Summer Rules! A double entendre.

Summer is one of those times everyone looks forward to from about mid-May, to the very last day of school. Kids, parents, teachers - everyone is just holding on in those last few weeks, waiting until the freedom of summer break lets them all off the hook for two whole months!

And two days later, amidst the whining about being bored, that there is no food in the house, and "Pleeeeeeaaaaase Mom, I need more time to play Minecraft", every parent at home with their kids just wants to send them right back to school!

My own kids are in a few week-long camps later this summer and are really looking forward to them. Seven is doing a MasterChef styled cooking camp and Nine is off to Paleontology camp at our local university. Other than that, during the day, it's me, and them, and only 90 minutes of screen time allowed. 

So here we are, already three weeks into summer, and I've decided we need to establish a few other summer "rules" as well. These are as follows: 

  • 30 minutes of writing, colouring or drawing. 
  • Make/build something for at least 30 minutes.
  • Play outside for 30 minutes.
  • Practice/play guitar for 20 minutes.
  • READING for 30 minutes.

The great thing about kids is once they get involved in an activity, 30 minutes can easily stretch to an hour or more. In our house, reading tends to be a bit harder to get going, and for the kids to stay motivated - especially for Seven who is still working on it and just getting into small chapter books. 

Both my kids are fact-loving little learners, and like to know how things work, what happens in different countries and cultures, and all matter of weird and wonderful facts about the world they live in. So when I was asked if we wanted to receive and review a copy of the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2017, I jumped at the chance to get them something that could really captivate them, and fill those 30 minutes of reading time! 

the page they are reading - 8 Daring women in Canadian History! (I swear I didn't put them up to this or choose the page to read!) 

the page they are reading - 8 Daring women in Canadian History!
(I swear I didn't put them up to this or choose the page to read!) 

This latest edition of the Almanac features 350+ pages of incredible photos, annual events, fun facts, crafts (which Seven keeps asking me to do!), activities and features about animals, science, exploration, technology, politics and more topics to keep little minds thinking and busy. And it's not just for the kids! I keep picking up the book and flipping to random pages to learn something new. Like the names of all 22 of our Canadian Prime Ministers, or the fact that the Arctic Sea Ice minimum is decreasing at such an alarming rate that scientists are concerned that the Arctic will become ice free during the summer months sometime this century! 

This is scary! 

This is scary! 

The kids have also decided to take up the Almanac NewsMaker Challenge and create a virtual time capsule to show future kids what life is like in 2016. The part about it being a "virtual" time capsule, and that we don't have to actually put all of their treasured items into a capsule and bury it took some explaining, but they get it now, and are busy gathering all their favourite things to do, read, eat, and play with. 

If your kids are already singing the "I'm bored." summertime blues, get them in on the fun (and out of your hair for a bit). Visit natgeokids.com/almanac to get all the details and how to enter the challenge and upload their photos. I suspect a plethora of Minecraft, Harry Potter, Frozen, and Pokemon Go pictures will be highly featured in many of the 2016 virtual time capsules.

Here's what Seven and Nine have put together so far: 

I also asked Seven to tell me what she liked most about the Almanac and she insisted on writing a "Book Report" in her journal. Here is her completely unbiased review: 

She really likes animals!

She really likes animals!

You can get the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2017 wherever books are sold or on Amazon. As for the remainder of our summer over here, I am happy to have this book around because it is totally helping out with our new Summer Rules. It gets my kids reading and discovering new things, and also inspires them to draw and create, and to get outside and explore their world. So, here's to ALL of us surviving the summer together and learning lots of cool stuff along the way. 

N~

P.S.: From page 231, ARRRGH! 17 Facts about Pirates

#13. Pirates drank Grog, a mixture of rum, lime juice and water. Vitamin C from the lime helped prevent scurvy, a disease that can cause swelling, bleeding, and tooth loss.

Sounds good to me! 

Cheers!

 I am 78.4% sure this is exactly how the pirates served it!

 I am 78.4% sure this is exactly how the pirates served it!

**This is a sponsored post. All opinions, content and photos are my own and those of my test subjects, ummm, I mean kids! ;)**

Pigs are not food....

Two months ago, my youngest child announced to us that she is now a vegetarian. 

This happened to coincide with her age appropriate realization that pork = pig and beef = cow. 

And my girl loves pigs. Like really loves them. Like, has a girl gang with a couple of friends and they call each other, Space Piggy 1, Space Piggy 2, and SpacePiggy 3. AND she spawns and collects all the pigs in Minecraft, AND she has created a whole story world around a family of little pigs that she refers to as Pigibo Jr. and family. 

Oh, and we also finished reading Charlotte's Web and watching the movie right before all of this went down. 

It's not hard to see that Pigs are special to my girl. 

Yes, she even has a pig hat. 

Yes, she even has a pig hat. 

And because I am that parent who believes my kids are actual people, allowed to have their own opinions and thoughts and desires, I respect her wishes in this regard. We have been making the necessary changes to our meal planning and grocery shopping since her big announcement and so far all is going quite smoothly.

To be completely honest, this hasn't been much of a big deal really. As a family, we've been slowly moving away from eating red meat this past year, and we only eat pork sourced from local, free-range, organic farmers. 

AND the thing making my life even easier is our fabulous grocery delivery service, SPUD.ca. They have a handy, dandy section dedicated to simple meal packs and boxes with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options for our family of four. 

I've been letting Seven help me with the weekly "shopping" and she's been picking out one meal pack a week, based on her preferences. We've had a lovely Chickpea and Quinoa salad (which was a miracle, because up until now she had refused to eat both of these things!), our usual tofu stir-fry, and last week she wanted to have the Vegan Finger Food meal

Gardein makes some wonderful vegan options and we've been sampling a lot of them lately in our weekly SPUD order. The Crispy Tenders are a hit with both the vegetarian and the meatatarians in my house, and the Alexia Sweet Potato Fries have been a fave for a while now.

Also, this simple meal is a great one on those hot days. It's quick, easy, and the fresh crisp veggies quench both thirst and hunger. I swear my kids could eat a whole basket of these sweet local grape tomatoes in one sitting!

We do our family meal planning and Spud shopping on Sundays, and I can't wait to see what she is going to choose for us to try next week.

Check out all the different Meal Packs Spud has to offer (not all are vegetarian) and if you decide to give them a try, remember to use the code: CREDM-CHINAA to get $20 off your first order!

*I am a local Spud Ambassador and this post is brought to you by the lovely folks at Spud.ca.
All opinions are my own and those of my picky little eaters!*

Cheers, 

N~

self-preservation

When I am feeling down, I am usually quite good at recognizing that I need to slow down, get off the internet, organize myself a bit more, and engage in some self-care. I routinely refuse to get the gel-nail pedicure at my wonderful little nail salon because I actually don't want it to last longer. When my nail polish starts to chip, I know it's time for me to get a weird chair massage (seriously the part of the chair that "massages" my butt feels so wrong), a new colour on my toes, and to zone out for a bit. 

Self-care can take the form of many things and for me, routine and order is one of them. I also like some good old retail therapy, and a giant bowl of popcorn and red wine for dinner. Sharing and making other people happy is also a form of self-care for me.

In that vein, here you go: some of my most recent favourite things to help on days when you need a little pick-me-up.

...........

1. The Blackbird Potpie at BlackBird Cafe. This single serving potpie is made with a creamy mushroom filling and served with a delicious tomato chutney. I like to get it with the House Kale and Spinach salad. It is my comfort food right now. And the coffee at Blackbird is fabulous too, and as of this week, the staff know my order and have officially granted me "Regular" status!

Comfort food is good for the soul.

Comfort food is good for the soul.

2. BAMBOO BED SHEETS. (That's it, just get some. Seriously!) The ones we have are from one of my favourite local boutiques, My Filosophy,  and I don't know why we waited so long to get them. 

only downside is it is so hard to get out of bed now!

only downside is it is so hard to get out of bed now!

3. This new lipgloss from Lipstick Queen. Don't let the Elphaba green sparkle fool you. This stuff is all kinds of witchy and wonderful and goes on green and within about 20 seconds changes colour according to the body temperature and PH of your lips. Mine goes a nice natural pink colour and really, who couldn't use a little bit of magic in their day?!

Available at Lux Beauty Boutique. 

Available at Lux Beauty Boutique

4. I am reading the MaddAddam trilogy from Margaret Atwood and have fallen in love with her writing all over again (it's been far too many years since I first read The Handmaid's Tale). ORYX & CRAKE was phenomenal, and I have just started The Year of the Flood. Get your summer reading on and pick up all three books from your favourite bookstore or get on the wait list for a copy at your local library!

5. I know you probably have a long queue of shows to watch piling up on your Netflix List, but if you like the female prison drama genre (and OOOOwheeeeee do we ever have to talk about OITNB Season 4 another time), you'll need to add one more. This one is a Canadian production called Unité 9 and is set in a women's prison based on the real one in Joliette, Quebec. The show does have subtitles, so you can totally follow along even if you aren't a little Frenchie like me. The acting is wonderful, the character development superb, and I can't get enough of it right now. 

6. Hair products. It's what happens when you finally take the plunge and say to your stylist. "OK, just cut it all off!" I have been a Kevin Murphy user for a few years now and love that these products are eco-friendly, free of all the bad things and do the job they are supposed to do. The two products pictured below are my go-to duo for keeping my fabulous new coif, coiffed! Oh, and you only need a tiny bit of each - as with all KM products, a little goes a long way!

These should last me at least one year.

These should last me at least one year.

..........

The world is a nasty place right now, and we have much work to do to clean it up and make it better. And we will. I truly believe that. But we can't do any of that if we don't take care of ourselves first. Like the amazing poet and activist Audre Lorde said, self-care is in and of itself an act of political warfare. 

Do what you must to preserve yourselves people. 

So you can get up and fight the good fight again tomorrow. 

With new polish on our toes, a good meal in our bellies, and pretty pink lips.

Much love,

Natasha~