About me

I am a Stay at Home Mom. I love Chai Lattes, anything chocolate, and all of the Real Housewives. I hate cleaning bathrooms.

I've been with my husband since 2000, married since 2005, and together we have two little girls. Little Bear was born in 2009 and Crazy Plates in 2010.

This is my blog. A place where I share all the fun and frustrating things about being a Stay at Home Mom.

I hope you can enjoy, relate, and have a little laugh.

Monday, September 29, 2014

I Love You, Mango Salsa. Let Me Count The Ways

Have you ever had mango salsa?  My friend Vanessa brought it over for a play date a couple years ago, and I've been hooked ever since.  I just can't get enough.  I make a big batch, and then I put that stuff on everything.  Here are just a few of the many uses for mango salsa.

1) Dip.  Obviously.  Tostitos Scoops are a good choice, but Vanessa turned me on to Beanitos Chipotle flavoured bean chips, and they pair amazingly well with mango salsa.  I've also used cucumber slices to scoop up the bits of mango and avocado goodness.  Oh, and sweet potato chips.  I once made sweet potato chips from scratch (I know!) and they were amazing, and the only thing worthy of the time it took to make the sweet potato chips, is mango salsa.

2) On an egg sandwich.  Yup.  You heard right.  Get a soft yummy bun, fry up an egg or two, and top it with mango salsa.  Heaven.

3) On a hamburger.  It will be the only condiment you need for your burger, or hot dog, or chicken burger.  Don't have a burger patty handy?  Just make a mango salsa sandwich.  Yes, it's that good.

4) A dinner topper.  I know that's a weird sub-heading, but mango salsa is the perfect topper for pulled pork, chicken, talapia, steak, whatever you're having for dinner.  Mango salsa finishes a meal like that perfect statement necklace that you bought but never get the chance to wear because you never go anywhere fancy, just to the bus stop and the grocery store.  Well, top that roasted chicken with mango salsa and bring out the statement necklace.  Dinner just got fancy.     

5) As a salad.  I buy a bag of chopped romaine from the grocery store, top it with mango salsa and a few handfuls of trail mix, and boom!  Salad perfection.

So how do you make mango salsa?  That's the best part.  However you want to make it.  But, if you're a recipe follower like me, here is what I put in mine.

2 mangoes, diced
3 avocados, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
dried cilantro to taste
juice from 2 limes
1 clove chopped garlic
2 tomatoes, diced

Mix all ingredients together.  Eat.  Fall in love.  Make some more.

If you happen to have any leftovers, here is a trick to make sure your avocados don't turn brown.  The lime juice will help, to make sure, instead of wrapping the top of the bowl with saran wrap, press the saran wrap down into the bowl so it is touching the top of the mango salsa.  It is exposure to the air that will turn the avocado brown.  Oxidize, I believe, is the fancy cooking term.

Ok, I'm not one to mess with perfection, but I added some diced pineapple to the mango salsa last time I made it, and it was really good.  I ate it with tilapia.  And my eggs the next morning.  And a spoon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What Teachers Would Say To Parents, If They Could...

When I was in university, I worked as a server at East Side Mario's.  I'd walk over to a table, introduce myself, and then my eyes would glaze over and my fake smile would appear as the diners would start in with their laundry list of, "I'm allergic to garlic; little Johnny is starving so I need you to bring some bread right away; I want the chicken pasta but substitute the chicken with steak and the pasta for potatoes".  I'd smile and nod, biting my tongue, but once in the kitchen, the other servers and I would complain to each other about the awful table that just sat in our section.  If you are, or have ever been a server, then you know what I mean. 

Little Bear is in senior kindergarten and Crazy Plates is in junior kindergarten.  Over the past few weeks, at drop off, I see the other parents cornering the teachers at the kindergarten gate to talk to them.  And as I watch the teachers, I see that familiar look.  Glazed over eyes, fake smile, reassuring head nod.  It's the look I remember from my days as a server.  So I got to thinking...what would these teachers say to these parents if they could?  No holds barred, they could speak their minds.  What would they say?  I know to me, they'd say nothing, because my kids are perfect and it is completely reasonable for me to request that Crazy Plate's teacher sit beside her at lunch time to make sure she eats all her lunch, but to the other parents...what would they say?

So I consulted the experts.  For their protection, they shall remain anonymous.  Here's what they said.

Expert A: A Kindergarten Teacher 

"I have had so many parents tell me that their child can count to 100.  That's wonderful, but why the heck did they teach them that?  It's not in the curriculum, and I'm not changing my lesson plan to include numbers 101 - 200."  Thankfully, this one doesn't apply to me.  For longer than she should have, Little Bear thought eleventeen was a number.

"I have had one too many requests to wipe bums....umm, no."  I have to agree with this one.  I'm sort of at my limit with poopy bums myself.

Expert B: A Kindergarten Teacher

"No, we can't sit beside your child to make sure she eats all her lunch.  We can't possibly sit beside 24 kids at the same time."  Oh, oops. 

"No, we can't keep your child inside at recess because he has a runny nose.  If he is sick, then keep him at home."  Yup...guilty of this one too.

"Return the mail / communication folder everyday.  It is there for a reason.  To communicate.  We can't communicate if you don't return it."  I always return the girls' communication folder.  Except when I forget.  Then I make sure to return it the next day.  Usually.

"Don't write me a note about Billy losing his hat, a mitten, or a scarf.  If you don't label your kid's clothing, you're likely not going to get it back."  This is true.  Crazy Plates is always bringing home other kids' Tupperware containers.  And, well, that's why our Tupperware container collection is so big.

Expert C: Elementary Teacher

"Don't send school supplies unless they have been asked for.  Grade two students don't need binders!  It actually makes things a lot more difficult if there are 24 sets of markers."  Can we talk about markers for a second?  I hate markers.  They're messy and they dry out.  Someone really needs to create mitten clips for marker lids.  Anyway.  Back to the teachers...

"Watch what you say in front of your kids.  I had a student tell me that his Dad thinks I'm pretty, but I wear my socks too high."  This one is so funny, but also a very good lesson.  Good thing my girls don't listen to me.  Who knows which of my rants they would chose to repeat on the playground.

Expert D: Elementary Teacher

"Students earn their own marks.  Teachers do not give marks pulled out of you-know-where!"  I don't know about this one.  I was definitely given bad grades on essays when I clearly should have been given a Pulitzer prize.  Or at least a gold star.  Ok, the morning it's due isn't the best time to start writing an essay, but at least an A for effort, no?

"Believe it or not, we love what we do, and we really do want the very best for your child.  We want to be their champion and second biggest supporter, next to their support system at home.  So please, cut us some slack."

The parent / teacher relationship is a complicated one.  But, I think what we learned here today is, if we all have a little patience, understanding, and perspective, we can work together to get our crazy kids to finally stop picking their noses, put their shoes on the right feet, and be productive members of society.  Or at least pick up their toys.  Can somebody please teach my kids to pick up their toys?

On a side note, if you're guilty of any of the above, you may want to check out my post about teacher gifts.  It may help to smooth things over.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dear Shopper's Drug Mart

Dear Shopper's Drug Mart.  Friday was a beautiful, sunny day. I had a ton of running around to do, and a bunch of chores around the house, but somehow I managed to get it all done with 45 minutes to spare before I picked my crazy kids up from school. So, I decided to treat myself to a Coke Zero and a Lindt Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut bar. I settled into that sweet spot on the couch, perfectly nestled amongst some pillows, sun shining in through the window, put on an episode of Marilyn I had taped and cracked open my chocolate bar. It tasted funny, but I was determined to enjoy my 45 minutes of zen, so I kept eating. The chocolate bar wasn't tasting any better, but it was a good episode of Marilyn, and my Coke Zero wasn't disappointing me, so I forged ahead until the chocolate bar was done. By the end of the chocolate bar I really wasn't in my happy place any more. My tummy was hurting a bit, and the chocolate bar had left a funny taste in my mouth. Then I happened to glance over at the wrapper and saw this. The expiry date was 30-04-2014.  So thank you, Shopper's Drug Mart, for selling me old, stinky chocolate, and ruining what could have been a magical 45 minutes.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Only Children, Unite!

I’m an only child, and I have two kids.  When people find this out, they inevitably say, “Oh, you have two kids because you are an only child, right?” to which I always say, "No.  I had two kids because I wanted two kids, not because I thought Little Bear needed a sibling."

The idea that I, or anyone else, needs a sibling, is a pretty vague one.  What kind of sibling?  A same-sex sibling, or one of the opposite sex?  Should the sibling be two years older, or five years younger?  If one sibling is so great, are two even better?  What about four?  Or seven?  Everyone is so quick to tell me and other only children that we need a sibling, but they never suggest which sibling relationship is best.  Or maybe they're all the best.  Maybe any sibling is better than being a poor, only child.  Well, this only child begs to differ.  Sure, I may have missed out on something by not having a sibling, but I would suggest that everyone else missed out on something by not being an only child.

Ok, so there is one major downside to being an only child.  The stereotypes that go along with it.  So I'm going to put to rest, once and for all, the misconceptions that everyone seems to have about us.

We're lonely.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, lonely.  I had two parents, five cousins, and a neighbourhood full of friends.  If I wanted to play Barbies and needed someone to be Ken, I would go next door and call on my friend Christina.  It's worth noting that she too is an only child, and also turned out all right.  But, if I wanted to sit on the couch by myself with a bowl of Cheerios and watch Full House, I could.  If I wanted to sit quietly and read or colour, without anyone bothering me, I could do that too.

We're spoiled.  I find this one particularly insulting, for a couple reasons.  Spoiled is a mean word.  Spoiled means gone bad, rotten, of no use.  Like spoiled milk.  No one likes spoiled milk.  I'm not spoiled.  I'm perfectly useful, and well within my expiration date.  It also suggests that my parents did something wrong, that they spoiled me and now I'm a brat that the rest of the world has to deal with.  My parents are the best.  Don't mess with my parents.  There are definitely a lot of entitled kids roaming around, who have had the world handed to them on a silver platter, but that is a parenting style, not a direct result of being an only child. 

We don't know how to share.   This one is just ridiculous.  I'd argue that we are more likely to share than those with siblings, who had to fight over the last chicken nugget or whose turn it was to pick the movie.  Siblings aren't known for sharing.  I'm a mother of two siblings.  Sharing is not one of their best qualities.  But, my girls share with their friends, just like I shared with my friends.  That's how I made friends.  I'd invite them over to play, and win them over by letting them use my Barbie car. 

We're bossy.  No, we're not.  Some of us are, sure, but it has nothing to do with being an only child.  Crazy Plates is the most bossy person I know.  She's not an only child.  Only children are thought to be bossy because the perception is that we are used to always getting our way, and therefore think we should always get our way.  Not true.  If I always got my way with my parents, I would have had a TV in my bedroom, and I would have been allowed to watch Arsenio Hall on school nights.  No.  Bossy didn't fly with my parents.

We don't understand the value of a dollar.  This idea is similar to the idea that we're spoiled.  It is thought that only children get everything they want, since there is only one child to provide for, and are therefore entitled kids who never have to work for anything.  I had my first babysitting job at 12 years old, and saved up to buy mirrored closet doors for my bedroom.  My parents always made it known that they would provide for me the necessities, but for the fun stuff, I was on my own.  Knowing the value of a dollar isn't something you're born with, like freckles or brown hair.  It's something that is taught.  Usually by your parents.     

I think the only things a kid really needs are a loving family and a happy childhood.  I had both.  I had parents who loved me, taught me right from wrong, and watched my ballet recitals.  I had friends to go to the park with, who came over for dinner, and who I told all my secrets to.  Would a sibling have made things better?  Maybe.  But I have no complaints about my siblingless childhood, and if I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't change a thing.  Ok, so there were a few wardrobe flops and a bad boyfriend choice in high school that I would change, but other than that, I'd keep it all the same.    

Monday, September 8, 2014

What's for Dinner? Pasta!

Have ever you see the show Chopped?  It's a cooking competition show.  The contestants are given a basket full of random ingredients, and are asked to make a meal.  I would fail horribly if I were on this show.  I need a recipe for everything.  I once looked up a recipe for mashed potatoes.

Sometimes, at the end of the week, I find myself almost out of groceries, with just a few random ingredients in the fridge.  Not unlike the contestants on Chopped.  I think to myself, they can do it, why can't I?  After we've eaten the meal that I threw together I quickly realize I can't because I, unlike the contestants on Chopped, am not a trained chef.  But, sometimes the stars align just right, and I do manage to pull off something yummy.  This is what I came up recently.  And it was good.   

This is what I started with.  Three peppers, a bag of rice pasta, hot Italian sausages, pesto salad dressing, and BBQ sauce.

And this is what I made!  I got my husband to BBQ the sausages while I cooked the rice pasta and sauteed the peppers in the pesto salad dressing.  Once everything was done, I drained the pasta and added the cooked peppers, the sliced sausages, and mixed in a bit of BBQ sauce (too many tomatoes upsets my tummy, so I often use BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce).  Everyone knows that sausages and peppers make a great team, but there is something about the way the BBQ sauce mixes with the pesto salad dressing.  It's just plain old good is what it is.


And that's what's for dinner tonight!