Sunday, January 18, 2015

No More Yelling | I want to be a Peaceful Parent

No matter your situation, parenting is a challenge; an emotional roller coaster wrought with love and laughter and tears. As young adults. before we have children, we swear we will treat our children differently, we know EVERYTHING and we have all the answers.

But as parents, we know the truth; we know NOTHING and have none of the answers. We are also so full of questions, that I personally feel great compassion for my parents' generation who didn't have anywhere near the amount of resources and support that modern parents have. When all else fails, we have the internet, social media and government supported workshops to help us navigate parenthood.

Unfortunately, one of the first lessons we learn as parents is that NO ONE has THE answer, even the doctors. Child-rearing recommendations have changed drastically over the years and as far as I'm concerned, the very best guide, that a parent MUST consult, is their gut.

But what happens when your gut, emotions and exhaustion all get mixed up together?

In my house, that lethal combination results in frustration, anger, tears and yelling. Lots and lots of yelling. The kids yelling at the parents and the parents yelling back. It turns into a vortex of tears, threats, time outs and little people hitting, kicking.

Sometimes, we can avoid the vortex and instead are able to be the peaceful parents that we all want to be, but without conscientious effort, its easy to slide back into bad habits. I'm a huge fan of Aha Parenting and find that the weekly newsletters often seem to be speaking to me as they tackle REAL problems that we face each and every day.

So, I decided to buy Dr. Laura's new Book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, as an audiobook and I've been listening to it while I make lunches each evening. I haven't gotten very far yet, but I'm already reminded that I WANT to be a Peaceful Parent and I can be.

So we're taking the first step, of what I'm sure will be many, to helping our family learn to communicate better.
No More Yelling. 

No more yelling for Mom, Dad or the boys. We've explained to the boys that we don't want to yell or be yelled at anymore. That we are going to do our very best to use our words and we want them to do the same.

And surprisingly, it seems to be working, at least a little bit. We're only a few days in and there have certainly been tears, flailing arms and yelling, but less. And when I remind them that I'm trying not to yell and so I need them to listen to my words instead, the boys have actually listened.

To keep things positive, when we put reminders up for the boys, we try and encourage the behaviours we want rather than giving attention to the negative, in this case, listening ears, gentle hands and inside voices.

Dr. Laura says it takes 3 months to break a yelling habit, but after only a few very conscious days, I'm starting to believe that with some effort we may be able to crush this goal.

What are your tips for being a Peaceful Parent, because believe you me, I need the help just as much as you.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Chocolate, Coconut & Raspberry Overnight Oats | A make ahead breakfast recipe

HAPPY NEW YEAR, I know I'm a little late to the party, but sometimes I find myself rebelling against expect expectations.

Expectations that I should write a gift guide or a special holiday post, that I should write a year in review post or share with the world some reasonably attainable new years resolution. I actually enjoy reading those posts, but one of the things I've realized in the past year, is that I want to be able to write about what I want, when I want without the societal pressure to perform as a blogger.

When I try and conform to whatever it is that my mind thinks a blogger should be, writing becomes work and although many people consider their blog a job, and for a while I thought I might too, for now,I want my blog to be a place for solace and peace and relaxation.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know, I have been very slowly under taking the #100happydays challenge and it was pointed out to me very early on, that FOOD and my children have been the primary focal point. Combined with many requests to share my recipes, today, I'm going to do just that.

I LOVE breakfast; I get up early every day so that before I leave for work at 6:30am I have time to eat a nutritious and filling breakfast and feed my family the same. I am a huge fan of eggs, either on toast or in a tortilla and I regularly eat them multiple days a week.


But sometimes, its nice to change things up and when I posted the photo above of some chocolate coconut and raspberry overnight oats I had made, I discovered I wasn't the only one who wanted a creamy, delicious and quick breakfast on hand.  I've refined the recipe a little bit since I first made it and actually prefer to use the smaller 250ml jars rather than the large 500ml ones seen in the photo above and the recipe below makes five 250ml jars which means if you don't share you will have enough for your entire work week. 


Chocolate, Coconut & Raspberry Overnight Oats
(gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free)
yield: five 250ml jars
Ingredients:
  • 1.5 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup + 5 Tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup (raw) cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1-1/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
Directions:
  • Mix together everything except the oats, frozen raspberries and 5 Tbsp of coconut. 
  • Once well blended, add in the oats and still until combined. The mix will seem a little loose and runny.
  • Spoon yogurt mix into jars until they are approximately 1/3 full.
  • Divide frozen berries among the jars, sprinkling 1 tbsp of coconut on top of the berries in each jar.
  • Spoon remaining yogurt mix over the berries and coconut, dividing evenly among jars.
  • Refrigerate a minimum of 3 hours.
  • Enjoy the deliciousness!
Note: Feel free to mix up the ingredients and add-ins to suit your tastes and of course what you have on hand.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Get Fit with Fitbit!

In 2014, I've made a very conscious effort to get fit; once the snow melted, I got back into the running regime I started in the summer of 2013, I tracked my food in the Fitbit App and finally learned just how many calories I was consuming and I met an amazing workout buddy who pushes me to work harder, run longer and provides just the right amount of healthy competition.

But what really helped me get started and stay on track was wearing a Fitbit Activity Monitor.

I bought the Fitbit Force for the hubs last Christmas, but he was skeptical and wanted me to return it. Being the fabulous wife that I am, I kept it for myself instead and refused to feel guilty about it.

This simple bracelet can tell me how many steps I've taken, how many calories I've burned (including natural burn by age, weight and  gender as well as those burned by activity), how many flights of stairs I've climbed, how many active minutes I've had in the day and it can wake me up with gentle vibrations, instead of loud noises that wake the rest of the household.

I love that the screen on my Fitbit Force not only tells the time, it displays real time stats and syncs with my phone and laptop wireless. Technology these days truly is amazing.

Unfortunately, there was a voluntary recall on the Fitbit Force last year due to the fact that some people were having skin irritation from the charging terminal on the underside of the monitor. I have extremely sensitive skin, but I never had any problems with skin irritation; regardless, after months of debating, I sent my Fitbit Force back for a refund under the recall last month. A timely decision as Fitbit has now released its predecessor in time for Christmas!

The brand new Fitbit Charge has all the features of the Fitbit Force PLUS phone notifications; how cool is that?

And in early 2015, they will be releasing two more models, one with a built in heart rate monitor and one with the heart rate monitor and a GPS. I've been looking at GPS watches and noticed none of them do the daily activity monitoring as well as GPS tracking, so I may have end up holding out just a little bit longer.


But if you or one of your loved ones is looking to make a lifestyle change in 2015, a Fitbit Activity Monitor may be just the thing. I bought one for each of my parents last mothers and fathers day and to say they have some healthy competition over their step goals is definitley not an exageration. In fact at least two of their friends now have Fitbit Activity Monitors and are in on the action.

Fitbit.com offers Free Shipping (and its fast, I ordered my parents' online) and returns on Christmas Gifts until January 31st, all without having to wait in line at the mall. The new Fitbit Charge retails for $129.99, which I personally feel is money well spent.

FYI, I just ordered a Fitbit Charge for a Christmas Gift
and they are on Pre-order in Canada.
They are expected to ship in 1-2 weeks.
- 23 Nov 2014

Links in this post are Affiliate Links and I will recieve a small commission should you choose to purchase a Fitbit Activity Monitor using the links; the opinions expressed in my purely my own.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

DIY Easy Gluten-Free Flour Mix

When it comes to gluten-free baking, having a quality all-purpose flour mix in your back pocket is an essential, especially if you're a busy Mom. Before I  had kids, I used to consider the properties of each flour and blend my flours to suit the needs of the recipe; it was messy and time consuming, albeit delicious.


After kids it became clear that if I wanted to continue to bake, I needed to streamline my flour mixing in a big way and I found myself trying out various flour mixes both store bought and home made. 

In case you're wondering, NOT blending gluten-free flours is a recipe for disaster, without the stretchy . gluten molecules its important to mix your starches and flours in order to achieve baked goods that are soft and fluffy rather than dense and crumbly. Trust me on this, do not waste your expensive gluten-free flours, ALWAYS blend your flours.

You can feel free to use this mix as the basis for your own flour mix and experiment with it to meet your tastes and the needs of your family, this mix has evolved with use to become my perfect go-to recipe. This gluten-free flour mix is soy-free, corn-free and nut-free with the exception of coconut flour, which I find gives gluten-free baked goods a denseness and springiness that is difficult to achieve.

This gluten-free flour mix works great as a 1:1 substitution for all-purpose flour in most recipes; I generally recommend adding an extra egg (or a couple tablespoons of applesauce) to gluten-free baking where you have a pourable batter, such as muffins or cakes.

Easy Gluten-Free Flour Mix


Ingredients:
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 1-1/3 cups potato starch
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
Directions:
  1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
  2. Store in a sealed container or mix right into a large Ziploc bag and use as needed for gluten-free baking.
yield: 7 cups

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Indian For Everyone

Indian for Everyone is a perfect blend of authenticity, simplicity and comfort. Anupy Singla's personal anecdotes and descriptions welcome the reader into both her kitchen and her life and with all the gorgeous photographs, I found myself diving headfirst into my pantry to take stock of my spices.

I needed to eat some Indian.

Literally two hours after picking up Indian for Everyone from my mailbox, I was blending onion, ginger and garlic in my food processor, simmering lentils and sauteing cumin and mustard seeds to releasing their distinct fragrance and flavour.

And in almost no time at all, I was eating what I assume was a fairly authentic bowl of Parippu; my version didn't include any fresh or dried chili's (I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to heat, plus I didn't have any) and I added a bunch of spinach. I loved every bite.


Start to finish, it took me about half an hour to create this filling bowl of vegan Indian deliciousness.

It made me crave more.

This week, I tried the Masala Egg Scramble for breakfast. A quick saute of the right spices (thanks to Anupy Singla's guidance) and our everyday eggs suddenly became special. I eat eggs nearly every day and finding a new recipe for the repetoire is exciting to say the least.

Indian for Everyone is a perfect compliment to Anupy Singla's other two books The Indian Slow Cooker and Vegan Indian Cooking; it doesn't cater to a niche market but instead showcases the breadth of options available to the home cook that's ready to learn to cook Indian.

This hardcover book is beautiful to look at, personal to read and yields results that are delicious, I definitely recommend you check it out, if you enjoy the flavours of Indian Cuisine. And if you're looking for the perfect holiday gift for the foodie in your life, you can stop right here!

Do you cook Indian food at home?

Disclaimer: I recieved a copy of Indian for Everyone in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Re-Purpose your Train Table into a Craft Table

According to our backyard weather station, and the flurries in the sky, the temperature dropped to -2°C yesterday and last night, it was -12°C. Given our locale, snow on Halloween is practically a given, so at this point its safe to assume that snow could arrive and stick around at any given moment.

As much fun as snow can be, when the temperatures start to really drop, even the hardiest of kids (which my kids are not) can only tolerate playing outside for short periods of time and if we as parents want to avoid the trap of constant digital stimulation, we need to plan ahead.

For us, the first step was to take our basement that resembled a toy dumping ground and create a place that fostered play and imagination. It's definitely a work in progress, but I have been incredibly inspired by Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley, which introduces the idea of creative invitations, how to create your Tinkerlab, supplies worth having on hand and breaks up activities into four broad categories: Design, Build, Concoct and Discover.

With Tinkerlab in hand, I was finally ready to create a crafting area in our home, but the first thing I needed was a table. I started by scouring the internet for table ideas and our local Facebook Bidding Site looking for something that could suit our needs for cheap, but eventually a critical look at our space made me realize we already HAD the perfect table.


Rather than looking for something new, I decided to re-purpose our train table that currently seemed to illicit more fights and frustration than joy as of late. I started by taking all things train and putting them in a bin with the hope that one day the boys would enjoy them again.

I then flipped over the two boards that make up the 'table' so that accidental spills will (hopefully) not affect the images on the train table. I carefully taped a thick, flock backed tablecloth onto the boards, taking the time to carefully fold the corners and tape them onto the bottom side. Because there are two boards, it takes some effort to get the tablecloth tight and the table flat, this is easier done without the help of children if at all possible.

In less than an hour, and for the cost of a tablecloth, our barely used train table become a craft table (or craft centre as my kindergartner calls it), that my boys came to love in a matter of days.

Organizing our crafty goodies into small containers, cups and drawers and deciding what the boys could have free access to, took significantly more time and is a post for another day.

How are you preparing for the cold weather?
How do you encourage art, creativity and free play?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dreaming THE dream

In casual conversation, I often talk about 'THE DREAM'; if you're a parent, I bet you have the dream too. I think everyone's version is a little bit different and may change with the month or day or even moment, but here's a few of the things that define THE dream for me.
In THE dream:
  • My boys are best buddies; they laugh, they play, they don't hit each other every other second, or even at all.
  • My boys don't need to be entertained every, second of the day.
  • I absolutely, never ever, have to change another pair of poopy pants.
  • My boys pee IN the toilet, wipe up their own dribbles and even wipe their own bums.
  • The hubs and I leave the house, together, alone, regularly.
  • The boys don't catch every cold they walk by.
  •  My boys are polite, kind and considerate.
  • Everyone contributes to keeping the house clean and tidy willingly (myself included).
  • The dog stops getting scared, snappy and biting.
  • I never have to work on the weekend or evening.
  • My boys know how to handle their emotions without great frustration.
  • My boys love books and nature and exploration more than television, computers and video games.
  • Eating out safely, for both the Bolt (peanut-free) and myself (gluten-free) is easy and delicious.
I'm certain there are many more things that encompass THE dream for me, but for now this will have to do. I'm curious, what defines YOUR dream?