Monday, March 29, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday -- Blue/Purple

We actually did our blue and purple muffin tin early last week. It was a rainy day and the kids were going squirrly by 9 a.m. (so I knew I was in for a long one) so I tried to stimulate a day-long game. It was blue day.

The three of us dressed all in blue, we had a blue toy treasure hunt and we ate a blue (and purple) lunch. For the most part, the game was fun -- but by 7 p.m. when Ryan got home the three of us had definitely had enough of each other. Rainy days are hard to turn into fun days, no matter what you try.

So, for our blue (and purple) lunch, we had:

Blueberry yogurt, bread with (dyed) blue cream cheese, Babybel (Ok, I know -- and Austin so pointedly informed me -- that Babybel is yellow, no blue. But we were getting desperate trying to find things, so we went with the fact that it had a blue wrapper.), blueberries, grape Jello and blue Smarties.

Austin, like usual, gobbled everything up. Alex gobbled up the yogurt, blueberries and Smarties but she wasn't overly interested in blue cream cheese (I can't really blame her) and she thought the Babybel was more fun to play with than eat. And, I discovered that she doesn't like Jello -- at least she doesn't like purple Jello. Oh well, more for me!

Check out what other people did for MTM over at Muffin Tin Mom.

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Getting into the swing of spring cleaning

I started spring cleaning last week. I just couldn't help it -- everything was getting to me. The dirt, the clutter, the grime, the disorganization.

This is, I've discovered, a downside to being a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom -- you see everything that bugs you in your house, all the time. Whether it's big (like the fact that I really, really, really want the main rooms in the house repainted and curtains that aren't falling apart in my living room) or the little things (like realizing holy crap that window is dirty), you see it all day long. Everyday. There's no escaping by going to the office for 40 or 50 hours a week.

So, after awhile, I stop trying to escape it and go on a mad cleaning and organizing frenzy. Well, that is in the 45 minutes a day that the kids give me a little peace and quiet. Sometimes I get the kids to help -- but usually they don't have the attention span to follow through with an entire cleaning or organizing job.

Empty diaper boxes start filling with items to go to Goodwill and buckets of soapy warm water get dragged out of the laundry room and used to wash things that don't get washed often enough (like windows and blinds). I've been doing this now for a little bit every day for a week and it feels really good to get some of it out of my system.

Now I just have to declutter the storage under my stairs and find what used to be my spare bedroom (don't get me started on how much stuff is collecting in there) and buy new curtains (because honestly, I need to just stop complaining and do something about it -- because they ain't going to change themselves). Oh, and hire someone to paint my house -- because I sure as heck can't pull that off in 45 minutes. Anyone know a good house painter?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Now I know my ABCs

About 11 months ago -- soon after it was decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom and hence, had an infinite amount of time to do things with the kids -- I decided to start a letter project with Austin.

I got the idea from several other blogs, most notably from No Time for Flashcards -- although many other mom blogs have similar ideas. The objective - teach Austin his ABCs in such a way that makes learning fun. So we combined his love for doing crafts with his thirst to learn and started the ABC project. Every letter was shaped into something that started with that letter (sometimes I took the idea from a mom blog, other times I came up with an idea on my own) and when we were finished, we wrote a letter word list. Later (often, many days or weeks later) I took that list and created a picture book to help him learn the words and (hopefully) the letter each word started with.

Notice how the first sentence of this post said 11 months ago? Never did I think that this project would take that long to complete. But it did. Because we would often do two or three letters in a short period of time, and then none again for many weeks. This pattern repeated itself for the last almost year.

But it was worth it as now, the entire wall over our craft table is covered with the ABCs. And, more importantly, Austin knows his ABCs and, with a little help from the wall, can write each letter.

I'm not sure which one of us is more proud of this project -- him because he did them all or me because he did them all! I do know we're going to have to find a new project now that this one is done -- at least until Alex is ready to start learning her ABCs. Then I'll take these letters down and we'll start from scratch.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Taking a pass on the next run

Almost as soon as I finished my Zoo Run 10K last October I decided that I wanted to run another 10K. To me, even though I've now done it once, 10K is a big challenge. And to tell the truth, it's a distance I have only completed that one time. In training, both before and since, I have never managed a full 10K.

So, I set my sights on the Sporting Life 10K on May 2, 2010. It runs straight down Yonge St., and I've heard from others that it's a lot of fun -- and a huge crowd. Some 12,000 to 15, 000 people participate -- instead of the 2,000 cap at the Zoo Run.

But then, as you all know, in January, I went and pulled the dumbass move of spraining my ankle. Two weeks on crutches were followed by many more weeks hobbling around. The result? There isn't a chance in hell that I'll be able to run 10K a mere six weeks from now.

I have been out running a few times in the last few weeks. But, not only do I no longer have the endurance to do much more than 5K, I also have to be careful to not cause myself pain. As it is, I'm wearing a brace on my foot when I run. And even with that, I start to get sore around the 4K mark (which is better, I guess, than the first time I went out and had to quit around 2K because of the pain).

So, I'm going to take a pass on the May run and set my sights on the October Zoo Run again. There's always next May.

Although, for practice, I just found a 5K in June that looks like it could be kind of fun.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday -- Green

My, my how life has changed. It doesn't feel all that long ago that I was heading out on St. Pady's Day to find some dyed green beer. Today, I dyed yogurt green.

To me, it didn't quite have the same appeal as green beer -- but since the kids love yogurt, they thought dyed-green yogurt was the funniest (and yummiest) thing they've ever seen. In fact, after I dyed the yogurt, they both insisted that I dye their milk as well. Green beer, green milk...same idea, right?

For today's muffin tin lunch, we have:
green yogurt, peas, cucumber, pickles, zuchinni, green smarties and -- as a little extra, because Austin insisted that because they're green, they had to be included on the plate, pear slices.

I must say, I think this is the most fruit and vegetables Austin has consumed in one sitting. And unlike Alex, he ate everything on his plate. Who knew the kid liked zuchinni? I figured I was going to at least be munching that off his plate when he was done.
But no, he ate it all. And when he finished, he informed me that he ate so many green foods that he was now going to turn green! I'm still waiting for the green effect, but for now, I have two very happy campers.

Check out other muffin tins here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

So much stuff, and no idea what to do with it all

Years ago, Ryan and I had 'the kid talk'. You know, the how-many-kids-do-you-want-to-have talk. It came down to this: he felt that two kids was a good number, I felt that three kids was a good number. So, we did what any sensible couple would do in that situation -- we decided to have two kids and then figure it out.

Well, we have two kids. I guess that means it's time to make a decision.

We did sort of make a decision about a year ago -- and that was that we weren't ready to make a decision yet. In other words, although I was pregnant with Alex by the time Austin was 17 months old, there was no way in hell we were going to have a third child that quickly. The idea of having a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a newborn was, quite frankly, quite terrifying.

And so, since Alex's second birthday is just around the corner, there is no chance of that scenario (even accidentally) coming to fruition.

Yet a decision still hasn't been made. And although I'm not too old for any of this just yet -- I'm not exactly getting any younger either. The longer we wait to make a decision, the older I get.

(Now, for the record, the indecision is in my court at the moment. Since I’m the one who initially wanted three, I need to start the ball rolling again and say, ‘yes, I want another kid, how do you feel about that?’ The problem is, I don’t know if I want three kids anymore. Two is a pretty big handful at the moment.)

But in these days, weeks, months and years of indecision -- my house is quickly filling up with stuff that I don't know what to do with. Kid stuff. Kid clothes that are too small and kid toys that are too babyish. Because unlike some people I know who are absolutely, without a doubt, done after two kids and simply selling and giving away all their stuff -- I don't know if another little one may one day need this stuff.

And so I keep the mountain of stuff and lend it out where it's needed. But rather than being able to let it all go, I ask for it back...just in case.

Sooner or later, a decision is going to have to be made. Not because I'm getting older. Not because if we have three kids it would be nice to keep the baby years somewhat close together. But because I'm running out of space to put all this unused baby stuff.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday -- Yellow

Today's Muffin Tin Monday theme was the colour yellow. I considered skipping muffin tins because of this since, instead of going to the grocery store this morning (where we could've picked up some yellow foods) we played outside in the absolutely gorgeous March weather.

So a yellow muffin tin, knowing that I didn't have any bananas or yellow peppers in the house (the two yellow items Austin thought of when we talked about it on the weekend) was going to be a challenge. And eggs are out of the question, because Austin doesn't like them and Alex will only eat them if she's mooching what I'm eating.

But the kids were all excited to do a muffin tin today, so I couldn't say no. And, I even surprised myself at how well we did filling up a yellow tin without having to break out the food colouring.

We have leftover chocolate chip pancakes (I know, a little more golden brown than yellow, but work with me here) which the kids surprisingly didn't realize were missing syrup, corn, shredded mozzarella cheese, yellow Smarties, pineapple pieces and Swiss Cheese crackers.

I've learned two interesting lessons since I started doing muffin tin lunches on a regular basis.

1) The kids absolutely love the idea. Who knew that putting plain old food in a muffin tin instead of on a plate could be so exciting?

2) Both kids, but especially Austin, is more willing to eat something simply because it's in a muffin tin. Case and point, that Swiss Cheese cracker in today's tin. When I pulled the box out of the cupboard, Austin said to me -- "I don't like those, so only give me one and then I'll eat it quick." If I tried to put one of those crackers on a plate with some cheese for him, he would loudly complain that he didn't like them. The irony here is, not only did he eat the cracker 'quickly' he then informed me that he likes them now and wanted more.

Maybe I should try to put eggs in their muffin tins afterall.

Check out other muffin tin lunches:

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Monday, March 01, 2010

Another year, another birthday cake creation

It was no Mickey Mouse cake like last year, but I think it was still a pretty cool creation.

For Austin's birthday party this year, I baked ice cream cone cupcakes -- that is cupcakes in ice cream cones.

The idea came from a cake recipe I came across -- although I ended up just taking the idea and using a cake mix. And a good thing I did, because I had to make them twice. Because I discovered that unlike regular cupcakes, which just rise and rise and rise when you bake them -- these rose until they overflowed and spilled down the side of the cones. So batch number one sort of, um, exploded in the oven. (I wish I'd thought to take a picture of the mutant ones.)

So, it was off to the grocery store for another cake mix, more cones and trial number two.

This time, I was smarter -- I baked just three cupcake cones, filled to three different heights to test how much (or how little) I needed to fill each one before they exploded. Turns out you don't need to fill them that much at all. Who knew?

So test run done, I baked up the rest and whipped up some chocolate and buttercream icing (for chocolate and vanilla ice cream, of course). I then used the biggest piping tip in the set I bought earlier in the week (yup, I actually bought a piping set) to pipe in the icing to look like ice cream.

I think they turned out pretty cool. And, aside from the exploded first batch, they weren't that hard to make.

And they were a hit with the critics.

Although not surprisingly, I was left with only vanilla ones...the chocolate ones were gobbled up.