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Surprise Stew ;-)

On the surface, it looked like chunks of stewing beef and potatoes in thick brown gravy. Little did my husband and kids know, it was spiked with veggies!!

(Heh heh)

I was nervous initially, because shortly after I added my purees, you could really taste them (oops). However after simmering for a couple of hours, the flavour of the meat had really come out, and it was delicious.

Here's what I pureed and added:


I also made a "spice juice" to add, made with fresh spices from the garden and some water:


I threw in some peppercorns as well, although those weren't from my garden ;-) And of course there was beef oxo, to tie it all together.

My husband and kids all enjoyed it and cleaned their plates...


3 Parties In 2 Days

Phew! Glad that's over. Don't get me wrong, we had loads of fun, but now I get to have a "down day" on Monday.

I told Alyssa we had NO plans for today. (It was yesterday when I told her that... as I write this, it's about 1:30 am on Monday.) She said "Really? Can't we make some plans?"

Uh, nope.

No park trips, play dates, parties, swimming lessons... nothing. Yippee!!! Now I have about 300 photos to edit and a few discs to burn (I love all things photography related, though, so that's a happy chore for me).

I don't know where the summer has gone!! I know we're only half way through, but I had this vision of summer being this vast expanse of free time. What was I thinking.

Off I go to get some sleep...


A Tip About Flossing Sticks

I use flossing sticks for my kids' teeth - this saves me trying to fit my big fingers in their little mouths and enables me to floss between all teeth, not just the easily accessible front ones.

I tried a new brand recently and thought I'd pass on this tip for anyone interested in trying flossing sticks. I forget the name of the brand, and I won't bother going to check, because the key point has to do with the handle: if it's flat, it's easier to use.

The new brand I bought has round handles, and they're really hard to hold in place. They slide around in my fingers, especially once they're slippery from being wet. The flat handled sticks are much easier to grip.

From now on, I'll only buy the flat handled kind...


Ruby Fleetwood

Ruby Fleetwood, the six year old daughter of Fleetwood Mack drummer Mick Fleetwood, was injured critically in a pool accident in which she was doing somersaults in the pool, and apparently swallowed too much water and lost consciousness. Luckily it seems that she is on the mend and could make a full recovery.

Last year my husband bought one of those Dolfino Simple Set pools (14 ft x 37 in). At that time our son had just turned three, and our daughter was four and a half.

One year later the pool is still in its box in our house. My husband shakes his head at me, and some of our friends crack jokes. Both of our kids are in swimming lessons, and our daughter can swim well in water over her head. Maybe as well as Ruby Fleetwood... or maybe not quite. My son can't swim in deep water at all yet, but is making progress in his lessons.

While in their swimming lessons, my kids would never be permitted to do any kind of activity that is beyond their skill level (i.e. somersaults that could disorient them). However a backyard pool creates a scenario where even the most prudent parent or caregiver can become too relaxed and comfortable in their child's ability. Needless to say, our Dolfino pool will stay in its box for at least another couple of years.

A final note for the swim enthusiast parents out there: I have many friends with kids who are wonderful swimmers, including one who has a five year old who dives competitively, all from rec centre lessons and without the aid of a back yard pool. These kids have not suffered at all or been deprived by not having a pool just steps from their back door.


Say Cheeeeese!!!

I take my hat off to anyone out there with more than two kids who manages to keep their house clean (no nannies or cleaning ladies allowed ;-)

I have only two kids, and well... nice weather we're having!!! (not talking about the state of my house).

I'm not even going to blame it on the blogs, 'cause I usually write short posts anyway, and that doesn't take too much time. Hmmm. Today I think I'm going to blame...

Ooh!! Here's one: the digital photographic revolution. (seriously). Because, you see, thanks to all things data, we can now EDIT every single photograph we take ('cause why not make them all better). AND, thanks to not having to "pay by frame" (i.e. film cost), I don't know about you guys, but I take WAY more pics. At the moment, as a result of Playland, a recent birthday party and some play dates, I have somewhere around 600 photos to look at.

I won't edit them all (which won't be easy on my OCD ;-) but I will play with them endlessly (file, sort, edit some, e-mail, burn to disk, print, etc. etc.). And in spite of it all, I won't get much done.

After Alyssa was born, I meticulously scrap booked the entire first year of her life. Then along came Joseph and... well, let's just say the second child always gets ripped off. Now I have hastily labelled disks in sleeves tucked in empty albums, with scraps of mementos and things stuffed in there as well. ONE DAY.

I have this vision of myself sitting with the kids when they're a bit older (8 & 10?) sifting through heaps of stuff, as they prepare to create pages for their albums themselves. lol. Child labour? Outsourcing? Nah. Bonding time!!!

Meanwhile I write meandering blog posts as dishes sit in my sink, and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of digital memories continue to wait for my time...


Heh heh heh cont'd ;-)

My latest conquest involves cauliflower puree in homemade mac 'n cheese. Hubby and kids didn't skip a beat and ate it all.

Cauliflower is a good vegetable to use because it has a low key, pleasant flavour and an easy to blend colour. I had my doubts because my husband likes his mac 'n cheese pretty bland and basic, so any changes in flavour should have been noticeable. As it turns out the cauliflower complimented the cheese, so it worked out well :-)

Heh heh heh...

In addition to the staples of tomato sauce, onions and garlic, I smuggled in celery, carrot and red pepper puree into the lasagne I made tonight. Hubby and kids had no clue - they ate it and loved it.

I also added fresh spices from the garden: rosemary, savory, basil and thyme. I washed them, and then pureed them with about 1/2 cup of water to made "spice water", which I dumped into the sauce. Yum.

I had other veggies I could have added, but I have to tread slowly because my husband has the most annoyingly acute sense of taste (AND he thinks vegetables are evil). Why he is still alive is a mystery to me.

One final note about the celery puree - it's a bit fragrant and has a strong flavour, so if your intent is to camouflage it, don't use it in a dish that isn't spicy or flavourful in its own right.

Now I'm plotting tomorrow night's dinner... heh heh


Now What???

I have the veggies ready, grated and pureed, and the dinner hour is looming. My only problem now is figuring out what to make.

I'm not going to complain about lunch... I offered pancakes (in which I could sneak zucchini and wheat germ ;-), but that was flatly refused. Really??? even with the syrup? Instead they had apple slices with peanut butter, cut up avocado, mini carrots, and a cheese string. Like I said, not complaining.

Hmmmm. Hey!!! I think I'll try homemade mac 'n cheese, and mix in some leftover cauliflower puree...


Mashed... Potatoes? Really?

Alyssa: "Mommy, what's that?"

I'm scooping out pureed cauliflower from my Magic Bullet. "It's cauliflower, honey. It's for my smoothies."

A: "Oh. I wish I could have a taste."

I gave her a bit on the tip of the spatula, which she gingerly took on her tongue.

A: "Mommy did you put some of that in our mashed potatoes?"

Arrrgh... busted!!! Geez, what now. I suppose I could lie....

Me: "Hmmm... I guess I could have done that. Do you want me to next time?"

A: "No thanks!"

Alrighty then (tell me how you really feel ;-)

Will I add more to the next batch of mashed potatoes? Absolutely! She ate them all this time, so we're good to go for next time. (My real triumph in this case is the fact that I put some in hubby's potatoes, and he ate them too!)


Deceptively Delicious

Adding pureed veggies to kids food is not a new concept, but what I like about Jessica Seinfeld's approach is the way she has incorporated it into her weekly routine.

She sets aside one night a week to steam and puree veggies, and then stores them in her fridge for the week, using them as she needs them. This method never occurred to me; ideally the fresher the puree the more nutritious, but puree that's been in the fridge a couple of days is better than none. Frankly, steaming and pureeing with every meal was too much for me (call me a wimp - I don't mind ;-)

I struggle with my two kids (although my daughter has recently decided she likes broccoli - I'm still waiting for "the catch" on that one). I have in the past added things like wheat germ to porridge and pancakes, but was running short of ideas. Then I saw the Oprah episode that featured Jessica Seinfeld and her approach to infusing nutrients into food that kids will actually eat, and I am newly inspired to try again with my own.

Wish me luck... lol!!


I Can't Even Remember What The Fight Was About...

Alyssa (5 1/2): "You're the worst brother EVER!!!"

Joseph (4): "You da worst bruvver ever TOO!!!"

Alyssa: "Arrrgh. I'm a GIRL! I can't be the worst brother!!! I'm the worst SISTER!! Say it!! Worst SISTER ever!!!"

I thought it was funny anyway.


Full Day Kindergarten

I think I'm in favour of this... The government is considering making Kindergarten full days, and introducing Pre-school to the current curriculum.

What it comes down to is that in today's economy, two wages earners are necessary for most families, and daycare is sorely underfunded. What surprises me is that they would consider increasing the school curriculum rather than increasing daycare funding (I'm surprised simply because it's a solution that I actually agree with!)

There are people out there who say: "Let kids be kids!! Why start them in school even earlier?"

I wonder if those people have children currently in Preschool or Kindergarten. Frankly, my kids have as much fun, if not more, in Kindergarten and Preschool as they do at home. With all the new friends, crafts, games, field trips, play time, singing, classroom pets, recess and gym time that they enjoy at school, it's hard to imagine them NOT wanting to be there.

Currently, studies show that one quarter of kids who enter Kindergarten are not developmentally ready (WOW). Clearly Daycare is not bridging this developmental gap in a society where both parents are too busy earning wages to put food on the table to be prepping their kids for school.

Then there is the theory (supported by studies) that early intervention prevents social problems later on, making the cost of a lengthened school curriculum economically beneficial.

With all of this in mind, it's hard to imagine why anyone would be resistant to a lengthened school curriculum which includes preschool and full day Kindergarten. It will be interesting to see if it is actually put into practice.


Trampoline Warning

If you're looking for another "trampolines can be dangerous" story, read on.

Fortunately it wasn't that serious. During our son's backyard birthday barbeque, one of our friends' daughters pulled the ligaments in her ankle. She was jumping on the trampoline with a larger child (he's probably twice her weight), and she landed awkwardly because of the movement of the jumping surface. Had she been jumping with someone her size it probably wouldn't have happened.

A point to consider is that she's about 35 pounds, and the trampoline has a weight capacity of 200 pounds. As a result she wasn't big enough to generate much instability by herself, and had she been jumping with another preschooler, they probably would have been OK. However for the older child, given his weight and ability to move the canvas, my opinion is that jumping alone would have been only safe option.

Up until now our rule has been three kids or fewer on the trampoline, but from this point forward, we're going to reduce that as necessary, based on the weight of each jumper.

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