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

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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

MYO Pizza: KISS Edition

We have had a lot of event filled weekends this Fall and, as a result, have fallen out of our Friday Family Fun Night rituals.

Last weekend we were away from home (again!) and when we arrived home on Monday after an exhausting drive on a very foggy, driving snowy, blowing snowy, swirling snowy, rainy snowy, SNOWY snowy, Cobequid Pass, we decided that we would reinstate the Friday Family Fun Night tradition and have a weekend of very nearly zero obligations.

We are trying to keep it simple, remember?

In keeping with the manifesto, I made a very simple plan.

MYO Pizza – which everyone loves!

To make it even simpler, I made all the pizzas using ready made pizza crusts.

 

The Things shared this happy-making Pepperoni & Cheese pizza.

 

Smiley Pizza

 

Daddy-O chose a more classic Pepperoni & Cheese with veggies (red pepper, red onion, mushroom).

Lots of veggies for Daddy-O!

 

I was very excited to try the Kinnikinnick ready made gluten free crusts that friends in the know suggested.

GF Pizza for Me!

 

I am thrilled to report that the pizzas turned out great and that the crusts themselves are quite delicious.

Yum!

 

It’s really nice to know that I have a viable option for those nights when I just need to keep it simple.

Fourths!

 

Doesn’t that look delightful?

Two thumbs up!

 

Yummy!

Mine had the Kinnikinnick crust, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, red pepper, red onion, mushroom, pickled jalapeño slices, and gluten free turkey sausage.

It was glorious!

 

 

After everyone had full tummies it was time for us to settle in with the evening’s planned entertainment. We opted to skip a movie in lieu of the excellent Bullying Awareness schedule on the Family Channel.

The cast of “The Next Step” hosted the evening and introduced some of our favourite shows – “Austin & Ally”, “Girl Meets World”, and “The Next Step” – all of which were featuring bullying storylines tonight as a part of their Stand UP to Bullying campaign. All three shows led to much discussion about friendship and bullying and how important it is to stand up and speak up and to never, ever be a bystander.

We especially loved “Girl Meets World“. It is so well written and I love how they keep managing to tie “Boy Meets World” storylines and characters into the show. It’s just so well done!

The Popcorn Pix feature presentation was another trip into bullying territory, with “Contest”. It was very good, but pretty harsh in many ways, as well. Very serious subject matter, obviously, and they hinted at some very heavy elements of being the bullied one. Overall it was very good. Definitely not for the younger ones. Thing 2 is 8 and she was snuggled up pretty close the whole time. Still though it’s such an important topic and we really cannot talk about it enough. No one can. Keep talking!

 

So, how was your week?

Busy?

Did you have a good one?

What will be on your agenda this weekend?

What about your plate?

Did you take in any Bullying Awareness Week programs or events?

Do you have an open dialogue with your kiddos and the young people in your life about bullying and mental health and how to get help if the need arises?

 

 

 

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?

 

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

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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!

 

 

This is Planet Earth

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

 

We have one home. Really.

We are connected to it in more ways than we know and certainly in more ways than many of us care to acknowledge, but make no mistake about it. We are one.

Have you ever looked at a leaf? I mean really looked at one. Closely? Carefully? Following the lines and creases from stem to edges?

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Have you ever looked at your hand? I mean really looked at it? Closely? Carefully? Following the lines and creases from wrist to fingertips?

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Have you ever watched a stream of water flow across dry land or sand? Or taken the time to stop and look at a tree in in the sunlight?

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What did you see? Did you see similarities? Patterns? Something that made you stop and think, “Wait a second… that looks an awful lot like this…”

If you never have done any of these things I encourage you to do so someday soon. You might be surprised by what you see. Maybe you will start to notice something new.

Try to see things in a new light.

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Maybe through the eyes of a child.

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I believe we are connected with all my heart. My children know what I believe. They hear me talk about it. They see how I live. They will come to their own conclusions in time. Until then I encourage the observation of special days and events that reflect what I believe in. That’s the power of parenthood, isn’t it?

Earth Hour is one of these events. I like it. I know to some it falls into the category of “slacktivism”, but not for me. I observe it. Nay! I celebrate it!

We anticipate the day. We plan something special each year. Yes. Really.

We have gone out on freezing cold nights in Ottawa to the Museum of Science and Technology to celebrate and catch a glimpse of “the” Panda.

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We have stayed in and made shadow puppets. We have made crafts and signs and posters leading up to the day. There was even a time when I convinced the “Panda” to visit Thing 1’s and Thing 2’s school! Oh yes! I fully embrace it!

Isn’t that what life is all about? I think so.

Tonight was no different. We had our Earth Hour dinner by candlelight. It’s remarkable how relaxed everything becomes when you turn off all the lights, shut off the computers and devices, and light a candle (or three). It was so calm and nice.

After dinner we planned to read by candlelight. Since Daddy-O has been reading the “Little House” series to the Things at bedtime, it was very fitting. They were just about to start “Farmer Boy” (one of my personal favourites), so I decided to read* for the remainder of Earth Hour! Time flew!

 

So, we put another Earth Hour to bed and hope maybe a few more people decided to turn out the lights. If so, great! If not, well, there’s always next year. I know we’ll be celebrating. I hope you’ll join us.

If you don’t that’s okay, too. Just know this..

On the land…

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in the air…

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and in the water…

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on this planet we are all connected.

 

 

Let’s take care of the only true home we have.

For the love of our planet and our children.

 

 

 

*FYI. It’s not so easy for aging eyes to read by candlelight. How did “Ma” do it!?

 

 

 

Fin.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end ~Semisonic

Though some of us would like it to last a little longer and some of us would like it to last forever, today is the “official” last day of March Break. That’s it! That’s all she wrote. It’s over. Fin. Finito. This is the end. Roll the credits. Curtains! (You catch my drift? You buying’ what I’m sellin’? Okay, somebody stop me!)

Clearly, I have a problem with goodbyes.

So, before I let go of March Break 2014 for good (Hah! As if I could. Forever is a long time.), allow me to fill you in on the rest of our week.

From Monday to Wednesday the Things were pretty busy with all kinds of fun, frugal, or free activities and just enough downtime at home to maintain a bit of balance while still having fun.

We had a tentative plan to take in a Toonie Matinee with friends on Thursday, but as luck would have it Mother Nature had a different plan. (Has anyone else noticed how completely horrible many of Mother Nature’s plans have been this winter?) We were in for some nasty weather. There were big snow storms all around us and we had snow, followed by a lot of rain with the threat of a flash freeze, so we decided to kick “downtime” up a notch. While the storm raged on – or “rained on” in our particular case – we spent the day, safe and warm, inside. A nice sleep-in in the morning with extra Thing snuggles. A leisurely lunch. Lots of LEGO! A bit of CPU time. A DVD from the library. We spent the whole day jammified! It was glorious.

In retrospect, we needed it. That was the *exact* Thursday we required. Thanks, Mother Nature*!

On Friday (Oh no! It’s already Friday!!) we decided we’d definitely take in a movie at the theatres and figured it was our last chance for a Toonie Matinee, so that was what we were going to do in the afternoon. On a whim, I decided to check out what was happening at Chapters that morning and I was very happy I did because Thing 1 & Thing 2 were really happy to attend a KLUTZ event where they learned to make cootie catchers and paper airplanes. Each Thing even won a prize for a test flight with their planes. (Eventually, all the children were given a prize for their efforts – it was nice.) Kudos to Chapters Indigo for its daily events during March Break. It’s very nice when a retailer has a free event and does a great job executing it.

Thing 1 & Thing 2 were ready for lunch after their fun activity, so we headed home to make lunch and relax for a little while before heading out to the movies.

That’s when Daddy-O and I came up with a little surprise for the Things.  We would take them to see a *new* movie and we’d make it our Friday Family Fun Night. They were really excited to see “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” – in 3D no less – and we all enjoyed going to the the movies together. I enjoyed having movie popcorn for dinner. I’m not gonna lie.

On Saturday I went for a big walk with my NS BFF and it was great! The weather was perfect and we had as much time as we needed to solve the problems of the world while getting a bit of exercise. There is nothing like a nice long walk ‘n’ talk with your best friend to elevate your mood and erase any exhausted-from-a-week-of-March-Break-fun feelings.

This brings us to Sunday. Sunday, can be a sad or stressful day at the best of times, but after a break from school it can be really difficult to face the reality of back to school. Thanks to some friendly** friends, we had early morning plans to go outside and play. I love going outside to play and so do Thing 1 & Thing 2. Isn’t that convenient? Even though it was cold and a bit snowy and had rained all night, we were outside by 10:30 in the morning meeting new friends and playing. It was really wonderful! A great way to start the day and a nice, positive way to end the March Break. Yay, for smart friends!

Our final fling with fun for the March Break was to try out Ol’ School Donuts. If you have not had a chance to try these delightful, hot, morsels of pure joy, I highly recommend that you find out where this fun red school bus will be parked next weekend and go! Scrumptious!

What better way to end a great week than with a last hurrah!

*But seriously, enough already with the snow!

**Do you see what I did there?

March Breakin’!

We worked so hard. We studied and tried our best. We did our homework and learned lots of new stuff. We woke up on Mondays and went out bravely into the cold even though there were some days when it was physically painful to do so. We had our hair brushed and braided. We were on time for band. We made healthy lunches (or, at the very least, interesting ones). We suffered through cold and flu season and survived. We finally made it! Yippity biscuits! It’s March Break!

*blink blink*

Now what?

March Break Mug

Monday morning coffee in a customizable mug. LEGO! (Bonus: Math book)

Well, first of all a healthy dose of relaxation is in order. That is what the weekend is for, in my not so humble opinion, and we relaxed as much as we could knowing we didn’t have the same obligations we usually do, to be up and at ’em, come Monday. There is something so glorious about the Sunday before March Break “officially” starts. We were mellow. There was no acute case of the “Sunday Stresses”. It’s a beautiful thing, I tell you.

Yesterday was great! We had a day free of scheduling and just relaxed and spent time together as a family. We played an epic game of LEGO Champion, had a simple lunch,  went outside into the sun (and cold!) to play at a local park close to the water (well, it’s still ice actually, but I digress..) – we even invented a new game while we were there! Then we went grocery shopping (Yes all four of us! Crazy, I know, but it works for us.) for the week and came home to prepare dinner. We really kept it simple because everyone needs to minimize stress, not just the “students”.

After dinner there was time to do whatever we wanted on our own before we all got jammified and ready to watch our feature presentation. Thing 1 had some CPU time with Daddy-O, Thing 2 watched a TV show and made more Rainbow Loom creations, and I went to my happy place. Yup. Social Media. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. I even perused Linked In. (WOT!) It was wonderful!

Then we all piled into the big bed to watch our movie. It was one of our favourites. We used a randomizer app – just for fun – to choose between “A Bug’s Life” and “Enchanted”. “Enchanted” won. Yay! Silly technology FTW! The movie was great, as usual. The Princess saves the Prince and they all live happily ever ever after.

Now it is Monday. March Break has officially begun, and we, like many families are looking forward to five days of freedom and some frugal fun!

So, without further ado (Hah! That’s totally further ado, isn’t it?!), here are some ideas for free, frugal, or relatively inexpensive fun, for the coming week.

From Monday to Thursday of each week Video Difference allows families to borrow two DVDs gratis.

Of course you know we are readers and we love the library. There are special events planned for each day of the March Break at Halifax Public Libraries branches all over HRM.

Chapters Indigo also has a free special activity for children in store every day this week.

All week long from Monday to Friday Cineplex has a March Break promotion called Toonie Matinees.

With many fun museums to choose from, in and around Halifax, there is plenty of entertainment and even a bit of education (Awww. Mo-OOmm!) to be had by just picking one and going for it!

I think we might choose to spend some of our March Break budget on something grody! The Discovery Centre has “Animal Grossology” as its feature exhibit. Ewww!

As always, we will go out and play as often as we can this week – even if it is a bit chillier than we would like – because playing is simply the best way to get exercise and have fun together as a family. Getting outside into the sun is good for everyone!

Hopefully, we can swing a play date or two and maybe even meet up at one of the special events mentioned above with some good friends.

How will you be spending your week? Will you have lots of time with your children? Does this fact frighten you.. or is it business as usual? Are you on a beach vacation? (What?! And you didn’t invite *me*?! *harumphs*)

I’d love to know what you will be doing and what kinds of activities your family enjoys during these long school breaks. I hope you will share some of your fun ideas with me by leaving a comment. Let me know if you decide to take in any of these cool activity suggestions! I’d love to hear what you think!

Happy March Break, everyone!