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Stupid Toys For Kids

I don't usually complain, and I try and see the educational upside to everything, but sometimes....


J has a toy tool bench that came with a hammer, which understandably I hid for awhile. Today I came across it and gave it to him, to see where he's at with that sort of thing.

He immediately started to hammer the wall. Since he had lost another hard plastic toy for several days because he had chipped the wall paint, I quickly put a stop to this new experiment.

"No buddy, NOT the wall. Only soft things, like the carpet."

He started hammering the carpet, and I told him that was fine. Then BANG BANG BANG his hammer found the kitchen lino.

"Noooo!!!! Only SOFT things. The kitchen floor isn't soft, ok? Just SOFT things like the carpet or the couch."

He then went over to the dog, and I caught him just in the nick of time.

"NOOO!! Buddy, come on. We love puppy, and yes he is soft, but we don't want to hurt him!!"

He nodded, and stood and pondered this for a few minutes. He then wandered into the living room, and called me:

"Mama, is the TV soft?"

Needless to say, the hammer has been taken away again.
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Getting My Kids To Eat

I've figured out the secret (for my son, anyway). Brace yourself, 'cause it's not, um, palatable...

Add Ketchup!!!

To anything... I just add a squirt on the side of his plate and he dips, or mixes, or whatever. Somehow it ends up in his stomach. I'm amazed his poo isn't tomato coloured.

Tonight, for instance, I served him a plate of pork roast (slow cooked with rosemary, salt and pepper... mmmm!!), with roast potatoes (cooked in the drippings... mmmm!!!) and gravy, and he wanted no part of it. He wanted me to "make the gravy into ketchup".

Ohhhh kay.

I made another plate without gravy, squirted some ketchup on the side, and "mustard too, please Mama", and now he's eating it.

Whatever works!!
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A Good Diaper Bag Gift Idea

I just thought I'd pass this on while I'm thinking about it... for anyone looking for a gift idea for an expecting family:

When I was pregnant with Alyssa, one of my gifts was an Eddie Bauer diaper bag. It was like any other diaper bag - it came with a changing pad and all the necessary compartments for baby gear.

The thing that separated this bag from others that I've seen is that it is mostly black with tan suede accents - it looks more like a camera bag than a diaper bag. I still use it to this day, and my kids are 4 and 6. It's practical, convenient, and stylish - a great gift that will get used long term, not just for a year or two.
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5 Easy Ways To Make Reading Fun

I'm lucky that Alyssa loves to read, so getting her to practice is no struggle. Still, the more fun we have, and the more ways I can "sneak it in", the easier it is. Here are some things that have worked for us:

1) Word search puzzles. You can find children's word search books at places such as Chapters, or you can always make your own. This is what I did initially - I used graph paper, filled in simple words to start, and then filled in the blanks with random letters. Making them yourself is actually an ideal way to start because you can customize them to your child's level. Make sure the first few puzzles have only a few words (i.e. 4-6), so that your child has a feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing the puzzle.

2) Leave the close captioning on the TV. We did this by accident once and Alyssa actually learned how to spell a few words by watching and reading along. Since then we've left it on.

3) Play Hang Man. This is another favourite of A's. You can use short phrases as well, and whenever your child is ready, he/she can create the puzzles for you to solve. Humour takes the work out and turns it into play: Alyssa made a puzzle for me to solve, the answer to which was "do not fart". She was pretty amused, let me tell you ;-)

4) Communicate with notes. I leave notes for A in her lunch, and taped to her bedroom door. You can take this a step further and play "treasure hunt" with notes - so much fun :-)

5) Make books with your child. I use coil bound notebooks from the dollar store and write short stories in them, and Alyssa will illustrate them after she's read them. The nice thing about writing them yourself is that you can tailor them to your child's level and interests.

Happy reading!

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Toy Packaging Woes


I'd like to, um, find and give my two cents to the person who came up with those little metal twisty things that hold toys captive in their plastic and carboard packaging. C'mon. Quit spoiling their fun. How are they supposed to have their "middle of the night in the deserted store toy parties" when they're tied down like that?

Then there's those little bitty need a microscope to see 'em elastics (not that my eyes have sustained laptop damage or anything). If the metal twisties and elastics aren't bad enough, to add more stupidity to the mix, there's tape as well.

I wonder if the toy packaging people have young children, and have heard of something called "getting things done" time. As in, by the time my daughter is bored with birthday gift #1, all my "getting things done" time has been used up trying to extract toy #2 from its plastic prison and then recycle the packing.

What ever happened to the days when you opened the box and the stuff just fell out?

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Surviving Skating

We did it!!! J and I both survived :30 on the ice without any lasting ill effects :-)

My back was a bit sore, mind you, from leaning over his chair (which he did NOT want to get out of). I spent 99% of the time bent over pushing him around (it was one of those little kid chairs).

Twice I managed to get him out:

"It's Mommy's turn to sit!!"

"Nooooooooooooo!!!! I wanna stay in da chair!!!!"

I'd somehow manage to haul him up out of it and fall down onto it myself. My goal was to force him to stand, but no such luck. He kept trying to climb into my lap. Not so much fun with skates on!!

All in all, though, it was ok. No tears and no injuries!!
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Skating With Preschool

Ohhhhh boy.

Lil J's preschool class has skating today (they do this twice a year) and each child must be accompanied by an adult. My husband is at work, so that leaves... um... me!

I can't skate. I seem to be in the minority - most people I know can slap on a pair of blades and glide around without looking too foolish. Not me. I need a chair, or a cone, or the boards or something. So J and I will make our way out there and more than likely sit with our butts on the ice and watch everyone else.

Which leads me to the question - do I qualify for another adult to help me???


The upside is that it's only for half an hour...
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Party Preparation

I have a big bag of Cheetos and a big bag of Ruffles on my table, plus a flat of juice boxes, ready to take to A's birthday party. Apparently I've been too busy blogging to hide them.

Lil' J: "Mommy can I have some cheeeezeees?"

Me: "Not today Buddy. You'll have them at Alyssa's party."

Lil J: "Pweeeeeeeze Mommy? Pweeeeeze?"

And on it goes. He wasn't happy with carrots as an alternative ("but they're the same colour - look!"). Hmmm.

(Nice try Mommy ;-)
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Goodie Bag Success!

I found what I was looking for at another dollar store: I was able to get enough pencil cases for the boys and the girls. I've stuffed them with candy and trinkets (pencils, erasers, stickers, etc.).

I like the contents to be useful, and as a parent any time I can promote writing or drawing I try my best. With that in mind, I don't think I've ever done a goodie bag that didn't include a pencil/pen/crayon of some kind.

One year for goodie bags I gave each child a pad of construction paper and a small box of crayons. An added bonus to this approach is that if you have leftovers (I usually make a few extra bags), then you have usable craft supplies for your own kids.


Kids And Computers


Hubby (talking about Lil' J, who's 4): "He's on your computer. Whatever, he seems to know what he's doing." ...wanders off to the bathroom.

Um, 'scuse me? It's not the computer I'm worried about - it's everything else in my office.

I went downstairs and extracted him from potential complications, only to find him down there a few hours later with his sister, who is five.

Alyssa: "Mommy I like this one." I look at the screen to find her at Google, typing words into the search box.

Um, NO. Not without parental filters, or constant supervision, and I am not spending the next hour standing over your shoulder as you type at the speed of slug. I love you.

The rate at which kids become computer friendly is inspiring and alarming at the same time. I am a big believer in the policy of no Internet in bedrooms. One of these days I'll have the time and the energy to move my desk top upstairs so that both kids can "surf supervised".

Meanwhile J will just have to be content watching his sister on one of three sites: Starfall, Webkinz, or totlol (I keep meaning to look at and bookmark more, like Nick Jr., for example).

Now he (J) is trying to climb on my lap, so that's all for now!


Goodie Bag Tip

A friend of mine used Oriental Trading for the goodie bags for a theme party she threw for her daughter last year. She was very happy - they were affordable, and very prompt with their shipping. She said she'd use them again.

Just thought I'd pass that on...

(Hey, this is my 100th post!! Wahoo!!)



More On Goodie Bags

So Hubby is off work and was able to stay with Lil' J and A while I ran up to the dollar store on my quest for goodie bag stuff...

I like to give something that will last, and fill that with trinkets. I think I mentioned in my last post some of the things I've used (i.e. fanny packs, etc.).

Today my trusty ol' dollar store came up short. They had tube shaped pencil cases that I liked - Disney Princess for girls and Batman/Spiderman etc. for boys, but guess what? Not enough. So far I have 11 girls and 7 boys, and there were only nine girl cases (about 30 for boys - go figure).

There is another dollar store close by that I'm going to check out tomorrow, but Hubby will be at work so Lil' J will have to come with me while A is at school. Oh well, such is life. If that's my biggest problem, things aren't so bad, lol.


5 Goodie Bag Ideas

It's that time again... A's birthday is in a few weeks and I need to make goodie bags for her party.

The party doesn't really have a theme - it's being held at a local indoor play centre, and there are quite a few kids coming. My approach with goodie bags has always been to get them something useful and fill that with little things, rather than just give little things wrapped in a plastic bag. I've given pencil cases, fanny packs, pails and courier bags, to name a few. Some time this week I'll head up to one of our dollar stores and see what I can find.

While I'm on the subject, here are some fun goodie bag/party favour ideas that I've seen at other parties we've attended:

1) Take home craft: each child was given a small gardening set and during the party they planted some seeds as well as a small flowering plant. They took home their tools and the things they had planted.

2) Another take home craft: sunglasses that each child decorated.

3) A bucket each of sidewalk chalk.

4) Costumes: at a Hawaiian theme party each child went home with a lei and a grass skirt.

5) Build-A-Bear! My kids have always loved being invited to Build-A-Bear parties.


Does It Get Any Easier?

Ah yes. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

For those parents out there dealing with the perils of "age four" for the first time, take heart in knowing that it does get easier. Alyssa is turning six in a few weeks, and is soooo much easier than when she was Lil' J's age (4 1/2). At the moment he is a holy terror ;-)

I remember back when A was that age, I thought to myself "she's difficult because she'll be an easy teenager". As it turns out I'm getting my rewards sooner than I thought :-)

Hmmm. I wonder, then, what her adolescence will be like???? Ahhhhhh!!!



Heavy Rainfall Warning

You know how it is... when you have nothing to blog/talk about, there's always the weather ;-)

Today we have a heavy rainfall warning. We get those quite often where I live (the south coast of B.C., Canada). Yup, heavy rainfall.

This meant that my daughter had no choice (because Mommy is the Dry Clothes Warden) but to wear her rain boots and then change into her shoes when she got to class. It also means that The Boy (because he is Mr. Trippy) will change clothes several times today.

Last but not least, it meant that we were late for school today, because Mommy Warden thought she'd be clever and keep Mr. Trippy and Miss Too-Much-Of-A-Diva-To-Change-Her-Shoes out of the rain as long as possible, but messed up on the time. As a result, Miss Diva missed the second bell and needed a late slip from the office.

Oops. Baaaad Mommy...


Pinata Tip For Birthday Parties

Alyssa went to a friend's birthday party the other day and they had a pinata. Her Mom had an idea for filling it that I'd never seen, and I thought I'd pass it on.

We've had pinatas at our kids' parties in the past, and endured the mad scramble and ensuing madness as all the kids try and grab as much loot as they can. For the less aggressive, there can be hurt feelings if other party goers end up with more candy and are not well mannered enough to share.

As a solution, my friend prepared in advance small baggies of candies and put those in their pinata. That way each child got the same amount.

So simple, yet such a great idea!!! I'm definitely doing that if we ever have another pinata.


The Effects On My Children Of Setting The Clocks Back

Never mind them... the effect on me is that bedtime is an hour later!!!!!

OK, I'm a grownup. I can handle it. I think.

It hasn't been too bad - there has been only one crying episode so far today, and at the moment they're both playing nicely. Not bad considering if we hadn't set the clock back, lil' J would be asleep by now.

So far so good, and only ten minutes or so left until I can whisk The Boy away to the bathroom to brush his teeth...


Sneaking Nutrients Into Food

I'm always looking for ways to sneak nutrients into my kids' food, and here something I tried the other day that worked (good thing they don't read my blogs ;-)

I sprinkled some wheat germ into their peanut butter sandwiches.


The idea is to not go overboard or they'll notice. Better to have them eat sandwiches with a little bit added each time, rather than have them reject them entirely.

This is a handy trick if your kids are very "bread colour oriented". My kids prefer white bread because it's softer and it's what Daddy eats, but if I simply say "not today!" for white, they will eat whole grain, and I never pack anything but whole grain in A's school lunches.

However, I know there are kids out there who won't eat bread unless it's white, so sneaking some wheat germ (or flax, or bran) inside might be a solution that works.

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