better.

It’s a lofty goal. I admit it.

Oh, but what a great story that would be.

I’ll keep dreaming and doing my part to make the world a better place one little act of kindness at a time.

 

In the meantime I am so glad there are organizations like WWF Canada making steps towards reversing climate change and keeping our planet, our one true home, safe, so that my children (and yours!) will have a home for a very, very, very long time.

Clearly, I am a fan. Yes, of the planet, of course, but also of WWF Canada. I’ve written about it here before. I’ve also written about it there.

 

On Monday, I received the latest “Panda Mail” from WWF Canada and one of the featured pieces was called “First Dates with David Miller”. This is a three part video series wherein Canadian celebrities go on a first date with former Mayor of Toronto and current WWF Canada President & CEO David Miller and chat while riding around Toronto in an EV (Electric Vehicle).

You could go ahead and let your imaginations run wild, but I think it would be best if you checked out the silliness for yourself.

But I will share one.

Enjoy!

Yes, that is Kid In The Hall, Mark McKinney.

I wonder if he tried to crush David Miller’s head.

 

So that was fun, wasn’t it?

I thought so.

But…

Now I can’t get this out of my head!

 

How *can* you deny an electric car?

 

Considering Casseroles.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something … Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity.*

 

Breakfast for dinner casserole.

 

Can a casserole be considered creative?

I say, if it renders everyone a) speechless or b) leaves them only able to mutter “mms” and other yummy sounds, it can be!

 

This is such a casserole.

Simple ingredients, easily thrown together at the end of a long and busy day, that results in yummy noises and a happy, full, family.

Easy-peasy!

 

Here are the things I connected:

EVOO

Frozen Hashbrowns (the little diced ones)(I’m sure the shredded ones would work, too.)

Dehydrated Onion Flakes

S & P

Eggs

Onion Powder

Cream

Grated Cheddar (I used a pre-shredded three cheese blend)

1 Roma tomato (seeded and diced)

1 Red pepper (also seeded and diced)

Sausages (cooked) (I used a Gluten Free brand called Cavicchis’ Meats)

 

Here is how I connected them:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Into a 9 x 13 pan (I use a glass one) add about a table spoon of olive oil and coat the bottom and sides. (I have a teeny silicone brush for this task and it works well.)

Immediately add the frozen hash browns to the pan. (You can use a lot or a little of any of the above ingredients in this recipe, by the way. It’s difficult to get it wrong. Tonight I used an entire 900 g bag because everyone was really hungry.)

Add some freshly ground black pepper and a teensy bit of kosher salt (careful with the salt!).

Sprinkle about a teaspoon of dehydrated onion flakes over the hash browns.

Next, break your eggs (Tonight I used 9, but you can adjust according to your own needs.) and beat them together (with a fork – oh yeah, fancy!) with a bit of pepper and onion powder (trust me..) and cream. You want the consistency you’d be expecting for scrambled eggs, so adjust egg:cream ratio as needed.)

To the beaten eggs, add a cup of cheese (or a handful.. or as much as you’d like.. or need.. or are limited to) and blend.

Add your peppers and tomatoes.

Pour the egg mixture over the hash browns.

Top with the cooked and sliced sausages, spreading the pieces evenly over the casserole.

Don’t be concerned if it seems like the eggs have vanished because they will fluff/rise up nicely while the casserole bakes for the next 30-45 minutes in the middle of your preheated oven.

 

I use my nose and my eyes a lot in my kitchen. When it starts to smell like supper, you’ll know you are almost there.

When the hash browns are browning (Hello! They’re hash browns.) on the bottom of the pan (score one for the see through glass pan!) it’s time to turn the oven off.

The centre should be set. (No jiggly casseroles, please and thank you!)

Allow it to cool a little bit, and while it does, the kids can help set the table, so *everyone* gets to sit down to a scrumptious, simple supper – together.

 

Are you pro casserole or do you prefer your foods stick to their separate quarters on your plate?

Leave a comment and tell me about one of your creations that just works.

Oh, and if you try this let me know what you think of it!

 

 

 

 

*Source: Wired: UK, 2011, Steve Jobs: A Wired Life, reprinted from “The Next Insanely Great Thing” by Gary Wolf, Wired 4.02, February 1996

Drop and Give Me 15!

IMG_8863

Minutes, that is. (What? You thought I meant sit-ups? *pfft* Have you met me?)

Today is a day for catching up, at home. This is exactly no one’s favourite day at Chez Peady. (Well, if I’m to be honest I have a hunch that it might be my husband’s, but I digress …)

We had a great July (everything being relative) and the oh-thank-goodness-school-is-over-we-are-free-to-run-and-swim-and-play-and-never-ever-ever-ever-clean-our-rooms, like ever, philosophy has carried us through a fun month of visiting family and favourite places, but the time has come to rediscover our peace and, let’s face it, our floors.

I’d love to be the kind of person who really gets all jazzed about being organized and tidy to a freakish fault, but alas, nope.

I’d love to be the mother of perfectly obedient* children who can fluff and fold like nobody’s business, who never interrupt, and who wake up at the crack of dawn to fashion their beds into something worthy of a military inspection, but again, nope.

I wish I had systems in place that allowed me to buy and keep every book I’ve ever read or wanted to read. I would hoard books like a bibliophile bound for her own (least watched ever) reality show.

Wishin’ and hopin’ and prayin’ that everything would be at right angles and dust free. That’s me!

But wishing, as I am willing to wager you already know, won’t make it so.

 

So, here we are on a grey, rainy, and otherwise damp, Sunday cleaning. It’s ideal, really, because grey, damp Sundays are already depressing, so we are just going with that theme! (I kid. I kid. Sort of.)

 

One of my strengths, I believe, is finding something to be happy about all the live long day most of the time. This comes in handy when it comes to rallying the troops for a cleaning mission. Why on Earth should they want to spend their time cleaning their rooms when Austin & Ally is on? I mean really! If I had the option to watch Austin & Ally instead of cleaning *my* room, I would totally choose Austin & Ally. Have you seen it? It’s terrific! Perfect for Things. Funny. Clearly, written by fun, geeky, music loving, hilarious people. I love it. Will they ever get together? The people want to know!

Anyway, as I was saying, because I am generally happy and imaginative, I also tend to be able to make things fun. This is a skill that comes in handy – especially when it comes to my children. There’s always a way to make life a little more fun or entertaining. You just have to dig a little deeper sometimes. I mean, even I am not going to claim to love cleaning a toilet or a disgusting mess from the bottom of the fridge or dealing with the latest evil Fruit Fly invasion,  but I sure as heck enjoy when those tasks are done and I might do a little happy dance to show my joy at the vomitrocious job being over and done with. Maybe. Who’s to say really? It’s a mystery.

If a little celebration after the job is done, is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. I have taught my kids that sometimes a job just needs to be done, so that we can get on to the fun that follows.

Fun always follows.

Always.

There are a lot of things about a very messy room that can be overwhelming. Ideally, no one would ever let a mess get to that point, but let’s be honest here, life is messy at the best of times and after a long, hot, happy summer day with sand and sunscreen and sticky popsicles or treats the victory is in getting kids cleaned up just enough, so they can get to sleep. (W00t!) The time just never seems right for a big clean up.

Then the mess grows and grows. Clothes that should have been sorted and donated keep finding their way into the laundry. New summery clothes come home. Drawers get stuffed to overflowing, instead of neatly filled with folded fashions. My Things are masters of “Oh, it’s fine. We’ll take care of it. No problem.” (Remember Theo Huxtable?) and they are actually pretty honest people, so we give the benefit of the doubt until the day we walk in to glance at the clean closet and see that there is no longer a floor.

*cue the Mom voice*

“How is this acceptable?!”

“This is not okay.”

“You have some work to do!”

Oh, don’t I sound sooo fun, now?

Nope.

 

What is a mother to do? I’ll tell you what.

You get yourself a timer** and you set that little gizmo for 15 minutes, pick a zone, and clean it up.

Never mistake motion for action. ~ Ernest Hemingway

The aim is not perfection (a horrible, delusional, harmful word), but rather action. You want to see a noticeable result. Not only so your “Mummy Brain” doesn’t go *kerblooie* from the sheer number of T-shirts in your kids’ collection, but also because you really are teaching your kids how to take charge of an ongoing task. It’s a life skill. You don’t want them to resent it or you. It’s just a fact of life that if you make a mess, you have to clean it up and that putting it off only leads to more stress later. Completely unnecessary stress, for that matter.

I mean, if you did a little each day, it would never be overwhelming, right?

Oh, Summer! Why ya gotta be like that?

 

There is a plethora of advice available to parents about ways to “motivate” or get kids “involved” with household chores. It can be exhausting. We have always adhered to this simple idea at Chez Peady: They live in the world, therefore they must learn to be a part of the world.

It really is that simple. Even when Thing 1 was a teeny, little Thing he would help to wipe up spills (adorable!) or line up his board books (Can you picture it? It still makes me squee!). Thing 2 loved doing dishes the “old fashioned way” with bubbles in the sink and a dishtowel apron (just like *my* Mummy showed me!) or using a cloth to hunt down spots on the walls or cupboard doors. We would present it like a fun thing, but always credited them for taking part. There is a family unit and if everyone doesn’t do his or her part, life begins to get stressful and then some pretty important things might be lost, forgotten, missed or broken. No one wants that.

This basic approach has been a great catalyst for coming up with effective, but easy-peasy ideas to just get stuff done. The sooner it’s done – and noticeable – the sooner we can move on to something fun. It counts if you go tidy for a few minutes, of course, but 15 minutes is just about (dare I say it?) perfect for getting a whole task done.

Trumpet practice? 15 minutes!

Empty lunch containers and clean them? 15 minutes!

Make a bed? 15 minutes! (Bunk beds. Ugh!)

Fold a load of towels? 15 minutes!

Gather all the hair accessories and put them away? 15 minutes!

Empty and fill dishwasher? 15 minutes!

You get the picture.

It is a magical number. Not just for the Things, either.

I often set a 15 minute timer to help me focus on getting a task done. From mail, to school forms, to meal planning or prepping, to writing (some of) my blog. Many of these everyday tasks can just get done with a focussed 15 minute approach.

Now, a gift.***

Ta daa!

Click on this to download my little “15 Minutes” sign. The original hangs in our office. True story! 15_Minutes.pdf

 

 

How does your family approach household chores? Do you involve your kids in the things that make your house a home? Do they love taking part or do they loathe chores with the fire of a thousand suns? What’s your approach when stuff just needs to get done?

I hope you print off my little sign and then do a little happy dance the next time you tick a task off of your to-do list. Please come back and share with me when you do.

 

 

*This is a falsehood. I am happy my children are unique individuals with minds of their own. They are polite, kind, funny, creative, energetic and thoughtful. I love them unconditionally. Obedience is a terrific trait in a dog, though, I suppose.

**Swear that just as I typed the word “timer” *my* timer – also set for 15 minutes – went off! Honest to Martha Stewart!

***For the record I have been calling the above gift a “PeadyF”. Get it? Hah! I kill me!

Thursday Thought Explosion (or Please Excuse Me While I Tidy Up My Brain)

IMG_1757

Achievement unlocked. Thing 2’s very first ride on an actual roller coaster. Pure joy!

Let me start by saying that I know it is no longer Thursday.

My brain was messier than imagined and so Thursday turned into Friday (as it does) and July turned into August, too. Where on Earth is summer going and why must it go so quickly? Can’t it just learn to linger longer? I really wish it would just learn to chill out and laze around, so that we all could follow suit.

Oh well, since that’s not happening anytime soon, I better just keep on moving forward, right? I mean it beats the heck out of the alternative.

Onward, we go!

This summer has been a bit of a roller coaster. We have had a lot of ups and downs and so far, thankfully, the ups are out numbering the downs (Although, to be fair, the downs have been doozies!). Is there an actual roller coaster in the world that ends on an up? I’d like that! Most of them end on downs, don’t they? Is life like that? I am not sure, but I suspect it’s very likely. It seems inevitable to have a down just when you do not want one.

I like this roller coaster as life metaphor, so before I go and ruin it for myself forever with all this waxing philosophical about ending with a down, I’m moving on.

Suffice it to say, life is like a roller coaster. Enjoy the ride or freak out and be paralyzed with fear. It matters not. The ride isn’t over until your time is up, but I can guarantee that you will be a lot happier – and maybe even have some fun – if you at least open yourself up to the concept of sitting back and taking those ups and downs as they come and learning to enjoy the ride. Life is short. So, too, are the ups and downs. We just don’t always see that clearly as we are being flung around the curves in the track.

I have a lot more to say. I have some terrific adventures to share and some wonderful photos from those adventures, but I think for right now, I’ll just leave this here.

I have a big surprise for Thing 1 & Thing 2 this morning. It’s time to go get ourselves a wonderful up!