Paleo Chocolate Pudding
Today is (nearly, almost) the day!
We fly out tomorrow, but today we drive out to Brantford where the kids will be staying while we're away on our trip.
I am really excited...and super nervous! My experiences on airplanes haven't been the best...nothing 'bad' has ever happened, but I just get all in knots thinking about it, and then taking off...I'm usually ok once we're really on our way, but the take-off and landings do me no good. Or thinking about how freakin' high in the air I am!!!
My first flight ever was with a "buddy pass" (my cousin worked with the airline, and he'd get deals). Basically though, all the first class passengers boarded, then the regular class, then the stand-by passengers.....then me! Luckily the seat available was First Class, so I was cozy, had lots of room, and was treated super-duper well (they must have seen on my 16 year old face that I was terrified!)!
That particular flight taking me to England had me making a few lay-overs (which meant more take-offs and landings!), and riding in some small (and wildly bumpy!) planes! I almost missed one flight in Georgia, but started chatting with a very pleasant old man, who randomly asked what flight I was waiting for, and I showed him my ticket, and he informed me I was at the wrong gate! And the airport in Georgia is big and sprawling! I literally had to sprint to my actual gate so I didn't miss my flight!
I flew to Cuba with Adam for our honeymoon, and that was alright. I was 7 months pregnant, and had to turn my air vent right on my face and breath very deeply to keep from feeling sick, but it went alright.
On a flight to South Africa (a 16 hour adventure!), I ate the meal they provided about an hour before landing...and it didn't have time to settle in my tummy before the shaky landing began....I barfed everywhere....I know, so classy. I could feel it coming though and warned the people sitting next to me...I'm not sure it did much to make them feel better, but I think it's better than just being surprised by someone vomiting on you? No?
I shouldn't intro food with being sick....I'm an idiot.
Ok, well, I am hoping this flight will be better because I feel like I have better mind control. Haha, that sounds whacky! What I mean is, over the last few months or so I've been learning how to keep myself from getting too nervous. I needed to learn to be in control for the musical I was in; I needed to know that what I could do in rehearsals I could do for a real performance without being so nervous I was pitchy or wobbly on my dance feet! I channeled some sort of inner Rachel Berry (from Glee!) and just took control over my mind. It might sound crazy, but learning to take control of your thoughts and emotions is powerful, and I am glad I know I am capable of it because I plan on exercising that 'muscle'!
Alright, let's move onto my last post until I get back! I was thinking I could post once or twice while I was away, but we're not bringing the laptop, and working on posts from my phone sounds like torture!
So, once upon a time I posted about homemade chocolate pudding, but I'm here today to share the paleo version. This pudding was is yummy, I mean, for realz delicious! As far as paleo treats go (and remember, this is a treat, not an everyday pudding! Try this one if you want a slightly more healthy paleo pudding!), this is in my top 5, Two thumbs up!
Paleo Chocolate Pudding
I need to sign off! I am packed up and ready to go, but I need to get the last minute things together, load the van, and give the low-down to the person house/horse/dog sitting for us while we're away!
Good-bye for now everyone!
Autism & Travelling
My husband and I are going on a trip!
We leave tomorrow to bring the kids to Brantford, and then we're heading off to Europe with my in-laws, and my husbands grandpa. We'll spend a week in Belgium (where my husbands' family is from), then travel south and have a few days in France, then turn around and go north towards Breda (where my Dad is from), and along the Western coast of the Netherlands making many stops along the way, and ending in Amsterdam for a few days. It'll be a 2 week trip total, which is some ways doesn't seem like it will be long enough, but in other ways, it'll be plenty long!
I sat crying with my girls last night, asking them to take good care of their brother who has autism. Caleb has grown, and matured, and developed in so many ways in the last few years. On one hand I feel confident he will be perfectly fine without us....and then on the other hand, he's always had my husband and I to bring him back from the brink; to understand him when no-one else does, to just know what he needs to calm down and restart. I can't write enough notes about "how to deal with Caleb while we're away" to feel like I've covered all my bases because, unfortunately, autism isn't just a simple game of baseball. It might feel like it for a time, then suddenly, just when you're getting the hang of it, it's a new game all together!
I am anxious about leaving the girls too; they are sweet and sassy, and have their quirks. They are both sensitive (whether or not they always show it), and feel deeply the things that are going on around them (well, sometimes Keziah is oblivious, but once she realizes something is going on, she's attentive and caring!). They are wonderful little dears, and I gave them a big job while talking with them last night: be your brother's helper!
They get him, they are "good" with him, but they are also just kids. And siblings on top of being kids, so they egg Caleb on at times, feel hurt and confused by his actions and reactions, and don't know how to see which direction he's heading emotionally, and how to help him out. They've seen Adam and I doing it a million times, but that doesn't mean they know how to do it. That's part of what worries me in going away.
We've spent the last 11 years getting to know Caleb; we weren't given a manual, just each day hitting us, and we're left making mental notes, using a lot of trial and error, and making our lives as a family as safe as possible. So, even though he's going to be staying with family who loves him, and wants the best for him, it doesn't mean he'll be understood, or treated properly (he'll be treated very well, but that's different than being treated 'properly'). He is equal parts regular 11 year old boy (cheeky, obnoxious, loves rude humour), and autism mystery (rambling phrases from movies, crotch grabbing, mind blindness). I'll say to myself, "he'll really be fine!"...and then in the next thought go, "...but what if he isn't?" Because that is what a lot of our days look like: he's fine, fine, fine, fine, fine.....ka-boom (not fine, fyi)!!.....fine, fine, fine...You get it. With Adam and I, we know how to read him (mostly), and how to help him use his words, make "blue" (good) choices instead of "red" (bad) choices. and how to be a bucket-filler (doing things that help others feel good and happy). So, that job is now on his 5 and 6 year old sisters shoulders....geepers.
The other thing about leaving that worries me (and breaks my heart) is wondering when Caleb will realize we're really gone. We've told him we're going away, but he is (currently) so focused on going to visit family in Brantford, I don't think he's really cares or understands!
I am really happy he loves his family so much that he is looking forward to visiting, but put yourself into his mind for a moment: we've been visiting family before when Adam and I will go out for an evening, then we are always back in the morning. So on this trip, when does Caleb wake up and say, "where the heck are my Mom and Dad?" and will he find the words to ask that out loud, or will he slowly and secretly get more worried and confused by our absence? We'll be calling the kids while we're away obviously, but will it click? I'm not sure. I'm just not sure.
This particular post has no real purpose except to give me a chance to get my thoughts and worries out...I don't have any real tips or tricks because this is new to me!!! I've only been away from Caleb overnight maybe two or three times in his life (that I can remember-excluding sleep-overs at the cousins when I am still 'technically' around). And every time I returned, he would say, "Mom! You back!" (yes, "you", not "you're"). He always said it like he was genuinely surprised I came back, as though he thought that was it; I'd packed up and left.
We have many military families in our church, and I'm thinking about one idea a friend used for her kids when her husband was away: she had a jar full of...uh, something, I can't remember! Haha, anyway, a jar, and in it was the number of days their Dad would be away, in item form. So, I could use a jar with candies (for instance), and each day the kids could take a candy out to visually see the jar getting emptier, and our arrival getting closer. Caleb may understand this visual, or he may just want to eat the candy!...maybe I should use a non-food item...whomp whomp, anyway...a calendar could do a similar job; marking off the days with an "x" until we get home.
I also thought that using a map to help Caleb (and the girls too) see exactly where we are could be helpful. Maybe every time we call, they can put a sticker onto the spot we're calling from.
One last idea is to have a family photo for the kids to keep. I feel like if they see a photo of us together, it will reaffirm the fact that we are a family, and we are coming back.
My heart goes back and forth between being excited about the trip, to sick thinking about leaving the kids.....bleh.
Beyond all my fears, I guess, is the hope that this experience will be a good one for Caleb and the girls. That they can learn to rely on each other more, to understand each other more, and for them to practice a level of independence that cannot be offered when they are always with Adam and I.
It will good, that's what I am telling myself. Everything will be fine, the kids will have a great time, Adam and I will have a great time, and this will be good! This will be good...
Gluten-Free Flour Blend
Hey there! So, a wonderful friend (pictured above, right) from the show I was just in has a daughter who owns a nutrition store. She had decided that she didn't want to carry a lot of her gluten-free items anymore, so she asked her dad (my cast-mate) if he knew anyone who would want it (for freeee!!!). I was blessed enough to have been thought of. I brought baked goods to every Friday rehearsal, and they were often gluten-free, so he knew I was part of the gluten-free world! When he said, "I have some gluten-free flour for you", I had no idea how much it would be! I was pretty thrilled; I bagged up a lot of it and gave it away to other gluten-free friends, and then set out to make the most out of the flour I had. What I really wanted to try making was a gluten-free flour blend. I generally just use Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour Blend. It's one of the better mixes, containing garbanzo bean flour (chickpea), potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour and fava bean (or broad bean) flour. I had always wanted to try to make my own flour blend, but didn't know where to start or what types of flours to try. But, having all these different types of flours in my house was (obviously!) the perfect time to experiment!
So, my gluten-free flour blend took some fussing with, but I really like what I've worked out. I made many batches of cookies as my testing food, and once I found a blend I liked, I tried it in different baked goods to see how it performed.
In case you're new to eating gluten-free, let me tell you something. Something very, very important; replacing regular (with gluten) flour with gluten-free flour is NOT just as simple as swapping them out one for the other. No, no, no, no, no....if you see a gluten-free recipe that calls for only one kind of flour, and a lot of it (say, 2 cups rice flour)--don't make it!!! Let me just save you that agony; the agony of a crumbly, starchy, chalky whatever-the-heck-you-made disaster. Coconut flour is popular, but is a disaster because it's soooooo absorbent you'll end up with the driest thing you've ever made! Chickpea flour? Sure, swap it out if you want whatever you made to taste like, well, chick-peas! Nut meals/flours are tasty, but are not similar to 'real' flour at all, and require a different approach all together.
If you only needed a tablespoon or so of flour in a recipe, then you could just use one type (think crumbles, crisps, or recipes that use coconut or oats) , but for making things that are flour based (cakes, cookies, pancakes, ya know), then you gotta blend!
So, my blend is based on a 40/60%-ish ratio. I say that like I know what I'm talking about, but it's the closest I can get to giving any sort of mathematical explanation!
Basically, I'll make 8 cups of mix at a time. Sometimes double that. So, to make my 8 cups, I blend:
So, what is a "starchy" flour, and what is a "heavy" flour?
These flours are essential in a gluten-free recipes because they add lightness. But, in my opinion, too much of these, and the recipe starts to get chalky. Or using too much tapioca can make a recipe gluey. Bleh. I have a sensitive pallet when it comes to baked-goods though . I can eat something I've made and think "yuk!" about the texture, or underlying tastes, but others, usually children that I pawn the failures onto, eat the item without complaint. Oh, and don't go thinking my kids'll eat anything! My super-skeptical, autistic eldest is pickyx10000 when it comes to gluten-free, and my middle child complains about nearly everything she eats!
Each flour listed above has a slightly different characteristic, but are really interchangeable. I can't/won't/don't want to get into all the details about each flour because that would be a serious snooze-fest, so if you want more info look here, or here. :)
So, moving right along...
These flours are not only more nutritionally sound, they give real "body" to the baked goods. Too much of any one kind can give a bad taste or texture to what you've made though. For instance, using too much chickpea or quinoa flour can make your treat taste bean-y and bitter. No thanks. Too much rice flour, and you'll get a chalky, dry result.
I feel like I can't find the right words to describe the results of too much or too little of any flour. I can't find the words!!!
So, to get the best result, try to have at least 2 flours from each group. More than 2 from the heavy flour group have even better results.
I generally use:
These measurements are my ideal, but they are often and usually different based on what exactly I have). The key is always to have the best variety possible. Head into your local bulk food store, and buy small portions of different flours to make your own blend. I ran out of sorghum and oat flour after about 5 batches, so I've added a bit more rice flour (1/2 cup), amaranth flour (1/4 cup) and buckwheat flour (1/4 cup) to make up the difference. The mix was still really good!
These cookies were made using too much starchy flour (corn starch), and heavy flour (too much buckwheat flour).
The top ones were really flat, and crunchy/dry. They 'technically' tasted ok though.The bottom ones were (clearly) thick, but tasted really 'off''....sort of like bitter dirt (this is the moment you remember buckwheat is related to bitter rhubarb!!!)! Yum yum. Luckily there was lots of butter, sugar and chocolate chips, so the kids would still eat them! Thumbs up to healthy snacks! (that was a joke, btw. Mother of the year, I know...)
I'm getting the notion that different people have different tastes and preferences when it comes to gluten-free flour blends, but, obviously, mine is the best. Hahaha, whomp whomp, just kidding! Ok, well, I like mine! :) The real test of a gluten-free flour is to make something from it, and bring it to people who are NOT gluten-free, and to not tell them they are eating gluten-free until they've tested them out, and given an honest opinion! This flour has passed that test, so I'm sticking with it!
I hope everyone had a great Tuesday!
It's Time For S'More!
Friday, Friday Friday!!!
Today my parentals are coming over for a night to visit, and we are very excited about that. Then tomorrow is Caleb's 11th birthday (well, his party is tomorrow-his real birthday isn't for another 9 days!).
So, I've been busy getting things ready, trying to find that balance between making everything perfect...and remembering that it's just a birthday party, and if something is a disaster, it's ok! Anyway....still talking myself through it!
Last August I posted about different s'more recipes and ideas. Find that at "Please Sir...I want S'More...". I know, I'm so clever using that line from Oliver Twist. Whomp whomp.
This summer, I am giving you my collection of s'more inspired ideas, as well as some others I found on the World Wide Web that looked so good!
This gluten-free s'more cheesecake is sooooo good! I think I should make one again soon! Click here to find the recipe
At Liv For Cake, Olivia has created these beautiful, and perfect little s'more macaroons. A real (french) macaroon isn't as hard to make as you might think, so hop on over to Olivia's site for the recipe!
I have been making these for years, and they are always a hit. Well, except with my one friend who hates coconut, but no matter, most everyone else likes these! And they are so easy to make, for realz. Click here for the method to the madness!
Whaaaaa? A deeee-lish chocolate chip cookie stuffed with the perfection of a s'more?!? Yes, that did happen. Right here, in my kitchen! Here you go. :)
Elaine at the Hungry Brownie made this amazing dip with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and using the graham crackers to scoop the goodness up! I may have made this for quite a few of my treat days! Visit The Hungry Brownie here to find out how she makes this magic happen!
This pie....oh, this pie!!! It made the list last summer as a must-try s'more idea, and I stand by that! The chocolate and marshmallows being so darned tasty is one thing, but then you get chunks of chopped up chocolate bar in there too, and BAM, you're swooning. And the crust and top are no mere plain-jane graham cracker with butter contraption, no! It's a delight that does involve graham crumbs, but is like a soft, homemade version. It's so good. It's soooo good. If I didn't eat Paleo (no wheat, sugar, dairy, or grains) 5-6 out of 7 days a week....I would be eating this all the time! Make it for a pot-luck, or when you're having guests over! I warn you! Don't make it unless you can share it, because if there isn't anyone to share with...you will eat it all....you've been warned! Head over here to find that recipe, btw. :)
A good ol' s'more made over a fire is still one of my favourite things ever though; I've got it down to a real art. One of my sisters is a (sweet) evil genius too, and when we get a campfire lit, there's a-gonna be some fine s'more making going on! We recently used the new Oreo s'more cookie as the cookie in a campfire s'more. It werz goo-ood!
And that's that. If you're looking for more s'more ideas (what the heck for?!?), Amy from amyshealthybaking.com has this Pinterest board and it is chock-full of them! I also like that her name is Amy, she has a healthy blog, but also an entire Pinterest board dedicated to s'mores! We are kindred spirits!
Have a great weekend everyone!
Autism & Accomplishments
My Caleb has accomplished a lot in his 11 years of life.
The things he's accomplished maybe aren't super impressive from a "normal" point of view, but when you're raising someone with autism, you start to see "success" as a very different thing than you ever thought it could be!
Caleb has successfully figured out how to be a complete pain-in-the-butt to his younger sisters! Why is this an accomplishment? Because he didn't always bother with them at all. He was happy in his own world, in his zone, and the only minding he did of his sisters' was if they took something from him, or insisted on making some sort of terrible noise that really upset him. Now, I'll send them out to play, and he'll pull down the tree branches they're climbing on (dangerous, I know, but also amusing!), he plays tricks like taking all the money out of one girls' piggy bank, and putting it into the other girls' piggy bank, then watches them fight and accuse each other of stealing (that one reminds me of something one of my brothers would have done!), and he loves to sit on them. If they're on the couch, in bed, in the van, he'll just sit on them and smile.
He's also figured out that he can protect them too though; if one of the girls' is getting in trouble, he'll often step in and say (something monotoned like) "you will not be mean to Abigail (or Keziah)?". Yes, it is phrased like a question. Or, if one of the girls is hurt, he'll say (monotoned again), "oh no, are you o.k?" He doesn't always really care, but he has figured out that he is a part of their world, and has a "job" as an older brother. That's a huge leap from when they were babies, and they didn't exist at all (unless they were crying and he'd cover his ears).
Caleb has also in the last few years expanded his eating horizons enormously! Where he once only ate apples, romaine lettuce, Nutella spread, and gluten-free bread (well, and any candy he could get his hands on!), he now eats pretty much any meat I've made-chicken, on or off the bone, hamburger and steak, even fish! And the kid loves bacon! He eats carrots, cucumber, celery, still loves romaine lettuce; he'll eat all berries, pineapple, bananas (this one is only recent to the last few months), potatoes and corn. Does this seem like an "accomplishment" worth mentioning? It is to a parent who wants to give her children, and especially her special needs child, the best food to fuel any and every achievement he sets his mind to! It makes going out easier, it makes sending him to school easier, and a smidge of my mommy-guilt fades when I know he's eating a balanced diet! Mommy-guilt? What? Let's move on... :)
Recently though, Caleb pulled something off that we were never sure he'd manage. Riding a 2-wheeler bike! He's always been not so great at 'driving'; as a young lad he had a battery powered "tractor" he could sit and drive in (pictured above)....and he would just crash into everything (if there was a picture from 2 seconds later, you'd see him crashing!)! He had no sense of his own body and his control over the vehicle. This translated into bike riding, and he'd often steer right off the road and crash into the ditch! In the photo below you can see his Grampie holding the handle bars, while Caleb stares off into space! Not exactly the best way to ride a bike!!!
So, needless to say, taking training wheels off didn't seem like an option!
A few years ago however, our (detached) garage caught fire. We lost everything in it, including Caleb's bike with training wheels. When we went to replace the bike, we got him one that was a better size for him, but also forgot to grab him some training wheels to attach to it. We got it home and thought, "well, we could try to get him riding a 2-wheeler...?" So, we worked at it, and worked at it, and worked at it...then thought, "well, maybe we do just need to get him some training wheels?" That was a defeating thought for my husband, who wants his son to be able to do some 'regular' boy things, including riding a 2-wheeler. So, my husband persisted, stayed patient (long after I could manage!), and finally, one day he sent me a text; a video of Caleb finally riding his bike on his own! I wasn't at home at the time, but I stopped what I was doing and announced to everyone I was with, "Caleb learned to ride his bike!!!" and then I cried!
The video is crappy (from a cell phone), but I love it! I love that Caleb has this new skill, a new freedom. I love his reaction at the end to my husband asking "who's the best bike-rider in the world?!?". Celeb says, "me??". "Yeah, it's you", Adam replies. Caleb's reaction-"wow!" :)
Take nothing for granted when raising a child with special needs. Enjoy each accomplishment, no matter how big or small!
Have a great Thursday!
Almond Butter Chocolate Treats
I'm all alone!!! :( Adam and the kids went to Bancroft yesterday to visit some friends at a cottage, but I stayed home to get some prep work done for Caleb's birthday party coming up, as well as getting things ready to have some friends over for dinner tonight. I also needed to get ready to "teach painting" at an art camp being offered by our church in Belleville. I say "teach painting" because most people know how to paint, but most people want and need some direction.
I am (obviously!) teaching about impressionism, and am excited to bring some of the things I've learned over the years to the kids at the camp. If I could tell my 13 year old self what I know now, I feel like my paintings would have come without so much grief (though, I suppose, they may not have become what they are now without the grief?). I worked on 2 paintings (an apple and a pear) for years....seriously, for years! I didn't know how to get them 'just right' (whatever that is!). Then an artist couple had come over for dinner, and the husband said something so simple, but so profound. It was (basically) "to paint how you want something to look, not what you think others expect it to look like". I was like, "whaaaaaaa?" It was eye-opening!
I was trying to do something with the apple and pear painting that was not me. I was literally fighting myself. So, I went back to these paintings (which were hiding in my basement, by the way, when my friends saw them and commented), and finished them within a few days. And I love them! All that to say, I am looking forward to working with the kids, and giving them the freedom to understand that art (especially impressionism) is what you make it. It's an expression, not a science.
Well, now that I've brattled on about painting, let's talk about food!
This little treat is a no-bake delight, perfect for these beautifully hot summer days! They have just a few ingredients, and can be made with any nut butter you want, and if you're not a paleo follower, you could change up the chocolate top (by simply melting some chocolate chips with a bit of milk). You could also use brown sugar in the base if you wanted to. I've never tried that though...so, it's an experiment you can do if you wanT! :) My favourite part of these was how small I cut them! It makes them just the right size for a treat, just a wee bite.
Almond Butter Chocolate Treats
Adapted from The Big man's World
For the base:
For the chocolate top:
Pretty simple stuff here, people :)
I actually found the longer these stayed in the fridge, the more I liked them. I kept them for about 3 weeks, and the last few were the best. Just sayin'.
Well, I've had my coffee, Adam and the kids just got home safe and sound, and now it's time for me to head into the big city!
Have a great day one and all!
Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
So....about a month ago our chickens all got snatched up by a fox...or an owl, or something else. We're not 100% sure what got them, but all our girls were gone within a few days. Just big heaps of golden feathers here and there around the farm. :( I'm not a chicken lover like some people are (doting on their birds, naming them, giving them "special treats" like herbs in an ice water bath in the summer...seriously, that's a thing), but I did enjoy taking care of them. I enjoyed that my kids could help collect the eggs, and bring them our scrap bowl, full of leftovers that the chickens loved to eat. And for that matter, I also miss not having them as our compost.
So, where once we had at least 2 dozen eggs ready for anything, we suddenly had none...I needed to buy eggs. I haven't bought eggs in forever. We bought a few dozen from a lady Adam knows from work, and a few dozen from a lovely older lady who sells them from her scrap feed, free range chickens.
But, more often than not...we had no eggs in the house. I just wasn't used to having to buy them, so we keep going, "ohh....there aren't any eggs in the house....I guess we should go buy some?" Or, I have the urge to bake chocolate chip cookies...and there were no eggs! Yikes!
Luckily, making chocolate chip cookie dough without eggs was something I had experimented with a while ago when I made this gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough. I had worked out a lot of the kinks of edible cookie dough because I wanted to eat it raw, and eating raw eggs are not such a great idea. Unless you're a dog. Which I'm not.
Anyway, I went back to that recipe, but tweaked it to make sure it would be stable enough to bake. So, here they are, egg-free chocolate chip cookies! They are actually a really simple cookie to make, and, although my preference is a super thick, super soft cookies, these little darlings were super deee-lish. They were a little crispy on the outside, but still nice on the inside. Thumbs up.
Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
I know I don't have the butter whipped up before adding the sugars in the photo above...but I wanted a picture of all the ingredients, and well, this is what you get :) Also, the butter is cubed because I needed it to get to room temperature quickly, and that's the way to do it. FYI.
So, you can see these cookies have a fantastic golden bottom, are slightly thin, but still have some puffy spots. They really are so good. Sooooo good.
And that's that! It's Friday, it's a "nothing" day for us here (nothing planned), so I'll be working on a wee project outside...actually, it's not "wee" at all, but if I tell myself that I won't be overwhelmed and quit!!
I hope everyone has a good weekend! The kids and I are heading to the Tweed Fair tomorrow, then to a Belleville Theatre Guild picnic on Sunday. I am looking forward to both!
Summer Lovin' 2015 Edition
We are in to week 2 of the summer holiday here (in Ontario)! Each year for this family brings new obstacles to figure out when planning the holiday.
Last summer I wrote about "Summer Lovin'", and making the most of a summer holiday. I posted some websites that give some ideas of what to do (lots for free), and also a weekly idea guide (make something Monday, take a trip Tuesday, etc.) Anyway, I wanted to update my summer feelings for this year because it is true that every year in any family, things are different. There are new pets, kids getting older (and being more opinionated!), different weather, new friends, injury, illness, being vehicle-less, having babies who need naps, or poop in the pool (that makes an embarrassing exit to the free Tim Hortons Swim day!), being too hot or too rainy to go anywhere, being too buggy to go anywhere, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Our summer started with Abigail, our 6 year old, asking multiple (MULTIPLE!!!) times a day "what we were doing today...how about tomorrow? What about the next day? When do we go to the fair? When's the picnic with the theatre people? Are we going to the splash pad? Can we go to the movies..." Ahhhhh!!! I needed that to stop in a big, bad way!!! So, one night while binge watching "Arrested Development", I looked up some printable calendars, and just printed out July, August & September. I then proceeded to look online at events in our area, check our calendar for what we'd written in there, and sort it all out with my husbands work schedule!
I found the calendar here, at Mad About Pink (I printed it in b&w because that's all I have, but the real colours are so freakin' darling), and started filling things in!
What making a visual calendar did for the kids is give them a place to look and see what might be coming up. They actually all really enjoy seeing it, and counting down days to things they're really excited about. Since I made the calendar, I've only heard once from Abby "what are we doing today?", and I told her, "go look at the calendar!". Her response was a "oh yeah!", a big smile, and running to the calendar to look. Hazaa.! Having a visual has helped my kids see that perhaps today nothing is planned...at all...but, tomorrow or the next day is something fun and different to look forward to.
The way I feel about summer, no matter what stage we are in our lives, is that over-planning ruins it....and so does never planning anything!
You know the over-planners; you ask weeks in advance if they'll be available AT ALL during the summer for a get-together, and they aren't! Whomp whomp....to each their own, but for realz, leave a few spare days for spontaneous fun!
My problem is not wanting to over-plan, and then realizing it's mid-august and we've only done 2 things---seriously, 2 things! Haha, well, I am always searching for balance when raising my family, and making the most of our time, but also leaving time for imagination, free-time, and plain-old kid summertime fun.
My husband is a planner though, well, not really, but in theory. He wants plans lined up, and expects me to make them! Ok, he doesn't really expect me to do it, but after 11 years of being married, I know what things I can do to make my husband feel loved. And making plans is one of those things!
Some of things we planned are:
~ Going to Canada Day celebrations (all free)
~ Going camping
~ Hitting up the Tweed Fair!
~ Going to the drive-in
~ Family Movie Night @ Home (we'll borrow a "new to us" movie from the library)
~ Planned dates with the kids (going for walks, getting a drink at Tim Horton's or Mac's, going to the park, just one-on-one time with a parent and child)
~ Going on picnics (these can happen right in your backyard, btw!)
~ Going to the beach
Get online and see what's up in your community this summer! Splash pads, playgrounds, walking trails; most communities have these. Libraries often have free programs, and, if nothing else, they have air conditioning on those impossibly hot days! :)
If you're stuck at home without a vehicle, or are not within walking distance of ANYTHING (like me!), then just go for a walk and tell the kids to find 5 different types of flowers, or plant a small garden--I know this isn't an immediately rewarding summer activity, but kids really do love planting things, and checking back on them. Another hilarious thing kids love to do is weed gardens! Well, my kids like to do it for some reason....anyway, just set them on the task, being clear about what is a garden plant and what is a weed, I personally quite dislike weeding, so this works out for me! Six Sisters' Stuff has this list of 50 Outdoor activities you can do in the summer with kids. Seriously, the list is full of really great ideas!
Here's an idea that'll make all paediatricians scream--have a lazy day! You and the kids wake up in the morning and it's raining? Been spending lots of time outside and doing fun indoor activities? Well, shed the mommy guilt about "wasting summer", and announce a super lazy day! Everyone can stay in their jammies, pick out a few movies, and enjoy the day! Maybe shake up the utter laziness after each movie/show by getting the kids to stand up, and do some jumping jacks, or turn on a great song and have a dance party, then put your next movie on!
So, whether you're a planner or not, be sure to make the time to fit in some special events for your family this summer! "Special" doesn't have to mean big $, or tons of time or effort even, just something different than usual! If you always make your kids eat meals at the table, then a picnic (in or outdoors!) will be a hit! Hate the mess of crafts? Me too! Just bite the bullet, and make one day a disaster of a craft day! Like I said, it's not about how grand the event is, just about making memories.
I hope everyone has a good summer planned/not planned! Haha....you know what I mean! Have any great ideas for fun days? Please do share!
Chicken & Veggie Salad
Good Monday to ya! That's what my Mom says when she does her weekly Monday phone call. Well, actually, it's been a little patchy lately with summer being upon us, and schedules being off, but still, none the less, good Monday to ya! :)
I have a fantastic, simple, and versatile recipe for today! And it's loaded with veggies, good fats, & some chicken! What more could you want to recover from a summer weekend! Whomp whomp... :)
Chicken & Veggie Salad
For the dressing:
For the Salad:
So simple, right? I told you so! I will sometimes just eat this beast of a salad as my dinner! Other times I'll divide it into 2, or 3 or 4 and use it to top a leafy salad for a few days. The choice is up to you! You could also make it to bring to a summer pot-luck! I always appreciate seeing a healthy option at a get-together!
Well, I hope this inspires you to make yourself a happy, healthy salad this week! Why I describe it as happy is slightly mysterious, but I love salad, and it makes me happy to prepare it, and devour it, so, it's happy to me!
Hope you had a great Monday; I had a lazy (x 10!) day-I did workout in the afternoon, but the rest of the day, well, I never got out of my p.j's except for that workout, so let that be your guide to my inspired day! :)
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
Read more about me by clicking here!
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