Prepping for 21 meals a week

So I’ve figured out that when you are dairy-free, gluten/grain-free, legume free, and low sugar…what you are really doing is following a Paleo diet.  I like that frame of mind because it’s about what we are doing vs a list of things we aren’t doing.

Regardless of what you call it, there is a ton of meal prep involved.  We’re too new in the process to have the kids self-sufficient for breakfast – so that means mom is planning for 21 meals (ok maybe 20) a week. Of course Nom-Nom Paleo has a brilliant schedule worked out for meal prep.  Can you find this kind of time?  Not me.  Containers

That said , you can’t just start chopping veggies on a Sunday night – you need to plan to plan.  Without it you have cranky kids in the AM or when they get home from school and no one’s day gets better with that:

  • What kitchen tools do you need? Because I’m living in a furnished rental 6 months, I’ve been quick to identify what’s an absolute must have to get started with Paleo.  All the equipment here is complete rubbish – here’s the short list of what I’ve bought to make the 6 months manageable:
    • Baking Sheet & muffin tins
    • Vitamix
    • Cast iron pan
    • Chef’s knife
    • Sturdy cutting board
    • Kitchen grill – this was probably not necessary, but it’s fun
    • More glass containers than you ever thought you would buy

Stupid Easy Paleo – Meal Planning has some good tips on how to structure your time to the through week, so you aren’t cooking every day.  She also recommends a slowcooker as a must have.  I don’t think so – I’m making due with the oven.  When we were still eating beans – the slow cooker was huge.

  • When do you have time to grocery shop, that is followed by time to prep?  For me that’s usually Saturday shopping and Sunday afternoon prep.  I don’t schedule anything for Sundays – we get home from Church and the kids have free time until dinner.  I try to have some relax time, some time walking the dogs and my afternoons are spent getting the lunches, breakfasts and 1-2 dinners organized.  If you don’t have a specific list of what you need for the week, Paleo Leap has a great set of all purpose suggestions for things to get ready, so you’re not scrambling every day.  Of course, you can’t chop everything on Sunday or it gets squishy.  I try to carve out a little time Wednesday to get through what’s required for Thursday and Friday.  And Saturday’s is simply cobbling together the odds and end we didn’t get to or didn’t quite finish.

Don’t underestimate the value of your containers.  It’s an investment – but there’s value to being able to put together 10 little packs of olives, 10 little packs of chia pudding, and other additions to packed lunches in advance.

 

 

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.

Born to Exercize?

I think some people are hard wired to exercize and others are hard wired to do other stuff.  That’s not an excuse for those of us that fall into the later category.  Everyone needs to get their daily exercize.  It simply seems to me that some people crave it.

When I think of some of my neighbors (yes that’s plural intentionally) that are biking 60-120 minutes each way to work.  That to me says born for it (or crazy, but usually I go for the charitable built for it thought).  Then I read about these ladies at Squeeze It In and I thought – born for it.  Who thinks of this kind of stuff?  Yes, I’m chopping peppers for a salad, but let me do some leg lifts while I’m at it. This reminds me of pre-natal class whee they encouraged everyone to do their kegel exercizes when ever you found yourself waiting – at a red light, in the grocery store, at Tim Horton’s.

 This is good in concept, but isn’t your brain already in gear?  If when I was standing in line at Loblaws my brain said “oh… looks like I’m going ot be waiting in line for a while”, then maybe I’d say to myself: why don’t I do so isometric ab exercizes while I stand here? Instead, my brain is wondering:   if the kids fall asleep on the way home, will I have enough time to cut the grass before they wake up?  did I get the positioning right in the presentation for work?  did I remember to pick up milk?  oh yes… it’s here in the cart.  take that finger out of your nose (these last two parts are usually spoken aloud).

So clearly, I’m not ‘born to exercize’. I work at it.  And I shouldn’t make too much fun of the squeeze ladies, as my former colleague with the best bicepts and tricepts of everyone I know works out with soup cans.

Coupons & Other Bargains

I love a bargain.  I love to use coupons.  I don’t use them very often, but nevertheless, when I can get $3 off a package of diapers or laundry detergent, I’m pretty happy.  My biggest challenge with coupons is the same one I have with bringing my own bags: getting them out of the car and into the store.

My usual source for coupons is as mix of Canadian Freebie blog, Save.ca and random stuff that comes in the mail.  The trouble, with these sources, is that they are not often coupons for brands I usually buy.  They are coupons for big name consumer packaged goods.  Hence, I was so happy to learn about ‘The Healthy Shopper’.  These guys have coupons for all sorts of green, eco friendly, or just plain stuff I like.

I’ll still have trouble remembering to bring them into the store.  Perhaps I should store them in the re-useable bags.

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.

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?

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:

Shading the Earth?

I’ve completely changed my attitude and language about the environment.  It’s not global warming, it’s climate change.  I’d almost be in favour it if it were global warming.  I live well above sea level; it wouldn’t be as cold here in Ottawa in the winter; my veggies would have a longer growing season in the summer.  What’s not to love?

But this climate change stuff is a disaster.  We are beseiged by rain and clouds for the second growing season in a row.  My veggies are beautiful and leafy, but with no produce develping.  The strawberries at the local farm might look tasty, but they are water logged.  It’s freezing here in the winter, and now it’s freezing here in the summer.  Forget the airconditioning bill.  I’m about to turn on the furnace!

All that to say, is that as far as I can tell, the earth is already shaded.  But the climate experts at the Carnegie Institution have a different idea.  The want to build a massive parrasol for the earth to help keep the sun’s rays off us and cool things down.

How to choose a nanny agency

I know, I know, I’m supposed to be telling you about what I’ve been reading this week, and I have been reading a lot on the bus, but it’s mostly been “The Economist”.  Now that I have a few free minutes, I’m back to looking for a nanny agency and have found a couple of useful guides:

The Canadian Caregiver’s Association – a not for profit group that is trying to implement some industry standards has a guide.  So far the best guide I’ve found is from an agency itself.  I know it’s suspect to get the information “from the horse’s mouth”, but this site was full of great tips and tricks:  http://www.execunannies.com/hr_approach.html   If you click on the link, you’ll find the focus is more about hiring the nanny than the agency.  And that’s exactly why I think the list is so great.  I’m looking for an agency that can help me find a great nanny for my family, and this agency has suggestions on how to do that.