Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tricky treat Halloween boo-fest

Last night was our community's "Harvest Parade" (ridiculously named so as not to offend anyone, despite being 100% the same thing as trick-or-treating, consisting solely of kids in costumes, pumpkins, knocking on doors, and candy- but I suppose that's a rant for another post.)

Sadly, M has been fighting a bug since last Sunday, and by Tuesday L was down, too.  I kept trying to wait it out, thinking they were surely on the mend. They never looked that bad, but in truth. they weren't getting better, either. Finally, yesterday morning, Whim ran them to the doctor just to make sure nothing was wrong, and it turns out they've both got Influenza A.  Poor little lambs!  I should have realized sooner.  M's new library books have been on the kitchen table untouched since Monday- if that's not a dark sign, I don't know what is.

As if blood work and nasal swabs weren't enough for one terrible day, when they stopped at school to drop off the medical certificates, I had to break it to them that we couldn't go to trick-or-treating that night either.  

I consoled them that they could still wear their great costumes at home, and we could eat treats together, too, but they both cried that it wasn't the same as Trick-or-Treating!  They were right, of course.  I would have promised them anything to make up for it, but it turns out all they really wanted was to knock on doors and say trick or treat.  Hmmm...I can work with that!  I gave them a rundown of my plan, and they started drying their tears.  By the time L asked if we could call it "Tricky Treat Halloween Boo-fest" they were smiling from ear to ear. 

I hurried home right after school and we started treat-making.  They made another plate of Marzipan candy corn, we tried our first-ever batch of caramel popcorn, and then finished with doughnuts.

Then they got dressed and it was time for home!  They got doughnuts at the front door, caramel corn at the downstairs bathroom door, chocolates at their bedroom door and candy corn from my room. They even got a pack of soccer cards in the living room, despite no actual door to knock!

The best part was that they were truly thrilled.  They weren't just making the most of it- they were completely happy and satisfied.  They actually had so many nibbles while we were cooking up all the treats that they didn't even end up eating their haul afterward.  We settled in to watch cheesy old halloween movies and called it a perfect Tricky Treat Halloween Boo-fest!

I hope can come up with an equally satisfying Color Run substitute.  We were so excited! :(

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Color runners!

I first heard of the Color Run a few years ago when we had just taken the boys off of additives.  It was the last thing I ever thought I'd sign up for.  Dye was basically our biggest enemy and it was everywhere- why would we purposely go running through clouds of it?

But that's what we'll be doing next weekend.  I asked Whim to sign us up for the race next week as my birthday present- just the two of us.  But then I had major regrets.  I knew the boys would love it, and everything's more fun as a family.

When we went to pick up our race  packets yesterday, we broke down and signed them up, too.  I don't know if I'm being reckless, or if it's just not so scary anymore. 

I'll probably make them wear masks at the kilo markers, just to be safe.  But even if they accidently ingest some, it won't be the end of the world.  While I feel like avoiding additives in foods is the right choice for our family, avoiding experiences where they might be exposed to them isn't.  Maybe I'm rationalizing, but we can't be afraid of everything...

Color Run, here we come!

Friday, October 23, 2015

More Halloween treats

In addition to my marzipan candy corn creations this morning, I also broke in my new Halloween chocolate molds to make some chocolatey treats for my favorite boys.

I molded dark chocolate and chocolate-mint flavored witch hats and pumpkins.

I also made Reese peanut butter cup-inspired sunflower seed butter filled chocolate pumpkins.  

I even tried some chocolate-coated pumpkin/sunbutter treats, but several of them cracked coming out of the tray.  Thankfully, nobody complained.

Every time I make a new additive-free treat for my kids, I feel so proud!

Fake additive-free candy corn

I love candy corn.  Pure sugary bliss.  We can't get candy corn here, and even if we could, those tantalizing yellow and orange stripes would be off-limits for the boys.

This morning I made three batches of marzipan- one batch with pumpkin purée for the orange section, one with powdered dried mango for the yellow, and  finally, one plain almond batch for the white.

No, it won't taste like real candy corn.  And it's not as bright and shiny as real candy corn, either.  But for two little boys who've never had the real deal- it'll be a special Halloween treat.

I rolled out three thin strips, pinched them together, and started cutting.

Even though the white is supposed to be on the bottom, the ones with white tops are cuter!

L already sampled some scraps.  I can't wait for M to wake up so they can all try some!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Basil fried rice

To borrow a Thai idiom, screen time is like basil fried rice.  It's good- and you know you'll like it every time you order it- but you only choose it when there's nothing better on the menu.

My kids love screen time and ask for it often during weekends and school breaks.  But if given a choice, they would choose a board game, a craft, a science project, sensory play, cooking, or a bike ride over screentime almost anytime.  It's just that the iPad is right there and doesn't take any effort or thought.  Sure, I could blame them for being lazy.  They are in charge of their own fun, and all that.

But when I help them think of non-tech ideas, they are always onboard.  They played with the kinetic sand for ages yesterday.  If they default to computer games whenever they are looking for something to do, it's probably because we haven't made other options readily available enough that they spring to mind.  We should help with that, until it becomes habit.

This year, the boys' October break has been a great balance of tech and non-tech activities. While I personally would prefer less or no screentime for them, I know I watched plenty of TV and played my share of computer and Nintendo games when I was a kid (especially during school holidays.)  Sometimes downtime is just downtime- and not every moment of their lives needs to be educational or beneficial.  Heck, I still like my mindless Facebook time. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Good gods

M decided to dress up as Poseidon this Halloween.  The lion-mane headband is currently standing in until we can pick up a laurel crown, and he's angling for a trident, too.  Considering his entire costume is an old tanktop and a pillowcase, I can't really complain about a couple of props.

L, while not a big mythology fan in general, decided to join his theme.  He loves "Herc" from Disney's Hercules, and russled up a pretty decent costume from the dress-up box.

Now I feel like I should follow suit.  Medusa, maybe?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

October break fake fall kickoff!

Today I roasted a pumpkin to make homemade pumpkin purée, which I then made into cinnamon pumpkin doughnuts.  

And while I was at it, I roasted the pumpkin seeds, too.

The first day of October break is a beautiful day for fake Autumn.

Next up: Halloween costume planning!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Sick/silly L

Poor L had some almost-scary respiratory trouble this week.  This time last year was the beginning of the never-ending battle with pneumonia and we just don't want to go down that road again!  Thankfully we were able to manage it at home this time, and he's already looking and feeling so much better.

He was out of school most of this week and had to miss K5's Silly Sock and Silly Hair day.  Whim let him spike his hair before they came to pick us up this afternoon, so at least he got a taste of it!

Fingers crossed that we spend October break out of the hospital this year!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thai blogging

Thai is such a struggle for M.  It doesn't come naturally to him and sadly, he doesn't enjoy it.  His vocabulary is underdeveloped, so he can't communicate freely.  He gets frustrated and always wants to switch into English mode.  The answer, of course, is to help him build his Thai vocabulary by encouraging him to read more.

Thankfully he can read, albeit not at the level that he reads in English. In Thai, he still sounds out most words, makes some mistakes, and uses picture clues.  Basically, he reads like the first grader that he is.  He doesn't enjoy it.

I've never had to ask or remind him to read in English, but he never reads in Thai until I ask.  I keep waiting for that switch to flip, for Thai to suddenly be fun and natural.  So far, so... Well, I'm still waiting.  But we are not giving up.

This week, I've asked him to read one Thai picture book a day, and blog about it in Thai on his regular blog.  His Thai entries (just 2 so far) are much more simplistic than his normal posts, but it's a start.

I'm so proud of him.  The grit and determination it takes for him to get through a Thai book is much more impressive to me than all the 500 pagers he can easily read in English.  These posts, though formulaic, are borne of genuine effort and thought on his part.  I couldn't be prouder.

Canadian Thanksgiving

M's first grade class has been studying Canada, and today they celebrated with a Canadian Thanksgiving feast.  M has been absolutely fascinated with this Canada unit- like the food pyramid lessons from back in K4- because it is brand new information for him.  He actually wants to go there for our next vacation.

They all dressed in Canadian colors and had a feast of Canadian dishes.  His teacher offered to let me make him additive-free versions to take in, which I appreciated so much and fully intended to do...  Except that it was his birthday last weekend. I would have had to be looking up recipes, shopping, prepping and cooking all weekend, and I just couldn't.

I made him an offer- if he could sit through the feast and just chat with his friends without eating, we could go out to eat as a family after school and he could pick the place.  But if he didn't want to miss out, I'd make a few of the foods from the menu that he wanted most.

Thankfully he picked dinner out.  Phew!

This morning, I checked to make sure he didn't regret his decision.  He didn't mind at all.  "It's just like I'm a Canadian person with food allergies at a feast!"

It's all about the perspective!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Say cheese

Pizza night is one of those things that I wished was a family tradition.  It sounds so cozy and family-togethernessy.  We've done it once or twice, and everyone loves it, but it's always a big production.

When we made pizzas for Little Chef day at school last month, we used mini-pitas and it was so easy.  I filed it away as a pizza night shortcut idea, and this week we tried it.

The additive-free pitas we found are the perfect size for a personal pizza. The boys loved putting on their own toppings and since we didn't start with dough, we only had to toast them for a few minutes to warm them up and melt the cheese, so they were really quick.

They've already asked to do it again, next time with pepperoni!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Now we are seven

When M was little, I wondered if he would ever settle down.  The older he got, the more it worried me, and I have spent countless hours over the last seven years praying, thinking, and talking about ways to help him calm down.  He was always moving, bouncing, talking, laughing.  I loved his zest for life, but he was such a handful.

This school year, whether it's his new teacher or another year of growing up (or both) he has suddenly become so calm, it's almost unnerving.

I first noticed it at the talent show last month, how serious he was when he was on stage.  Then at his first-grade poetry reading this week- again, all business.  On his birthday, when it was time to open his gifts, he used a pair of scissors to snip each piece of tape, laid the paper to the side, and said in an undertone, "Don't worry mom.  I'll clean this up in a minute."

I'm not complaining!  It's just... who is this quiet person, and what did he do with my son?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Birthday brothers

Whim took this cheeky little monkey out of school this afternoon to go pick out a birthday gift for his brother.  Definitely not something I'd be ok with every day, but I admit it really got him into the spirit of giving.  He loved being one of the people helping to make M's birthday special, instead of just being the-kid-whose-birthday-it-isn't. 

They picked out an RC car, and between his new car, a beautiful book from Nana ("Can I put this in the classics section!?!") and his cupcakes, he declared it his best birthday ever, despite a soccer-ball straight to the face earlier this afternoon.   

As he said, "Remember last year?  At least my face didn't break!"

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hieroglyphic cupcakes

Tonight our electricity went out.  M and I iced his birthday cupcakes by moonlight and I just couldn't ask for a sweeter boy. He was truly grateful, complimenting every symbol I attempted and thanking me again and again for "making everything so special."

The feeling's mutual, bud.