Once Upon A Mommy

The Ups, Downs and All Arounds of Raising a Family

Month: October 2014

Halloween Candy Solution – The Switch Witch

halloween-switch-witch-600x417Nearing Halloween, I was thinking of ways to deal with the mass amount of candy that my daughter will unnecessarily need. How was I going to allow her to enjoy the fun of Halloween without the side effects of endless days of candy?

At one of my parenting groups, one of the mom’s was talking about using the Switch Witch. I was quite curious to discover how this tradition worked. The idea of the Switch Witch is similar to the age old tradition of the Tooth Fairy.  Here’s how it works:

At the end of Halloween night, the child leaves a basket/bag/whatever at the front. During the night, while the child is sleeping, the Switch Witch comes by the house and takes the candy that was put out. In return, the Switch Witch replaces the candy with a gift of some sort.

I decided to do my own variation of this clever idea. I first rooted through my daughter’s bag of treats and took out whatever was questionable and what I definitely did not want her to have (eg. lollipops cause they sit too close to the teeth for long periods of time).  Then I allowed Ella to put aside some candy that she wanted to keep. I involved her in the process and she put aside the rest for the “Switchy Witchy,” as we call it. Then she took her bucket of designated candy and placed it by the door.

In the morning she was so excited to find out what the Switchy Witchy had left her. I decided to give her a toy, but you can decide how big or small, cheap or expensive your item is.

So would I do it again? Yup! I think it’s a great solution to the mass of candy and a fun tradition. Another solution is to find a dentist in the neighborhood who is buying back the candy. I heard of one that was paying $1 per pound of candy. That sounded awesome!

By the way, in case you’re wondering….Ella was Elsa for Halloween (of course) and I bought her a Paw Patrol Toy on behalf of the Switchy Witchy (I couldn’t help it).

Elsa costume

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe…With Chickpeas!

chocolate chip cookies When it comes to sweets, I’m learning to make “good bad” choices, which means that I’m taking a “bad” choice and finding a way to make it better.

So today my daughter and I made chocolate chip cookies and I found a few ways to make them a “good bad” choice.

I heard about these chickpea chocolate chip cookies a while ago from a recipe book called Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld’s wife). In addition to this recipe, she has several other brilliant ways of hiding vegetables into family favorite recipes. For example, brownies with spinach or chocolate pudding with avocado.

healthy cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe (Jessica’s Recipe)

Prep time: 20 minutes   Total: 31-33 minutes   Makes 2 dozen cookies   Packable

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 x 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 3/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and margarine with a wooden spoon or on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the egg whites and vanilla, then the chickpeas and chocolate chips. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low speed until a thick dough forms.

3. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Press gently with a fork to flatten. Bake until the cookies are golden brown and just set, 11 to 13 minutes; do not overbake. Transfer to a rack to cool.

4. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe (my adapted Recipe)

  • nonstick silicon mat
  • 1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 x 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (mashed)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Silicon Mat – I like to use my mats as much as possible. Partly because I don’t want them to be a useless kitchen gadgets. But also because I try to limit the use of cooking spray. I don’t buy the store bought stuff like Pam. I can’t imagine that’s good for us. I have my own spray pump gadget that I fill with canola oil. However, I’m trying to stay away from canola oil because I have had a food sensitivity to it and also because of GMO.

Butter – I never buy margarine. Margarine is plant based and chemically manipulated to create it’s solid form. Although butter isn’t that much better, I choose the lesser of the 2 evils.

Chickpeas – I mash my chickpeas. I don’t think whole chickpeas are as deceptive. Plus I don’t really care to bite into a whole chickpea.

Hemp Hearts (shelled hemp seeds) – a Super Food. I figured I’d continue on with the deception and add some more healthy stuff. Next time I’ll add flax seeds and chia seeds too.

Chocolate chips – I reduced the quantity in half. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. I figured 1 cup was adequate.

Flour – I substituted half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat….just another opportunity to increase the health factor. Whole grain flour is the best choice.


Suggestions and tips:

– expect a mess! Have the vacuum on standby.

– I mashed up the chickpeas on the side so my daughter didn’t notice them. When she was measuring the chocolate chips, I used the distraction to add the chick peas to the batter. We have made the recipe before with her fully aware of the chickpeas. I just didn’t feel like dealing with a potential freak out.

– I allowed my daughter to create her own “cookies” in a separate bowl. This kept her preoccupied when I didn’t need her help. Of course her “cookies” consisted of a concoction of food coloring, globs of cookie batter, chocolate chips and oats. Be prepared for ingredients to go to waste. I in the past, I’ve given my daughter expired ingredients (eg. old flour; not stuff that would hurt her if she consumed it) or stuff I wanted to give rid of anyway.

– a child’s idea of cleaning up may not be the same as yours. I was pleasantly surprised that she wiped down the counter afterwards. However, all of the contents ended up on the floor. I was okay with that because I was simply glad she was helping.

– cook the leftover egg yolks for lunch or dinner.

The E-Myth – Systematizing Your Business

After I attended the Millionaire Mind Intensive by T. Harv Eker in May, my mind has been spinning with ways to systematize my husband’s business so he can step back and go fishing instead.

I restarted reading the The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5  by Tim Ferriss, which I abandoned a few years ago because I wasn’t in the head space to receive the information and apply it. Since reading the book this summer, I have totally outsourced my publishing business and work less than 30 minutes a day.

4 hour work weekThere were a couple quotes from the book that really triggered me, made me laugh and got my engine revving.

“The factory of the future will only have 2 employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.” – Warren G Bennis

“By working faithfully 8 hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work 12 hours a day” – Robert Frost

As a result, I started talking to a variety of business people. The first book recommended to me was the The E-Myth : Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E Gerber.

e myth

However, due to the nature of my husband’s business, I knew concepts in the E-Myth book wouldn’t work for a service orientated business. Therefore, I chose to read The E-Myth Contractor instead.

e myth

I just finished reading the book on behalf of my husband (he doesn’t like reading) and hope to funnel the information through his business.

Here are a couple thoughts that stand out to me and motivate me to make this work:

– We are working too hard “in” our business rather than working “on” our business. Our plumbing business is not independent of us. It works because of us, not without us. The business would fail if my husband was not present. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, was brilliant in figuring out how to systematize his business so that it can be operated by teenagers!

– I need to acknowledge when I am filling employee shoes and when I am filling owner shoes. I then need to determine the most effective way to do this job and document it. After I create a strategy for replacing myself with someone else, I will teach it to another person.

– “Without people you don’t own a business, you own a job…the worst job because you’re working for a lunatic.” – Michael Gerber

This is so true. My husband pretty much went from working for his boss to working for another boss (himself). He doesn’t have a  business, he has another job with a terrible boss who makes him work WAY to much.

This next weekend I will be attending the Millionaire Mind Intensive so that I can up the ante and get more momentum. I look forward to sharing the aftermath with you!

Embracing Imperfection – Nobody’s Perfect

ID-100277869I started a fantastic series today at the parent support program I attend called the “Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Program.” My hope is to attain peace with my imperfections and to quieten the guilt I am so often riddled with.

Perfectionism has been something I have been struggling with. I was raised by a critical father resulting in a driveness to be “good enough.”  I like to call myself a Triple A Type. I strive to achieve greatness and significance in the things I do. However, I have unrealistic ideas about how to live my life. I seem to think that for every great idea someone has in the world, I need to do it to. I feel the pressure to make my own soap, hang my laundry to dry, grow my own garden, churn my own butter, and whatever other million things you can think of.

Wow! Who told me to think that way? There is this vague “they” that is always telling me what I “should” do. But I don’t even know who “they” is and they are running my life!

My journey this last year has been focusing on embracing my imperfections and being at peace with just they way I am.


In June, I attending Tony Robbin’s Unleashing the Power Within Conference. It was intense! I walked on fire and conquered my “not good enough” limiting belief. One thing that stood out to me at the conference was the awareness that my journey isn’t about changing myself. Really? Hmmm…

Tony talked about how I’m not broken. I don’t need fixing. I’m not a circle becoming a square. In fact, I’m a square becoming a cube: a deeper version of who I already am. I found a lot of freedom in hearing this perspective.

Since then I’ve been seeking out a variety of resources to help me acquire this inner peace I desire. It creates a busy week!

My schedule is full but I love it! I have something to look forward to, which brings me excitement. It’s also been quite profound to see how the things I’m doing actually compliment each other. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene talks about the 3 gifts being Courage, Compassion and Community. It dawned on me that Steps to Freedom and Celebrate Recovery encompass these three gifts, which explains why these programs are so effective. They are backed by research. It is in these places that I express the courage to be vulnerable, the compassion to love myself regardless, and the community to feel safe.

I believe that through my vulnerability, honesty and authenticity, other women will find the encouragement to embrace their own imperfections and know that they are not alone.

One final thing to share that comes to mind. Let’s go back to the quote I posted earlier, “Stop trying to ‘fix’ yourself; you’re NOT broken! You are perfectly imperfect and powerful beyond measure” – Steve Maraboli (whoa, side note: as I’m writing this I just realized that I had a version of this quote on my window sill for the last few years – “Allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect.” All the loose ends are now starting to come together). As I reread it, the part that struck out to me was that we are powerful beyond measure. I was then reminded of this quote that I came across in an unusual way.

marianne williamson


I have come to realize that, more than anything, I’m afraid of being all that I can be. This is a fear that comes up a lot. I fear being healthy and awesome because what will my excuse be if I fall short, make a mistake, or do something imperfectly? What if I’m STILL not good enough? I’m afraid to shine because I don’t know how to handle it. I don’t know what crutch I’ll use if I don’t measure up. But I suppose at that point, it won’t really matter what other people think anyway. I’ll be dancing to my own drum and flying so high in the clouds that I won’t even notice. Wouldn’t that be nice!


Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Disney Frozen Elsa Dress – Halloween Costume

Disney’s Frozen has been consuming Ella’s world. Of course, her favorite is Elsa and, of course, she wants to be Elsa for Halloween.

I took her love for Frozen seriously and bought her the Disney Frozen Exclusive Doll Set Friends Collection [Anna, Elsa, Olaf & Sven]. She absolutely loves it. Ella even took Elsa and Anna to her very first Show-And-Tell experience at preschool.

frozen figuresUp until now, we watched Frozen by streaming a free movie off the Internet because I was too cheap to buy the actual DVD. I got tired to trying to upload the movie with all the hiccups that came along with it. Then I caved. I bought it and I’m happy I did. Now I can have my laptop back and I no longer have to bother with streaming and slow Internet connections.

frozen dvd

Next, I was on the quest to find an Elsa dress. Do I make one, I have the skills? Hmmm, No, I don’t feel like it this year: too much going on. I decide to shop around to see what I could find. Target had it for $40 and Toys ‘R Us was comparable…NO WAY! I can’t be bothered.

I decided to give online shopping a try. I managed to find it cheaper on Amazon and the shipping was free! Who hoo, shopping in the comfort of my own home. Now I know why mom’s do this more often. I don’t have to lug a toddler around with me, trying to convince her to get into the car. Plus it’s  a dangerous task taking a kid to a toy store. You’d be foolish to not expect screaming, whining and temper tantrums. Perhaps you’ve had better luck than me. Good for you!

This is the dress I purchased on Amazon.

And because I like to spoil my daughter…I added something else to the shopping cart: Disney Frozen Complete Story Playset. She’s been asking non-stop for Kristoff and Hans because they weren’t part of the exclusive doll set she got. I love giving my daughter gifts and I thought it would be fun for her to open the box and see the surprise. She certainly treasures these toys and they may make it to the second round of Show-And-Tell this month at preschool.

figure toys

You can pretty much bet that Ella’s birthday in December will be themed after Frozen. I’ll be sure to post pictures from that experience.

Until then….Let It Go!

Time to Cleanse – The Master Cleanse Detox

ID-100128027Over the last few weeks, I’ve been frustrated with my diet. I feel bloated and out of control with my sugar and wheat consumption. I also have chronic pain, inflammation and fatigue. I figured it was time to reset my diet and start back at square one again.

I’m finding that when I’m overwhelmed with life and not feeling up to par, it’s easy to compromise on my diet and skip out on the things that I value eating. Consequently, I drink less water, eat less salads, and eat more sugar and processed foods. This is not how I want to live my life. I dislike that I value one thing and then I behave totally differently.

So I got a bit of fight back in me and some distaste for my poor choices. I resolved that I’m going to do the Master Cleanse/Lemonade Diet again and get back on track.  The Master Cleanse diet was made popular by Beyonce and is based on the book by Stanley Burroughs called “The Master Cleanser.”

master cleanseTo get started, I set up a white board in my kitchen and wrote down a couple quotes that I picked up along the way from my readings.

“Don’t think about the difficulty of forming a new habit. Think about the joy that is soon to come!” – I believe Tony Robbins

“The difference between feeling up or down, sane or insane, calm or freaked out, inspired or depressed depends in large measure upon what we put in our mouth.” – Sugar Blues by William Dufty

sugar blues

Then I bought a bunch of lemons and 100% pure maple syrup. Based on my experience from the last Master Cleanse I did, I also purchased a lemon juicer. It really hurt my hand digging into 5 lemons a day with a fork in order to get out as much juice as possible. I recommend rolling and pressing the outside rind of the lemons along the counter to help get more juice out of the lemons.

Lastly, I had my last awesome meal at Mongo Bongo Mongolian Grill!

Today, I made my first big batch for the day. I find this the easiest way to go about it rather than making one serving at a time. It’s currently 5 o’clock pm and I’m already almost done the entire 3 litres! The lemonade concoction is delicious so it goes down pretty easily.

In order to hold myself accountable, I measured my waist…38 inches.

Now all I need to do is drink my juice for the next 10 days and then check back with my new waist measurement!

Last time I did this, I lost about 2 inches on my waist. Pretty exciting. I totally expect the weight to be due to water retention and I’m totally okay with that. I just want to break some bad habits, remove the bloated feeling and get control over my eating choices.


Master Cleanse Recipe

Drink at least 60 oz of the lemonade a day. Drink as much water as you want. Ideally, try to consume your body weight in ounces.

Single Serving Lemonade Diet Recipe:

  •  2 Tbsp (30 ml) of organic lemon juice (about ½ a lemon) – I haven’t particularly bothered with organic. Make sure to use lemons and not the bottled juice.
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of organic, 100% maple syrup (not table or butter syrup or Aunt Jemima’s); grade B has been recommended from other sources – I have no idea what that is. Perhaps because I live in Canada. My bottle says medium 1. I don’t know what that means either. Haha. I just got organic 100% and figured it was good enough.
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper powder
  • 10 ounces (295 ml or 1 ¼ cups) of filtered water – I have a Kangen water machine so I use alkaline water…the more the merrier.

Daily Serving Lemonade Diet Recipe:

  •  12 Tbsp (180 ml) of organic lemon juice (about 4- 5 lemons)
  • 12 Tbsp (180 ml) of organic 100% maple syrup
  • ½ Tsp (2.5 ml) of cayenne pepper powder
  • 60 ounces (1775 ml or 7.5 cups) of filtered water

After the first day, I am feeling a slight headache and a wee bit hungry. I expected this since this is part of the detox process. I just keep reminding myself that this is temporary and try to envision the joy I will have at the end of it. I hope making this personal goal public will help keep me accountable.

Here are some other resources on cleansing and detoxing. They even come with a free bonus!

detox diet



detox diet

I’d love to hear where you are at with your diet or lack of it. Have you done any cleanses in the past? It isn’t easy and not everyone has the discipline. As Tony Robbins says, it takes getting disgusted with where you’re at to get the leverage to make a change. That’s what it took to get me to start this cleanse…getting disgusted/tired/frustrated with where I’m at. Here’s a short motivation video my brother put together to help keep the motivation flowing.


Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Helping Children Deal with the Loss of a Pet

Loss of PetToday I buried my dog along with my mom and brother. Angie passed away in July but it took till now to receive her ashes and bury them.

Angie was my family dog for the last 10 years, although she lived with me for the past 4. For my daughter, being 3 ½ years old, having a dog is all she’s ever known. I’m grateful that she has been raised with the beauty and benefits of having a pet despite it’s short stint.

While it was incredibily emotional dealing with the loss of my pet, it made it that much harder helping Ella through the process. Since she’s only three, her understanding is limited. I decided ahead of time the “story” I was going to communicate to Ella, taking into account my personal and religious beliefs about life after death.

The vet suggested a lovely poem to read to Ella called “Rainbow Bridge.” I read it the night before Angie passed away and I was hardly able to contain myself. I personally felt it would be too complex for a 3 year old to understand.


Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…


Alternatively, I shared with Ella that mommy took Angie to the vet because she was feeling sick. While Angie was at the vet, Jesus came to take Angie to Heaven where she could feel better. Now Angie is in Heaven with her family and having fun with the other doggies. We talk about how Angie is happy while swimming, eating treats and playing with balls. We can talk to her whenever we want because she can see and hear us. Sometimes, we’ll be driving in the car and Ella requests to talk to Angie. So I push the rear fog button to put Angie on speaker phone.

A majority of the time, Ella talks about drawing pictures for Angie and tells fun fairytales about Angie. The odd time she’ll express that she misses Angie. I can appreciate what it must be like for her to suddenly be without someone she’s been used to her whole life.

Last night I made the mistake of bringing up Angie and telling Ella that Nana and Uncle Stefan would be coming over to do something special for Angie (burying her). The result was Ella asking if I could pick up Angie from the vet after her owie was better because she missed her. Even though Ella didn’t seem to have a time frame as to when this would happen, she was expecting it to be over at some point. I was surprised to hear this because I tried hard to help Ella understand that Angie wasn’t coming back. I didn’t want to lead her on to thinking that this was a temporary fix. I wanted to make sure that whatever I shared with Ella wouldn’t come back to bite me in the butt later. For example, some people tell their children that they took the dog to a farm. As a result, the child may ask to go see the dog in the future…then what would you do?

I responded by saying we would see Angie when we go to Heaven. Of course, Ella replies, “But which way do we go to get to Heaven?” (or something to that effect). Ohh how do I answer that? Fortunately, the beauty of a three year old is that they are easily distracted. Instead, I switch the focus to how Angie is having a great time in Heaven playing with the other doggies and asking Ella what else she thinks Angie is doing. This usually puts a more positive spin on the situation and I can get her away from dwelling on the upset of not having Angie around.

I’m sure as time goes on, the story of Angie will continue to unfold as Ella understands more about life and death. My goal through the whole process is to be truthful in a manner that is appropriate for her age. I don’t want her to be decieved into thinking that Angie is still alive but living somewhere else. I also don’t want her to be afraid of death or think that if someone is sick, they aren’t coming back.

One last thing I decided to do was to get Ella a gift from Angie. I took Ella to the toy store and told her that before Angie went to live in Heaven, she asked me to get her a gift. I let Ella pick out a toy and accentuated how loving and kind Angie was for wanting Ella to enjoy a gift.

Some things to keep in mind during the process:

  • Plan ahead of time the “story” you will share with your child
  • Make sure other family members or caregivers are informed so they can have the same story
  • The younger the child, the more simiple the language and explanation. As the child grows, more details can be added
  • Celebrate the pet’s life. Focus on the positive, fun memories
  • Focus on the animal being free from pain/sickness
  • Consider giving the child a gift on behalf of the pet

In the end, you need to do what works for you and your family. I would love to hear other suggestions in order to make this resource more rich for others.

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