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Automatic-Flush Toilets are the Worst

By Jac

We went on a road trip this summer, which meant 24 hours of driving, but much more than that when you factor in stops with four children. We knew that taking kids on a trip like this would be a challenge, but for the most part it went better than we had expected. Except, of course, for one fairly significant problem.

We gave it a good try, really, but it turns out that we can’t ever go on a road trip again. Or out in public, really. Because going out in public means using public washrooms, and we are done with those. You see, we’ve met our nemesis, and we admit defeat. I simply cannot experience this public menace even one more time, at least not until my kids are much older. I’m speaking, of course, of the automatic-flushing toilet. Continue reading

7 Ways To Improve Your Relationship with Vegetables

By Juli

If you are like me, you have a “just fine” relationship with vegetables. By “just fine,” of course, I mean that you’d be willing to go on a polite date with vegetables, listen to the boring stories vegetables tell and even laugh at vegetables’ jokes, and have a perfectly fine evening with vegetables because you know vegetables are good for you, but the whole time you are eyeing that saucy creme brûlée at the next table, or that salty, greasy bad-boy bag of chips that your friend is with.

And, if you’re like me, this isn’t just the case for yourself, but for your whole family as well. Let’s face it — at snack time, who wants to reach for a handful of carrots when there is a bag of delicious salt and vinegar chips in the cupboard? Of course the obvious answer is that you should not purchase the chips in the first place, but life is short, so instead of smack-talking chips, let’s fix that relationship with veggies.

1. Whenever possible, make the vegetables room temperature before you eat them. When you want a snack, you never want something freezing that you have just pulled from the fridge. A cookie or chip is more appealing on one hand simply because it’s not freezing cold. How I solve this is by leaving stuff on the counter whenever I can. Some veggies are actually not even supposed to be refrigerated, like avocados, and tomatoes. A handful of room-temp toms is way more eat-able than a handful of freezing cold ones, you will find. Plus if they’re on the counter then you can see them and remember that, oh yeah, eating is fun and these are right here, so that’s easy. If you REALLY want to put everything in the fridge, then just make sure you leave it out on the counter for 15 mins before you eat it to take the chill off.

Unknown-22. Cut a bunch of veggies up and stick them in ziploc bags for easy grab and eat. If we’re talking something that has the potential to get slimy, like peppers, then just throw a paper towel in there with them, son! These can also be tossed in kid lunches! Success as a parent is only a few chops away!

images3. Sprinkle cut up veggies around the counter, so it’s like a fun treasure hunt to find them and eat them, and also you are cleaning up your counters, so you are #winning on multiple levels. The “vegetable treasure hunt” works on kids as well, and even on husband.

4. Dip. For a dark period in my life I decided I “preferred” cold, cut up veggies with no dip. As I have aged and matured, I have realized that the reason I gave up dip was not about dip as a whole at all — the problem was the type of dip I was eating. When you get dip, you have to get aMAZing dip. Like dip whose foundation is creme cheese and rainbows, or some kind of amazingly flavourful, thick ranchy-type deal, or some good flavour of hummus, if you’re into that sort of thing. The thing is, if veggies are a punishment, nobody is going to want them. But if vegetables mean that you can break out your amazing new DIP that you just got, then boom.

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5. Buy pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables. Because cutting and washing is one of the worst parts. Especially get things that really suck to wash, like lettuce and spinach, or broccoli florets. You will use them more if you don’t have to wash them.

6. Cheese. Cheese and vegetables is a match made in heaven, and don’t you forget it. Why insult yourself and your family by serving broccoli without cheese sauce? You say you tossed them in soy sauce and sesame seeds? Please. Serving steamed broccoli without cheese sauce is like serving up a hot slap in the face. Here’s an easy cheese sauce recipe to save you further embarrassment: 1. Heat a cup of milk in a small saucepan on the stove on low-medium. 2. Add slices of cheese and sprinkles of flour and keep stirring and adding until it is the perfect consistency and cheesiness.

Broccoli-Cheese-Sauce-540x4717. Buy interesting vegetables! Last summer I bought a bag of rainbow carrots, and the novelty was so fascinating that we were all into the idea of eating them, raw or otherwise. I also love buying those multi-coloured packs of mini tomatoes.  Mini cucumbers are cute, and while you eat them you can pretend you are a giant. This works with broccoli florets as well, or “tiny trees,” as we like to call them. When things are pretty and interesting, and different than the old “run of the mill” veggies we all are already acquainted with, they are much more appealing to the palate.

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You’ll notice that many of these things that I suggest you can use to improve your relationship with vegetables can ALSO be used to improve your relationship with anyone, ever.

Simply put: spend time in room temp, add dip, add cheese, embrace convenience and always keep it interesting.

 

 

 

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Here’s why we were late for lunch, Grandma …

By Juli

9:28 AM: Me, to my children: “Okay, Guys. You both need to get dressed. We’re leaving for Grandma’s house just after 11 AM.”

Children go into their room. Sounds of laughter and playing.

9:42 AM: Walk into room. Both children are still in pyjamas, but now they are sprawled on the floor playing with toys. UPDATE: Room is now a huge mess.

Me: “KIDS. You need to get dressed. I just did the laundry and there are TONS of clean clothes in your closet. Please. Get dressed.” Continue reading

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Reasons I Love My Kids’ Father this Father’s Day

By Juli

It’s Saturday night, and tomorrow is Father’s Day, so that means it’s time for me, Juli, to start thinking about Father’s Day. Thank goodness for elementary school because the crafts and cards are all taken care of. All that’s left to do is this blog post list listing the reasons I appreciate my baby-daddy, Spence.

Caution: this list might get a bit steamy, so be warned. This ain’t your grandmother’s baby-daddy appreciation list: Continue reading

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I’ve Potty Trained Four Kids, and Here’s What I Know

By Jac

I’m delighted to report that my youngest daughter is completely potty trained. That is, she wears underpants all the time and I rarely have to remind her to go. So this means that I am DONE WITH DIAPERS for the first time in over eight years! Considering that she’s my fourth child, I feel I’ve learned a few things about potty training. Here’s what I know:

(NOTE: I’m not talking about that thing where you get your baby to use the toilet at four months or whatever. I have no experience with that and I have done no research, and I’m already finished potty training so you don’t have to teach me about it. It seems to me like it would be a ton of work for the parents for a very long time … but if you swear by this method, you’re welcome to tell my readers about it in the comments. But it’s not what I’m talking about here.)

1. Bribery works: Continue reading

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Reasons my daughter won’t wear that

By Juli

Lately my five-year-old daughter has become increasingly picky about her clothes. This is made exponentially more frustrating by the fact that I continue to buy her cute clothes that she will never wear, it is getting harder and harder to get her out the door on the morning, and also, with what she ends up wearing, the teachers at her school probably think that she is homeless.

I have stooped to bribing her to put on the odd Christmas or Easter dress, but for the most part, she lives her life looking like a Rainbow Brite bag lady, slummin’ it up all over the place, and she loves it. When I ever so gently (or ever so forcefully) attempt to choose her clothes for her, here are some of the very REAL reasons that she has given me for why she could never wear the things I have chosen: Continue reading

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How the Light Gets in; Thoughts For My Perfectionist Child

By Jac

I see you there, crumpling up the paper when your crayon accidentally goes outside the lines. I see you struggling with your math homework, so frustrated because this doesn’t come as easily to you as the reading and the science, and that means you hate it. I hear you banging on the piano keys when a song is just too hard to learn. I hear you yelling at your little sister when she doesn’t play the game the way you think it needs to be played. You want to get it just right, don’t you? You want whatever you’re doing to be perfect, and you get so disappointed and annoyed when the vision in your head doesn’t match the reality. I know you, my love, and I know that it’s so frustrating for you when things don’t go right, when you are not living up to your own very high expectations for yourself. And I see how you feel such regret and sadness when you lose your temper and hurt someone else in the process.

I have news for you, though, and you may think it’s bad news. Continue reading

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I threw a Star Wars Themed Birthday Party …

… Because I forgot to set a low bar for the future. I mean, really. When G said she wanted a Star Wars themed party and that she’d already mentioned it at school and some of the kids were really excited about it (“I said I MIGHT have a Star Wars party, Mommy. MIGHT!”) I decided to just invite her whole class of 20-ish children. What else was I supposed to do? Invite only the girls to a Star Wars party? I know Star Wars is for everyone and lots of girls are Star Wars fans, but that just seemed like it would be a bit of a disappointment for some of the boys G is friends with. I didn’t want to invite just a few kids, because some of my daughter’s best friends don’t care about Star Wars … so how do you choose who to invite? So I figured that it would just be fun for everyone to host a short, Saturday, no-meals necessary, low-pressure birthday party. And then we genuinely did have a pretty good time planning it, and the party itself was great, thanks to the fact that I coaxed a few of my friends and my Mother to stay and help run it. Continue reading

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Please Let Me Celebrate Mother’s Day

By Juli

A lot of tough emotions come up around Mother’s Day. Many people have a really difficult time when Mother’s Day comes around, for very good reasons. They can have lost their own mother, or one or more of their children – or lost the ability to be a mother. Some women have struggled with fertility issues for years, so mother’s day really pokes them in a sore place, emotionally. They may have a strained relationship with their own mom, or have faced abandonment from her. It is my utmost intention to be as gentle as possible to all people on Mother’s Day, knowing that it can be a dark day for some people, a day when they need gentleness, a day of mourning. For some, Mother’s Day is a bittersweet day, full of complex emotions. They may have both things to celebrate and things to mourn. Perhaps they have some children here on earth, and some in heaven, so they only get to hug half of their children on Mother’s Day. Continue reading

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On Waiting for the Perfect Photo Moment

By Jac

In my upstairs hallway, I have a lovely framed family picture. It was a winter photo shoot, so there is snow in the background, and the girls are wearing adorable boots and shawls, and I’m wearing a sweater and looking happy, and my hair was cute that day. There’s just one problem. There are only two little girls in this picture, and I have four children. It’s just that I’ve been waiting for a good time to organize another family photo. When there’s no baby, when I get a haircut, when someone’s bangs grow out, when Anton decides family photos are a good idea.

But I’m realizing that that time will never come.

There will never be a moment when everyone in a family of six is simultaneously looking their best. Continue reading

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