An update on chocolate pudding

A friend sent me this recipe the other week.  There is no reason why this shouldn’t be fantastic.  We’re having it as soon as the avocados on my counter soften.  Whether you’re looking for an alternative that’s healthier, or a dairy free pudding, or a vegan pudding, this recipe fits the bill.

Chocolate pudding:

1 avocado, smashed
1 banana, smashed
4-6 pitted dated, chop and boil with just enough water to soften
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup water

Blend ’til super smooth – refrigerate 1 hour.  Enjoy

This time I think it is only me

Whether you’re a parent or a soon to be parent, one of the lessons you learn is that no matter how bizarre the situation may seem to you, you are not the only one out there going through that experience.  There are likely whole face book communities devoted to what ever your issue/challenge/concern might happen to be. 

 

Usually I find this a comforting thought.  But now, I think I’m out on my own limb.  I find myself saying the following at the dinner table:  you must eat something besides vegetables;  vegetables are good for you, but you need to have something else; no you cannot have dessert, you need to eat something besides vegetables for supper.

 

I am not a mom who makes two meals.  I am a mom who’s one year old picked out his beets and swiss chard out of supper and the yelled because there was no more.  I am a mom who’s three year old eats eat broccoli, peppers and tomatoes like hand fruit.  I am also a mom who is not complaining about the situation.  I just think we’re all a little weird.

Key to health: Just Eat Food

I follow a couple of health blogs and regularly devour the health page in the Globe&Mail.  I am forever reading about some ‘new’ vegetable, bean or berry that will be good for my health.  For years this has simply been interesting information thatI’ve filled away in my little brain.

This summer you’ve no doubt seen the campaign warning us about salt.  It turns out that packaged foods (i.e. the stuff made in a factory by companies trying to make money) have a high sodium content in order to preserve shelf life and camouflage lack of flavour. Duh!  Of course that’s what salt is for.  That’s why Europeans were so excited to start trading for salt and pepper – to improve the flavour of bad or bland food.

As far as I can tell, your best bet is to simply eat food.  Real food, not from a package, not from a factory, just food. It doesn’t have to be complicated food as suggested in the latest ‘enzyme diet’, just regular old fruits, vegetable, whole grains, lean protein.

Wanderlust and Lipstick

My new favorite travel blog.  These ladies quit their jobs, sold there stuff and started to travel.  Now it looks like they’ve figured out a way to pay for their adventures – through their web site, books and product sales. 

But that’s not why I love their site.  First of all, I love the name.  But more than that their focus on women travellers, travelling with kids is written in real time:  “I’m doing this and this didn’t work out as planned”, or I went about it this way, and am I ever glad I did.”  I’m also getting a ckick out of “Wanderfood Wednesday“.  The later is a collection of world food related posts from many different bloggers.

Never have I wanted a camera more

This... only in my front yart
This... only in my front yart

Usually we’re pretty good about bringing the camera with us where ever we go.  However the nightly family walk around the block is usually occasion to leave it at home. Not any more.  After tonight’s trip it’s going to be part of the check list:  two kids, dog, dog leash, dog bag, toy, shoes for everyone, keys and camera.

 

Just as we arrived home, we stopped to talk to a neighbor in the street.  As usual, adult chit chat is not terribly interesting to a three year old.  So he walked the rest of the way to our front yard.  Found his way into the middle of the garden, pulled down his pants and started to pee, facing the street.

Top 10 “Safe” Sunscreens

I was happy to see that Mexitan, the brand of sunscreen that graces our shelves, is on the list of “broad spectrum protection with fewer hazardous ingredients”.  Who needs the extra stress of discovering that the cream you slather all over your kids every day is in fact harmful.  Yikes! 

Most of the sunscreens on the ‘recommended list’ are physical sunscreens.  This means that the ingredients that provide sun protection do so by creating a physical barrier between you and the sun.  Most sunscreens contain smaller particles and are absorbed into the skin and provide protection at a chemical level.  The trouble with the physical sunscreens is that the barrier is a barrier, not as cumbersome as trying to get my kids to walk around with parasols, but they do look like little albino kids running around.

Check out the list and see where your sunscreen falls!

Fortissimo on Parliament Hill

This has got to be one of the most fun ways to introduce young kids to classical music. There are outfits, drums, marching and best of all from my little guy’s perspective: cannons.  This weekend (August 6-9), up at Parliament Hill you can checkout the honour guard (regular changing of the guard folks), along with 150 musicians, gunners and soldiers.  The pipers start 6:30, and the main event starts at 7pm. 

To get an idea of what to expect, here’s some YouTube Video from the 2007 and 2008 proceedings

For those of you who have later bed times than I do, you can stay to watch the sound and light show.

Saving Money & Still Having Fun

There are so many fun things to do in the summer, both indoors and out. But as you have no doubt already noticed, most of them cost money. I started thinking about this after we paid $17 ($15 family entry + $2 parking) to go to the Herb Fest. It wasn’t even my money (thanks dad!), but I didn’t like the feeling that I/we had paid $17 so that people could sell us stuff (turns out the Herb Fest is mostly sales stalls).

This is why I love the library (see yesterday’s post), but the library is not the only freebie out there:

  • My guys love the splash pads. Run by the City of Ottawa, you can find them in almost every neighborhood. If I remember to bring along some bubbles then we are set for a whole morning/afternoon.
  • Shakespeare in the Park: We haven’t tried this one yet, but I think it’s going to be a riot. There are only two weeks of performances yet, so get your fix now.
  • Picking berries: this has worked well for us from +18 months. There’s definitely more eating than picking at 18 months, but by the time my guy hit 3, he could fill up a berry basket all on his own. Strawberries are the easiest to pick, but it’s nice to go to a farm that has other selections at their farm store, so you can bring home a bounty. Here’s a quick summary of local u-pick farms
  • Kids Sports: We live close to a local soccer field. It’s a great venue for baseball games, soccer games, ultimate and even the occasional cricket match. There’s no need for me to pay to see a game, when it’s just as much fun for my guys to watch kids that are 10-15 run around. Not to mention that my guys can run/walk/crawl and generally entertain themselves along the sidelines. The kids on the field love to have someone that’s not mom and dad cheering for them.
  • Nature Walks: I wish we did more of these. When I’m at home and thinking about what to do for the day, it always feels like this is a big deal to plan. But that’s entirely not the case. You can start at any point along the NCC path system and have a great walk. If you want something a bit more rugged, you can go to any NCC nature conservation area (such as: Stoney Swamp, Green’s Creek or Mer Bleu) and go for a trail walk. There’s no need to lug your gang all the way up to the Gatineau’s to enjoy nature in Ottawa

This is by no means an exhaustive list. What are some of your favorites?

Love the Library

I’m a library geek and I’m not ashamed to admit it. The library is a great diversion for my kids, we can wander over and get some excercize along the way and once we’re there there is a lot to keep everyone entertained. I never browse the adult section, but simply order my books ahead of time. I get an e-mail letting me know they have arrived, and my kids know that the last thing we do before check out is look for ‘mommy’s books’.

Our local library finally has the kids backpack program. It’s been available at the big branches for a long time, but now you can walk into almost any Ottawa library branch and pick up a backpack full of kids books. The books have been selected by librarians to be age appropriate. When I’m short on time, this means I can pop into the library and pickup a bag of books to bring home as a quick, happy and super cheap package for the boys.

As the librarians have vetted the books, this program also prevents me from bringing home any of the doozies that have accidently graced our shelves of late. These include:

  • The boy whose dad has died and whose mom gets a new boyfriend. The new boyfriend likes sailing and moves in with the mom and boy. When I flipped through the pictures it looked like a happy story about a family that liked to go sailing. I missed the details that the man was the new boyfriend.
  • The story about the little pig that spent lots of time playing and learning about the ‘old days’ from grandma. Again, didn’t pay close enough attention to the end of the story, where the grandma gets sick, can’t move and eventually dies while the little pig holds her.

These are only some of the winners that have escaped my editorial eye as I pile books into the stroller that my older one picks out.

All that to say, drop into your local library and see what book bags they might have for you.

Lessons Learned On the Nanny Front

In an effort not to make the same set of mistakes twice, we’ve been doing a bit of research on the nanny front. I’m looking for ideas and tips on how to:

  • How to hire hire a nanny that’s a fit with the family?
  • How to integrate your nanny with your family?
  • How to quickly address any issues that might come up?
  • How to be patient when your nanny does something that drives you crazy, but isn’t something that endangers the kids?
  • How to come across as a normal family to your nanny, when really I’m learning that we are very particular about some things:  what the kids eat, TV, jumping on furniture, talking with respect, etc., etc.

I’ve found a couple of resources that are useful on this front:

  • Aunt Emma’s Blog:  The name doesn’t do it justice, but this is the rule book on what to do and not to do with respect to hiring, firing, and compensating your nanny.  It gets straight to the point and has no nonsense advice.
  • Nanny Network Parent Resources:  This one was helpful because they’ve posted a collection of articles from all over the web on the entire nanny process from requirements, interviews, initial days, keeping your nanny and taxes.
  • Short List of Government Links: No tips and tricks here, just a straight up list of government agencies and their forms that you will need to tackle when hiring a nanny.

Over the years, Canadian Living has run a couple of nanny related articles:

Canadian Living Tips: