Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wild Suburbia

It was an exciting morning here.  Emmett was in our downstairs playroom playing his new Wii game, when he came running up to tell me about a "Big Animal" outside our window.  I asked him what it was, but he couldn't say.  It was Very Exciting, though.  I went down to investigate and came nose to nose with this:


We watched him for quite a while before he noticed us and decided it was time to skedaddle. 
Very Exciting Morning, Indeed.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Crafting Round up

It's Christmas Day.  Ours started out very very early and now we are on to the sugar crash/meltdown part of the day.  I can finally reveal the fruits of my crafting labours to you now that the gifts have been given. (Yes, I have already showed you the truffles in the lower-left corner, but they are good enough to have seconds!)

I am so glad the little clothes fit Charlotte's new dolly and the sushi scarf was well-received by it's recipient.  The tea-wreath in the center of the collage was really fun to make and I think I need one for my own kitchen now!  Charlotte made the gingerbread house.

How are you today?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My year in pictures

This is a Facebook application but I like the results so much I am sharing it with you too!

Now, I must lock myself in my room and finish my gift wrapping.

I wish you, my wonderful, loyal readers all the best in this Holiday Season. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Covering our bases.

Things are starting to look more and more festive around here.


We put our Christmas tree up yesterday.  It is in a vintage playpen which is working quite nicely at keeping it safe from busy little kid fingers.  Please note the lack of breakable heirloom ornaments on the tree this year.

Charlotte brought some ornaments home from school today.  (This picture has nothing to do with the story.  She took it and I like it!)

She brought home a magic key to let Santa Claus into our house on Christmas Eve.
She brought home a sweet angel made out of coffee filters.

She brought home....


a festive Flying Spaghetti Monster??

 I had no idea her school was so progressive!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happiness.....

...is standing over a pot of melted chocolate, chatting while dipping truffles with an old friend. (Coffee with Baileys is perfect on the side.)

....is making shortbread with another good friend the next day.  (Boozy coffee was substituted for a pot of really good tea.)

I hope you get to find delicious moments of happiness during this busy time of year.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Meatloaf Incident.

My super-funny online friend Ami gave me this award.  (Go check her blog out.  She is a hoot.  Say Happy Birthday to her while you are there!)  In order to accept this award I have to talk about my biggest kitchen disaster.  Ami told a tale of woe about a malfunctioning oven taking down a batch of cookies and her favourite baking sheet with it.

I have had my fair share of culinary mishaps, to be sure.  In order to narrow my cooking stories down to the very worst offense, I consulted Richard to find out what he thought my biggest booboo was.  He has been eating my cooking for 14 years now.  There is one meal in particular he still won't let me live down...


We had not been dating very long when I joined Weight Watchers for the first time.  I was a newly-minted nursing school grad who was still carrying around her Freshman 15 (25) so I wanted to get back into shape.  I also wanted to cook my boyfriend's favourite foods.  I thought I could reach a great compromise with a slimmed-down version of one of his favourite meals:  meatloaf.

I found a recipe that substituted chopped vegetables and All-Bran cereal for some of the fatty meat in a traditional recipe.  I made it for dinner one night, and served it up to Richard without telling him how I had altered the recipe. He wolfed it down, as he always does with meatloaf.  He told me it tasted really good.  Later that night I found out what happens when you feed my boyfriend  foods very high in dietary fiber.  Can we just say that this meal had rather, um, disastrous consequences for my poor Sweetie's digestive system??   From that day forward he never quite trusted that dinner would be what I promised it to be.   Every time I have made meatloaf ever since he asks me what I have added to it besides ground meat. I  am pretty sure he still doesn't trust me fully in the kitchen, 10 years after The Meatloaf Incident.

Oh, and since the Internet knows everything, click here if you want to see the evil recipe.  Invite your best frenemy over for dinner and serve them up a heaping plateful!

I am going to pass this award on to my internet friend Rina.  I love reading her blog and seeing all of the delicious things she is cooking up.  There has got to be a juicy story in there somewhere!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Charlotte said what? And, the birth of a Vegetarian.

Yesterday as Charlotte and I walked to school we noticed some spraypaint on the outside of a house.  We then had a talk about how it is Not OK to spraypaint houses.  Charlotte mused that someone would have to clean that up.  "You know, the Guards of Canada."  I asked her to clarify.  "The guards.  The guards who stand for Canada. We guard Canada."

Clearly, Charlotte is paying close attention while they sing the National Anthem at school every morning!  (I wonder when she will learn it in French?  Those are the English words she is quoting there.)

For my American readers:  The first line of our National Anthem is: O Canada, We stand on guard for Thee

Last night, at the dinner table:

Charlotte:  What's for supper, mom?
Me:  Chicken. (buttermilk and panko coated chicken, if you must know. Deeeelicious!)
Charlotte :  What is that made out of?
Me:  Chicken.
Charlotte:  Yes.  But what is Chicken made from?
Me:  Chickens.  (This actually went on a few more times)
Charlotte:  Cool!  So there are two kinds of Chicken!  The farm animal and the kind you eat!
Me (wincing, knowing where this is going....) Um, no.  The chicken we eat is the farm animal.
Charlotte:  Oh. Ok.  Can I have some more?

While Charlotte and I were talking, Emmett was picking at his food.  He is not a big meat-eater to begin with and as he heard the Dark Truth about his dinner his eyes got wider and wider.  He had to walk away from the table after that and came back for a peanut butter and banana sandwich a bit later.

Poor guy.  The truth hurts sometimes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This morning we packed up the kids and took them to the local Giant Indoor Playground for Richard's Office Family Christmas party. The kids had fun running around with the other kids as Richard and I chatted with his co-workers.  Towards the end of the party Santa showed up and handed out gifts to all of the children.

As Matthew sat and played with his new Thomas train a woman walked by.  She looked fondly at Matthew. She told me she had two girls and that she was now expecting a third baby.  She kept looking at Matthew and smiled as she told me she hoped very much she was having a boy.

I smiled warmly at her and offered her my sincere congratulations and best wishes.

As I walked away I chuckled to myself and one thing popped into my head:

Be careful what you wish for.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Disclosure - I am participating in the Empire ‘Give & Get’ program by Mom Central on behalf of Empire Theatres. I received an Empire gift card and coupon bundle as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

How did December get here so quickly?  How are you doing with your Holiday gift shopping?

When the Winter Holiday Gift Giving Season comes around I like to organize my shopping and giving into three different categories:
  1. Gifts I can make myself.
  2. Gifts I can buy online.
  3. Gifts I can buy in stores.
I try to do the top two the most since I love crafting and as much as I love shopping, going into stores in December makes me kind of crazy.

I am well on my way with my Christmas crafting--none of which I can mention here since some of my readers will be getting the fruits of my dining-room table labours. If you want to give handmade but don't feel like you are crafty then you can shop your local craft sales or Etsy or Artfire and help another kitchen-table crafter out. (That second link is actually to a good friend of mine.  I just love her little felt ornaments.)

I am also waiting for the delivery of quite a few gifts I have purchased in the comfort of my jammies, coffee in hand.  I am trying to teach my Grandma how to shop online right now.  She wants to give gifts to family that live far away and I want her to stay off of icy sidewalks and out of  long lineups in stores and the post office.  Online shopping is great  because most stores will wrap and ship your gifts wherever you want and you don't have to stand in line at the post office your self.

If I must go into a store I try very hard to go as close to opening time as possible and try to avoid weekends.  This way the stores are much less crowded and the staff are much more available to help me.  And, having been on the other side of the cash register for quite a few years myself, please, no matter how grumpy and stressed and late you are, please try to put a smile on your face for that cashier. The don't get paid nearly enough to handle the rudeness that is thrown at them in December.

Gift cards are a good idea for teachers, babysitters, friends and fit perfectly in Christmas stockings.  Coffee shops cards,  Itunes cards and Movie passes are always welcome gifts.  Empire Theatres is doing a fantastic promotion right now where if you buy $30 in gift cards you get $30 in Empire Theatre coupons.

Movie passes are a great idea for new parents and if you can't include a coupon for free babysitting with your gift have no fear:  Empire Theatres has created the Reel Babies program. See the latest movies. No babysitter required! Twice a month, Moms and Dads get the chance to see ‘grown-up’movies in a baby-friendly environment. You can find all of the details on the website.  

I also love that you can now buy your tickets online and print them out at home.  Richard and I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night and didn't have to wait in line at all! (It was a great movie, by the way, and didn't disappoint this Harry Potter nut at all.)

OK, so, take a deep breath, remember that the people on your list love you and appreciate the thought that goes into a gift and not necessarily the size or monetary value.  Take some time to center yourself and enjoy the little moments that crop up in this season that bring you joy. A moment like that happened for me yesterday as I watched Charlotte use up an entire roll of tape on a gift she very carefully picked out and wrapped for her Dad. She was so excited to GIVE it to him and she actually stopped talking about what she wanted to GET for a minute.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tattletales

This week two different Mom-friends tattled on my little Charlotte.

I couldn't be prouder.

Tattle #1:

Sunday afternoon....the family is home from Church and we are trying to decide what to do with our afternoon when the phone rings.  It is my friend T--.  She has recently started attending Richard's church with her husband and two boys.  Charlotte is friends with her oldest.  T-- called me to tell me how sweet Charlotte was to her boy.  Apparently she introduced him to her Sunday School classmates and then took him under her wing during the class.  She was very sweet to him and very helpful to his Mom.

Tattle #2:
My friend C-- emailed me to let me know how courteous Charlotte was to her while she was volunteering at her school.

I love getting calls like this and it makes me feel good that the lessons I am teaching Charlotte about manners and respect are sinking in.

I just wish she would save some of that good behaviour for home sometimes!

Have you tattled on someone lately? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Special Night.

Last night was Sparks enrollment night.

The girls worked very hard on the decorations .
No party is complete without some yummy snacks!

Each girl got a certificate, enrollment pin and their first badges (we call them Keepers) My partner also made personalized friendship bracelets for each girl.

Here is Charlotte when I enrolled her.  She had to make the Sparks sign and say the Promise to me.  (I promise to share and be a friend.)

A new member of Guides Canada with her proud Mom/Guider.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What happened to me?

It happened very slowly.  A dishcloth here and there. Then, a book showed up in my home out of the blue.  Now I am hardcore.  I even did it in public yesterday and defended myself against the ridicule of a friend.

What happened?

I turned into a crocheter.  Yep.  Me.  Knitwit.  A hooker.

You know what?  I think I like it!

For some reason,  crocheting doesn't tire my hands out as quickly as knitting does.  I can use fibers that used to cause me pain when knitted.

And dude, why didn't anyone tell me how fast crochet grows??  I can make a dishcloth in a couple of hours.  A scarf doesn't seem as daunting now.  Yes, there is a time and a place for knitting.  I am not abandoning my first love just yet, but I am definitely going to swing to the other side now.

Can I say it?

I think I am hooked.

Forgive the extreme close up.  The item is a Christmas gift so I can't reveal what it is right now.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We are on a journey.

I am participating in the Quaker Journey to Wellness program by Mom Central on behalf of Pepsi Co. I received a gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

My journey to wellness has been a very long one. There have been many stops and starts.  I guess the best thing I can say is that I continue to move forward.  Last Spring I jump started my journey again by joining a learn-to-run group headed by a good friend of mine who loves running.  She got me off of my couch, and with baby steps, to the finish line of my first 5K.  I faithfully ran all summer and into the fall.  Now that winter has reared it's ugly head in my neck of the woods my runs are done in the comfort of my basement on a treadmill I have affectionately named "Jillian".  I love that I have several indoor playgroups to take my little Matthew to over the winter so he can still get time to run around when it is too cold outside to play.

In addition to making time for regular workouts, I try very hard to make sure my family eats well. I like to try out new recipes and foods with my family.  I have a one bite rule at the table.  You can't reject a food unless you try one bite of it.  This is how I found out Emmett's favourite vegetable is Brussel Sprouts!  Since my Charlotte is much more of a meat eater I sneak extra veggies in wherever I can.  I know that even if she picks the mushrooms and zucchini off the top of the pizza, she will still be getting the carrot I sneakily grated over the sauce before adding toppings.   When I pack lunches for school, I try very hard to avoid pre-packaged snacks.  One box of granola bars is one snack time in this house, so it gets very costly after a while!  On the weekend it is very easy for me to make a big pan of granola bars that lasts all week for my kids.  (It is a great way to use Quaker Oats besides cooking them in a bowl or baking them into cookies as well!)  This is the recipe I use.  As a bonus, it is nut-free which is important as so many schools are nut-free now.  I substitute all sorts of things for the cranberries and raisins in the recipe to switch up the flavours.  Right now my kids have coconut cranberry bars, but other times I have chopped in dried apples, added chocolate chips, and crispy rice cereal as well.

I am not the only one on a Wellness journey.  Fellow Mom Blogger Lynn is documenting her story at quakerjourney.ca.  If you join her there you can find out what she is doing to make her life a little healthier as well as have the opportunity to win some prizes on the way.  You can find her on Facebook at Quaker Journey to Wellness as well.

Today at Lynn's blog she talked about her favourite way to eat her Quaker Oats.  I would like to share with you mine.  It is something I came up with a couple of years ago and makes an extra-special treat on a cold snowy morning.

Blueberry Streusel Oatmeal

Streusel topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened.

Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Oatmeal
1 cup oats, regular or quick cooking
2 cups water
dash salt
2/3 cup frozen blueberries*
prepared Streusel
milk or evaporated milk

In a large microwave bowl combine oats with water. Add a dash of salt, if desired. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes, then 60% power for 5 minutes if using quick cooking oats or 7 minutes if using regular oats.

Immediately divide cooked oatmeal between two large bowls. Top hot cereal with approx 2 tablespoons streusel each and and divide berries between the bowls. Mix well. Top with milk or evaporated milk to taste.

*You can thaw the berries beforehand if you want, but it helps the cereal cool down faster, which is great if you have hungry impatient kids waiting for breakfast!

You will have steusel left over, but just put it in a plastic container and store in a cool place.

Serves two

Friday, November 19, 2010

Share a smile.

Disclosure - I am participating in the Snack Pack program by Mom Central on behalf of Conagra Foods Canada. I received a gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

It really is the little things that make me smile.  Last week, I went to my usual spot to buy groceries. The carts at this store are locked together and in order to get one you have to unlock it from it's partner with a $1 coin (or a similarly-sized token you can purchase in the store and reuse).  On this particular day I found a couple of carts not locked together so I didn't have to mess with my token and wrestle carts apart to get groceries.  It was a teeny thing that made my day better.  It got even better when passed the cart on to a person walking past me as I loaded my car.  I waved off her offer of a loonie (don't click on the link if you are Canadian) and she grinned.  I wonder how many smiles were spread with that free cart?

Other little things make me smile.  Eavesdropping on kids playing nicely together in the next room.  Having the laundry folded without asking.  Sliding into a bed made with sheets that have been hung on the clothesline.  Teaching silly songs to my Sparks.

While I was cooking dinner (and steaming up the windows) Charlotte took some time to spread some smiles.
Snack Pack Canada likes to spread smiles too.  If you would like to help them out, it is so easy to do.
Here’s how it works. Log onto Facebook, look up Snack Pack Canada, Like the page, Share a Smile and:
• A $1 donation will be made on your behalf to, Food Banks Canada. You can also opt to Share a
Smile and Snack Pack will make the donation on behalf of one of your Facebook friends.
• You’ll receive a ballot into their weekly prize draw (for those who have registered for the contest)
• PLUS You’ll earn a point towards one of the fun Smile badges!
Remember, the more often you smile, the more donations, ballots and badge points you’ll collect. It’s
no surprise that Smiling everyday would have its perks.

And really, you are on Facebook every day anyway, aren't you??

Monday, November 15, 2010

Something new at my food blog

Good Morning!

I have started a new project over at my Food Blog.....want to see what I am up to??

Click Here

Recipe 1

Recipe 2

I have tried two dishes so far with success.



I have no reason to post this picture other than I think it is cute . (and I like that I am NOT vacuuming for a moment!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Super Girl

A couple of Mother's Days ago Richard gave me a lovely diamond pendant on a delicate silver chain..  I lost it yesterday.  I panicked and searched, even picking open the vacuum cleaner bag with no luck.  With a sick feeling in my stomach I realized I had noticed it missing after my shower so I thought it slipped off and down the drain to be lost forever.  I moped around, dreading telling Richard I lost his gift.

Out of the blue at lunchtime Charlotte comes up to me with my necklace in her hand!  I don't know how she found it, but I hugged her very very hard and made sure she knew how incredible it was that she found it.

My Super Girl.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

0759

We had our first snowfall of the year last night.  Charlotte woke up at OhMyGoodnessItsStillDarkOut-thirty and gleefully informed us of that fact.  She then spent the next two hours asking me if she could go outside.  As soon as it was light enough everyone bundled up for their first play in the snow.

The pictures are a bit on the dark side because the sun was still rubbing it's eyes and pouring it's coffee when I shot them.  The first snowfall of the year is Very Exciting!

Oh, and I hope you have all set aside time today to remember the hard work of the people in our Armed Forces who have sacrificed so much so we could have the right to stand on our decks in our pyjamas and shoot pictures of our kids frolicking without a care in freshly fallen snow.  I am so very fortunate to live where I live in a time where I didn't have to worry about half of my block getting conscripted and how I will feed my family out of my Victory Garden and with rationing coupons.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Random thoughts from my brain to yours

Hello again!  How would you like some random thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain recently?

The Good:
  • This year's time change was the least painful in my years as a mother.  The kids are getting old enough to do more for themselves so we left a movie on pause in the DVR and some food out where they could reach it.  This bought me an extra hour of sleep!!  Sweet!  (This is getting added to my list of Why I Don't Want to Have Another Baby)
  • I ran 5.5 K last week after taking three weeks off.  I felt amazing afterward.
  • I am having a lot of fun with my Sparks and am loving getting to know the girls better each week.
  • Charlotte is positively blossoming at her French Immersion school and is coming home singing some adorable songs in French and is eager to learn as many words as she can.  She is taxing my brain and my ancient knowledge as I struggle to remember the words she asks me. 
  • My kids ate stir fry last night.  They usually cry when I make it.  (this is small, but still makes me happy)
  • My parents are looking at some big, happy changes in their life.   These changes will benefit the whole family.  They could use some positive thoughts sent their way if you are so inclined.
The Bad:
  • Emmett is struggling again.  He is having setbacks in a few places in his life and I am frustrated and upset by it.  We are trying our best to help him.
  • Matthew is three.  Matthew has turned into a demon of sorts and nothing is safe in this house anymore.  I know This Too Shall Pass, but man it sucks to be in the thick of it!
  • The Cleaning Genes have been woken up in my soul.  This could be a good thing, except for the previous bullet point.  I WANT to be in a tidy house, but unless I cage Matthew I have to settle for a mess and feeling stressed and frustrated all the time.
Well there you go.  The contents of my brain.  What is on your mind right now?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Getting back on track




I think things are settling down around here.  I am on some new inhalers, my back is feeling better and I even managed to go for a run with my friends yesterday.  My energy is coming back, which is good.  Things were falling apart around here!

I feel some new blog posts rattling around in my head and when they are ready, I will get back to writing.  I am not going to make myself do the "Blog every day of November" thing that is popular now.  I believe in quality over quantity.  If I make myself blog every single day, you will end up with a lot of posts listing what I had for breakfast or my "to do" list for the day.  Bo-ring!


Yesterday was Halloween, of course.  Matthew got right into the spirit of things this year and practiced saying "Trick or Treat" all day.  Do you want to see their costumes?



I am so proud of the face painting skills I didn't know I had!

I love how Emmett looks in glasses!  (It's a good thing--he will need them soon.)
Matthew wanted me to paint his face red after watching Charlotte get done.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Only me....(possible TMI)

I strained my back yesterday.  I think it was from when my body was violently rejecting the antibiotic the doc prescribed.  Seriously.  I thought my stomach was going to turn inside out.  While I was in the bathroom Matthew was standing beside me saying "Whatchoo doin' Mom?"  To make matters worse, I think this drug, that is making me feel miserable, is doing nothing for my lingering cough.

In order to make my back feel better I decided to poison my brain with what is probably one of the worst movies ever made:  Titanic II.  It is hilariously bad, and if you are so inclined, could easily make an awesome drinking game out of this movie.  In my current, weakened condition that was not advisable.

I am getting so very frustrated with my body right now.  I just want some energy back.  I want my appetite to come back.   I want to go running again.  I want to STOP being sick dagnabit!  It feels like I  have wasted my favourite season this year by being sick.  I have missed out on fun with my husband, friends and family.  Even my Sparks group had to suffer when I had to cancel a meeting.

The kids are getting sick around me and now the dog is in on it too and will actually need some surgery this week.  It feels like all I do is sit around in waiting rooms right now!!

Please tell me there is an end in sight.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It gets better.

I wore purple yesterday.  Why?  Because I wanted to show my support to the families of the teens who recently took their lives because of terrible bullying due to their sexual orientation, perceived or otherwise.

A lot of people have been writing essays and posting videos to reassure teens at risk It Gets Better.

If I knew someone was being bullied at school, this is what I would say to them:

Now, I have no idea what it feels like to be gay, but I do know what it feels like to be brutally bullied for years and years through elementary and middle school.  I actually think I am claustrophobic to this day because of an incident in elementary school involving a hoarde of kids knocking my glasses off and backing me into a dark corner.  I could go on and on about the emotional, verbal, and physical abuse I suffered through.

You know what?  It does get better.  It is so hard to see it when you wake up in the morning afraid to go to school, and then come home and cry because of whatever the assholes did to you that day.  I know this.  I also know the importance of finding peaceful times in the chaos.  Summer camp.  Visits to my Grandma's.  My annual new-clothes shopping trip with my Aunt in the Big City.  No one knew they should pick on me at summer camp so I got to let my guard down and make friends.  Loving Grandmas and caring Aunts are always great to have in your back pocket.

Hopefully if you are bullied you can find some peace like this to recharge your batteries and get ready for the next assault.My parents of course were at the core of this.  They sent me on these trips.  They let me skip school on days when the potential for bullying was extra-high.  They did the best they could to help me.  I hope your parents are there for you too.

Make a real exit plan.  Get some far-away college brochures.  Skim MLS listings and find your imaginary apartment, get a crappy job and start socking away some money.

If you can give the big F-U to the podunk town that didn't understand or respect you, you will find your niche.  You will find people who will love you for who you are. The years after I first moved away and had to scrape by on a student loan were some of the most fun of my life. I found out how much fun you can have with how little--laughs are free!  

To this day I am often surprised by the generosity of my good friends.  You will be too.  Trust me. 

Please.  Just hang in there.  You are worth it.  The world needs you.

And really.  Living well is the best revenge.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sick

Hello bloggy friends!

Have you missed me?  I'll bet you think I have been off on glamorous adventures and that is why I have been lax with my posting.

It has been nothing that exotic.  We are full of The Sick around here.  I have not been myself for a few weeks now.  It started out as a little cough, then I  had fever and chills that turned  into distressing stomach upset, and now I am having fevers again.  I  lost almost five pounds in a week.  My appetite is still nowhere to be found.  The kids have all been trading a cough around since school began.

I am so sick that the case of Girl Guide Cookies in my front entryway has not tempted me in the least and I am usually down for the count by 9:00 PM.

I promise I will call my doctor today.  I need to find my energy again.  (those five pounds can stay away though)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scenes from the school bus stop.

My card reader is breaking down.  So, instead of cute pictures of kids frolicking in autumn leaves, you get a story about what I see at the school bus stop.  I feel kind of like Jane Goodall most mornings.

Where I live there is no high school close by.  So, in addition to little kids like Charlotte who bus to the French Immersion schools, all of the teenagers in the area get bussed off to the various high schools scattered across the other side of town.  (This also puts me in the enviable position of getting a choice in what High School my kids go to.)

I have been enjoying my walks to school with Charlotte and have been having fun eavesdropping on all of the conversations that happen around me.

There is one girl who gets on the bus who seems quite troubled.  She slouches, usually has a sullen look on her face and hides behind a protective veneer of thick black eyeliner and long, crayon-coloured hair.  Her  conversation is punctuated with curse words and always revolves around how unfair her mother is to her.  She "hates" the preppy girls and has to drive her boyfriend around when he drinks too much.  One day I heard all about her grounding and learned all of the things a mother must take away from a teenager in order to lock her down.  (The clincher?  In addition to the predictable car keys and cell phone, the debit card should also be confiscated.)  Today, this girl was sitting curled up tightly on the floor of the school vestibule with her hoody pulled so tight around her face you could only make out her angry, kohl-rimmed eyes.  My heart went out to her.

The fresh-faced popular girls cluster in their own group.  They are characterized by their inappropriately short skirts and hot pants, even on the mornings when the temperature is barely hovering above Freezing.  Their hair is long, shiny and their conversation runs the gamut from boys to homework to what is playing on their ipods.  Very predictable, really.

The boys hang back, they don't talk much.  They just stare ahead, waiting for the bus.  Some of them have football gear with them in the colours of the Big High School on the other edge of town.  A couple carry band instruments.  They all have big black zippered binders and earphones plugged in their ears.

There is one girl that stands away from the packs.  She is very quiet, wears glasses, and only has one or two friends who stand with her.  She keeps her phone close at all times.  She shyly glances at my Charlotte while we wait and quietly snickers at the funny things she says from time to time.

Over my weeks of quiet observation I found myself drawn to her.  One day I managed to walk past her house as she was leaving for the bus stop.  She lives a block from me.  I started to plan my attack.

I made sure to stand by her when waiting with Charlotte but I didn't engage her in conversation.  Just a quick glance and a smile.  She smiled back.

Yesterday when I noticed her noticing Charlotte playing around I made a small offhand comment, then turned away from her.

Today I made my approach.   I mentioned that I just moved here and told her where we live.  Her eyes brightened up and she indicated she lived one street over.  I asked her if she babysits.  I asked her to text me her phone number since I left my phone at home.

She did.

I caught myself a babysitter!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Babies!!!!

Babies (click the link to view the preview) came out on DVD recently.  Richard and I watched it last night.

This movie is about four little babies born in four different corners of the world and follows their first year of life.  There is very little dialogue in the movie.  You are left quietly observing the development of these babies in their different cultures, families and surroundings.   The move cuts between each baby as you watch them grow.  You get to see how different cultures raise children.  I was fascinated.  Some of the scenes from Africa and Mongolia may be a little surprising bordering on shocking to modern germ-fearing North American helicopter parents.

It was a very emotional movie for me to watch.  I cried over the births of the babies and my arms literally ached to feel the weight of a sweet-smelling warm little bundle in them again.  I thought I was going to have a milk let down!! The rest of the movie had me laughing and smiling over the little people and their antics.  Is there anything better than those first smiles or the sound of a baby giggle?  The brother and sister in the preview above had me in stitches.  That could be any brother and sister anywhere.  I have seen that exchange in my own house more than once!

If you like babies, check this movie out.  If you are a mother or want to be a mother, be prepared for a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

Oh, and for the record, I am not receiving any compensation for this movie review.  I just really enjoyed it and I like to share things that I like.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Come for a walk with me.....

It was a perfect fall day.  The perfect day to go for a hike.

Richard and I drove out to his Mom's cabin with the kids today.  I left them behind for the afternoon and went on a gorgeous 2-hour hike around a lake with my sister-in-law.  She needed closure.  The last time she attempted this trail a moose blocked her way and she couldn't finish.  (If you think she was being a chicken then you do not know how viciously moose can attack if provoked) We did the full 9.2 KM (5.7 miles for my American readers)  and didn't meet any wildlife.  I guess they weren't interested in our conversation.  We were in Black Bear country so we didn't hike quietly.  You want to give them lots of notice you are in the area.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Read this book!

I had the privilege of attending a book release party last weekend.  It was for a very special book.  It is a work of fiction that is set in a very real place.  It is not very often I get goosebumps from listening to someone read a book, but when the author read from her work, I had to blink back tears.  When I got home in the afternoon, I dug in and stayed up far too late reading, and then woke up and read the last bit over breakfast.

This is one of those books that you wish was longer.  You don't want to say goodbye to the characters at the end and you think about them for days afterward.

OK.  Enough gushing.  What the heck is this book about??

It is about a teenage girl , Marie-Claire who lives in a tiny town in Southern Manitoba in the early 1940s. She has to work hard to help out on her family farm because all of the able-bodied men are overseas fighting in WW II.   The town is in the shadow of a Tuberculosis Sanatorium.  Marie-Claire's family is further turned upside down when her visiting uncle infects the children in the house with TB.  She is sent to the San with her siblings to "chase the cure."   The story then turns to life in the Sanatorium. 

(Before modern drugs were developed it was believed that the best chance for a TB patient was complete rest, good food, and dry prairie air--extreme TB cases were treated with very risky surgical procedures. People often spent many years in Sanatoriums chasing their cures.)

The author is very precise with her descriptions since she grew up in a Sanatorium environment as the daughter of the head surgeon.  She writes with a great depth of feeling and emotion.  At the book release I met many former employees of the Sanatorium that this book is based around.  My grandma read the book and she said it took her right back to the days when she visited her own sister there after The War.  My great great(?) aunt was a telephone operator and spent months in a musty basement in England and came home with TB.  She was one of the lucky ones who overcame her disease by spending several years at the San.

I love books that can take you right back to a specific time and place.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn did that for me.  So did The Time Traveler's Wife (please, read the book--avoid the movie at all costs).  If you are looking for something wonderful to read please, give Queen of Hearts a try.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dilemma.

It is that time of year again.  Time to start extracurricular activities up again.  Charlotte and Matthew were easy.  Charlotte likes to be busy and she loves her dance classes.  Matthew is also enjoying his time at playgroup and dance class.

This leaves my Emmett.  Last year we tried piano lessons.  He cried at the thought of practicing and I really think he needed a more social activity.  Spring soccer was a bit more successful.  I considered the winter soccer league here, but the schedule doesn't work with all of the other things we have going on.  (I have to co-ordinate all of our  schedules with one vehicle....tricky at best)

This leaves Beavers.  Part of me thinks that the loud setting could be overwhelming to Emmett.  Another part of me thinks he could use the stimulation.  Over dinner last night Richard mentioned that he did Beavers at Emmett's age and hated it.  Emmett is not like other boys.  Richard pointed out that Emmett is going to have social challenges until the other boys catch up to him and branch off into more defined social groups (Emmett is very firmly in the group genus Nerdus already--he carries Magic cards around with him wherever he can.)  Will Beavers help him or make him feel like more of an outsider?  I also have to take into consideration how tiring school can be for him now.  It sometimes requires a lot of extra effort on his part to get through a day of study and therapy. 

So, who am I helping?  Am I signing him up for Beavers because that is what Good Moms do or because I think it will really be good for him?  Am I signing him up because everyone else in the house has activities and I don't want him to be left out?  I know I am over thinking this, but I am really on the fence about this.  Part of me thinks we should wait a year since Emmett himself is quite ambivalent about the whole thing. Another part of me sees a future with a reclusive basement-dwelling gamer son who has no job and no friends and no outside life and maybe Beavers is the one thing that can change that outcome.

Yep.  There is some serious over thinking happening over here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Oh Matthew!

....You just can't turn your back on him for a second.

The following happened yesterday evening.

Incident #1:

It's after dinner.  Charlotte has just come home from the neighbour's house, where she was playing with her little friend.  Richard, Charlotte and I are sitting on the deck, enjoying the last little bits of sunshine for the day.  Charlotte starts yelling and pointing towards the neighbour's house.  We look over and see Matthew happily playing away in their sandbox.  I call over to him to come home.  Matthew calmly looks up and yells back very clearly : "NO!". He goes back to playing.  Richard calls him and gets the same answer.  Richard manages to lure him to the fence where he can be grabbed.

a little while later.....

Incident #2

I hear Matthew in the kitchen talking about Emmett's school lunch.  I go to the kitchen with a feeling of dread, wondering what I might find.  I find Matthew standing at the counter with Emmett's lunch bag.  It turns out he packed Emmett's lunch for school.  So, what does a three-year old pack in a school lunch?  I'm glad you asked!  I found, a whole sweet potato, a bottle of strawberry syrup, a nectarine, the can opener, my knife sharpener and an ice pack to keep everything fresh.  I showed Emmett what Matthew packed for him.  Emmett laughed and then ate the nectarine.

Whoever said age two was the hardest with a preschooler obviously never had my preschoolers....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reverse Bucket List

Lindsay at Suburban Turmoil made an interesting post on her blog today.  She talked about the prevalence of "Bucket Lists" and how much pressure there is to fill them up if you make them.  She liked the idea of taking stock of all of the cool things you have done in your life already--less pressure and you get to see how you have grown and take pride in your accomplishments.  My list is not as cool as hers, but it is mine and it makes me happy to think about all of the good things I have done.

What is on your list?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Matthew update.

It feels like I don't write much about Matthew here.  Part of it I think is that most of my day is just doing damage control with him and really, that gets boring to repeat over and over.

Something DID happen last week with him.  In the morning, before my traumatic afternoon at the doctor, Matthew had an appointment with a speech pathologist.

I have been kind of burying my head in the sand over this.  Because I live with Emmett, the boy who is famous among the therapists in town, my frame of reference for what is bad and good for speech is kind of mis-calibrated.  It turns out that Matthew's proclivity to put sounds in the wrong places in words might not be a cute thing that he grows out of after all.  He is now on two separate waiting lists for therapy, and the first one to get an opening gets to have him for a client.  It is too bad there is a shortage of specialists in my city.  Even being on two lists,  we are probably looking at waiting a year for a spot.

In other news, as you read yesterday, Matthew started dance classes.

I had no idea what a boy he was until I threw him into a room full of girls his age.  As soon as the class started, all of the girls assembled in a circle and sat down to listen to the teacher.  My boy wandered around the room until he found an uncovered vent to explore. After that, he decided he missed me and tried to leave until I went back into the room with him.  He spent part of the class listening to the teacher from my lap.  I inched my way out and he did a bit of the ballet before he got extra wiggly and had to run.  He then spent the rest of class jogging laps around the circle of girls practicing their dance moves.

I am hoping he will get the hang of things after a few classes.  If not, it is going to be a pretty funny recital!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First Day

Today was a day of firsts.

This morning, my big girl put on her backpack and we excitedly walked to Emmett's school, where she gleefully skipped up the stairs of the school bus and drove off to French Immersion Kindergarten in a very independant way.  The bus driver was very kind and made sure he knew which school to take her to.  (I found out later his name is Steve)  Of course, I fretted all the way home from the bus stop that she would get lost on her way to class.  When I picked her up at lunch she was quick to tell me Steve told her where to get off the bus and then she found her class all by herself. 

After getting my two big kids off to school, I packed up Matthew and he went to his very first dance class.  He was nervous at first and I had to inch my way slowly to the door when he wasn't looking.  After a while, he got comfortable.
Halfway through the class, he decided he was going to have fun after all.  I guess the ears are not really connected to the feet yet.....
I am hoping after a few classes he will get used to the routine and he will learn to settle down and listen. If not, it is going to be a very interesting year!

Oh, and for those of you concerned, my finger is on the mend, and hurting less and less every day.  Today I changed my dressing all by myself.  I guess I had a first too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bad day.

I have had an infected cuticle for about a week.  It didn't get better with salt water soaks and frequent dressing changes.  I went to the doctor to get some antibiotics.

I got the prescription.  Oh, and he ripped my nail off.  Despite him filling my finger with lidocaine I fainted from the pain. 

I am still  in a lot of pain.  I count down until my next dose of acetaminophen with codiene.

I will write more when I feel better.  This pain is exhausting, not to mention I have severe mobility limitations on my right hand due to the giant dressing I am sporting right now.

I am very grateful to my Grandma and my friend Jen for coming by today to help me out.  A mom usually doesn't get to call in sick.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My weekend in pictures.




Matthew turned three this past weekend.  We celebrated by taking him (and his siblings) to the zoo in the Big City.
Matthew's favourite animals were the squirrels.

Emmett and Charlotte are wearing spiffy new clothes because I left their suitcases at home.  Oops!

My favourite animal at the zoo--a Mama Lemur grooming her babies.
The best part of the day for Matthew was getting to ride this train.  A real, coal-powered steam train!
Of course he had to have an engineer's cap.  This boy will not wear a hat, but he puts this one on every day.
After the zoo, Matthew relaxed with a little video gaming.
Happy Birthday, Big Guy!


Of course, all good things must come to an end.  Today was Emmett's first day of Grade 2.