Friday, December 31, 2010

Hopping into the New Year

In my de-cluttering phase this week I came across an old page of a notebook where Hubby and I wrote down our 2010 New Years Resolutions. I distinctly remember writing out our lists together on the couch last year in hopes that we would more likely achieve them. Looking at it now, we were both surprised with how well we did, although there are a few things that we still need to work on. This gives me hope that I can take on bigger and better things for 2011.

2011 marks the Year of the Rabbit (or Hare). I'm excited about what I have read about the year of the rabbit so far. A rabbit is a lucky sign. According to Chinese traditions, the rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves. We are urged to focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and relationships with women and children. A goal to set is to create a safe and peaceful lifestyle.

I have a long list of resolutions and a lot of these are in line with these traditions. Here are some of the highlights (in no particular order).

  • Continue going green. This includes switching over all plastic containers and Tupperware in the kitchen to glass and become plastic free in the kitchen - something I've been planning to do for some time now. I also plan to swap household cleaners and soaps to Eco-friendly ones. I'm currently using Nature Clean all purpose lotion for most cleaning around the house including hand washing the dishes.

  • Schedule my gym workouts during my lunch breaks again. I was more active when I was 9 months pregnant than I am now. I've been finding excuses not to go to the gym and it's really sad. Plus, paying for a gym membership and not using it is pretty silly, isn't it? I used to have a membership to the gym that was inside my work building...but switched to the big chain while on maternity leave. Now, I will have to walk or drive to the gym near my work...but it will be worth it.

  • Dive into my dream to start my own business. I have my ideas written down and scattered around the house, but I need to gather my thoughts and get started on some more in-depth research and a business plan. I am so excited for this and my meetings scheduled in the new year with my similar minded blogging friend :)

  • Commit to even healthier eating as a family. This will include assisting Hubby in getting to the bottom of his stomach issues through a couple of elimination diet trials (including wheat and dairy). I am also researching local organic farmers to purchase our meats from (let me know if you have any recommendations) and I will be taking a gradual approach to going organic especially with fresh produce. I have already been incorporating vegetarian meals at least once weekly and we already eat naturally due to little E's food allergies.

  • Commit to volunteering for one organization I am passionate about, long-term. I've already put a few calls out :)

  • Keep up with my list short term and long term goals. I started a 101 things to do in 1001 days list last October and just recently reviewed it. I need to complete my list - because I originally only came up with 62 items. A year has gone by and I've checked 16 items off the list. Not bad - but I need to pick it up a notch. My list is broken down into 5 different categories: Recreation and Pleasure, Travel, Financial, Career and Education, Public Service and Community, and Attitude. Some examples of items under these categories are taking little E to the Toronto Zoo, visiting my sister out west, building our savings to purchase our first home, entrepreneurship, and volunteering.

  • Along with these there are many little personal things I don't want to bore you with, like to stop nagging Hubby and continue to learn not to stress over the little things.
I'm excited for 2011. I have already made an effort to get my resolutions rolling, but they will obviously be gradually implemented throughout the year. Slow and steady wins the race - so I will be more tortoise than hare in this case!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Xmas 12

Okay, so I'm 4 days late...but I did do it!

I read about an hourly Christmas photo project that Andrea over at a peek inside of the fishbowl created and I decided to play along. I am by no means a photographer and actually feel like throwing my camera against the wall half of the time because I can't figure out the flash and the settings, but I stayed true to a picture every hour on the hour. Part of the reason why I wanted to play along was because last year, little E's first Christmas, I got hardly any pictures. Not this year! You can read more about the project on Andrea's blog, but the gist of it is:

The idea is to take one photo every hour, on the hour, for the whole
day. Christmas = chaos, so don’t worry about precision. We can only do our best!

My Xmas 12:

8:00am - Heading downstairs to see what Santa left us.

9:00am - Checking out his new books

10:00am - Watching a new Baby Einstein video

11:00am - First time on skates

12:00 noon - More gift opening and reading before nap time.
1:00pm - Baking some more holiday cookies
2:00pm - Packing up for our trip out of town on Boxing Day

3:00pm - Some last minute wrapping

4:00pm - Waiting for some afternoon snacks to fall

5:00pm - Dinner at Great-Nanny's

6:00pm - Admiring Great-Nanny's decorations

7:00pm - Testing out the new wheels
8:00pm - One last look at Great-Nanny's beautiful tree before heading home to bed

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Holidays

We had a great time with family and friends this week and it's hard to believe it's all over now. A lot has happened and these holidays have seemed to zoom by.

Boxing Day morning we always head back to our old hometown for a hockey tournament that Hubby plays in every year. It always becomes a Christmas party re-union for all our friends from high school and it's nice catching up with everyone. We were especially celebrating our best friends recent engagement that night and looking forward to their nuptials within the next year - potentially in Las Vegas! I now have bridal showers and bachelorette parties and everything else that comes along with being honoured as a Matron of Honour on my mind!

Since we got back late Monday afternoon I've been sitting on the couch unwinding. You may have noticed that I didn't post a Dinner Diary for this week...I'm taking advantage of my last week of holidays and just relaxing and flying by the seat of my pants (and my pants are getting tight lately - damn holidays). We've treated ourselves out to dinner and the rest of the week we will be eating a smorgasbord of leftovers and odds and ends.

I am so happy to be off work for a couple weeks. I needed the break really badly. I was starting to feel really unmotivated and was slacking big time even though I was extremely busy. I needed a breather and I'm trying to do as much breathing as possible during this holiday break.

But, I'm not usually one to sit around and waste precious time. There is so much I need to do and I can only sit on the couch and watch so many The Sing Off marathon episodes (which I just discovered - the amazing talent gives be goosebumps - and I'm not talking about Nick Lachey's). So, today I made a list of things that I have procrastinated on. Organizing our bills and paperwork files, de-cluttering and plain ol' chucking stuff and donating clothing and household goods are some that I will be checking off the list before heading back to work next Tuesday.

I put all the Christmas decorations away today and like every year, I have the itch to reorganize the living room and dining room area once I see the empty space where the tree once was. Who am I kidding, I get this itch every couple of months. This comes at a perfect time, because for the last couple months I have been planning a huge redecorating project. I have got a lot of the items together, but first we need to paint. When we moved into this place three years ago, it was freshly painted - beige. I didn't have the energy after we moved to paint. I'm going insane living in a plain beige house. I need a little colour in my life! Not that we are getting crazy or anything with our planned browns and greys. Hubby has a friend with a painting side business and so we've contracted him for the job. This is a huge project I'm just not interested in doing myself like I've always done in the past. Hopefully we can get the paint on the walls within the next couple of weeks and I can get started with my decorating over haul.

I have big ideas on a small budget. A lot of my decor have been DIY projects including treasures I have found at thrift shops and consignments stores and some items are from my family's farm. I've been drooling over items on Etsy and have fallen in love with rustic/shabby chic/vintage art and decor and I'm trying to bring a little of this into my kitchen and dining room. Our bathroom linens and accessories were wedding gifts five years ago and are no longer my favourite colours or styles. Our living room will be a gradual project with Hubby's dreams of a flat screen TV, which will also require a new tv stand. For now, I am updating picture frames with more recent family photos and wall decor.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A tradition to hold on to

I am so happy I found the 25 Days of Christmas and that I was able to pull it together this year. We've created a new tradition in our house that we will cherish for years.

Although, we fell off the wagon a couple times in these last days due to busy work schedules and some much needed shopping time, I'm really happy with how things worked out. I already provided an update on our first 13 days, so here is an update of days 14-23.

14. Mail our Christmas cards. This didn't really involve the family as a whole because I ended up doing it on my own, but I'm happy that I scheduled myself in some time so I could get the job done this year.

15. Curl up with blankets and read Christmas stories before bed. Little E and Hubby enjoyed this one together with some books that we got at the library. It's amazing how exciting a kid gets when you throw blankets on the floor. I enjoyed a evening out (and a Milestones Bellini) with some friends that were in town.

16. We were supposed to get our baking done, but instead scheduled in a trip to Michaels for some Christmas shopping.

17. I ended up doing more Christmas shopping and cleared out our closets to donate some old clothing to donate.

18. Go crazy carpeting. I picked up a twister (saucer) and we had an awesome time going down the hill at the park. I think I had more fun than little E, especially running back up the hill time and time again once little E was no longer interested. Hubby was happy to give me a strong push down the hill and see me hopelessly flip off. Even the dog got a ride on the twister! That afternoon I got my baking done for my cookie swap, which I completely left to the last minute. However, the Flourless Chocolate Snow Mountains turned out great. And, I think I've gained 10 pounds from all eating nearly every cookie I received in the swap.

19. Visit my family for Christmas. We had a great visit and little E loved playing with his cousins and seeing Grandma and Grandpa. He was completely pooped at the end of the day and slept the whole way home. He was a little over-stimulated by all presents and the craziness from a house of 24 people and so we were up all night with a cranky over-tired little man. Sigh.

20. Little E and I made an ornament for his day care provider (check it out here).
21. Little E did some green and red finger paintings that are proudly displayed on our fridge.
22. We visited little E's Grandpa (Hubby's Dad) at work. Grandpa drives a Zamboni and little E was thrilled to see him in action. Although, we didn't go public skating, we visited the arena and checked out the stands and the ice - a perfect little field trip for our hockey crazed son.
23. Picture with Santa. Hubby and I were talking strategies in the line-up. How are earth were we going to get our shy 20 month old to sit on this weird looking man's lap? We chatted with Santa and he said Ho! Ho! Ho!, but little E was gripping onto my arm. The elves told me that the best strategy was to walk backwards so he couldn't see Santa then plop him on his lap and dart out of the camera's way. Well - it was worth a try. Not really sure why we would pay for these pictures - suckers - but they are pretty funny. I'm starting to re-think this tradition - it's kind of sad giving your child to a stranger and walking away. I feel more awful the more I think about it. I hope I didn't scar him for life.
I don't have access to a scanner, but I took some pictures of the pictures - I just had to share. Brace yourself.
Not impressed.
Pretty sad, right? Wait, it gets worse...

Poor kid. I actually feel really bad.

I liked last year's Santa much better. He had a real beard and wasn't busy talking on his blackberry when we approached him.

What a perfect little angel (that had no idea what was going on).

Oh well, some funny pictures to share with family and friends and to show the grandkids some day :)

There are a few things that we didn't get around to that I originally had on our 25 Days of Christmas list, but hopefully we still have time to do some before I go back to work in the new year.

I can't wait to see little E's reactions to his gifts Christmas morning and I'm looking forward to the next couple days with Hubby's family and building on our new tradition.

Happy Holidays!

Our Teasure Hunt: X marks the spot

This is post 3 of 3 about our child care search. The last step on a treasure hunt is finding your treasure after carefully following the map, gathering your tools and following the clues and your gut!

We had booked a meeting one evening to sit down with Mrs. X. It was the first time Hubby met her and he loved her and especially hit it off with her similar sports-minded husband. We left with phone numbers for two other mothers that sent their children to her house to make reference checks.

When I made the calls, the other mother's confirmed what I believed to be true. They offered cute little stories (like the children comparing mom's cooking with Mrs. X's) and had nothing but kind words to say. (I have to laugh at myself now because I often chat with these mother's during drop-off's and pick-up's. Did they think I was crazy with all my questions back then? Oh well, better safe than sorry!)

We are truly blessed. Mrs. X is an amazing cook and I'm often treated with freshly baked cookies or bread at the end of the day. Yes, cookies and bread! Oh, Mrs. X, you had me at hello! She makes all kinds of amazing meals from scratch. The day I visited her for the interview the kids had just ate a chicken dish with rice pilaf and broccoli. YUM! She feeds them a hot breakfast which is a huge time saver for me in the morning, lots of healthy snacks and a hot lunch just in case Mom and Dad don't have time for a big meal in the evenings. Amazing, right? She is extremely accommodating with little E's food allergies and shares my passion for organic and natural foods. It's not really all about the food though. She takes them to the park a lot. She reads a lot of books. They do not watch TV. I could go on and on...but need I say more?

The most important thing for me was finding someone who had the same values and not settle for anything less. I followed my gut. This was the best piece of advice I received. If you sense anything wrong or weird at all - don't take the chance. If there was anything I was unsure of or found questioning I would not have sent my son there. Like many other mothers, I've heard horror stories about child care providers and I even have a friend who went through one herself. She admits now that she didn't trust her gut feelings.

I have a couple of friends currently starting their day care search and I wish them the best and I hope that they can find someone that they are as comfortable and happy with. If only everyone could have a Mrs. X.

Even though my son can't quite tell me what he did for the day or tell me if anything is wrong - I can tell he is happy. Mrs. X gladly gives me a run down everyday of what he ate, what activities he did and even silly stories or words he learned. She values that connection with the parents too.

Little E loves going to day care and I am especially thankful for that. It makes be feel less guilty for leaving him. Of course we had the usual dramatic transition phase (which requires a whole new post), but now he puts up a fight when I pick him up because he wants to stay and play!

He is so comfortable with Mrs. X and I love seeing him nuzzle into her or hold her leg while we're talking. He's taken a particular liking to Mrs. X's son, who is 9 and idolizes him like a big brother. He doesn't stop talking about him when he gets home (and when I say talking, I mean repeating his name over and over). If Mrs. X's Husband is home in the morning, he will usually climb up onto his lap and read the paper (especially the sports section) with him. It's amazing how he has become one of their family members.

Mrs. X gives cute little nicknames to each of her day care children - one is named "cookie", another "munchkin" - but our little E, he is her "treasure".

In the card I gave her along with her Christmas gifts I told her that she is OUR treasure. The card was attached to a small ornament that little E and I made for her. I hope that she will treasure this ornament forever.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Treasure Hunt: Clues & Instincts

This is post 2 of 3 about our child care search. The second step in a treasure hunt is to follow the clues and your gut.

Our first of three interviews was with Mrs. X. She lived a 10 minute walk from our house and little E and I popped in for a visit one afternoon during the children's quiet time. She showed us around the house and back yard. She went through daily routines and we had a lovely chat about our families and our similar passions. What I loved the most about Mrs. X was her amazing smile and you could tell that she loved her job. You could also tell the children adored her and she was already so loving and attentive to my little man.

I told her that I was meeting with two others and that I would make a decision quickly. She was confident that my son would be a great fit and agreed to keep the spot on hold for me. Coming out of that interview I was so uncertain if should continue with the others. She was so amazing...could there be anyone better? I discussed the meeting with Hubby and we agreed that I should follow through with my original plans to interview all three, just to be safe.

The second interview was horrible. My initial phone call with her was so deceiving. As soon as I sat down on her couch I wanted to leave. I just kept saying to myself, there is no way I'm leaving my child with this women. Her responses to my questions, her meal plans, her discipline tactics - everything was almost completely opposite from what I wanted and I couldn't help but compare her to my first experience. I don't even think she acknowledged that my son was in the room.

My third interview was over the phone. It was short and sweet, but I just couldn't get past the fact that my first interview was above and beyond this one too.

I gathered my notes from each interview and Hubby and I sat down together and discussed. It was unanimous. Provider #1, Mrs. X, was the leader and had both of our votes. Had we found our treasure?

Before we made our final decision I called to set up a second interview in the evening so Hubby could meet her too. For this meeting I had compiled a new set of questions including suggestions for a transition phase, fees and payment schedules, and last but not least a list of references.

I said I was taking this seriously, right?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Treasure Hunt: Map & Tools

This is post 1 of 3 about our child care search. The first step on a treasure hunt is to draw a map and gather tools.

Today's post is another blast from the past. I'm remembering back to our search for day care for my return to work 8 months ago. It was around this time last year that it started to set in that I was returning to work and that I needed to get searching.

When beginning our hunt for a day care provider, what I was really looking for was a second home for my child. Hubby and I felt that a home day care was the best option for our family. We liked the idea of little E being cuddled and loved and given the utmost attention in a home setting - just the way Mommy did for his first 12 months. I also wanted someone who shared the same passions and values as me. Active living, healthy eating, importance of reading and educational games and toys - just to name a few. That was ALL they needed to fit the bill. Easy right?

When little E was 9 months old I started my search. I was constantly being asked if I had day care set up and it wasn't something I wanted to think about during the holidays. The busy Christmas season was now over and a new year had started.

There was a buzz about playgroups. Mom's were swapping day care providers contact details and sharing their interview stories. Some great, some horrible. There were many of us searching for the same time frames and in the same neighbourhood. It almost felt like a rat race!

I went to a workshop called Child Care Options at the Ontario Early Years Centre. I learned about the child care system and regulations, but most importantly I learned not to worry about finding a day care. For some reason mother's in Ottawa believe that they have to register their children in day care as soon as they are born. There is a myth that suggests that there just isn't any space. Wrong! There is tons of child care out there - you just need to find it. I was not confident that I would receive a call from the Centralized Waiting List (and I never did) after hearing of so many unsuccessful stories and it was suggested that I take matters into my own hands. And that is what I did.

I contacted the Child Care Providers Resource Network (CCPRN). At the time, I emailed them and they sent excel spreadsheets listing all the home child cares in my area and surrounding areas. It was important for us to find one close to home (some find it more convenient to have one near their workplace). Note: Now, their service is much more user friendly and within a few clicks on their website you can bring up a list according to your postal code. The CCPRN did not keep tabs of who had spaces available or any specific details so I began going down the list and calling each one with a first draft of quick questions.

Question #1 - Do you have space available for a 12 month old?
If they answered no, I moved to the next one on the list.

Question #2 - Can you tell me a bit about your day care? I was looking for an idea of their typical day including schedules and priorities and also got an idea of their personality on the phone. If I liked what I heard then I asked them to set up a meeting and to visit their day care. If I didn't like what I heard I thanked them for their time.

My initial cold calls were quick and to the point. There was no messing around here. Of the approximately 25 providers on my lists, 7 had available spots and I narrowed it down to a top 3 that I wanted to interview.

I used this checklist on CCPRN's website as a starting point to draft my interview questions. With that, Hubby and I compiled a list of questions that were important to us including healthy and safety, routines and activities, and discipline. I was calm and cool and took my interviews very seriously. I had constructed interviews in my career many times before - but I knew this would be much tougher. Whomever we chose was to care for our most prized possession.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dinner Diaries - Week of Dec 20

We had a very eventful weekend and I'm finally getting time to sit down and write this out. Here is what is on the menu this week:

Monday - Roasted chicken, potato wedges and peas
Tuesday - Beef stir fry with carrots, baby corn, broccoli and brown rice
Wednesday - Butternut Squash Soup, whole wheat buns
Thursday - Salmon loaf and pasta salad
Friday - Stuffed peppers with ground beef, tomatoes and orzo pasta

Thursday's salmon loaf is an extremely easy dish that my Mom used to make and that I have been making on my own since I left home for college. I'm glad little E loves it too, because I rarely make it when Hubby is around. He's not a salmon lover. Here is the recipe.

Salmon Loaf

2 cups toasted bread crumbs (4 slices)
2 cans of salmon
1 small onion
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tbsp flour
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tbsp green pickle, chopped (optional)
1 cup milk

Grease 1 1/2 quart casserole with butter. Place bread crumbs on bottom. Remove oil, skin and bones from salmon (or buy boneless, skinless) and flake with fork. Place salmon on top of bread. Soften butter in a sauce pan. Add onion and stir gently until cooked for a few minutes. Add salt, pepper and flour and let bubble. Add milk and cook until smooth. Add celery and pickles and pour over salmon. Bake at 375 for 30 min.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Cookie Swap

My dinner club girlfriends are meeting up this weekend for our annual Christmas dinner. For this dinner, one of my friends organized a cookie swap (with tips from Martha Stewart). 

The easy steps are:
1. Pick a cookie recipe
2. Make a dozen for each person, yourself and extra to share at the swap.
3. Print or write your recipe for everyone to have
4. Bring your own tins, cardboard boxes, or sturdy plates to hold your cookies.

5. Attend, taste and swap

I’ll be making Flourless Chocolate Snow Mountain cookies, a recipe I found in my Chatelaine magazine.  I need to make 8 dozen of them. Wow, I have my work cut out for me tomorrow.  Here is the recipe, if you are interested in giving it a try.

Flourless Chocolate Snow Mountains

1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
112 g dark chocolate, about 4 squares, chopped, melted and cooled
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup icing sugar

Whisk almonds with cocoa, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter with brown sugar in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy, about 3 min. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in cooled chocolate. Fold in almond mixture until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until dough is firm enough to roll, about 10 min. Position oven racks in top and bottom thirds of oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated and icing sugars in 2 separate small bowls. Scoop dough and roll into tbsp-sized balls. Coat with granulated sugar, then icing sugar. Place on prepared sheets 1 in. apart. Bake in top and bottom thirds of oven, switching and rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies crack, 12 to 14 min. Remove sheets to a rack and leave for 2 min. Cookies will look undercooked but will continue to bake as they sit. Remove to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.

Hopefully they look this good :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

No Potty

Ok, so I was clearly jumping the gun with the potty training talk. Little E isn't quite ready, but he has remained interested. He continues to sit on his potty when Mommy and Daddy are in the bathroom and he comes running to me and grabs his diaper to tell me he's doing a "poo poo". The only thing is when I ask him if he wants to go on his potty - he screams NO and runs away. Oh well, he's still really young and I won't get too caught up in this yet. We'll take it slow.

I've been finding random potty books at the library and he loves them. Potty makes him laugh out loud. It's pretty funny and fun to read. I Go Potty! was a cute one too.

Little E loves reading books, so I thought he might get used to the idea the more we read about it. Any suggestions out there for potty training or themed books that your children liked?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Guest Posting today!

I'm really excited to share a post I wrote about taking little E to Gotta Paint to create some unique and treasured Christmas gifts. You won't find the post here - it's over at Kids in the Capital.

Kids in the Capital is an amazing resource for Ottawa parents and they inspired me to start my own blog. Hop on over and check out today's post!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We're halfway there!

We've been having a lot of fun with our 25 Days of Christmas. Here is an update of our first 13 days.

1. Wrote little E’s letter to Santa. In the letter we told Santa about our new family tradition and we've already received a personalized letter back! Little E loved our walk down the street to put the letter in the mailbox, but was more interested in stomping in each one of the puddles on the way there and back.

2. I hung our banner of cards on the living room wall the night before and when little E saw it this morning he said “WHOA!” Best reaction ever! That evening we went to the Illumination Ceremony at Parliament Hill and although we couldn't make it in time for the big lighting, we still loved seeing all of the lights and listening to the Christmas music over the loud speakers.

3. Hubby and little E had a dance party to Christmas music while I was out for my work Christmas Party. Hubby took the cutest video on his phone of little E's dance moves - which mostly involves running around in circles.

4. Attended the Manotick Santa Parade. It was freezing, but the parade went by really quickly. That's what I love about small town parades. Little E got a balloon and a mini hockey stick so he was thrilled. And according to him, every man driving a tractor in the parade was Grandpa.

5. Decorated the house and the tree - strategically placing all breakable ornaments at the top of the tree. So far only one Christmas ball has been taken off the tree and chucked across the room like a baseball and only one has been chopped at like a pinata with a hockey stick. 2 down.

6. Made shortbread cookies in the shapes of Christmas trees and snowflakes. I made the dough, little E spread the flour (everywhere) and Hubby rolled out the dough. It was a fun little activity for us to do together.

7. Made paper snowflakes and decorated the window. Little E pulls the curtains back everyday to look at them.

8. Watched a Christmas movie – Elf with Will Farrell (little E only saw the opening scenes and then it was bed time for him). I love this movie.

9. Watch a Christmas TV show – Thomas the Train's Tricky Tree (thanks to Rogers on Demand). Unfortunately, all the classic shows are after little E’s bed time. Hopefully we can find one on the weekend. Other than watching his Baby Einstein videos every once and a while and sports highlights with Hubby, he isn't exposed to much TV. But now, he is asking me again and again for the train movie...uh oh, what have I done?

10. Drove around (instead of walking because we didn't have time before gymnastics) to see lights on the houses in the neighbourhood. Little E especially loved the blue ones and was very enthusiastic with his "whoa's" and "wow's" in the back seat.

11. Painted some Christmas gifts at Gotta Paint. I'm still getting used to the fact that toddlers can be totally involved in an activity and then the suddenly refuse it. We got enough painting in before he started his "no, no, no's" though.

12. Had fun playing in the snow/freezing rain. Made a snowflake ornament out of popsicle sticks and little cotton balls and hung it on our tree.

13. Made a gingerbread house. I was going to attempt to go all Martha Stewart and make one from scratch but I caved and got a Wilson's boxed kit (FYI- They are on sale at Michaels for $7.99 right now). This was the funniest activity yet because neither Hubby nor I really cared how it ended up and just had fun with it. So it basically looks like a old broken down house with a bunch of candy thrown on top. That's what you get when you let a 19 month old take charge. Little E is very proud of his house.

I can't believe 13 days have already passed. Much more fun to be had!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dinner Diaries - Week of Dec 13

It's going to be another busy week in our household as we try to get ready for this weekend's Christmas celebrations. I have two dinner's to make dishes for and one cookie exchange to prepare seven dozen cookies for and a lot of shopping and a dinner date in between. Thank goodness Friday is my last day of work before the holidays.

A couple of crockpot meals this week will hopefully help buy some time :)

Monday - Creamy coconut shrimp, brown rice and steamed cauliflower
Tuesday - Vegetarian crockpot chili (leftovers from the weekend)
Wednesday - Pork chops, roasted sweet potatoes and steamed beets
Thursday - Pasta with meatballs
Friday - Chicken stew with potatoes, peas and carrots

I thought I would start sharing a few recipes along the way on these posts too. Last week, I made a Shepherd's Pie. I love this classic dish and it is one of my favourite go-to comfort meals. I especially like finding new ways to add to it. Here is a simple recipe and my own Tex Mex style follows.

Shepherd's Pie

4-5 large white potatoes
1 lb ground beef
2-3 cups vegetables (peas and carrots are my favourite).
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp Woschestershire sauce (I have to omit this due to soy ingredients)
½ cup Beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown ground beef, adding in chopped onion and minced garlic. Steam vegetables until tender. Boil potatoes and mash. Layer a casserole dish with meat, vegetables and potatoes on top. Cook in oven at 400 for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling.

You can substitute sweet potatoes for the white and for extra flavor add some garlic. Lean ground turkey is a nice substitute for ground beef or to go vegetarian you could use lentils. I love peas and carrots in my shepherd’s pie, but you can use any vegetable really.

A friend of mine gave me inspiration to make a Tex Mex version when she mentioned that she added a packet of taco seasoning mix to her meat. Here are some changes I made to the original recipe to make my own Tex Mex Shepherd's Pie.

In the meat sauce I added 1 cup of salsa, 2 tbsp of chili powder, 2 tbsp of chopped cilantro and ½ cup of black beans (left over from the previous week’s black bean and quinoa salad). I used corn instead of peas and carrots and added a layer of shredded cheese on top (Daiya cheese for our family). It was delish! Hubby and little E both gobbled it up…even though the black beans intimidated them a bit.

Do you have any other fun ways to change up this simple dish?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Small stuff and little things

As soon as little E was able to focus we noticed his amazing attention to detail. As an infant he would gaze at a candle in the corner of the room or a tiny detail in a picture on the wall. While I found most babies would be interested in studying stranger's faces he would spot a necklace or earring they were wearing and fixate on it.

Like most babies, he was always fascinated with lights and when teaching him baby sign language this was the first sign he leanred. When entering a room he would spot the light and immediately reach his hand up and motion the sign. I soon found baby sign language to be perfect for him to communicate all the surroundings he was taking in.

While reading stories he points and announces the smallest details. Where some children might look at the big picture on the page like an owl in a night time scene he will notice far off in the distance behind the owl and the tree - a little moon in the sky. Hubby and I now find ourselves searching for those little things to join in the fun or try to beat him to the punch.

It was already dark (ugh) when I picked him up from day care last week and he was yelling, "pane! pane!" from the backseat. When we got out of the car he pointed to a tiny flashing light in the sky and a barely there silhouette of a plane. I had to double-take to see it.

This past weekend when we were driving in the car on the way to do some Christmas Shopping, he was yelling, "ducky! ducky!". A couple blocks later and as he got more and more frustrated that I couldn't see the duck and my patience was wearing thin from hearing the word ducky over and over again...I finally noticed that the truck we were driving behind had a small Ducks Unlimited sticker on it's back window. Okay, seriously, how did he see that from the back seat?

He just amazes me. I love his little quirky attention for details and ability to point out the smallest things. Seeing him light up when we let him know that we see these things too is priceless. Not only in raising him have I learned not to sweat the small stuff but he has taught me that it's the little things in life that count too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Isn't it funny how you just get used to a routine with your child and then something changes and suddenly you are back to square one?

I was discussing this with a friend of mine recently. Her exact word to describe this very instant was, "WHAMMO!"

I remember when little E was really small and sleeping through the night at an early age. And then WHAMMO!, he was suddenly waking up every two hours to nurse. Okay, a growth spurt, I can handle this.

Then a few months later and and he was sleeping through the night again and WHAMMO! he was waking up screaming. Okay, teething, I can handle this.

Then there was the many episodes of waking up screaming with tummy cramps from dairy and soy products and countless other I have no idea why he keeps waking up nights.

Or what about when you just get used to a daily nap routine by the time they are old enough to start resisting and dropping a nap? Or when you just get used to nursing them outside of your house and they develop a need to constantly look around at their surroundings and won't nurse because they are too distracted!

These days, meals that little E once loved and devoured are being pushed aside - just when I started incorporating them into my weekly meal plans. And my once compliant little angel who didn't know any better is starting to push his boundaries and is saying NO way more than I am comfortable with.

My little man has always kept me on my toes and my advice to friends is to get used to it! It never ends. So put on your mommy catcher's glove because no matter how old your child is they will continue to throw these WHAMMO! curve balls at you.

I don't even want to begin to think about the teenage years.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What you see isn't what you get

My Mom saved almost everything in the chance she could use it again. With a large family she learned to be very frugal. Clothes and toys were boxed up and passed down the line of children. Gift bags and boxes were reused again and again for birthdays, showers and especially Christmas.

In my large family, we do a Secret Santa draw and boxes are a key element, especially if you want to throw a curious family member off by the gift size and shape. Chances were growing up that I could get a barbie doll packaged in a box originally for men's work boots or a brother would get tools boxed in a fancy ladies perfume box. We learned at a young age not to judge a book by its cover - you've got to dig deeper! It especially makes for a good laugh when new members join the family. The look of confusion on their face is priceless when they tear the wrapping paper off the box. And as they are trying to muster up a fake thank you we tell them "its the family way", and to keep digging. What you see isn't what you get.

I have shoe and toy boxes sitting in my closet to wrap this years gifts in. I guess I've kind of inherited this frugal gift (pardon the pun) from my Mom. Besides, I'm saving a few bucks here and there because most stores are charging for boxes just like they do for bags these days. And I like to think that I am being environmental friendly.

Will you be reducing waste and/or finding ways to go green this Christmas? If you are considering reusing your boxes this year, I can assure you that it makes for a great conversation piece!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Looking fear in the face

I have birth on the brain.

A friend of mine gave birth to a beautiful little angel this weekend and it's bringing back all kinds of amazing memories and I'm finding myself reminiscing about my son's birth story.

When people asked me near the end of my pregnancy if I was scared or nervous of birth, I said NO. They thought I was crazy. I had done the reading and had gone through the labour process so many times in my head that I was completely comfortable and at peace with the thought of it. Yes, I was naive in the way that I had not experienced it yet - but I trusted myself.

When people asked me if I was going to get an epidural, I said NO. Again, they thought I was crazy. To give peace of mind I told them that I was going to try my best to give birth naturally, but was open to medical interventions if needed. I didn't want to go in with blinders on and get totally thrown off course. I wanted to keep my options open and found comfort in birthing naturally in a hospital where medical interventions were easily accessible.

Why is it that one of the first questions that comesout of someones mouth when talking labour is, "Are you nervous?" Why is there so much fear surrounding this completely natural course of life?

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

I was the only one in the hospital attempting to go natural the day my son was born.  My designated nurse told me I was all rave at the nurses station and there was a constant flow of nurses coming into my room. My nurse told me that everyone was hearing that a women at the end of the hall was birthing naturally. Really? Is it that uncommon these days? I couldn't believe it, but I was darn proud and I'm sure it helped motivate me to continue with my plans.

One of the ways I prepared myself was reading and gathering information about labour and delivery. I am an information junkie in a way that when I am faced with something new I read and read and read my little heart out to familiarize myself and find comfort in the situation. I think I took out every book from the library on birth. I had the late fees to prove it.

One of the books that influenced me the most was Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan. Although, it is intended to go hand in hand with a Hypnobirthing class I learned a lot of valuable pain relieving methods from the Hypnobirthing technique.  Although, I did not practice Hypnobirthing in it's entirety. Reading the reviews for this book makes me laugh. Either people hate it or love it. There is one story in particular that will forever stick in my mind. Is was of how African women work around their hut while going through contractions and when ready to push they squat against a tree or hut and the baby is born. As simple as that. Some people hated this statement but, I loved it. It brings us back to reality.

Hubby and I also attended a pre-natal course at the hospital I was registered at. Even though I was pretty confident in my research, I also learned so much more in front of a child birth educator. Hubby learned a lot of fun things too - like some of the icky stuff I left out when relaying information from the books to him. I'll never forget walking down the hall during one of the class breaks and he says, "Um, honey - you never mentioned this, well um, mucus plug?" Haha yeah about that - I didn't think he would need to know about that one.

I also wrote down my birth plan - exactly what I wanted and what I needed Hubby to do. There were key words and situations listed for Hubby to remind me of and these were all scrawled on a piece of notebook paper and folded and kept in Hubby's pocket throughout the labour and delivery. I discussed my plan with my nurse and she was very accommodating. Hubby and I had gone through the list many times in the last weeks and I was confident in his support in helping me achieve my desired birth plan. And man did I need his support. As it turned out, he was the best birth partner and cheerleader I could have asked for.

In the end, I was able to achieve my goal and gave birth naturally. I believe that the way I brought my child into this world both shaped me as a person and as a mother. I felt invincible that day. Like Super Women. I looked fear in the face and a strong, courageous and confident mother was born.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dinner Diaries - Week of Dec 6

Oh, how I love Rainbow Foods! I found four new products yesterday and I'm so excited to share my findings! Is it sad that I get so excited over a trip to the health food store?
  1. Soy Free Earth Balance buttery flavour spread. It's dairy free and soy free! I can actually bake with "butter" again instead of using recipes that call for oil. And little E doesn't have to eat dry toast!
  2. Daiya Chedder Style Shreds. Dairy, lactose, casein, gluten and soy free! Oh, the possibilities from now on!
  3. Pacific Foods Organic Almond Vanilla flavoured milk. Soy free! Thanks to a fellow blogger for suggesting this brand. Finally we can switch back to a much tastier milk than the rice milk. All of the other almond milks had soy lecithin in them.
  4. Organ Supergrains Multigrain O's with Quinoa cereal. Gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, yeast, soy, and nut free! A much healthier substitute for Cheerios.
As soon as we got home I slapped some buttery spread on some bread and threw some cheddar style shreds in the middle and made little E his FIRST EVER grilled cheese sandwich! He gobbled it up. I made one for myself too and I could definitely taste the difference, but all in all, not that bad.

So, with that, this week calls for some recipes with cheese:

Monday - BBQ steak and greek pasta salad
Tuesday - Tex Mex Shepherd's Pie (potatoes, ground beef, peas and carrots)
Wednesday - Chicken broccoli casserole - Hubby's favourite
Thursday - Homemade whole wheat pizza
Friday - Tuna Casserole (tuna, brown rice and creamed corn) - a childhood favourite

I also plan to do all kinds of baking this week with my buttery spread - turns out shortbread cookies won't be that hard to make after all.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Little hired hand

On the farm my Dad had a hired hand until my brothers were old enough to take on the bigger responsibilities and operate the heavy machinery. These hired hands were paid and provided with room and board (as if my mom didn't have enough mouths to feed).

My little hired hand is paid in lots of tickles, hugs and kisses.

At little E's 18 month check up I was surprised that one of the nurses questions on her milestones checklist was, "Does he help out around the house?" I was proud to answer "YES" but, I hadn't really thought about it before that.

We have a really good routine going of cleaning up his toys and putting them back in the toy box before bed, putting things in the garbage and putting his dishes in the sink. Yeah, he really does help out!

Months ago he learned to place his sippy cup on the counter or table when he was done with it. He would ask for his water or milk, suck it back with a huge gulp and then gently place it on the counter (or smash it down on the table - depending on his mood) and then carry on. My Hubby's 80 year old grandmother, Nanny, gushes over how polite he is when we visit her. We are so proud.

He is great at picking up garbage or things that have fallen on the floor. When I'm getting meals ready and a sliced vegetable hits the floor its a race between little E and the dog - although the dog has alternative motives.

A couple weeks ago after returning home from the library we sat on the living room floor pulling all the books out of our library bag. When the paper library slip fell out he immediately picked it up, ran to the kitchen and dropped it in the garbage. While I fished it back out to post on the fridge I still had to commend him for being a good little boy.

His favourite way to help mommy is in the laundry room. He steps up on the stool to peek inside while the water is running. Then I prop him up to sit on the side of the washing machine (while my hand grips his ankle for fear of him falling in ) and hand him articles of clothing to drop in. When the machine is full he proudly closes the door with a big smile as if saying "My job here is done."

I'm so proud of my little hired hand but I'm slowly seeing this eagerness to help out diminish. I'm not sure how long it will take him to rebel (I'm assuming the closer we get to the terrible two's) but, all I know is that I'm going to take advantage of it as longs as it lasts and pay out my end of the deal no matter what!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Grandpa Paradise

Last time we went back home little E learned the word Grandpa in the car ride down. He was such a good little boy riding in the backseat pointing to trucks and transports on the road during our 1 1/2 hour long drive. Constantly he would stop and ask, "Grandpa?" and I would explain where we were going and all the things and people he would see. He was clearly excited to go to the farm again.

When we walked in the door to find Grandma and Grandpa happily greeting us I told them that he did not stop talking about Grandpa on the way there. I could see my Dad's eyes light up and he quickly bent down and gave little E a kiss on the cheek and greeted him with the usual, "Hi big boy!". It made me so proud that he knew who his Grandpa was. Living out of town is tough and that is one thing that worried me - that he may play strange to his Grandparents and Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. But this wasn't really the case. He hugged my leg a few minutes but before we knew it he was off running around the house and soon enough was climbing up on Grandpa's knee for a bouncy horsey ride.

It makes me so happy to see my Dad relaxing and enjoying his Grandchildren and even happier to see that little E already idolizes him.

This particular visit he watched Grandpa intently. We watched him working in the barn, driving the tractor and when Grandpa wasn't in sight, little E recited his favourite farm words over and over. Grandpa. Barn. Tractor. Grandpa. Combine. Neigh. Moo. Grandpa. Meow. Hay.

Sept 2010 - Looking for Grandpa

He has been saying Grandpa repeatedly since we returned home. Men sitting in tractors in his farm books and on his Old MacDonald Baby Einstein video are now "Grandpa".

Only a few more weeks til my family Christmas gathering and little E will be in Grandpa Paradise again!

May 2010 - Loves to test out all of Grandpa's tractors

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What I would do differently

I just recently found out that I have another niece or nephew on the way. How exciting for our family! It got me thinking (along with a touch of baby fever), what would I do differently with baby #2? I'm sure a lot of women think of these things, but if only we could control all of them!

I surprised myself with a considerable list so far and I'm sure I will still think of more down the road (when I'm actually planning for #2). Keep in mind that these are not from regrets, just improvements I would like to make after learning so much with my first.
  1. I will get a Midwife. With little E I had an OB, but with no doubt in my mind I will switch to a Midwife next time. I like the idea of going through the pregnancy with 1 or 2 midwives that work together and having them there with you on the day of birth too. With my OB, it was just whoever was on call from the clinic that day. I had a great OB, but the connection and assistance I needed just wasn't there.
  2. I will find out the sex. We kept little E's sex a secret, but we both strongly felt he was going to be a boy. It was important for me to keep it a secret for our first child, but the suspense nearly killed Hubby. I don't know why but I don't think we can do it again!
  3. I will do pre-natal and post-natal yoga. I wanted to with my first pregnancy but didn't get around to it. I was extremely active, running and walking throughout my pregnancy, but wish I had practiced the stretching and breathing techniques of yoga.
  4. I will go to the hospital later (if I can control this). I wanted to wait until the last minute with little E but there were so many things happening that I was unsure of in my early labour including consistent contractions. Next time around I will be more aware of how my body works and I'm sure the Midwife will also help with that. No more walking marathons around hospital halls - I'll do that in the comfort of my own home or neighbourhood next time, thank you!
  5. I will leave the hospital earlier (if I can control this). I felt like I was in jail after being held there for almost 48 hours. I was repeatedly told that I was doing well so there really was no reason why I should have stayed. It also took us what seemed like forever to have little E checked and approved for discharge. I wish I could have been sent home earlier to recover in the comfort of my own home.
  6. I will stick up for myself. Since it was my first birth I was relying on the nurses a lot for guidance. After I gave birth naturally, little E was laid on my chest briefly but then whisked away to be bundled up. I was then cleaned up and transferred to the Mother-Baby Unit. Once I got there, I asked for assistance in breastfeeding, but the nurse assured me that another nurse would be in shortly and once all the paperwork was done. Over two hours later, I was finally nursing little E for the first time. I was frustrated and should have stuck up for myself and demanded assistance to nurse him earlier.
  7. I will accept help. I tried to be too independent and should have let family and friends help when offered (in those first few weeks especially).
  8. I will look more seriously into cloth diapering. I was too intimidated by cloth diapering first time around - but I will definitely be giving it my all next time.
  9. I will purchase a quality baby wrap carrier. I had a Hotslings and Baby Bjorn and they were very handy but I will invest in stretchy wrap like a Moby or Hub a Bub or something similar.
  10. I won't drink milk or eat dairy products when baby is born. That way I can phase them in to my diet to see if they are affecting the baby and not go through all the trouble I discussed with little E in this post and this follow-up post.
  11. I won't try to be perfect. I won't try to do everything by the book. I know now to do what I believe works for me and the best that I can.

Something that I want to be the same is to give birth naturally again. I believe I can, but I understand that it will definitely take more courage and preparation next time. I have forgotten the pain, but not the experience - and I know now what to expect. I felt invincible with little E's birth and although I was well informed and prepared - I was extremely naive because I had not experienced it yet. Experience can be a good thing and a bad thing I have come to realize. My Mom agrees and I think of her as an expert after giving birth 11 times!

Baby #2 isn't in our immediate plans so I have time to ponder and dream about these things. For now, I will just send my best wishes to my brother and partner with their baby #2!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The countdown is on!

Last week I announced our family’s intent to participate in 25 Days of Christmas. Today I am proud to announce that we have completed our list of activities!

I’ve tried to put our activities in order as best as I can foresee for now, keeping in mind we may need to swap them around a little. There will be times that little E and myself will be the only ones doing the activity or when Hubby and little E will be doing them on their own or Hubby and I will be on our own once little E is in bed - but this house is participating no matter what!

Our family's 25 Days of Christmas:

  1. Write and mail little E's letter to Santa and walk down the street to put it in the mailbox.
  2. Attend the Illumination Ceremony on Parliament Hill on Dec 2nd
  3. Have a Christmas music dance party in our living room
  4. Go to a Santa Claus parade. (There are still a couple left in the outskirts of Ottawa on the 4th)
  5. Decorate our tree and house interior
  6. Decorate a gingerbread house
  7. Make paper snowflakes and decorate our windows
  8. Make Christmas cookies and enjoy them fresh out of the oven with a cup of hot chocolate
  9. Make homemade Christmas ornaments for our tree and for gifts
  10. Watch a Christmas movie
  11. Paint some gifts for family and friends at Gotta Paint
  12. Mail out our Christmas cards - this can be fun, right?
  13. Purchase and donate a toy for Toy Mountain
  14. Watch classic Christmas TV shows together (Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown)
  15. Bake Christmas treats for family and friends
  16. Go for a horse drawn carriage ride in the Byward market and listen to the holiday choirs
  17. Walk around the neighbourhood and look at all the beautiful outdoor lights
  18. Get little E's picture taken with Santa
  19. Visit my family on the farm before Christmas
  20. Take little E on a sleigh ride to the park and make a snowman
  21. Go crazy-carpeting down the hill at our local park
  22. Go public skating
  23. Curl up with blankets and read Christmas stories before bed
  24. It's Christmas Eve! Visit my Hubby's Nanny and have appetizers and treats while listening to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley Christmas music
  25. It's Christmas Day! Enjoy the morning with our little family and the afternoon with Hubby’s side of the family

I'm really looking forward to starting this new tradition with our family! Can ya tell?!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dinner Diaries - Week of Nov 29

Home sweet home!

This weekend turned out great. Little E and Hubby had a great weekend and Grandma was able to come over and help out and spend some quality time with her boys too.

My working weekend in Guelph went smoothly and I I forgot what is was like to watch mindless sitcoms while lying in bed, take long uninterrupted showers or to order food at a restaurant without considering others needs. And all that free time to make Christmas lists and catch-up on Google Reader on the train was so therapeutic. It was nice enjoying these guilty simple pleasures but I am very happy to be home.

So considering I ate like a pig this weekend, let's get back on track with a healthy dinner meal plan this week:

Monday - Something on the bbq (steak or burger patties), baked potatoes, garden salad
Tuesday – Quinoa and black bean salad and salmon loaf
Wednesday - Homemade chicken fingers and roasted fall vegetables, whole wheat buns 
Thursday - Chicken Fajitas, homemade guacamole, chicken fried rice with vegetables
Friday – Steak and potato skillet with beans, whole wheat buns

Bon appetit!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Boys weekend

I'm leaving really early this morning for three days for a business trip.

This will be my first time really away and in a different city from little E. Hubby will be on his own for the weekend (with a little help from Grandma when he has work commitments).

I find myself wondering how little E will act without me around. Will he repeatedly go to the front door and pick up my running shoes and walk around the house saying "mommy?" like he does when Grandma babysits? Will he walk around the house pointing out pictures of me like he does of Daddy when he is away? Will he call for me if he wakes in the night or will he know to call for Daddy? Will he ask for me when Daddy both drops him off and picks him up from day care on Friday? I am going to miss him like crazy. It's such an overwhelming feeling to be a mother.

I could have easily turned down this business trip but I figured a weekend a few hours away is do-able. After all, it is important in my position to attend these events. It's the longer overseas trips that I am not too sure about anymore. I've been on a few in the past but just recently have declined a couple that are coming up in 2011. I know my single child-less colleagues are shaking their heads at me...but there is all the more opportunity for them to go now, right?

Even pre-baby I wasn't extremely passionate about these types of trips. They are stressful and a lot of work and are not necessarily part of my job description. They are considered an "opportunity" and I have the right to turn them down and offer the next person in line to go. Now that I have little E, the stress would only be heightened and I can't afford to come back worn out and sick like I have in the past.

This past summer I had a five day work event I had to attend a few hours away. Since I was still nursing, it was important for me to bring little E along. Hubby had planned to come but with bad timing of his work commitments it didn't work out. I ended up bringing my niece to babysit while I was busy which was only a couple hours at a time with breaks in between. It worked out great, but was double the work for me. Even though I am sad to leave little E this time part of me is happy to go on my own.

The fridge is full of meals and snacks that I prepared late last night. The counter holds freshly baked mini-muffins that I baked last night. On the kitchen counter sits a list of "reminders" like foods little E can't eat. In return, I only had one request before leaving - for Hubby to send me regular updates and send me pictures on Blackberry Messenger of all the fun they are having.

I'm sure my boys will be just fine without me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

25 Days of Christmas

Andrea over at a peek inside the fishbowl created and shared an awesome tradition called 25 Days of Christmas and I’m so excited to start this tradition with my family.

Instead of buying a chocolate Christmas advent calendar this year (which would be silly because little E wouldn’t be able to eat the chocolate anyway and thank god because who knows what is in that stuff) I will be making our own version. I picked up some Christmas scrapbook paper at Michaels and will also use some old Christmas cards that I've kept over the years for crafts just like this. Instead of making envelopes to open each day, I’ve decided to use clothes pins to attach the cards (numbered 1-25) across the line to flip over and view our activity for the day. I think we'll hang our banner on our dining room wall.

Some of our activities include making a gingerbread house, making Christmas ornaments, drinking hot chocolate and baking cookies, watching a Christmas movie, writing little E’s letter to Santa, and driving around to see Christmas lights throughout the city. I’m going to use Andrea’s advice and keep a master list of the tasks and plan them out every few days. This is the smartest plan of action for our busy family.

This is just the tradition we needed. Not only will we be creating some fun memories, it will keep us organized during this hectic month – which overall I have been trying to improve. And I just might trick Hubby into loving Christmas again. I’ve told him the plan and he’s all in, but I think I heard him say “bah humbug” under his breath. He’s not a huge Christmas fan but I will show him how fun it is now with our little family and our OWN traditions.

I can’t wait to get started on Dec 1st! Will you be participating in the 25 Days of Christmas?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Yacht

I grew up on an island and this is where we go to visit my family. You have to take a yacht ferry from the mainland to the "rock".

Growing up I saw the boat as a burden and it was so boring for me, but I have come to look at it differently now as little E gets to experience something so adventurous and so out of the ordinary on the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

Last time we were home, we drove down at bedtime on a Friday night. He awoke from his sleep as soon as the car stopped and looked around. "Boat? Water?", he said. I couldn't believe he knew exactly where he was when we got to the dock.

This past weekend we were home visiting family and celebrating my Mom's birthday. On the boat ride we always get out of the car and walk around the ferry and it was no different this weekend. We looked out the back of the boat and waved goodbye to the buildings and cars as we pulled away from the city dock. We walked up to the top level and felt the strong cool breeze and viewed the wind turbines from afar. We sat inside the cabin with our noses pressed against the windows watching the seagulls skim across the water. And we stood at the front of the boat and felt the midst of the waves as they crashed against the boat.

I didn't realize it when I was younger, but it really is an amazing experience living and growing up on an island. Little E just loves the boat and talks about it for days when we return home. Experiencing this in a new light with little E has made waiting for scheduled boats and sitting in long line-ups a little more tolerable these days.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't say anything at all

We were at Hubby's hockey game on Saturday and waiting for him to come out of the dressing room. Little E had already visited Daddy in the room and came out proudly holding a hockey stick. It was so cute watching him struggle with the over-sized stick and he was keeping himself busy trying to shoot a puck around the lobby. My friend and I looked at eachother and thought - what a great photo opportunity! As we both had our heads down searching for the camera application on our Blackberries, little E calls my name.

In comes random man.

"Mommy is busy playing on her phone", he says. Too which I quickly and calmly replied, "Actually, I'm trying to take a picture of him". There are many ways I could have replied, but that's not my nature. Maybe I should have reminded him of something I'm sure his Mother had told him many times when he was younger. "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!"

For what it's worth, here is the only picture I was able to take in my fit of rage. I thought it was a cute moment, but apparently in trying to capture this moment I was a unfit Mother.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dinner Diaries - Week of Nov 22

Short and sweet today! I'm back home visiting family and friends and will have much more to say when I get back.

Monday - Chicken salad wraps
Tuesday - Pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts
Wednesday - Curried lentil and spinach soup
Thursday - Omlettes and potato cakes
Friday and the weekend - TBD (I'll be away so will need to plan out/make some meals in advance for Hubby and little E).

Happy Monday!