Thursday, July 30, 2009

In constant preparation...

...these days! I am prepping Izzy for JK. Prepping myself for Alex's grade 1 year. Prepping the house for, well, kitchen renovation completion. Going through the house, sorting and finding material, trying to organize (maybe even clean) because August will be over in a flash. My prep this weekend is for camping! First time this summer. We are heading to Arrowhead Provincial Park with five other families - twelve kids in total. I am very excited. As are the kids though my mention of bears has Alex slightly on edge. It is our first time camping with people we know. Other kids, their friends, will be there to help keep them busy. Sweet :-)

I'll post after the trip. This weekend I am up to my eyeballs in groceries, laundry, camping equipment and fishing gear.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Miss Iz

She is something these days. Yes, she is still a handful but there have been a few milestones. She is writing like crazy. Upper and lower case. She can whip off her name faster than Alex. Actually, very soon she will out pace her older brother. Though Alex's spelling and typing is coming along nicely. She recognizes all her letters except for mixing up lower case b and d. She is starting to sound out words and has been tinkering at the piano now that she recognizes certain notes.

Even better still, she is finally pooping on the potty! Happy days!!! She used to poop 2 to 4 times a day. When we switched to night diapers only, she held it in until bedtime. So we took away the night diapers. She held out for 3 days but after a long talk about constipation and the incentive of a cupcake from the bakery she caved. This is day 4 and I can now finally see the diaper-free days in our future.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My $1/Kid per Day Experiment

I bought the bullet and spent a small fortune on supplements today. Something for everybody but I am most interested in the kids formulas. Alex is a fantastic eater. I often wonder what he would be like if he lived off Kool Aid and chicken nuggets. He loves whole foods and natural tastes. As long as it isn't spicy, he will try anything. So getting this boy all his nutrients is no big deal. Izzy is another story. My kid who would eat condiments with a side of condiments is slowly improving. She ate salad last night. That was a first. She is slowly coming along with breakfast. Steel cut oats and Kashi Go Lean are now two things she will digest willingly. Her big issue is vegetables and after the baby food went away, so did her vegetable intake. I have never seen her eat a carrot - though she once dipped it in ranch dressing and licked it off. I can hide some veggies in her dinner, as long as it is casserole form. She is coming around to beans and rice too. There may be hope yet.

So I did some research and decided to try some products by Genuine Health, a Canadian company based in Toronto. A mom I met recently was extolling the virtues of dha in her son's diet and how he was settling down and his concentration was better. Well, this would be fantastic for Alex. I read that when looking for fish oil supplements the company should be using small, wild fish, such as anchovies and sardines, that have been molecularly distilled. I prefer the oil to the pill because you take a smaller, more concentrated dose and I doubt the kids could swallow those large capsules anyway. Plus it is easier to lower the dose. Alex is taking 1/2 tsp per day and Izzy will take 1/4. This brand has a natural orange flavour to it. No fishy taste or smell at all. I bought a different omega fish oil for Rob and I to try, o3mega+3679. It adds some other healthy oils, such as macadamia nut and comes in vanilla. It tasted fine. This from someone who refuses to eat fish, lol.

I also picked up some powders from their Greens+ supplement line. The kids formula has a berry flavour and can be mixed in water or juice. My neighbour and I tried it and thought it was quite yummy. All natural. No dyes or sugar. It contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from 25 organic fruits and vegetables. I should have had Izzy on this years ago. Again, I picked up one of the adult versions too. The one with the added vitamins.

So we'll see how it goes. Our diet has improved even more over the last few months. Everyone is exercising more. Hopefully this will give us all a little extra boost. For $180, I sure hope so!

Here is the Genuine Health website if you want to check it out. We just started the supplements so I can't say anything about how effective it is yet but everything tastes great and the customer service people at the office were very friendly and helpful.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Looking for our miracle cure!

Fish oil. I've been reading nothing but great things about it. I get especially excited about it when I read about the calming effect it can have on kids. Alex has been moody and extra fidgety lately. I don't think he is sleeping enough. The sun keeps him up late at night and he is usually up before around 6am. This kid has always needed a lot of sleep.

I don't know what to expect and am not pinning all my hopes on it but I want to try. Tomorrow I'll head to the health food store and pick up some liquid supplement. A mom I talk to at aquafit said her boys have been on the adh supplements and within weeks noticed improvement in concentration and less fidgeting.

We'll see -- fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

3 going on 13

I try to refrain from posting when Izzy pushes my buttons but Man, she is getting good at making us crazy!!! She lives is some lovely magical kingdom where rules don't apply to her, tantrums and yelling are acceptable forms of communication and sticking your tongue out at people and/or making faces when they say something you disapprove of are the norm. "No" is a word that only she is allowed to use.

She can be so sweet and loving. She is smart as a tack. She just pushes and pushes. Obstinate, stubborn, ego-centric little bugger! I love her. Really, I do! I can even appreciate her strong personality. I just would like a little complicity once in a while


Sunday, July 5, 2009


I just need to complain a bit about my grocery bill. Every few weeks with sit with my spreadsheet budget and think how can I trim the excess? We ditched cable because other than the odd tv show Rob and I rarely watched it. The kids obviously preferred cartoons but the commercials made me nuts. I would rather spend $60/month on music lessons. Then we cut the home phone. Rob and I both have cells and the house phone got maybe 3 or 4 calls a week, so why waste the money? We stopped eating out. I am choosier with our activities. But the food bill? Crazy!

Over the past few months we having been moving towards whole foods. Home-made everything. I'm home and, in theory, have time, lol! I've been making our bread from scratch. We've stopped buying commercial snacks like granola bars and single serving yogurt (so much sugar!). I try to include protein in every meal. I've got the kids eating organic brown basmati rice, quinoa and steel cut oats. Next up I tackle the meat. I will be splitting a cow with a few neighbours this Fall. Maybe a quarter hog too. This meat will last throughout the winter for us and then some. I am still on the hunt for organic, free-range birds and eggs.

It is not cheap eating this way. We buy only fresh produce and go through it like crazy. I've had to ration it with the kids. So, on the fridge we write a list with two days worth of meals - with the kids' imput. For example:

Breakfast - Kashi crunch w/ plain yogurt & strawberries; turkey bacon.
Snack - Chocolate milk.
Lunch - Whole wheat wraps with hummus, peppers and cheese.
Snack - Banana.
Dinner - Pork chops; apple sauce; grean beans and salad.

Breakfast - Oatmeal raspberry muffin; fruit & soy smoothies.
Snack - Raisins.
Lunch - Tuna sandwich; celery sticks.
Snack - Yogurt.
Dinner - Turkey meatloaf; carrots; mashed potatoes; salad.

If I didn't do this, the kids would eat through all the fruit and dairy in the fridge in two days and still complain about needing more food. I am finding it easier to balance our diet by creating the posted 2-day meal plan. I actually do two week menu planning with the spreadsheet before payday.

I try to keep the bill under $600/month but it is hard. Feeding four people healthy, unprocessed food is not cheap. I should institute more "cheap meal" nights but when your kids will eat chicken cacciatore it is hard to serve them Kraft Dinner. Alex is the one who scares my wallet most though. This morning he ate his granola and fruit but needed 4 slices of turkey bacon and a full glass of OJ. Trust me, he'll be starving again in no time. My 58 lbs, 4'4" six and a half year old son hasn't slowed down once post-womb. Thankfully he is the best eater I've ever seen. He can pack it away better than most adults and would take sushi over chicken nuggets any day.

It could be worse, I suppose. I could be freaking out over kids lived off air alone. We know a few like that too.

***I should add that I am not a fanatic, nor are my poor kidlets deprived. They have had their share of cakes, cookies and fruit roll-ups. Just sparingly. And after a proper meal.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Summer is here!

It feels like I live in two different worlds sometimes. September through May is all about home schooling. The summer months are about more time with daddy, the neighbours and friends finally out for summer vacation. We do see some hs friends in the summer but not as often. It will change a little next year when we become parents of one kid in and one kid out.

So far, we have enjoyed swimming in backyard pools. Running around outside from morning until dinner, riding bikes, having Lego battles on the lawn or playing freeze tag or hide and go seek. Last night we joined two other neighbours and their families to an outdoor movie screening by the lake. We have a camping trip coming up. A Blue Jays game with Grandpa. A few weekend sleepovers with family. It is relaxed, informal and unorganized. Aside from going to the Y, Thursday swimming lessons being our only scheduled activity, we play everything by ear.

It is nice. For a while. But, before long I will be chomping at the bit and start working on the Fall schedule and curriculum. As much as I love the down time, I find life soothingly stimulating when it all gets going again.

Busy Izzy

It is pretty funny, and a little annoying, that Izzy has jumped on the home school bandwagon in order to get ready for junior kindergarten. Every day she pulls out her math book, one of those pre-school educational workbooks where you circle the biggest fish or colour the fourth carrot. She loves that stuff. She also has flash cards for upper and lower case letters. When she isn't asking about being tested with the cards she will point to letters on books or signs telling me what they are and what sound they make. I remember this stage with Alex well. I love pre-reading. I get so excited waiting for it all to click. She also wants to write. She can do her name, Alex's and even those of most her short named friends. She is anxious to write all her letters and do it well. Of course we read a lot. Many books. Many times during the day.

The reason for her enthusiasm? She wants to show her teacher what she already knows, lol. My 3 1/2 year old daughter wants to be prepared and is tackling it with military precision. This is how I can tell she is truly my daughter. A friend was over while Izzy was colouring, cutting and pasting and remarked she is more ready for senior kindergarten than junior. Our friend volunteers with the kindergarteners at our future school and said that they *hope* the children acquire the skills Izzy has now by the end of jk.

It will be interesting to see what next year brings. If only Alex could borrow a little of this drive these days.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Swimming classes!

Have to brag. The kids started up their lessons again. They haven't been since last Christmas. We took some time off the lessons because our weekends were getting too hectic and we wanted to recover from the week. So, now the kids go Thursdays at 5:15. Alex is in with the big kids and was taken over to the deep end of the pool. He jumped in three times!!! This, my overly cautious kiddo, in with the big guys, so much more comfortable in the water. Izzy had her first class without a parent present. She was a trouper too. Blew bubbles. Dunked her head under water. Had big smiles for mom and her very adorable swim instructor, Alex. We were both crushing on him.

Time goes so fast. I have been looking forward to the days when I could just drop the kids off at a class and relax. Those days are finally here and now I am feeling much older.

...and a month flys by!

Sheesh, nothing for the month of June. You would think I wasn't up to anything. Here is a sampling of what we were up to.

Bought a kiddie pool. What a pain too. Too small for chlorine, too big to dump all the time. Not the smartest purchase ever...but the kids *LOVE* it.

Cleaned up the yard. Last Fall we took out an over grown tree and last month I tackled some neglected garden beds. Cleaned up the rose bush. Added some annuals. Planted a bunch of tomatoes, peppers, and a raspberry bush and strawberry plant.

Got ready for...attended...and celebrated Izzy's dance recital. She had a blast! I have more to tell about the event but am waiting for the video to post at the same time.

Took a day trip to Black Creek Pioneer Village with our home school friends.

Rob took a week off and we took him to see the Stingrays at the Toronto Zoo. The kids and I saw them the year before without Rob.

Bought daddy Guitar Hero for the Wii. Turns out everyone but Rob really sucks at it. Still, the guitar-mote is very cool.

Cooking and baking up a a storm! Hard not to be inspired by goodies like fresh strawberries and rhubarb from the farmer's market. This became the first cobbler of the season. So yummy!!

Add in a trip to Splash Island, loads of play time with friends just out of school and some math work on the side and you have a pretty good idea of what June looked like for us,

Funny enough, this was the modified schedule of activities. I hurt my knee and had to cancel a trip to London with friends. We tried to slow down a bit last month. Almost succeeded too, lol.