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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Use Your Words

"You don't have to cry about the little hurts"
This is a quote I heard from my friend a mother of three when her daughter had a tiny boo boo and the littler girl was trying so hard not to cry. The mother gently reminded her, and I realized how many times this has happened to my kids and it would be so easy to just shout, "Get up, it's nothing. You're a big girl now, don't cry about it." My approach is a bit belittling and uncompassionate. I think my friend's words are much more empowering and meaningful.

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.

Back to the Bible
It happened this evening at 5:30pm. I got so fed up with kids fighting and crying and tattletaling about every stupid small thing every 5 seconds I turned around to stir something on the stove. I rebuked my kids with scripture. I was that angry that I actually looked up this bible verse that randomly kept popping up in my head and I did not shout, for once.
Proverbs 19:11 New International Version (NIV)
A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

For all the times I've been mad or upset and shouted something mean in return, perhaps it would be more effective to use words from the bible. They copy everything I say anyway, so let it be something good and sweet.

To Speak Kind Words
Here is my collection of bible references for every situation that bothers me about the kids - complaining about the food, not falling asleep, having trouble putting snowpants on, being scared of monsters...

Proverbs 16:24 New International Version (NIV)
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
An expert told me that kids sometimes hit because of the lack of language. It takes so much effort for AJ to say to Maggie "Please stop doing that annoying sound that bothers me, and you are too close to my face". It's probably much easier to just clock the sibling in the face or push them away to the ground.  It takes more strength to control one's temper. I've told my daughter to count to 5 when she starts getting mad; and there are times when she has reminded me to do that. Amazing.

Proverbs 29:8 (NASB)

8 Scorners set a city aflame,
But wise men turn away anger.

Just Eat It
My daughter recently became a very good eater and often finishes two bowls of whatever portion we gave her. However there was a time when she complain about onions, or the black speck of pepper, or the broccoli being too hard or soft, the pasta was the wrong shape, the chicken tastes gross (garlic perhaps), butter not margarine, cream cheese not jam on a crossaint not toasted but warm. There are days sometimes even now, when she would rather have a bowl of cheerios and milk than that yummy pot roast or snipped green beans.

Instead of guilt-tripping her about the hungry children all over the world, this might be a good verse. Also I could remind her to be thankful about the food.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

She Made me Do it
So many times, Maggie and AJ get into trouble with something like jumping into the couch or hiding in the tangled curtains or wrestling on the ground till someone cries. AJ's excuse is always, "Well it was Maggie's idea!" How many times have we heard the "She made me do it" excuse. That was the explanation for the original sin that came into the world back in the Garden of Eden.

"Be a man, do the right thing". If you know Russel Peters (east asian standup comedic in Canada) who likes to poke fun at his own race and asians, then you'll know this quote. Know what is right and just do it.

However yesterday, I remember that Maggie and AJ were quietly watching TV when she said to her brother, "Hey AJ do you want to climb on me?" What the heck? Who does that and why?? AJ actually said, "No I don't want to do that it's not good". I caught it in my ear so I commended him for doing the right thing. If something is not right, yah use your words and tell someone you're not doing it.

Philippians 2:14-16
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out[c]the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Afraid of the Dark, Monsters, Zombies, dark rooms

Psalm 27:1
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

I can't blame them for being scared of the storage room door behind wide open or going down to the basement to get something. I used to be that way if my mother sent me to the fridge downstairs to grab eggs. I remember singing hymns at the top of my lungs cuz it made me less afraid. "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone! Because I know-- He holds the future. And life is worth a living, just because he lives". Nothing spooks me too much anymore, but I would like to show the kids that God can help them in the time of trouble.

Help Me Do it By Myself
I have seen them get fully dressed to go out tobogganing outside in the big back yard. I'm pretty sure all the kids at school get dressed all on their own cuz there's  no way two teachers can help 26 kids do that. I've made it my point every morning to start the dress up routine at 7:45AM and let it take the full 30 minutes to get into the car to drive too the bus stop for the 8:16AM bus. I've made it a point to not help them too much though I know I could totally shove them into "snowpants, boots, jacket, and hat" in under 2 minutes if I dressed them. Why? Training them to be independent,  a future investment perhaps, to save time in the future.

Philippians 4:13
13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Valentine Art Forgery

Ever seen a kid`s Science Fair project that is so perfect and complicated that you knew there was  parental involvement, beyond the basic help and support? Or are you that mom who does the cutting for the kid's art collage homework made from magazine clippings because the corners have to be perfect and exactly straight? I swear I will never be that mom because I believe in honest effort and hard work. I don't want to do anything that would set me on the wrong path, ever.  Anyway in my case my son colours better than me.  That being said, I have a Valentines Day confession to make that I will own up to right now...

Crafty Mom Confesses

I forged my son's art work and made digital copies for mass production!
Toucan of My Love, AJ's Originals 6 of 7

First off, I am an experienced scrapbooker and cardmaker. I have friends who are reps for the big companies like Stampin Up, Creative Memories, Close to My Heart etc so I've been to everyone's card making party and have amassed a large collection of inks, paper, and stamps for all occasions over the years. However, finally this year is the first time I've been able to sit down and make 52 Valentine cards for my kids' classes. My strategy was to start early and enlist the two budding artists to do their own work.

"A Toucan of My Love" is a retired Valentine set from Stampin Up that I purchased on ebay two years ago. The card I have designed is very simple as I've simply cut a sheet of 8.5 x 10 into 5 similar size pieces to fold in half.  The art on the cover is a stamped image of the Kangaroo: "Hoppy Valentines Day", the Toucan: "A Toucan of My Love" and the Fish with kissy lips "You're Fintastic".

I made it the best after school activity this week for four days in a row. Today Friday was the only day we didn't do cards because of the skating lessons. I stamped the pictures onto pieces of white cardstock about 3.5 x 2.5 inches. Instead of stamping 52 times, I ended up using my scanner and printer to produce a sheet of 10 pictures at a time.
Umounted images coloured by Momma

AJ spent a lot of time doing detailed work in the colouring.  Therefore in the time it took Maggie to churn out all 26 pictures in full colour, AJ managed to colour only 7. He was so focused and so creative. However I was concerned with the pace and I decided to "help" colour so I used the same crayons and coloured the same images in the same colour he had used. I asked him if that was ok to help him colour and he said yes, but he reminded ME to stay in the lines and do good work. wow! I copied the same colour scheme he chose for each card, none alike.  Really, I was just hoping to make these look like AJ coloured them. Great, my colouring is only as good as a four year olds.  After three pictures I stopped. Is this right?

What am I teaching my son, that I will do his homework for him? Or am I really just helping him out, after all it's only colouring...

But he needs 26 pictures coloured! But instead of halting the forgery of his coloring, I took it a step further and ended up pasting all the coloured images together, mine and his, to create a full colour sheet to be copied, scanned, printed and cut!


The funny thing is, I cut these into the right shapes so they could assemble the cards after school yesterday. I guess AJ suspected something was possibly amiss because he examined the new pieces with a face like "Did I colour this one?" to authenticate his own work. Sigh. Not only did I forge his colouring schemes, but I made prints!

Maggie's work may be "high quantity" but she did put alot of heart into her art.  She signed her name with x's and o's and little hearts.
Cards for Teacher, by Maggie

Maggie's work - High Quantity
Anyway AJ still has to cut out 26 images and write his name 26 times. He was already writing his classmates names.  There are 8 more pictures left to colour but he is not too interested anymore. What will I do, leave them blank?

Monsters to the Rescue
As it turns out, AJ has been drawing monsters at Sunday School class. I saved this one today. He's been drawing alot of one eyed creatures recently. Now all I need is a good Monster Valentine meme.
Weaponized Monsters

How about these ones:
Valentine, I've got my eye on you! I just need this translated to French.
Have a Monstser-sized Valentiine

Friday, January 18, 2013

Veggie Fruit Smoothie

My kids love smoothies, especially the blueberry banana and flaxseed with yoghurt ones their dad makes.  You can basically put anything in there and they'll drink it up just because it's a smoothie. I found a recipe in the Costco magazine called "David H Murdock's Super Juice".

Imagine a smoothie with pineapple juice, spinache, cucumbers, carrots, apples, tomatoes, banana and parsley. Sounds like a fruity vegetable soup!

I happened to have all of these ingredients in my fridge so I decided to make this for the kids afterschool snack the other day. Of course we got distracted with playing outside in the snow and hot chocolate, so I ended up serving it after dinner as a ``treat``. I prepped everything ahead of time in the Ninja so all I needed to do was hit the go button. I`ll just say the kids were full from dinner so no one was interested in trying it out, but I really liked it!

My first reaction was that it tasted like a salad or sushi roll without the sushi. But the color of it, not too flattering; perhaps like a guacomole to be polite.  I had doubled the recipe to have four servings instead of two. Over the course of two days, I think I consumed more vegetables drinking the smoothies than I did all last week. Really really tasty. Perhaps next time I`ll involve the kids in the preps and they`ll actually drink it.

Link: Doctor Oz Vitamin Cocktail
Makes 1 serving

1 cup papaya
1/2 cup kale
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 banana
1/2 green apple
Blend it all in a blender, enjoy!

Link: Doctor Oz Breakfast Green Drink
I saw this today on his show, though it didn`t look that green. He says he makes this on Sunday or Monday and it`s good all week.
Ingredients2 cups spinach
1/2 cucumber
1/4 head of celery
1/2 bunch parsley
1 bunch mint
3 carrots
2 apples
1/4 orange
1/4 lime
1/4 lemon
1/4 pineapple
 Blend it all in the blender, makes 28-30 ounces, or 3-4 servings.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fifty Shades of Poo

Talking about reading material for the loo, here's a good toddler book that explains all the different shades of it. ``Everyone Poops` by Taro Gomi. It was a baby shower gift for my first child and will certainly make the rounds for the fourth.  It is a book about poo and the different shapes, colours, and smells of poo from different animals. It really demystifies the topic. There's an adult version of this too as I will soon explain.



Ever seen a public bathroom with signs posted about not throwing paper towels into the toilet, or only placing toilet paper in the toilet. Or how about not stealing the toilet paper because it is a crime?

Well the ladies bathroom (for adults) at my son`s daycare has the most signs I have ever seen posted in one place at a public bathroom. There is enough reading material for any kind of emergency, no need to bring a book or magazine.

There`s a sign for how to install a new toilet paper when the first one runs out (please and thank you included), how to not miss the garbage can, how to wipe off the seat.

Another sign for what to do if it gets plugged up, and also a friendly reminder about putting the seat down, which I don`t understand because it`s a ladies bathroom. There is also a sign about how to wash your hands (that one is posted near the sink).

One day, I noticed a new sign that wasn`t there the day before. The sign was a very interesting health topic, but I found it perplexing that someone would find the time to print it out and actually post it. Well why not. The sign was called something like ``Colour and Shape of Poo, What it Means``


I want to track down a copy of this sign, though a google search will tell you plenty enough so I won`t repost it here. On this same topic though, I find it strange when folks on facebook talk about the shape and colour of their kids`poo, or worse their own. One time my friend ate red beets and described the after effects. Another time, a friend with a new baby did not know about muconium and was unnecessarily concerned about the black tarry substance.

I suppose kids are interested in analyzing their materials too, such as what happened the other day to Lincoln. Potty training has been going quite well for him since we moved. I think it helps alot that I was home with him and we have a more regular schedule, plus I`m sure they`ll helping him at daycare too. So they other day after dinner, he had to do his usual business. We read his favorite poo book, by Taro Gomi. He can probably read this book, or rather memorize it word for word.

Well this time, after finishing the book, he stood up, took a look at the pile beneath him and said, ``It`s a castle, a brown and green one" Someones been eating lots of veggies!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

O Christmas Tree Crafts

Christmas Tree Crafts that are easy to make with readily available materials from home. Of course these were all made at school or daycare, so precious as keepsakes. The kids decorated our Christmas tree this year with homemade ornaments collected over the years, so I've included photos of other Christmas crafts too.
Popsicle Stick Tree

Christmas Tree Makeover
This year we swapped trees with my sister in law.  Previously in Ottawa, we used the Christmas tree that my husband's family had since their first Christmas in Canada. We've only decorated with the original ornaments, none of them matching, some homemade and some souvenir gifts over the years; plus a string of programmable LED blinking lights a la disco. I also secretly hated setting it up because the stand was a bit too tricky for me, and I just longed for something newer. I even tried to sell at the forums at work and the used goods website. I figured that there wouldn't be enough room for a big tree in our new house, plus with all the little hands touching the ornaments I was worried about having a tall tree come crashing down. I opted to take my mother in law's smaller fibre optic pre-lit tree.

Fibre Optic Pre Lit
It was a good thing that I didn't sell the family tree because I ended up storing it temporarily at my new sister in law's house. She did something very amazing with the tree this year, you wouldn't even believe it was the same tree! Take a look at the Before and After shots.  I think their "new tree" is Christmas Card perfect, minus the crook from "Home Alone 2"


Shapes Collage, AJ

Glitter Tree, Linc

Friday, January 4, 2013

Handprint Santa Craft and a Snowman

For the first time this year, my kids came home from school with a beautifully wrapped Christmas gift for mom and dad, filled with handmade crafts. I was quite touched by the act of giving, and also the thoughtfulness of the teachers to put this together.

Lincoln's gift included a hand print Santa, a bunch of Christmas holiday art collages, and a concert DVD. Maggie's gift which she ended up opening herself, included a water globe glass ornament (baby food jar with water and glitter), jar of bubble bath salts, a photo CD and a few other items I lost track of. AJ's gift which he opened first because it had his name on it he says (FROM: AJ) was a gold glitter encrusted ball ornament, a snowman ornament and a Christmas tree both made of Popsicle sticks.

Handprint Santa Craft by Lincoln

Santa Paper Plate by Maggie

Snowflake Paper Plate, Lincoln

Popsicle Stick Snowman
AJ's friend also gave out little Christmas treats to all the classmates. It is a clever wrapping for a chocolate bar in the form of a Snowman. It looks very easy to wrap up with glitter white tissue paper, googly eyes and a few pieces of flare.

Happy New Year 2013, Looking Back 2012

Happy New Year! It's that time of year again to recount the blessings and biggest stories of 2012 in our family.

1. A Child is born unto the Tang Family in the City of Belleville
Her name shall be Mary Dea, beautiful, amazing, lily, goddess. Dea is latin for goddess; her Chinese name is Mei Li. Mei is beautiful, the writing of Li is TBA. Undecided between lily or amazing. Just in time for a Mary Christmas, her name was decided on the car ride to the hospital.

2. Mission Impossible (3) Completed
Brian and Deb sneak out to watch two movies together - Avengers and Skyfall. Deborah watches Dark Knight Rises on day 3 of the opening.

3. The big move to the small city
Two days of packing, two days or unloading; every item is accounted for.  New school, new church, new identities - the kids now go by Margaret and Adrian, with a French accent...

4. Two big weddings on two continents
Brian's brother gets married at Majestic Elegance in the Dominican Republic; we take all the kids on a wonderful beach resort vacation. Lincoln screams in terror at the ocean while AJ is deep asleep on the beach chairs on the first day, Maggie and Deborah splash in the waves wearing  bikinis.

Deborah's sister gets married in Calgary; a wonderful visit to see two great-grandmas, grandparents and extended family. Got to see my sister ride the roller coaster at Calaway Park in her wedding dress!  And I photo bombed the perfect shot on the Swing of the Century.

5.  The North Pole in Summer
Brian's makes a special trip to Canada's Northern-most settlement. He told Maggie and AJ that he could send a special message to Santa; he comes back with photos of giant ice cubes and really tall angry rabbits.

6. Maggie meets the Disney Princesses at Disneyland Asia.
It is her first trans Atlantic journey to Hong Kong with Brian.  She comes home and teaches AJ how to speak Chinese.

7. Deb completes a Ukranian Psanky Easter Egg and a Triathlon
Three hours of work for one good egg, and an afternoon of tea and cakes with 6 powerful women from work just in time for Easter.  Deb also competed in her first Triathlon in June; clarification, it was a mini triathlon relay with two friends from work. Deb ran the 3km distance, the other two guyz did the 100m swim and the 13km bike ride, and placed third overall.  Not too bad considering our age category...

8. Maggie and AJ master the daily routine of writing 1 to 100 and beyond plus math drills.
Instead of chinese school and piano, we opted for 4 months of intensive math camp.  Tears were shed when they found out that we didn't register them for Kumon nor Monart class nor ballet, soccer or swimming in Trenton.  That's dedication and they are still keen to do a bit of "homework" every night.

9. Maggie and AJ teach Lincoln some powerful language in French
"Ne touche pas!!"
Maggie and AJ also figure out how to spell four letter words, but why is this piece of art dedicated to dad?

10. Lincoln starts daycare
Many great memories from his friends in Ottawa, new friendships in Trenton.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Russian Matryoshka Black Bean Brownie

I wonder what is more amazing about this Black Bean Brownie recipe, the fact that it's made from a can of black beans and pumpkin puree or that I used measuring cups shaped like Russian Matryoshka dolls.

The cups arranged in order have the standard volume measurements plus one extra - 1 cup, 3/4 cup, 2/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup. My friend gave them to me as a friendship gift, as is the tradition with Matryoksha dolls. I have a massive collection of Matryoshka and I also love baking, so it was indeed the perfect gift! We had a lengthy discussion about the math involved to calculate the precise volume under the curve, probably using high school calculus that I have long forgotten.

Black Bean Brownie ingredients

Here is the link for the Black Bean Brownie Recipe from the Damy website. I really like it because I did not use a ridiculous amount of sugar like usual brownie recipes and the only butter I used was to grease the pan! For the amount of fibre in the brownies, I should totally tell my kids these are treats and they're not allowed to have more than two (one serving).

I substituted the peanut butter swirl with a cream cheese swirl (because my children's allergies). However the cream cheese was not softened enough, therefore each spoonful turned out like a chunk that just sank to the bottom when I tried to swirl it.

Chill first to  make clean cuts. I will eat this treat this afternoon with a hot cup of skinny latte from my new Tassimo machine when the playdate friends come over.