Archive for parenting tips & tricks

too many cooks in the kitchen ?

Even though they spend hour upon hour with me each day, my children never seem to tire of my company and always want more of it. One of the places they love to seek me out is in the kitchen and having four kids means it’s a place I spend a lot of time.

The thing is, I really like to be alone in the kitchen. My kids are always eager to help and I’m always shooing them out of my space. Lately, I’ve started to feel guilty about it. Cooking together is such a great thing; learning the importance of healthy choices, working on math skills, practicing cooperation, inheriting family recipes, creating memories.

And I know this because as a child I spent a lot of time standing beside my mom during dinner prep. She wasn’t a Betty Crocker – all bake sale items were bought from the grocery store and dumped into tupperware for disguise – but she is an excellent authentic chinese cook. And I absolutely loved standing beside her sizzling wok, handing her spices or throwing chopped veggies into the sparkling oil.

I was her “taster”, the one who told her if there was enough flavour in the dish-of-the-night before she brought it to the table to be served. I doubt she really needed my input, she made those dishes hundreds of times, after all. But I’m sure it was her way of teaching and I did learn.

Years later, I’m making many of her signature dishes for my family and take great pride in knowing how much they enjoy them. One of our family favourites is my mom’s steamed pork and egg dish (recipe and photo provided by

Just the aroma of this dish is enough to bring my kids running in anticipation.

And so I’m going to use it as my inspiration to take my ear buds out (okay, so sometimes I like to bring my ipod into the kitchen for company) and pull up some chairs and start the teaching.

What about you? Do your kids join you stove-side?

Louise Gleeson is a freelance journalist and mother of four. Her professional portfolio can be viewed at and you can follow along as she shares stories from everyday life on her blog at You can also find her on twitter @louisegleeson


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camper’s cuisine

We work hard to keep food interesting for our kids And one of the experiences that really gets our family excited is outdoor cooking while on our yearly camping trips. The adventure begins long before the actual cooking does: choosing the food, packing the food, deciding what can be cooked on a fire and counting out the marshmallows. We get the whole family involved. Over the years, we’ve figured out what works best and what most delights hungry campers’ bellies! Here are my top 10 recommendations based on yummy factor and travel durability:

  • mini boxes of cereal
  • s’mores ingredients
  • small watermelon/bananas/apples
  • tortillas
  • salsa
  • eggs
  • canned beans
  • fresh, vacuum-sealed pasta
  • canned tomatoes
  • milk/cheese/butter

I’m not a big fan of uncooked meat with an unpredictable cooling system, but have had great success with pre-cooking ground turkey and re-heating for some outdoor tacos! For pasta dishes, we boil water on the camp stove and over the fire we’ll have a cast iron pan filled with diced tomatoes, pre-cooked meat (if we brought it) and any seasonings/herbs that we’ve brought from home. Although hot dogs on sticks are always a delight, road side corn-on-the-cob soaked in water while you’re at the beach (husks on) can also be cooked right on the grill of your camp fire (husks still on) and taste deliciously roasted once they’re done! We also bring a tabletop water dispenser that’s filled up at home and used for washing hands/food and providing cooking water. Get creative and bring foods that can also be used for a warm, energy-fueling breakfast. I’ll sign off here with a photo of some huevos rancheros made from leftover tortillas, salsa and eggs.


Louise Gleeson is a freelance journalist and mother of four. Her professional portfolio can be viewed at and you can follow along as she shares stories from everyday life on her blog at  You can also find her on twitter @louisegleeson

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Getting ready for kindergarten

Trying to get our youngest child ready for kindergarten has proven to be quite a challenge. There are a few things we need to make sure she knows so we have been working on some basic skills with her. Who knew that getting a child ready for school would be more tiring for the parents. In a sense I think I am re-training me as opposed to actually teaching her anything.

She needs to be able to recognize her name and start printing it. I printed her name in nice big letters PEYTON and asked her to trace the letters. She picked up a crayon and scribbled all over it. It was a purple crayon. Peyton and Purple both start with P. Close enough I guess.

We have been trying to teach her, her left and right, when she is putting her shoes on, she often gets them mixed up so I tell her wrong foot. however, now instead of teacher her, her right foot from her left foot, I have accidentally taught her ,her right foot from her wrong foot.

Opening her lunch containers is not a problem. I often pack her some snacks when we go to the beach so she is used to having her lunch box and opening snacks is fairly easy for her. The only problem here is I will have to somehow get her to eat something other than peanut butter sandwiches. I can’t even send soy butter because it looks and smells like peanut butter.

When it comes to listening skills, she has none. she likes to be the boss and hand out orders as opposed to taking them which is yet another skill we are currently working on. she feels it is up to her to hand out punishments as she sees fit and that I should just go along with her decisions. Being that she is the youngest of 4 this really doesn’t sit well with my other 3. When being asked to do a task, she prefers to shrug it off and twirl like a princess instead. If all else fails, she pulls out her ‘smoking gun’ sticks out the bottom lip and batts her eyelashes. That one always gets her what she wants but she keeps it as a last resort move.

So far I have learned that slip on shoes are a God send, crackers, cheese and yogurt are really the only thing anyone agrees on around here, as long as the crayon you choose is a color that starts with the first letter of your name, you are doing good, and most importantly, as long as you have long, curly blond hair and green eyes, and can twirl like a princess you will get through the most important part of your life with ease.

I have now come to the understanding that it is not the child who needs to prepare for kindergarten, but the parents. Here’s praying for a school year that doesn’t send me (or her teachers) into the loony bin. I will be starting a pool on how many phone calls I get from the school about Peyton’s behavior this up coming year. who’s in? HAHAHA!!

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flight of love

Sometimes what I need is a good swift kick in my parenting behind; a new perspective.

Today, I got one.

And the giver of that kick has no idea what he’s given, because as much as he deserves to have a poor me approach to life, he never does. Telling a story about his childhood is never meant to be a comparison or a lesson, but somehow it always is.

First, a confession. I don’t particularly enjoy the process of teaching my kids to ride a two-wheeler. I’ve always found it tedious and frustrating. And though I do my best to apply patience, I often fail.

My dad was raised with the support of extended family members. But the constant and unconditional love of a parent? That’s something he has never known. Due in part to their youth, the two people who held that role left before it even started: a hurt for my dad I cannot begin to imagine.

When I met him over a cup of tea this morning, he asked about our plans for the sunny afternoon ahead. I said we were going to work on two-wheeled bike riding with our son.

He told me the story of learning to ride the bicycle he found on his aunt’s farm when he was a young boy. He spent his summers there. There wasn’t anyone to teach him, so he set out on his own. He folded up a burlap sack from the barn and fashioned a seat on one of the lower crossbars of the adult-sized bike. His feet straddled and ran alongside the wheels hour upon hour until he felt like he could balance.

And then, like so many other times in his childhood, he pulled himself up to the place where only grown ups should be and he rode all on his own.

“It was the most amazing thing, realizing I could fly,” he told me.

Not a trace of bitterness in his voice, even though there wasn’t anyone there to clap and shout for him as he sped towards the horizon. I drove away from our morning chat remembering the feeling of my dad’s hand on the back of my bike as he ran up and down our street until I felt ready to fly.

And this afternoon, I’ll remember it again as I run alongside my son. And I will take in the sight of my husband and daughters as we cheer him on. And when he finally succeeds in taking flight, I’ll try and capture the moment to give to my dad.

Because the smile that will break across my little boy’s face when he feels like he’s flying?

It should be seen.

And I want my dad to know it belongs to him, too.


Louise Gleeson is a freelance journalist and mother of four. Her professional portfolio can be viewed at and you can follow along as she shares stories from everyday life on her blog at  You can also find her on twitter @louisegleeson

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Hurray for a park day!!

I moved to this town, this time last year and met a two moms that I instantly clicked with. We decided to do almost daily trips to the park and a bit later in the season to the beach. We share parenting tips (and problems) and there is always lots of juicy gossip. This year we have expanded our circle and I expect our almost daily trips to the beach and park will be that much more fun for all the kids. It great for us moms as well, the play dates benefit us just as much as the kids.

I always have a first aid kit with me because my philosophy is, if I have it with me I will not need it. If I forget the first aid kit I will need it. My essentials are: tons of band aids, polysporen for kids, baby wipes, a few bottles of water, medicine dropper, a big bottle of benydril, a stick of after bite (all natural)and an exema stick. I also recently found out that to neutralize the bee venom, tape a copper penny to the bee sting. I have not had the pleasure (thank God) of having to test that theory. I also have the baby sunblock, the sports sun block and the waterproof sunblock.

Being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean that I actually spend my entire day at home, in fact, I spend very little time during the warm weather months cooped up in the house. Generally once I get the kids off to school, my youngest and I venture off to the park or the beach for the majority of the day.

Today was a park and picnic day. We went with 4 other moms and their children and let them play till the kids were hungry and then sat down on blankets to have a snack. I am always Leary of the people around us at the park. I always look around and make sure I can see or hear my daughter at all times. With all the reports of attempted child abductions that have surfaced in our town and towns close by to ours, I am just a bit more cautious with all of my children. We go over safety rules on a weekly basis.

I am eager to get a chance to finally spend time at the beach and the new water park. I know my daughter will be elated to see that. from a distance it looks incredible. Gone are the days of hearing “I’m bored!!” between the water park, the beach and the park, I should be über busy this summer with all 4 of my kids. Ok yes I  am not including the days that will be filled with rain and thunderstorms but I am sure I will be able to find something to do with them.

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A Mom who love’s coupons & saving money!

I have been thinking of ways to save money. Before my two boys came into our life I used to use coupons. Not like I do now but I still used them when I could.

Now I have entered a new whole world of couponing. It’s crazy how this all really works. I was in disbelief that this process would ever work. I was at the point where I was thinking of paying someone to find the deals for me and shop. When I came to this point I thought how hard can this really be? I joined a few local groups in my area and received a wealth of knowledge from where to price match, where to shop, where to find deals, coupons and so much more. I won’t go into the full details of everything. Just to let  you know once you start it’s so addicting to see how much money your really saving in the end. You think it’s cheaper to buy “no name” yes I was like that. We will buy “no name” brands for the cheaper price. In the long run guess what the brand name  works out to be the same price or free with coupons and just knowing the “cycle” of a sale and really watching your flyers.

This is my routine every Thursday we get our flyers delivered to our door. Now I’m a kid in a candy store when they arrive. I get them all. I take out all the ones I don’t need like furniture ones .. I only check out the sales on food. Here is a photo of what my Thursday night looks like. I wait till both my boys are in bed before doing this tackle of it all. I have my spread sheet, coupons that I need to use that will expire soon along with local flyers

This was the start to now “my love of couponing” I will post all of the links that have been helpful for me. I’m still no “pro” but I do have the passion to keep doing it. And I’m not sure why I never started sooner. As the old saying goes “better late than never.  I have taken a few photos of things I got for a deal. I stay it’s my steal deal.

So here are a few of my steel deals. Below the photo I will mark what the true cost would be vs sale cost then the cost with coupon and the money I spent out-of-pocket. I only have 2 photos to share as I’ve been doing this for a month and a half.

Steal Deal #1

Before sale price:

~2 pkg of Easy Ups reg: $14.47 x 2 =  $28.94
~2 pkgs of Greek yogurt reg: $2.47 x 2 = $4.94
~2 dove body wash reg: $6.30 x 2 =$12. 60
~4 crest tooth paste reg: $3.99 x 4 = $15.96
~1 irish spring reg: $2.99
total: $65.43

Sale price with coupons:

~2 pkg of Easy Ups sale: $9.99 x2 = $19.98 – $4.00 coupon = $15.98
~2 pkg of Greek Yogurt: $1.47 x 2 =  $2.49
~ 2 dove body wash sale: $3.99 x 2 –  $7.98 – $2.50 = $5.48
~4 crest tooth paste $2.00 x 4 = $8.00
~1 irish spring $1.99 – $1.00 coupon = .99
total: $32.94
saved: $32.49

My other photo has a lot more but I will just give you retail: vs sale/coupon price!

Before sale retail cost would be $117.00
With sale and coupons spent: $64.00
total saved: $52.00

Here are some great sites if you want to learn more about Saving & using coupons. If you have any questions you can also ask me and I will provide you with info that I think would help you.

Enjoy the links below:

Mrs. January has lots of info ~
Ottawa Coupon Swap group  with loads of info & help for beginners ~!/groups/ottawacouponswap/
Frugal Me Frugal You a great local blog post ~
Flyer On Fire want to know the deals in this weeks flyers check out ~

Any questions feel free to e-mail

Happy Saving!!

If there are any great websites that you use please leave a comment below and share with use your  fave website for deals!

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A day in the life of a stay at home mom of 4.

After having been told that I am lazy because i am a stay at home mom yesterday, I decided it was about time I that actually write out exactly what it is that a stay at home mom of 4 does on a daily basis. This is just one day out of my week.

I generally wake up at 6am, make myself a cup of coffee (in my keurig because it only takes about 30 seconds for a cup of liquid gold). while having my coffee, i am making lunches for my 3 school age children, which need to be packed by me in their school bags along with their agenda’s and homework (which has been checked) and neatly placed in the hallway.

Make myself another coffee and drink it quickly while I do the dishes and wipe up counters and make a grocery list, and then have my shower and get dressed before my kids get up at 7am.

while the kids are all getting dressed I pick up all the dirty laundry and bring it to the laundry room where i seperate it and start my usual 3 loads of laundry a day. I clean the litter box and get the garbage all bagged and put it in the bin out back.

By 8am the kids are dressed and fed and are brushing their hair and teeth. Once again I get to finish up the dishes and sweep and steam the hardwood floors and vacuum the area rugs. the kids are then walked to school (by me) and then it’s home to check on the laundry, make beds and then go grocery shopping.

by noon, I have my youngest daughter fed, groceries put away and then sit down to fold a gigantic pile of laundry into separate piles for each member of my family, as well as the linens and kitchen towels and are put in whatever room they belong in.Then I have the pleasure of dusting, cleaning up smudgy windows and dinner prep if its needed before going to pick up the kids at school.

Homework and unpacking lunch boxes is always first to be done when my kids come home from school and then its dinner time by 4:30. On Wednesday’s after dinner, my kids put on their karate uniforms and its off to their 45 minute class, then home for showers and bedtime at 8pm.

While the boys, being 10 and 12 are aloud to stay up till 9pm reading my 7 year old daughter usually gets a quick bedtime story and falls asleep pretty quick. My 3 year old generally falls asleep in the car on the way home so it right up to bed for her.

By now I am beat so it’s time to sit down with a nice glass of wine (not every night) and unwind while watching my shows on tv.

So in the event that you are still convinced that a stay at home mom has an easy life or just sits at home watching soaps and eating bonbons, I challenge you to walk a day in my shoes.

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