An amazing little apple gadget: My sister- and brother-in-law gave me this very useful apple peeler-corer-slicer as a birthday gift quite a few years ago, and it is still one of my favourite fall kitchen tools. I love how quickly it makes the not-so-fun job of getting apples ready for applesauce, pies, and other baked goods go by, and it's easy and entertaining enough to use that the kids like to work it, too, with supervision. Once we're finished with the apples we need for whatever we're making, the boys love making "apple slinkies" for themselves to eat! You can find this handy gadget here.
A thoughtful parenting book: I just recently picked up the newest edition of the bestselling book Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers by Gordon Neufeld, PhD and Gabor Mate, MD, after it was highly recommended by several friends (one of whom works with children and families as a therapist.) The book discusses the problems created by the phenomenon of young people looking to their peers for direction rather than to their parents, and offers suggestions to help families restore intuitive attachments so that their children can mature in emotionally healthy ways. The updated version of the book also contains guidelines for managing the effects of social media and video game culture. As the parent of an almost-teenager, I think this book will offer me great insights and advice.
A frightfully fun Hallowe'en decoration: Last weekend when my aunt and her family came to visit for Thanksgiving, she brought us this great little mummy lantern that she had crafted out of a mason jar, some gauze, some glue, and a couple of googly eyes. She added a little battery operated tea light inside to create a perfect illuminated Hallowe'en decoration, one that's just right for my tastes (fun and not too creepy!) We're all enjoying the glow this mummy lantern gives off in the evenings, and we're looking forward to greeting trick-or-treaters with it on the 31st. With a few supplies, you can easily make your own mummy lanterns, too!
A perfect pumpkin breakfast idea: Didn't get enough pumpkin pie last weekend, and find yourself wishing you could have a taste of it again? Why not try making some pumpkin pie oatmeal for breakfast? Prepare the oats according to the package directions, then stir in a big spoonful of pumpkin puree, some raisins and chopped nuts, a little maple syrup, a sprinkling of cinnamon and ginger, and a splash of almond milk. I love the delicious fall flavour of this warm, hearty bowl of goodness in the morning!
A healthy hand sanitizer: We like to take extra good care of ourselves in the fall and winter seasons to protect our family from catching the colds and flus that are going around. In addition to eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise, and taking probiotics, vitamin D, and fish oils, we all carry a little bottle of hand sanitizer with us for those times when it's difficult to practise good hand washing habits. I discovered an all-natural hand sanitizer made by Clean Well a couple of years ago that I really love. Made from thyme oil, it's free of alcohol and harsh chemicals, is non-stinging, and is safe for children. It comes in an easy-to-use spray dispenser, and the natural orange vanilla scented version is especially nice! You can find this product here, or in health food stores.
An amusing music video: The boys had been trying for a week to get me to watch some wacky You Tube video about a fox that they couldn't stop talking about. I finally caved after witnessing Will belting out the song at the top of his lungs and waving his arms around in a wild fashion, wearing only his pyjama bottoms, while he was supposed to be brushing his teeth. While I've often just rolled my eyes at the silly stuff the boys show me on You Tube, I have to say that this one really made me laugh. Chances are that if you have school-aged children at home, you've already seen this yourself, but if you haven't, it's worth a look and a chuckle.