G is for Grateful and Gracious

I feel like I am constantly reminding my children about being grateful for what they have and  gracious to those who are around them. They have so much to be thankful for and are both always open to helping other people who need help or who have less than they do, but it doesn’t seem to stop the gimmies
I am curious to know what other parents do to manage this.
I don’t give in to the behaviour, and they are not used to getting everything they want, the minute they want it.  They know about working for things and waiting for birthdays and whatnot.  Typically I am not trampled by temper tantrums, but rather it is the act of constantly having to repeat myself and wondering if they will ever get it…  And when I whine about it to my parents, they just say, “All kids are the same.  You were like that too once upon a time…” Gotta wonder what exactly they mean by that?
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F is for Figure Skating

Figure skating seems to take up most of my “free” time and money these days!  She is 8 years old and she is on the ice four days a week.  About a month ago, we had a serious “mother to daughter” skating talk…  How much do you want this?  And it wasn’t about quitting, but rather: “… if you only want to do this for fun, that is okay, but it means that you only skate 2 days a week, no extra ice, no extra private ice time for extra lessons.  You only do two competitions a year, and none of those are off the Island, and you only do one test session a year (not three!), and no summer skating…”
Her response?  “No no no Mummy! I want to skate, I want to go competitive, and I want the extra ice times, and extra lessons.”
Okay: but that means, no nagging from me about getting up at 6am, no whining when I say it is a skating day and therefore no play date.
And she has kept up her end of the bargain. 
So here we are a month later, getting ready for another skating competition, less than a week away.  And the mother is so nervous.  But I don’t share that with her.  She doesn’t get nervous, or doesn’t appear to.  She worries about what I will think, so I have told her that it isn’t about what I think.  She likes to win, but she doesn’t worry about what the other kids do.  And I told her, what she does on the ice is between her and her coach.  It is what goes on off the ice that I am in charge of and she needs to remember that I am the “off ice partner”… The one who looks after what she eats, what she does and who she does it with.  I make sure the homework gets done, the chores get done, and that the off ice activity happens: a little bit of running, a little bit of bike riding, some stretching, some dance and some off ice practice (jumping, core work and the off ice solo practice).  I mostly let the “off ice” bike riding and running come from being a kid, and so far she is good at that. 
That is where it gets tricky…  As a parent, you want them to stay little as long as possible, but they want to compete.  So, the rule in our house has become, as long as it is fun and you are enjoying the “work” part of it, then we continue.  But if it becomes a chore, then we re examine.  And start again!

E is for Everybody helps with Supper

That is what I say when it comes to getting supper on the table!  It is an Everybody affair.  The table needs to be set, the salad needs to be made, and of course there is the main course.  Usually that is the parent responsibility.  But the kids are getting there very quickly!  They have learned to cut up veggies like nobody’s business, and are a big help when it comes to making things like soup or spaghetti sauce.  As parents we don’t realise it, but it pays off in the end if you let that helpful 3 year old help get things ready for supper (or lunch).  They can wash  veggies, set the table (with help), and help clear.  While you may have to put in an extra 15 minutes on the prep end and then another 15 minutes on the clean up end for a few years, it will pay off in the long run.  Now, my two are 8 and 10 and they are reasonably helpful at supper time, and quite capable of managing their own lunches in the morning (because they have helped to put away the leftovers after supper!).  Of course  I still have to nag (I am a parent not a magician and my children are FAR from perfect!).  But they know what to do, and do a reasonable job of getting on with helping get on with supper. 
Tips:
Make a list of jobs and let them choose a few each week.  Then rotate each week so that they aren’t stuck with the same chores all the time.
Assign one parent or older child to manage the main dish. 
Chop all your veggies for the week at one time and store in the refrigerator.
Create a weekly menu that everyone can see (ie on the fridge!), so that on your late nights you are not responsible for getting everyone fed as well!  Take input from family members when making menus, that way you aren’t feeling the “brain drain” when it comes to making the menu.

Happy Packing!

D is for Dining room table

I so wish that I could just get myself together and get my hands on a new dining room table.  My husband insists there is nothing wrong with the table that we have.  And in some ways, he is right: it has a top, and it doesn’t fall over.  It seats 6, maybe 7 if we squeeze and the kids are small.  But every night we are 6…it only takes Grandma and Grandpa coming for dinner to make us 8, and that is too tight.  And the kids are getting bigger.  And well, the table isn’t!
And I already know what table I want, and have wanted for five years.  But the money gets saved, or almost, and then something comes up, and the money goes to THAT instead.  A new washer and dryer was the last thing.  Or a tax audit, or new tires for the van.  Oh well, no table yet.  Maybe next year…

C is for Coaching

I once looked into the profession of “Life coach”…but the “Training” cost was ridiculously outrageous.  But I have often wondered if someone would pay me to be their “Kitchen Coach”?
We could work on things like Marathon cookie baking and Soup challenges.  Not to mention the Pantry countdown, and how to get the most bang for your food buck…

B is for Butcher

Do you have a local butcher?  We are very fortunate to have such a good local butcher right here in town: Pipers Meat Cleaver.  Whenever possible, the meat they carry is local as well as hormone-free and non medicated.  They make their own hams, their own sausage, and the two master butchers are the owners and right there to talk to just about any time you want.  You can get bones for soup from them and they will discuss recipes, cooking tips and meat information with you. 
You can request how you want your meat to take home packaged, so you can avoid the Styrofoam packaging going into the garbage at home.  Most of the meat in their freezer section is packaged in plastic bags, double wrapped, but if you prefer your meat packaged in freezer paper instead, they will do that for you.  As well, if you put in a meat order, you can request that it all be packaged in freezer paper. 
Price wise: our butcher is sometimes a little bit more expensive than the grocery store, but they have weekly specials and typically those prices are close if not the same as the local grocery store sale prices.  Usually once a month, the bigger roasting chickens are on special for $2.69/lb.  Around the holidays, the turkeys are local and must be ordered ahead of time, but they are worth it.  Free range, organic and non medicated.  And they taste delicious. 
Your best bet for local fair on any day of the week at Pipers is the Pork, from the Alberni Valley, just north of us on the Island.  Delicious pork tenderloin, beautiful pork chops, and of course pork loin roasts. The bacon is from there, and all the sausage meat (the pork that is used) is also from there.   Hams: they carry both pre smoked, from the Alberni valley as well as their own, which are reasonably priced and your best bet for making ham sandwiches for lunches. And you can order pork bones for making a tonic from the bones which is very common in Ancient Chinese medicine.

So, if you haven’t already, check out your phone book for a local butcher, and go in and talk meat with him or her.  They are all ready to share their knowledge with you and help you keep the pink slime out of your diet! 
Happy Packing!

A is for Apology

I have a big list of posts for the A to Z Blogger challenge…but I have to change the first one: A is now for Apology. 
When it comes to running a house, being self employed, kids activities and being on the Board in too many places, sometimes you drop a ball.  It is hopeful that the ball one drops isn’t a crucial one.  In this case, I chose to drop the Blogging ball.  I appreciate all the folks who commented both here and on FB that they were missing me.  I am back!  Thanks for staying!