Let The New Year Begin!!!

May Your 2015 Be Filled With Love, Health And Joy!

May Your 2015 Be Filled With Love, Health And Joy!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season! Have you set your New Year’s Resolutions for the year? My 2015 resolution is to work less around the home and make more time to play with my family. As a mom my life is so jam packed with everything I have to do in the day I find I don’t have the time to enjoy just being with my family as much as I would like. Even when my children were little I was always more the caregiver/housemaid and my husband the playful parent. Not that we didn’t do lots of things together just that I wish I had done more.

One of my kid’s favorite activities when they were little was blowing bubbles outside. They loved watching the way the bubbles, especially really big ones reflected the light and scenery around them, turning different colors with the sun’s reflection. We used to blow bubbles in the rain too so they wouldn’t pop when they hit the ground and the kids would run around trying to stomp on them all.

Their next favorite activity was playing with sidewalk chalk. We would draw roads all over the end of our street and the kids would draw a house each and ride their bikes and toy cars over the roads to each other’s homes all day long. My daughter Anya still loves drawing with sidewalk chalk only today it is road art being created instead of roadways.

Now that my kids are getting older there are still activities we enjoy doing together. My kids love hosting games nights with our friends where we play board games, card games and electronic games of all sorts young and old. We love going for walks out in nature or just up to the mall, and going out for lunch or movies together one on one. These are some of the things I want to do more of in 2015. I would also like to make sure we get in at least one if not more camping trips this year as it is something we all love and haven’t made time for the last couple of years.

So this year I encourage you all to join me and make a promise to yourself and your family to spend more time playing and less time being busy with chores. Our children are only young once and we will never have this moment with them again in our life time. I hope you enjoy the family time you create in 2015.

Cheers!

Karen

Merry Christmas To Everyone!

Wishing You All The Best This Holiday Season!

Wishing You All The Best This Holiday Season!

I would like to say thank you to everyone who has checked out my blog over the last year. I have enjoyed the experience of being creative and am happy you have come along for the ride. I would like to wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May you each share a special moment with your family and friends and do something wonderful for yourself in this busy time of year. Take some time to reflect on all the loving people in your life, appreciate everything you have and all you have accomplished this year. Time flies by and if we don’t stop to appreciate our life we may miss the opportunity to learn from our experiences. See you in the New Year!

Cheers!

Karen

Reach Out To Those In Your Life Who Have Made A Difference….

Give The Gift Of Love This Christmas!

Give The Gift Of Love This Christmas!

Family and friends are such an important part of our lives. Make time this Holiday Season to let them know you are thinking about them. Imagine just for one minute what your life would be like without the people you care about and who care about you….Not a very comforting thought is it. Now, think about all the things you appreciate about each person and what they bring into your life… Feel your heart fill with love for each person who has touched your life. It truly is a wonderful feeling.

Now think about ways you can tell each person how much you care and have appreciated them being a part of your life. You could send them an email, just a short message telling them how grateful you are to have them in your life. Christmas cards and letters (almost a thing of the past) are wonderful to receive especially for someone who does not receive mail other than bills. Have your child/children make some handmade cards and send them to all their grandparents, aunts and uncles. Who wouldn’t love receiving a card someone actually took the time to make for them? If you enjoy baking you could bake some special treats and deliver them to your friends who maybe don’t have time or can’t bake anymore (a busy mom, sick friend or elderly family member would love a visit bringing treats). A phone call to someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in a long time to let them know you are thinking about them is a great way to let them know you care. Just hearing the voice of an old friend or lost relative can brighten someone’s day.

Life is so precious and can change so suddenly never put off till tomorrow what you can do in this present moment. Tell people you care about you love them, they can never hear it enough. Call the friend or family member you haven’t spoken to all year and let them know you are thinking about them. Every effort you make will create a warm feeling in your heart because when we share love it grows and grows and everyone including yourself will feel its glow. And that my friends is the True Spirit of Christmas no matter what time of year it is. So to all my family and friends out there I love you, I truly appreciate every moment we have shared and all the lessons we have learned from each other!♥

How Do I Tell My Child About Santa?”

How Can A Parent Tell The Truth And Still Keep The Magic Of Christmas?

How Can A Parent Tell The Truth And Still Keep The Magic Of Christmas?

When my daughter Marie was little and had asked this question I always told her that I believed in the spirit of Christmas and I did wholeheartedly. I loved Christmas time! The magic of it all, the excitement and build up to Christmas Day everything about it! I loved watching my children’s faces light up each Christmas morning. They were so excited that Santa had come to their house and knew he only came to those who believed!

As my daughter got older I knew I would have to tell her someday. I felt really bad. Here I had spent her whole life teaching her the importance of honesty and telling the truth and now I had to admit that although I thought it a good cause, I had not been completely honest with her all these years. How could I break it to her gently so I wouldn’t shatter her dream?

I remember when my mom told me about Santa after I had asked if he was real. She had been doing dishes in the kitchen and she just turned around and said, “No honey, your dad and I are Santa”. I was so hurt and disappointed. My dream of Santa was shattered and my mom and dad had been part of the charade. I trusted them! However once I got over the initial shock and had some time to think about it I realized I wouldn’t have traded my years of believing for the world. Christmas is always a magical time of year for me. Everything is lit up and beautiful and there really does seem to be a magic in the air that brings out the kindness and generosity in people.

As the time approached to tell Marie I had thought a lot about what to say. She was nearly 11 years old and really wanted to believe. It wasn’t until her friends started talking about it when she finally came to ask, “Mommy is Santa Real?”  I told her I truly believed in the Spirit of Santa and Christmas which was completely honest. I loved the magic of it all and in order to keep the magic alive Santa needed the help of parents to create the magic for their children. No the Santa in the mall was not a real Santa but they were people who helped keep the magic alive too.

We talked about the importance of keeping the magic for her younger sister and brother and how if it ever got out to either of them or any other little kids from her that maybe Santa was not real he might not come anymore. She was still a little disappointed but the best part about knowing the secret is being in on the magic.  Marie was able to stay up a bit later on Christmas Eve and be a part of the Magic of Christmas for her brother and sister. She helped to stuff their stockings and put them under the tree. She enjoyed being in on the “secret” and being able to help create the magic for someone else. When other kids asked if she believed in Santa she could honestly say to them, “Yes, I believe in the Spirit of Christmas.”

Christmas Gifts…What To Buy For Someone Who Has Everything?

In our family the grandparents are the hardest to buy for. What do you give to someone who has everything, buys what they need when they see it and does not want any other mugs, sweaters or slippers? We have tried everything over the years even gift cards and sometimes they sat in the drawer collecting dust.

It can be tough to come up with different ideas but with a little research and creativity you can give gifts they will love and have fun putting it together. One year I gave my grandma a selection of Birthday cards and stamps for all the people she mailed cards to over the year, her sisters, children, grandchildren and other family members. I put the cards in the order of when their birthdays were so she could just take the top card, write her message and mail it out. She loved it and it made it easy for her to keep track of the many people she sent cards to each year. Another year I went through my grandparents bathroom and kitchen, wrote a list of all the products and brands they used then put together a care package for them each, one of bathroom and household products and another of foods they liked. They really appreciated receiving gifts they could use throughout the year.

Restaurant gift certificates are Great! My parents live out of town and it can be difficult to get together for birthdays. I have a list of all their favourite restaurants where they live and arrange a gift certificate at the restaurant they are going out to for their birthday dinner a couple of days before they go. They enjoy a delicious Birthday dinner on us! It is a nice way to give something they will enjoy and it will not clutter up their home. Massage or pedicure gift certificates can be another service making a great gift especially if they go regularly.

Craft Fairs Can Offer A Variety of Delicious Edible Gift Ideas!

Craft Fairs Can Offer A Variety of Delicious Edible Gift Ideas!

Give them something they can eat! Craft Fairs can offer a delicious variety of gift choices. There is always an abundance of food at craft fairs from jams, jellies, pickled beats and asparagus, honey, cookies, chocolate and more. If your special person is into baking or cooking themselves you could give a ready to make treat in a bag. I have seen everything from soups, stews, cookies, bread and crackers with all the dry ingredients packaged beautifully into a bag or jar and all that has to be done is add an egg, water, milk or soup broth to make a delicious edible gift. Some of the stalls even have hot chocolate in a bag together with marshmallows and a mint stir stick. They make great gifts for a quick meal or treat and are sure to be eaten throughout the year. You could even create your own. Kids love to help make something special for Grandma and Grandpa!

People love something homemade! A plate of baked cookies or treats they can bring out when they have guests is a great gift idea. Even frozen made from scratch savory pies, casseroles or a lasagne they can heat up and have for dinner can be a heart warming gift for the person who has everything.

Give the gift of time! A date with you and their grandchildren might make the perfect gift for a grandparent who doesn’t get to see you very often. Spending time with loved ones is something they treasure most! Take them out for lunch or to their favorite park for a walk or just go over and have tea with them. I guarantee they will love every minute of it!

There are so many ideas out there I would love to hear some of yours! Have you ever received the perfect gift or given a gift that was really appreciated?

Christmas Baking, A Family Event…

Yummy Christmas Shortbread!

Yummy Christmas Shortbread!

Kids love to bake with their mom or dad. It can be a rewarding experience for the parent and child. Not only do they get some one on one time together there are delicious treats too.

Okay, so the kitchen may get a little messier than normal and take longer to clean up. Oh, and when it comes time to cleaning the child has already lost interest and moved on to something else leaving the parent with the baking mess. It is still a lot of fun for everyone involved.

Other than muffins or cookies throughout the year the only time I bake is it Christmas. Years ago my cousin and I started a tradition of getting together for a baking weekend to prepare our Christmas treats. When she moved away I carried on the tradition with my Aunt. It is a wonderful weekend and the kids have always loved it as they got to bake and try many different treats instead of the usual cookies or muffins. The kids would come in and out of the kitchen working on their favourite recipes and leaving when they had had enough. It usually took about three days for us to get everything finished.

This year for a change I went over to my aunt’s house for our annual baking weekend and unfortunately my kids missed out. My aunt and I however, worked like busy bees and had all the shortbread, biscotti, butter tarts, squares and nuts & bolts baked, with icing and wrapped in a day and a half. We were both surprised how quickly we finished everything and it was so peaceful, no fights over who could stir the batter, crack the eggs or add the ingredients. It was a great mommy time weekend and although I felt a little guilty doing it all without including my children I think I would try it again.

My kids loved tasting samples of everything when I came home and I saved a couple of their favourite recipes to make with them too so they could get in on the Christmas baking experience with me.

Chocolate Marmalade Biscotti

Chocolate Marmalade Biscotti

Chocolate Marmalade Biscotti

2/3 cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of butter (room temp)
2 eggs
3 tbsp of marmalade
2 tbsp of grated orange peel
2 1/3 cup of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
Pinch of salt
Half a cup of chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 of a cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Method:
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs, marmalade and orange peel until combined. Sift dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, stir into creamed mixture, add nuts and chocolate chips and work into a dough. Turn onto a floured board surface. Shape into 3 to 4 logs about 1/2 inch thick. Place on parchment paper lined or lightly greased pan. Bake 25 minutes @ 325° until firm and light brown. Cool on a wire rack for five minutes. Cut diagonally 3/4 of an inch wide. Place back on the cookie sheet leaving space around each slice. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or until golden brown. When cooled drizzle with melted chocolate.

This recipe has become a family favorite and is an easy recipe to make a double or triple batch of.  My Aunt found it in The Toronto Star one year submitted my Marion Kane

Looking For Something Different To Hand Out This Halloween?

Over the years I have seen a lot of candy come home with my children after an evening of Trick or Treating. Sometimes, we would get little surprises in their treat bags, when people had given out something more creative. There have been Halloween pencils, Dracula teeth or mini decks of cards pop out over the years. One year they all came home with a brand new toothbrush thanks to a dentist living in the area. I loved that one although they were not quite as excited about it. The best was when my son was about four years old and came home with a Doctor’s Kit. I was totally surprised and my son was thrilled! It meant more to him than any of the candy and he played with it long after the candy was gone.

Trick Or Treating Can Be More Than Just Candy!

Trick Or Treating Can Be More Than Just Candy!

Turned out one of the families in the neighbourhood had collected all the small toys their children did not use any more and put them in a large bin to give out on Halloween to the children they knew. There was everything from small stuffed animals, toy cars, trucks, Barbies, small books, bouncy balls, dolls, restaurant toys and whatever else they could find stuffed into the bins for kids to choose from when they came trick or treating. The neighbourhood kids loved it and their house quickly became a must stop every Halloween Night!

I thought it was a brilliant idea, not only was it healthier for the neighbourhood children collecting treats but the house got a good clean out at the same time. I tried it the next year with the surplus toys my children were finished with. They were happy to let them go especially when they realized their toys were going to a new home and not just being tossed. We would sort through their rooms together before Halloween and they could choose what they wanted to pass on. The smiles and surprised looks their old toys brought to some of their friends coming to our door made it all worth while. We always had a little bit of candy to give out too just in case the parents didn’t want their child to have another toy!

Happy Thanksgiving Canada

The Hands On This Turkey Remind Us To Be Thankful For More Than Just The Food That We Eat...

The Hands On This Turkey Remind Us To Be Thankful For More Than Just The Food That We Eat…

Thanksgiving is not just about the turkey and stuffing. It is truly a time to appreciate everything we have in our lives. Gratitude is something we can never show enough of. So, take a moment this Thanksgiving with your family let everyone reflect on all they have to be grateful for in their life. While you are sitting down for dinner or after dinner by the fire have everyone share some of the things they love about their life. It will always create a precious memory and everyone will feel great afterwards.

Some of the things I am Grateful For….

Fresh Cranberries From The Field For Our Cranberry Jelly

Fresh Cranberries From The Field For Our Cranberry Jelly

  • I am thankful for my family who has taught me so much about life.
  • My wise husband who helps me see the humorous side of life.
  • My children for teaching me so much about love, patience and empathy
  • My perfect job that gives me the flexibility I need to juggle home, family, and work.
  • My friends for their love support and shoulder to cry on when needed.
  • My parents who taught me from a young age the power of thinking positive and how what I envision in my life I will create.
  • My brother for his love and patience with me even when I didn’t deserve it.
  • My kid’s elementary school which through the years has taught me to speak out, organize events, and given me a sense of community unlike any other school I have been too.
  • Karma for what we put out in this world really does come back to us tenfold. Keep it good.
  • My home and neighbourhood so full of fun and friendships.

There is so much to be grateful for in our lives if we just stop and appreciate it once and a while we will feel so much better about ourselves and our lives.

Family Game Nights

Great Idea For A Cold Winter's  Night...

Great Idea For A Cold Winter’s Night…

With the sun setting earlier and evenings getting colder Winter is fast approaching and family activities are starting to move indoors. I don’t know about you but if my family had their way they would be watching shows, video gaming, painting or reading all winter long. All great activities but sometimes a change is good. Last year we started a new activity to mix things up a bit.

Once a month we would host a Family Games Night at our house. The kids would invite their friends over and some of our neighbours would drop by with their kids. Everyone would bring a snack to share to keep it simple and we would have a massive Family Games Night. There would be Wii Just Dance livening up the basement, Dominos, Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, Aggravation, Apples to Apples, Charades and any other game you can think of to play. Games nights quickly became a family and friend favourite. Everyone had such a great time and all ages could participate. It was the perfect “What to do” on a Winter Night solution.

Family games nights became so popular we started hosting them more frequently throughout the winter months. If you have never tried one I would highly recommend it. They are a fun way to brighten up the greyness of winter and bring some fun and laughter into your home.

HOMEWORK BLUES!

When It Comes To Doing Homework Does Your Child Feel Overwhelmed?

When It Comes To Doing Homework Does Your Child Feel Overwhelmed?

Does your child get overwhelmed when facing a pile of homework? Do they sometimes melt down and take forever to get it finished? Do you sometimes wonder if you could do it for them just to avoid the stress of them doing it? If you answered yes to any of these questions then please read on…

 

The first couple of years in intermediate classes can be tough for kids.  The work gets more challenging, teachers assign more homework and projects expecting more detail, things are harder to understand and grades really start to matter. It can be overwhelming for kids to go from having a little bit of homework in grade 3 to a lot in grade 4 depending on who their teacher is.

I remember when my kids were in grade four and five. They would get so overwhelmed with homework that sometimes I wished I could just do it for them so I could stop fighting with them and  just get it out of the way. Of course that wasn’t the answer, the answer was to help them establish a routine so the homework would get done and not feel like such a chore.

Homework Routine:

Make sure your child brings everything home:

Right when you pick them up from school, before they get to play on the playground have a quick read through their School Planner to see what homework your child is supposed to bring home that day. Then have your child check his/her backpack to make sure it is all in there.

This routine has always paid off because 9 times out of 10 my kids have had to run back into the school to get the books or homework sheet they had forgotten. Five minutes on the playground saved me countless trips back to the school after we got home to retrieve the missing pieces of homework and believe me when we forgot to check, we did have to go back.

Give your child a break:

Kids are tired when they first get home from school. They have been working hard all day so having them sit down again and do homework as soon as they get home might not produce the best results. Every child is different some children will need to have a run around break outside or some downtime maybe watching a quiet show or computer time for half an hour before they get into their homework. Other children will want to get started right away and get it done so they can do what they want later. Let your child help plan their evening so they can be the most productive with their time.

Make time for a Healthy Snack:

Making time in your child’s break for a healthy snack is so important. A healthy afterschool snack will rejuvenate your child and give them the energy needed to get started on their homework.  Sit together and have tea or hot chocolate and some healthy brain food snacks like fresh fruit, granola bars, mixed nuts or my kids favourite a grilled cheese sandwich. The time together will give you the opportunity to discuss your child’s day, any homework they have and together you can come up with a plan to get it finished.

Getting down to business The Homework Zone:

It helps to set your child up for success. Have a quiet area for them to study in and preferably at this age somewhere you are close by if they have any questions. The kitchen table was and the most popular spot in our home. I could make dinner and my kids could ask questions if they didn’t understand something. Make sure they have all the papers necessary to do the work in front of them before they start.

Review the instructions with your child:

Before starting their homework review the instructions with them so they are clear on what has to be done. Kids will work much faster knowing exactly what they are supposed to be doing than if they have to continually go back to the instructions and figure it out. This is especially important when tackling math homework. If you review the examples of the questions at the beginning of the chapter in their textbook before they start their math homework everything will be fresh in your child’s mind as they work through the problems. Teach them to focus on one subject at a time with a 5 minute mini break in between subjects so that they can re-energize themselves for the next subject.

Having trouble getting your child to study their spelling words? Try putting a little dry “Jello” powder mix on a plate or tray, spread it out and let them practice writing their words with their finger. Worked for my kids every time.

Get everything ready for the next day:

Once your child is finished their homework have them place it immediately into their backpack ready to go back to school the next day. Nothing will get forgotten at home and they will have it ready to hand into their teacher.

Remember Good study skills are an excellent practice for your child to learn now and will only benefit them in the long run. When they get to High School and have to study for exams they will thank you. The more study skills you can teach them now the better prepared they will be later on in life.

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Disclaimer

The information on this site is based on the personal experience of the author. There are no guarantees of a perfect method to raise a child, it is all trial and error. Please feel free to try some of the suggestions on this site and let me know how you make out. If you would like to use any words or pictures from this blog please contact me for written permission. © 2013

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