Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Top 10 Signs You're a Potty Training Mama

The light at the far end of the tunnel has finally arrived my friends!!

After 4 kids, 9 years, 9 months and 6 days of continuous diaper changes (with one short 2 week break in between Olivia and Jacob), my daily diaper changing days are over forever!!!

Let me pause for a minute and allow you to fully appreciate the magnitude of that statement....

I know - it's enough to give you chills or cry tears of joy, right?

I had resolved to start potty training the day after we got home from our trip to Alberta during the Christmas break, and start I did! The potty train successfully left the station last Wednesday morning and then proceeded to completely derail over the course of the following incredibly frustrating two days, followed by a glimmer of hope right before bedtime. After that the engine seemed to make it up the hill and I believe we are now on the downward trail .... ok, I think that metaphor has seen it's day. Anyway, we have now had 3 incredibly successful days in a row with no accidents of any kind and he has been telling me himself almost all of the time. I know it's too early to say we're completely in the clear, but I'm only expecting occasional lapses and would confidently take him out in public at this point (in fact, Nathan did tonight!). With the start we had last week (worst ever!), I was not expecting to be nearly at this point today - so woohoo!!

With no further ado, here is your Top 10!

Top 10 Signs You're a Potty Training Mama
10. You strategically place containers filled with a solution of diluted dish detergent around the house to clean up any messes that "may" come your way.
9. You make your toddler sit on a towel on your bed to watch tv so he doesn't soil your blanket.
8. You clean up the mess said toddler made on your bedroom carpet when he disregarded said instructions, and officially declare all carpeted areas off limits.
7. You can't remember what ran more - the bath tub, the washing machine or yourself, sprinting while carrying a dripping toddler away from your body as you rush to the bathroom despite the obvious fact that you're just too late despite having just sat in said bathroom for at least 20 mins only 5 mins previously.
6. The chant "push that pee out, push that pee out" is so ingrained in your head you start chanting it to yourself.
5. You make your older children do their home reading in the bathroom while said toddler sits on the throne (hey, it's called multi-tasking!)
4. The phrase "don't pee on Mater" makes sense to you.
3. Your definition of what qualifies as TMI to post on Facebook just got significantly lowered.
2. You turn your older children into a cheerleading squad in hopes of inspiring future victories.
1. When success is finally achieved you celebrate by hooting and hollering as if you just won the lottery and giving him treats and a car (relax, it was only a pint size one) and then proceed to let said toddler phone anyone who might be interested in hearing him say "My pee in toilet!" as a way of introducing himself. You then proceed to throw out any remaining diapers and diaper bags, do a victory dance and decide to go buy yourself a nice purse!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Homemade Easy Bake Oven Mixes and Recipes

With 2011's Goal#3 in mind (to be a more deliberate mother), I finally caved.

Olivia has been begging for an Easy Bake oven for years. Literally 2 years. And she's 5. So, yeah, almost half her life.

And until this Christmas I had steadfastly refused. Why? Because I didn't want to have to bake with her. I didn't want the mess, I didn't want to pay money for those silly little mixes, I didn't want to be bothered.

Yikes, that sounds even worse when I type it out.

I don't like to do crafts with the kids because I know I would go all perfectionist on them and freak out if their handmade bracelets didn't have an exact pattern, if they couldn't do it the way I would do it. Because a 33 yr old and a 5 yr should be able to make the same calibre bracelet. I know, I get the ludicrousy. (Is that even a word?!)

OK, selfishness acknowledged.

Technically, Olivia had begged for the Easy Bake cupcake maker - but all the reviews I read on it said it was a piece of junk, so I convinced her that the oven was what she wanted, and I finally gave one of her Grandmas the OK to get it for her for Christmas this year (God bless all Grandmas who wait for permission for these types of gifts!!). And, oh, let me tell you, was she ever in her glory - it was as if the heavens had opened up!

Now, my old self may would have been tempted to let that Easy Bake oven sit on the shelf hidden away, giving the "Later" or "Another day" answer a million times over (yes, this is Olivia - it would've been a million times!). Or I would've just made Emma do it with her. Yes, there are definite advantages of having older kids around! ;)

But my new self, my 2011 self with Goal#3 in mind, did not do that.

Oh, no!

In fact, the very next day after she got that gift, on a Sunday afternoon no less (sacred napping time around these parts), she asked to "do the Easy Bake oven" and I said "Yes!". And so we made cake with icing (both mixes included in the original box).

Psst - you know what?

I had fun.

What was that Tammy? We couldn't hear you.

OK, OK, I had fun!

And Olivia? Well she had an absolute blast!

Sidebar: Technically that was in 2010 but I already had my 2011 goals in mind at the time ;)

Then we left for Alberta to visit family. The very next day after we returned, guess who was asking to do the Easy Bake oven again? Yup, Olivia! And guess who said yes? Yes, 2011 Tammy! So, we made the cookies from the mix that came with the box. Olivia even let Sophia help! They each got to make 3 cookies in their pan, and we even melted chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in the oven warmers to put on top of the cookies.

Both times it took much less time and mess than I thought and resulted in happy children - why have I not done this earlier?

So, now that all the included mixes had run out, I went to my trusty old friend Google to find some homemade Easy Bake oven mixes because my cheap Mennonite thrifty side would not allow me to spend $ on those mixes. Plus, they can't exactly be healthy if all you have to do to get cake or cookies is add water to powder (see Goal#4 - I'm getting a 2 for 1 deal here!)

And Google did not disappoint (though I should've searched with the Swagbucks tool bar to earn Swagbucks, but I digress).

Turns out there are oodles of things you can bake in those Easy Bake ovens and oodles of recipes to choose from. This post has pretty close to 200 (!!) recipes split into categories and labeled as easy, intermediate or advanced. Everything from cakes, brownies, cookies and bars to biscuits and scones, to pizzas and bagels - your own creativity is the limit after viewing these recipes!

So, I picked the Baked Cinnamon Apple recipe because, after quickly clicking on a couple recipes, it used ingredients I had on hand! ;) Olivia loved them! Although I think she actually liked eating the extra/leftover ones before they had cooked (one large apple does not fit into 2 of those little pans!) better than the baked ones afterward. She really wanted to make the brownies, so I picked up some chocolate syrup so we can try those next time!

Here are the recipes (after all, that's what my post title promised you - took me long enough to get around to it, I know!)....

Baked Cinnamon Apples
1 large apple
1/4 teaspoon butter
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar

Wash a large apple, remove center core.
Slice across apples to make 1/2" thick rings.
Grease pan with butter.
Place apple slices in pan.
Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon then sugar.
Top with butter.
Bake in Easy-Bake Oven about 20 minutes.

Brownie Mix
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon oil
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons chocolate syrup

Blend all ingredients until the batter is smooth.
Pour batter into greased and floured toy cake pan.
Bake as directed in child oven (I think it's preheat for 15 and bake for 10)

I also found a recipe on for a larger cake mix, good for 10 batches, to save time - and create your own little mix package!

Easy Bake Oven Cake Mix
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp unsweetened lemonade drink mix
1/3 cup shortening

In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and lemonade drink mix and stir to blend.
Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry blender until mixture resembles corn meal.

Spoon about 1/3 cup mixture into 10 small containers or sealable plastic bags.
Label and store in cool, dry place. Use within 12 weeks.

Preheat Easy Bake oven for 15 mins.
Grease and flour a 4 inch miniature cake pan.

Empty the contents of one bag cake mix into a small bowl.
Using a fork, mix with 4 teaspoons water until smooth.

Bake according to manufacturer's instructions (I think 10 mins)

In fact - according to this recipe, all you need is regular commercial cake mix (3 tbsp any flavour) mixed with 1 tbsp milk) and voila - let them eat cake! How easy is that?!

Easy, but not as healthy (processed and all that!). So, here's another homemade version...

Easy Bake Oven Chocolate Cake
4 tsp flour
2 tsp cocoa
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 dash salt
1/8 tsp vanilla
4 tsp water
2 tsp vegetable oil

It would be pretty easy to multiply that by 10, omitting the wet ingredients, in order to make your own mix to have on hand, ready to just add water and oil at baking time!

Recipezaar (now has a whole ton of recipes as well - you can check them out here - including omelettes!

Easy Bake oven Omelet
1 egg
4 tsp shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp oregano (or spice of your choice)
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
cooking spray

Preheat the Easy Bake Oven for 15 mins.
Spray 2 Easy Bake Oven pans with cooking spray.
Scramble the egg in a bowl.
Divide the egg between the 2 pans.
Sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper.
Sprinkle 2 tsp of the cheese on top of each egg.
Bake for 15 minutes.

One thing to keep in mind - since the Easy Bake Oven works by simply using a light bulb, you have to be careful when baking meats that you only use meats that need to be warmed, not cooked through!

OK, I was going to be done, but then I found this ....

Easy Bake Oven Deep Dish Pizza
2 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 dash salt
1 tsp margarine
2 1/4 tsp milk
1 tbsp pizza sauce
1 1/2 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat Easy Bake Oven 15 minutes.
Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and margarine until dough looks like medium-sized crumbs.
Slowly add milk while stirring.
Shape dough into a ball and place into a greased pan.
Use your fingers to pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan, then up the sides.
Pour the sauce evenly over the dough, then sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake 20 mins.

You could even add a slice of pepperoni or veggies or some other meats that only need to be warmed up not truly cooked through.

Honestly, I'm actually getting a little excited to try some of these! Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks. ;) And, I only thought of it now, I totally should've taken a picture!

Goal#3 is officially underway.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

2011 Goals

I don't think I've ever posted New Year's "resolutions" on my blog before. Nope - just checked, I haven't!

Well, there's a first time for everything so let's have at it!

1) Read my Bible in a year (for the 3rd straight year) and participate in my Bible in a Year Blog. Since it's my blog, there's not a single doubt in my mind that I'll accomplish this goal. In fact, this year we have several more participants which means I'm only posting once or twice a week instead of 4 or 5 times! Easy peasy :)

2) Develop a consistent and organized prayer time. Normally when I tell people I'll pray for them - I do it right then and there because I know there's about a 99% chance I'm not going to remember later. Ok, maybe not that bad, but seriously, it's bad. I want to to take the time to make the prayers more personalized for the individuals I'm praying for, and to simply take time to be with God.

3) Being a more deliberate wife, mother and friend. I want to spend more time discovering how to put my husband first among my earthly relationships and what that's supposed to look like in my daily living. I want to spend more time doing things WITH my girls instead of merely being together in the house every evening, each of us pursuing our own agendas. I want to conscientiously work at developing an attitude of service and hospitality, to serve my friends and church family members better. All the above categories of people deserve more from me than they've gotten in the past. I don't want people to hear that I care about them; I want them to FEEL it.

If that sounds like I just copied that paragraph from my cousin Tammi's post - it's cause I just totally did. Hey - she got it totally bang on the first time, why mess with perfection?!

4) Begin each day praying that God would guide me to do what He has planned for my day - pursuing His agenda instead of my own. OK, that one's gonna be real tough! (I probably should've just copied my cousin Tammi's paragraph about this one too!;)

5) Continue to exercise regularly and eat healthier. The exercise thing? No sweat. (ok, lots of sweat!) I've exercised regularly (3-5 times per week) for the past 13 years or so including all 4 pregnancies, except when nausea was at it's peak, so this barely counts as a goal, but it is something I'm committed to continuing. Eating healthier is tougher. But with Nathan having some high blood pressure concerns we need to cut back on the sodium intake around here which means a few changes such as limiting deli meats and making more from scratch. (Ragu, I will miss you!!). I've already started baking chicken breasts for lunch sandwiches, so things are looking up!

I think that's it for now, unless anyone can think of something else I need to work on :)

Happy New Year everyone!!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Grab the Button!

Figured out how to make a "Grab the Button" for the Bible in a Year and Beyond blog - so go ahead and grab it!

Grab the small button
<a href=""><img src=""/></a>

Or grab the large one!
<a href=""><img src=""/></a>

I found the tutorials for how to do this fancy html work on this very helpful blog.

New Bible Blog Button

Happy New Year!!

Check out the fancy new blog button my cousin Tammi designed for The Bible in a Year and Beyond blog.

Doesn't it just remind you of Jane Austen? Thanks so much Tammi - I love it!

Once I figure out a code for you to copy/paste to your blogs, I'll let you know!


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