Connections
I was in Toronto last week for the fifth! Blissdom Canada conference. I had the honour of leading a series of micro sessions, I got to introduce a panel of friends who inspire me, and I got to sit in on sessions that gave tools to the writer in me. The biggest takeaway for me was the connections I made with my fellow writers and bloggers.

Being a writer is known to be a lonely profession, and while blogging is no longer new, telling your stories on the Internet is still considered to be different. I started this site over nine years ago as a way to share stories and photos with family and friends who don’t live here, and I’m still doing that. Along the way, others came to read, and the connections made have been amazing, but that’s a story for another day.

The only frustration I have about being so isolated here in Summerland is that I don’t have somebody here in the flesh to bounce post ideas off of or talk about the ins and outs of blogging. (Do you remember when Amanda posted regularly? You should all petition her to share her FB wit on Kickyboots.)

The time I spent in Toronto was refreshing to the writer in me, yes, but it was the lunchtime chats, the connections in the halls, the impromptu dinners, and the late night chats with people like me that filled my soul. There was no explaining of what we did, because we were all there. There was a common history, a common wiring, and a common love of making witty comments. There’s something to be said for spending time with people who get you.

I have people who get me in different areas of my personality here at home. People who share my faith. People who love running as much as I do. People who like to cook (and eat) good food. People who share my accounting brain. People who love to take photos. People who like to ski. People who laugh at things like they’re twelve. People who love to sing and dance (Sometimes at the same time).

I get all of the above on a constant basis, but while many people in physical proximity to me may read what I write, sometimes I miss having that little circle in the Venn diagram of my life who understand this piece of who I am and why I am compelled to tell my stories. It was a huge recharge for me and I walked (flew) away feeling very thankful for the chance to connect with the other weirdos who write their stories on the Internet.

They get me.

Sunny Days
Last night, as I was making dinner and G was working on his homework, he made a comment along the lines of, “I like this binder, but a bigger binder would be SO AWESOME.” I kept chopping vegetables, and putting things into the oven, and didn’t even respond to his comment. Passive aggressive comments are something I refuse to make, and something I refuse to respond to. They do not foster open conversation.

He made a second comment as I was taking things out of the oven and placing food onto dishes. It was identical to the first comment (Because I didn’t acknowledge his first comment), and once everything was out of the oven, I shut off everything and addressed him directly to ask what his comments were about. He explained that he had 1-inch binders, but everyone else had 2-inch binders. He was in charge of his list when we went shopping for school supplies, so I asked him why he didn’t buy the right binders. He said that he knew he had binders from last year, and thought he could use them, but he now knew that they were the wrong size.

Fair enough.

I took that opportunity to tell him that if he needs something, he just has to tell me. Passive-aggressive comments make me shut off immediately, because that is not conducive to communicating. (MAN, would I LOVE to have a BIGGER BINDER.) If you need school supplies, I will buy them. There is no need to make vague statements that just make me turn a blind ear. You need it? I will buy it. It’s so simple, and as we talked about it and I explained my initial lack of response, he understood why I chose to not respond. He is also on board with communicating his needs (And wants) directly, instead of making vague statements.

It was one of those parenting moments where I felt like we understood each other. (This will surely be less common as the teenage hormones take him over.) I bought him a big binder today and he was so very thankful for it. He told me that he planned to decorate it and then he cracked a joke about how next time he’ll just ask for what he needs.

I know that the teen years will have many (MANY) challenges, but I love these moments of open communication where we can speak openly about how to be a decent human being. I hope we can keep it up, and I have a pretty good feeling that we will. Not because I’m The Best Parent On The Planet, but because my kids are pretty great, and appreciate that I speak to them as fellow humans instead of Underlings. I hope that they continue to learn to simply ask for what they need or want. They may be told no, but more often they will be told yes … or wait, something even better is in store for you.

What is it about packing school (or work) lunches that make them such a chore? I have an ingrained dread of them, but I’ve found a few ways to make them less stressful:

  • Pack Monday school lunches when making Sunday lunches. Two birds, one stone, etc.
  • Pack the Tuesday through Friday lunches the day before, when the kids get home from school. The kids come inside with their backpacks, empty/wash out their lunch kits, and pack their lunch for the next day.
  • Make them pack their own lunches. This doesn’t work for little kids, but now that my kids are older I make them pack what they want in their lunch and as a bonus, they don’t get to complain about what was packed.

G likes Tubes

One thing my kids have in their lunch is yogurt. They’re not big milk drinkers, and I’ll get Calcium and Vitamin D into them any way I can. The folks at Life Made Delicious sent me coupons to try the Yolpait Tubes and I was game. So were my kids — as they helped me unload groceries they could not believe that I had brought home Yoplait Tubes! )I had no idea they wanted them! I always ask them what I should buy for lunches…) I had to hold them back so I could take a photo or two and then they dove in.

We put the remaining tubes into the freezer and they’ve been tossing them into their lunch kits before heading off to school in the morning. This keeps the yogurt cold, and the kids love them when they’re a little frozen. Bonus for me: My kids have always asked for vanilla ice cream, but not they’re branching out to different flavours.

Tubes!

Thanks (Again!) to the team at Life Made Delicious for getting me (and my kids!) to try something new that fits so well into our daily life.

Summerlandia

It doesn’t get better. It gets different.

When you are in the throes of three kids born in under four years, and none of them are in school (and two of them are in diapers), you are told that it will get better. You will enter a land of no diapers (And, sadly, no naps), no bottles, no diaper bags, and no fishie crackers smushed into anywhere they can be smushed into. You will have kids that can wipe their own bums, who can brush their own teeth, and who can shower alone (and even wash their hair!). They can dress themselves (You will be shot down on your ensemble suggestions), they can pack their own school lunches (PRAISE BE), and they can tell you what forms you need to sign, and where, and will even bring you a pen to do so.

(How did I survive the early years? Coffee. It’s all about the coffee. And running, because burning off stress.)

I thought that as the kids got older, the stress and exhaustion would dissipate as they became more independent. It did, but it was replaced by all new stresses and exhaustion. My kids are more independent, which cause more stress. You people who told me that it gets better? YOU’RE ON NOTICE.

Sure, you can walk to a friend’s house after school (DON’T GET HIT BY A CAR). You have a youth event? We can drop you off and pick you up on a Friday night, because who needs a Date Night? (WE DO.) You want to sleep over at a friend’s house, and we don’t know the parents? NO.

Things are great, and things are good, but kids getting older is harder than I thought it would be. My babies are no longer babies (Two of them are almost as tall as I am!). My kids are amazing, but we’ve found ourselves in this new matrix and we’re getting our bearings.

Have you been where I am? We’re the pioneers in our circle of friends (hashtag oldfarts) and this is the wild west for us.

Chicken Tinga
When I received my monthly care package from the Life Made Delicious crew last week, I was intrigued about the Chicken Tinga Tacos. You all know that I love Mexican-inspired food, which is one of the reasons I signed up to be a food blogger for Life Made Delicious in the first place.

The kit comes with all of the ingredients you need for the chicken, and suggestions for sides. I love to use my slow cooker for chicken (There are texture issues in my family), so I made my own spin on it.

INGREDIENTS:

For the slow cooker:

Two chicken breasts
Chicken Tinga spices
2 Tbsp lime juice

Other ingredients:

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, diced
Shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese
Old El Paso salsa
Sour cream
Tortillas

DIRECTIONS:

Place the chicken, Chicken Tinga seasoning, and lime juice in the slow cooker on low for 7 hours or on high for 4 hours.

When cooking time is done, use two forks to shred chicken. Place chicken in tortilla along with cheese of choice and a small bit of cilantro and avocado. Grill in a large sauce pan. When cheese is melted, place quesadilla on plate, cut into quarters, and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Enjoy!

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