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

Time Crunch.

Chalkboard mugs are very happy-making!

 

 

I have about 20 minutes to post this.

It will be short and sweet*.

I am quite literally feeling the time crunch.

 

The first Monday after Daylight Savings Time ends can be rough, but we all survived the day from beginning to end with nary a freak out. I am very happy about the way the Things have gotten better at adjusting to the whole “Spring forward. Fall back.” each year.

I remember how challenging it was when they were teeny. It felt like they would never “get” it.

Just like all the other molehills that a parent can easily turn into mountains, it just seems to eventually work out.

More often than not, these days especially, the grown ups remain calm and the Things follow suit.

Thank goodness for that!

 

10 minutes! *deep breath*

Remain calm.

 

Monday was mellow, but very productive.

The combination of a very lazy weekend and the snow storm happening in a neighbouring province was a terrific motivator.

I had my coffee in the very happy-making chalkboard mug you see up there and was all set to get stuff done.

I managed to find snow pants for Thing 2. So challenging to find!

I bought a pair in the right colour, but too small a size. Another that was the right size, but wrong colour. I was seeing flurries. It was really not the time to get all persnickety about perfection. (A downfall of mine, but I digress …) The girl needed snow pants and she needed them yesterday!

We tried them on after school and decided that we could try one more store after supper just on the off chance they had one purple pair left. If they did? Great. If not? The fitting ones would win, regardless of their colour.

 

Long story short?

After getting stuck in a really horrendous traffic jam while picking up Daddy-O and arriving back home way later than usual, I whipped up a yummy supper which we happily devoured and cleaned up after and then it was very late. Very nearly too late to take a Thing out to a department store to find snow pants.

What should we do? Are you getting sleepy? Are you sure? Okay then, let’s go!

So, we were off to will a pair of purple snow pants into existence.

And we did.

We got the last pair of purple snow pants in Thing 2’s size and she was positively giddy with joy.

 

Never mind that I currently have three pairs of snow pants in my bedroom right this minute. We got the pants!

 

Time’s up!

*whew*

 

 

*Just like me! *snorks*

Drop and Give Me 15!

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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!

Always Wear Sunscreen

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Oh sure! It looks all friendly and happy with its toasty rays and snazzy shades, but trust me there’s a burning desire to fry your skin lurking just under those fiery smiling lips.

I just committed a drive-by sunscreening at Thing 2’s school. I’m guilty as charged, but I’m not sorry.

The UV Report is “High” today and in the confusion of the morning rush to make it to the bus on time, Thing 2 – who will spend an hour outside during high noon – did not get her sunscreen. Aack!

What’s an easily scorched, SPF MUD wearing, mother of Celtic heritage to do?

Well, first I consulted social media, because TWEEPS!

Then, I called school to make sure it was okay to pop by, then I brushed my teeth and grabbed my Kinesys and fled.

Because skin is our largest organ and we don’t have a spare.

Summer is coming’ in, but fast.*

Don’t be fooled by our hazy Maritime mornings, either. Those hazy** days can be the worst offenders for sun damage.

My best advice?

Always wear sunscreen.

Och!

 

So, do you have a favourite brand of sunscreen? Do you have a way to remember to apply it – even during the crazy-busy morning rush? What’s your secret to keeping your skin safe?

*Bonus: Natalie Cole because I love her and I used her Daddy’s lyric – and often do!

**BONUS Bonus of Nat King Cole because I said “hazy” and well… just listen.

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!?

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

I love Dr. Seuss. I have loved him for as long as I can remember. I am convinced that Dr. Seuss is the reason I learned to read at an early age. Well, Dr. Seuss via my brilliant mother and big sister who would have reading races with me using the very famous “Fox in Sox“. What a wonderful way to learn to read!

You never feel like you are the only one making mistakes when the mistakes are so utterly ridiculous and impossible not to make as is proven by your brilliant Mummy’s tripping over phrases like, “First, I’ll make a quick trick brick stack. Then I’ll make a quick trick block stack.” and reinforced by your beautiful big sister, whom you admire more than any other (still do!), who struggles to spit out, “Who sews whose socks? Sue sews Sue’s socks. Who sees who sew whose new socks, sir? You see Sue sew Sue’s new socks, sir. That’s not easy, Mr. Fox, sir.”

The goal was to read as far as you possibly could without making a mistake. When (not if!) someone made a mistake it was time to pass the book and give the next person a chance to beat the record. On and on it went until eventually we reached the end of the book. Great fun! The excellent repetition a beginning reader needs in a funny, colourful, entertaining book through a fantastic activity. Perfection. It is one of my fondest childhood memories. Honestly. There were some serious belly laughs shared over “Fox in Sox”.

Dr. Seuss’ birthday is on Sunday March 2.  If he was still celebrating birthdays he would have a BIG cake with 110 candles this year!  Isn’t that remarkable? I bet he’d have a pretty amazing cake, but I digress…

Every year on Dr. Seuss’ Birthday at Chez Peady we celebrate by having Green Eggs and Ham. Oh yes we do!

Green eggs

“Greener-than-Green” Green Eggs! How? Blue food colouring because yellow and blue make green! Yay! Science & Art!

Green eggs and ham

Here is a plated portion of green eggs & ham with a tortilla.

Green eggs and ham (Tex-Mex)

Green Eggs & Ham + Tortilla, cheese and salsa! Olé!

So, you must tell me…

Do you celebrate the Birthday of Dr. Seuss?

Is it a formal occasion? Do you really let loose?

Are there Green Eggs and Ham on all of your plates?

How do you mark this most important of dates?

Do you have a big battle in a bottle with paddles?

Do you tell lots of stories, some tales and some tattles?

Is hopping on Pop more of your scene?

Just tell me right now, you’ve got to come clean!

P.S. We will also be reading all of our Dr. Seuss books tomorrow and there will definitely be a “Fox in Sox” race! After all Thing 1 and Thing 2 have Dr. Seuss built right in!

P.P.S. Here are a few links to help you with your own Dr. Seuss Day celebrations!

P.P.P.S. Please come back and tell me what kind of fun things you did to celebrate! Thanks!

Random House maintains this most excellent “Seussville” site. http://www.seussville.com

An interesting set of surprising Seuss facts. http://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-dr-seuss

Terrific list of Dr. Seuss’ books. How many have you read? http://childrensbooksguide.com/dr-seuss-books-list

Here are 10 interesting facts about Dr. Seuss books. http://visual.ly/10-facts-about-dr-seuss-books

This list of 30 quotes is simply awesome! I especially love #17! http://www.mamiverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/30DrSeuss_quotes.jpg

This is an amazingly comprehensive collection of Dr. Seuss goodies! Yup! Totally obSEUSSed!

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You can even follow @Seussville on Twitter, but it seems like there isn’t anyone manning their account lately. That’s a shame! Twitter is such  great way to engage and celebrate.

Family Day, we hardly knew ye.

It’s Family Day in Ontario (and several other provinces). We live in Nova Scotia. I have two kids. Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been hearing a LOT about how today is Family Day all weekend because we have been watching CBC (Yay, Olympics!) and YTV – way more than on a typical weekend, because of the yucky weather – and they mentioned it quite a lot.

Now it’s Monday morning.

I’ll just let that sink in for a minute.

Yeah. That.

Thing 1 is in an uproar about how “everyone” else gets to stay home. Everyone? Really?

Even in Ontario (which is where the Things started school and therefore (contradictatorily) their introduction to the glory of the day off) not everyone has the day off. I saw someone refer to today in Ottawa as a “Half-Holiday”. Yes. Many people are working today.

Being the parent that I am, this led to a chat about exactly who has a holiday today. Telling me you don’t know is not helpful and doesn’t support your whining argument that you should be allowed to stay home. Find out!

So, Thing 1 wandered sloth-like towards the Mom CPU aka my beloved, awesome, perfect, old school, made of paper, calendar and was aghast to discover that “FIVE!!” places have a day off today. Never mind that one of the “places” is the United States of America celebrating President’s Day (not a Canadian province, but hey, they can hope). Four provinces are listed on February 17th as having a special day. Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan, all celebrate Family Day and Manitoba observes Louis Riel Day.

Not exactly “everyone”, is it?

Poor Thing 1.

So what’s the big deal about Family Day anyway and why doesn’t everyone celebrate it? Why doesn’t Nova Scotia have a day off from school and/or work?

Well, the good news is that next year Nova Scotia will have a February holiday. It was decided, but you know, we need a whole year to prepare for the shock of a day off for just nothing. We wouldn’t want to implement it right away. That would be too much. MY GOD! Think of the children!!

So, we have a whole year to prepare for the third Monday in February, 2015. There will be a name the holiday contest and I just heard on the news that the very first to-be-named-February observance will honour Viola Desmond. You know who she is, right? I hope so! If not you should make a point of learning who she is. I’ll give you a hint. February is designated as a very special month each year for a particular aspect of our history. No. Not Valentine’s Day. No. Not the Olympics. Something much more important than either of those.

February is Black History month! That’s your hint. Go find out!