Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Helmets for sledding? Really?

I sent my son to Grade 1 with a helmet today. It’s not that his classroom is particularly rough — it’s because I don’t want him to get a head injury during gym class.

Times have changed, you see. His school sent home a note to parents, just before Christmas, that said the students would be sledding sometimes during their gym period. Helmets were recommended.

I made a face when I saw the note. Helmets! For sledding! I remember sledding down icy hills behind my elementary school — as part of gym class, I think — and nobody was wearing a sissy helmet.

I tut-tutted a bit and then got to the bottom of the note. Parents had to sign the slip and send it back to the school, advising on whether or not your child would be bringing a helmet. If they weren’t, you still had to sign.

“You can’t sue us if your kid bumps their head or cracks their skull,” something like that.

I picked up a pen and hesitated over the slip.

How badly would I feel if my kid did hurt themselves sledding at school, and it could have been avoided if I’d just send a helmet?

I put the pen back down and grabbed my phone to google “child sledding helmet.” I found one on Amazon for $20 and ordered two — one for my youngest, who will be going off to primary in the fall. They were technically skateboarding helmets but it said “suitable for skating, sledding, skiing” somewhere in the description.

Once I’d confirmed the order through PayPal, I scrawled my name on the blank section next to “I will be sending a helmet,” and added a note saying I’d just ordered one online and I’d be sending it as soon as it arrived. There! Done!

Helmets were the topic of discussion at the bus stop the next morning, since everyone had gotten the same note. Some of the parents — the dads, mostly — were guffawing at the idea of helmets for something as innocent as sledding ...

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene

Monday, January 16, 2017

Baking a doggie birthday cake

This is completely random and hilarious, but I have been getting requests for the recipe I used to make Annabelle's half-birthday cake a couple of weeks ago.

Truth: It looked so good that I kind of wanted to try it.

I modified this peanut butter dog biscuit recipe from Pink Pistachio, omitting the coconut and the applesauce and replacing it with other ingredients (as you'll see). And I baked it in a regular round cake pan instead of rolling it out and cutting shapes because LAZY.

Peanut Butter Liver Dog Cake
Serves: 4-6 neighbourhood pups

  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Mix together 1 cup flour + 1/4 cup oats + 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Add 1/4 cup of the powder at the bottom of the bag of freeze-dried liver treats (finally -- a use for that powder)
  • In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 cup peanut butter + 1/2 cup milk + 1 egg + 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined
  • Scrape the batter into a round greased cake pan
  • Bake 20-25 minutes until golden and firm-ish
  • Transfer to a cooling rack
  • Don't eat it even though it looks like a delicious giant cookie
  • Once it's cool, ice it with plain ol' peanut butter
  • Garnish with cut-up cooked sausage. 
  • Bacon would also be a nice touch.
Annabelle loved it.

A photo posted by Annabelle the Boston Terrier (@annabellenessa) on

So did neighbour pups Juno, Tulo and Winnie!

(Hi, Winnie!)

(The rest of us ate brownies. Human ones.)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five ways to entertain the kids this weekend ... so you can be alone

Weekends are for family time! Maybe! In some houses?

Kidding -- we do family time here, too. But you know what else we do? We do "MOMMY NEEDS ALONE TIME" time.

After a busy work-week and lots of running around, I need down-time on the weekends and that means my kids need to stay busy ... and I can only let them watch so much TV before I feel guilty.

So here are five easy suggestions that will hopefully keep your kids busy for a while this weekend, because I heard Switched at Birth is back on Netflix and IT MUST BE WATCHED.

1. Lego marble runs.

Put those overpriced base plates to use and make simple "tracks" for the marbles using Lego bricks. Don't forget the dead ends, and bonus points if you use doors or windows for START and FINISH lines. I kind of enjoy this, too!

2. Science experiments.

My kids LOVE messing around with baking soda, vinegar, flour and -- if I'm feeling charitable -- food colouring.

If I was a better mom I'd probably sit around and chatter on about the different scientific principles when a reaction happens. But TBH it's a good time to have a few minutes alone on another level of the house.

I mean, I have to clean up the mess afterwards! It's not like I'm abandoning the activity entirely.

3. Let them make a mess with cardboard.

Boxes, tape, crayons, and pairs of kid-friendly scissors keep my kids busy for HOURS. Yeah it's a bitch to clean up those little bits of cardboard later on, but it's worth it to see them make airplanes and cars and robots and hideouts and dog-training courses.

(And when I say "see them" I mean "hide on another level and admire the creations later." Are you sensing a pattern here? Good.)

4. Kick 'em outside.

 Fresh air is good for children and quiet houses are good for parents. Those are facts.

The best thing about having children who are too young to tell time is that you can shoo them outside "just for 10 minutes" and then lie about how long 10 minutes actually takes to pass.

5. Put them to work!

One of the greatest mornings of the summer, according to my kids, was when I let them help me stain the deck. Go figure!

If you have chores you need to do this weekend, yeah, it MIGHT be a huge pain to do them with the kids. But you'd be surprised the menial labour they enjoy.

Have a great weekend, and here's hoping you get a bit of alone time -- we deserve it!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How I'm simplifying household basics

I've never been good about setting a word for the new year, like a lot of other bloggers have. 

(My friend Lori from Farm Fresh Style chose "Warrior," and Colleen from Curtains are Open chose "Courage.")

But if were to officially choose a word to guide 2017 for me, it would be "simplify." Make everything light and easy and take away the annoying bits wherever I can. 

So yesterday I got the idea to set up a regular monthly order with all of the "annoying basics" that we need on a regular basis yet always seem to either (A) run short, or (B) have too many varieties/mostly-empty bottles/packages cluttering up the place.

There are different ways to do this but I picked Walmart's AutoSave system (NOT a sponsored post at all -- it's just something I'm trying). 

The idea is you can save a bit (like 5%) on household items when you order them on a regular basis (every week, every month, every two months, etc.) instead of a one-time order. I didn't care much about the discount, since it only amounted to a couple of bucks, but I *DID* like the idea that I'm not going to run out of liquid hand soap AGAIN because they'll automatically ship me a bottle once a month. 

Here are a few tips if you try something like this yourself ...


What are you ALWAYS running out of? For us, it seems to be clear garbage bags, napkins, and liquid soap refills for the bathrooms. Those went on the list for sure, and I am VERY EXCITED about the prospect of being able to easily refill those stupid bottles next to all of the sinks.

In your house, maybe you're always running short of ziplock baggies or tinfoil or cooking spray? (Crap, we should probably add all of three of those to our order). Think about what irks you and consider getting it regularly.


You get free shipping when you spend $50 and I'm ALL ABOUT THAT FREE SHIPPING. So I filled a basket with all of the essentials we seem to be needing / running short of regularly / buying too many random versions of IRL until I topped the $50 mark.

I played around with adding/removing items until my total was just barely over $50 so we're getting what we need but not too much.


Everything will re-ship once a month, to keep things simple, so I purposely picked sizes that will last 30+ days (but not TOO much longer), like a bottle of laundry soap that does 26 loads, a pack of four razors instead of 12, six bars of soap instead of 12, 42 dishwasher tabs instead of a zillion. That kind of thing.


My husband doesn't give a crap what kind of shampoo he uses to wash his (limited) hair. Sorry, hon -- oh right, you don't read my posts. ;) He will use anything (and apparently I will, too, after the Monat experience). So I bought a normal-sounding Aussie 2-in-1 that we can both use, AND I picked the one in a pump because YES. EASY.

I also got the kids a hair-and-body wash combo (with a pump!) and, yes, I got the baby variety even though they're four and six because they are total wusses about soap (OR WATER) in their precious widdle eyes.

We sometimes have body wash floating around in the shower, too, but my husband is a diehard Irish-Spring-er, so I ordered a few bars for him and some Dove bars for me. No more nearly-empty bottles of body wash, body scrub, etc.


My husband often does the grocery shopping and he's known to stock up on items when they go on sale (which is good, in theory). But we don't have a lot of storage space in this house, and I'm KonMari-ing like crazy these days, so I don't WANT to stare at a stockpile.

I also don't want five different varieties of dish soap under the sink, all different sizes and scents and some half-empty and GAH. One monthly bottle of Palmolive (in the nice original scent that reminds me of my toy sink from when I was a kid) will do nicely, thanks.

Same with dishwasher tabs. ONE BOX = ENOUGH, when you know more are coming.


Our first order hasn't arrived yet, but I'm pretty excited to see how I like this system. The next order to set to ship Feb. 9 but I can change/cancel if necessary, after I see how quickly we burn through these items.

I'm hoping this plan will mean we're storing less crap BUT having exactly the crap we need, when we need it.

Will keep you posted!