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.

Family Road Trips…

Nothing Like A Hot Summer And A Family Road Trip!

Nothing Like A Hot Summer And A Family Road Trip!

Summer is always a great time for family road trips. Whether it is to go camping, see family or just a favourite destination, a family road trip is always an adventure. An adventure filled with conversations like” Are we there yet?” “I have to go pee.” “I am hungry.” “Can we stop now?” “How much longer till we get there?” and the dreaded “I feel sick mommy”, two seconds before they puke all down the front of themselves, their seats, the seat in front of them and the floor of the car.

One time when I was little my dad who was driving the freeway and couldn’t pull over in time told me to stick my head out the window when I got carsick. You can imagine what the side of our white car looked like after I was finished. It took dad 20 minutes in the car wash to clean it off. Needless to say we carried an ice cream bucket and lid in the car from then on.

Once I had my own family every summer we would pack up our kids into the family vehicle and tackle the 9-10 hour road trip to see my parents. When the kids were little it would take us 12-13 hours with feeding and rest stops. Now they are older and seasoned road trippers we can do it in 8½ to 9 hours. We have always found the earlier we leave the better, before they are conscious enough to start asking the endless list of travel questions. Being older helps too as they can follow the map on their own instead of asking us. Here is a list of some of the things we have tried to help our road trips go a little smoother…

Family Road Trip Tips

• When traveling with babies leave right after the first feeding of the day.
When Marie was a baby my husband and I used to leave right after the 4:30 AM feeding. Everything was dark for a while so she would sleep 4 to 5 hours with the motion of the car. Providing we kept the music on low, and didn’t stop. It was like a race to see how far we could get before the next feeding.
• Fill the gas tank the night before and pack the car ready to go.
Then in the morning you can just quickly throw in the kids and any last minute things and you are off before they have a chance to fully wake up.
• Always pack activities for the kids to do! Bored kids become whinny kids!

Each child should have their own back pack so they don’t have to share toys. We would always pack books for those that could read without getting motion sickness, games, small toys like Lego or magnets they could build with in their seats, toy cars or Barbies (you would be amazed how long they will play, before they know it you will be there) and as a last resort the Ipad or portable DVD player with a bunch of kid friendly shows. Even better is to purchase a new movie for them they haven’t seen before so they can watch it for the first time on the road.
• Keep ‘em separated as much as possible and as far away from each other as you can in a confined vehicle.
If you have two kids in the back seats put the pillows in the middle. The best Solution we had was a Mini Van where they could each have their own row of seats. The two that got along the best got to share the back row.
• Always be prepared for motion sickness. The one time you are not prepared it will happen.
We tried everything from giving my son ginger ale, acidophilus, or candied ginger to help settle his motion sickness. He usually did pretty good until we hit the twisty mountain roads then he would reach for his bucket. The only thing that worked was giving him Children’s Gravol.
• Always, always pack a bucket with a lid on it and keep it close by.
Ice cream buckets even a yogurt tub would do. One time we forgot and my son had to throw up in his pillow to prevent a big mess in the car. If you don’t need the bucket for someone being sick you can always use it as a garbage bucket later in the trip.
• Bring along a package of baby wipes no matter how old your kids are.
My kids are teenagers and we still pack the baby wipes on our car trips. They are handy for wiping dirty hands and cleaning up small messes.
• Never rush a road trip with kids.
Accept the fact that you will never be there on time and allow an extra couple of hours to get to your destination. Relax, take lots of breaks in areas where there is a playground so the kids can run and burn off some of their excess energy.

I wonder if there is there such a thing as a perfect road trip? If you have experienced one I would love to hear about it. You could also share some of your worst road trip stories too. I bet there are some good tales out there. Please feel free to leave a comment and share yours. Remember wherever your destination this summer just relax and enjoy the ride. The whole family will arrive much happier and more peaceful than if you try and rush the trip. Drive safe everyone!

What a Father Teaches…

Kids with their Father

Today We Appreciate Our Dad!

In appreciation of Father’s Day today we sat down as a family and talked about what each of us learned from our Fathers. Here is a list what transpired….

Thank You Dad For…..

My gender chromosomes’
Teaching me how to throw a ball
To play baseball
Ride a bike
Fix my bike
To kayak
To fish
Shoot a bow and arrow
Race a go-cart
How a computer works
To build furniture and wood working
How to snowboard
To use words instead of fists when I’m angry
To stick with something until I’ve mastered it
To tell the truth except when keeping a secret from mom
An appreciation for music
How to survive the mosh pit at a concert
Smoking is stinky
Why I shouldn’t smoke
How to Belch words at the dinner table
How to pee in a bush
Leave my stinky socks on the living room floor or couch
To love the outdoors
My love for chocolate
To love camping and hiking

So, as I was writing down all of the fine things that my family thought their dad had taught them, I started thinking about what moms teach and it’s not nearly as exotic. Here is the Mom’s list

Things My Mother Taught Me…

To behave
To use my manners
Right from wrong
Practice makes Progress
When enough is enough
When to be quiet so mom can nap
Thursdays is always chore day
To clean a toilets
Wash the floors
Empty the dishwasher
Set the table
Wash and dry dishes
Make my bed
Clean my room
To do my laundry
To Always tell the truth
Burping words at the table is Not polite
Peeing in a bush is only a last resort
Stinky socks in the living room is Not OK
To increase the clutter while trying to decrease it
To get organized
To be a friend
Talk on the phone
Respect my siblings and others
Patience

Hmmmmm, it is quite the list, not nearly as exciting. I wonder why the Dads get all the fun jobs and the moms get all the work? Maybe we could trade a few just to switch it up a bit? 🙂 I guess in the long run it all goes together to create a wonderful loving family and isn’t that what being a parent is all about? Happy Fathers Day to all you Awesome Dads out there! I hope your day was the best!

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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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