Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another Year Older

It seems so funny to me, that as an adult, your birthday comes and goes, and it's a fun day, you KNOW there will be cake, and phone calls, and if you're lucky some birthday cards. Somehow though, if just doesn't have the grandness that the kids birthdays do, and the kids just don't understand that.

Their birthdays are a totally different story. We work up to those for weeks, planning, deciding, coming up with themes, sending out invites. Concocting cake plans and crafts that are age appropriate, compiling invite lists and running from store to store to pick up last minute things. And I LOVE how every year, we come up with a theme, that is NEVER popular, sometimes it's down right impossible to find the things I want. I then have to adapt or compromise my plans/ideas. I occasionally luck out going down to the states, and pick stuff up and haul it back home. They have party supplies stores, that pale in comparison to anything I've ever seen here. And I love how after I've come home, with my suitcase full of cups, plates, napkins, balloons, table clothes as if I don't have anything better to bring home from Kohls' or TJMaxx... Then, typically within a few months of the party, I start to find the things I previously I couldn't find ANYWHERE in Canada. He's had 6 great birthday parties and of all these bdays, I've only cheated and bought a store-bought cake for the first 2. The rest I've laboured over, here are the cakes I've created so far:

Mason's 3rd Birthday, Thomas the Tank Engine

Maddy's 1st Birthday - Polka Dot Theme

Mason's 4th Birthday - Rescue Heroes

Maddy's 2nd Birthday - Ladybug Theme

Mason's 5th Birthday, Arrrrrr Pirate party

Madelyn's 3rd Birthday - Princess Theme, there was a disaster in the kitchen, thankfully I was able to salvage a few cupcakes. (A tip I discovered, don't wait until the morning of the party, to try something new...Yowser...)

Last but not least - Mason's 6th Birthday STAR WARS
So when my birthday arrived, they wanted to know 'where are your balloons' and 'when are your friends coming over' and 'don't you get presents'? They were certain that I should have a princess themed party, and that all my friends should arrive. (Little do they know I AM having a party, and my friends WILL be arriving, but they WON'T be here to participate...)
My party theme this year was white cake w/white icing... In fact, I even requested rum cake for dinner at M&D's place. Mmmmm, yummy. And I will be having some friends over for appies and drinks, and laughs and fun, and then I'll be laying low on the bdays...
So this years theme requests are as follows:

Madelyn wants a My Little Pony theme this year. And I lucked out, because I stumbled across plates, and cups at Zellers! Woooohoooo!

Mason's request is going to be slightly trickier... This year he wants an Indiana Jones theme. He hasn't seen the movie/s (or he'd never sleep in his own room again) He has a couple of Lego sets that are Indiana Jones, and on the Lego website they show snippets of the themes of the movies that are lego animated. And it's pretty cute when he wanders around the house saying, "Snakes, I hate snakes..." So this theme is definitely going to be require some imagination. But it's so much fun! And it means so much to the kids. Those cakes, which make me kind of laugh, are EVERYTHING to the two little kids that live with me. To them the are pretty impressive and I guess that's what being a Mum is all about!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Spring...No Wait....Still Winter...

The first day of spring holds so much promise... Especially in Canada. I have eagerly waited for the arrival of spring, since Christmas was over. If you've read my blog at all, you know, we've had a L-O-N-G winter. It got cold and snowed in November, and really, has just stayed with us. Now another thing I have to say, is that being a Canadian gal, I'm no stup... Spring DOES NOT happen in March around these here parts. We're lucky if it's looking springy by May. (Seriously, our planting season is about 4 months long, if we're lucky) But it doesn't mean we're not optimistic. Of course we are! Who knows, with global warming and all, maybe spring WILL begin earlier than we're used to. To tell you the truth, it was actually looking that way this year. On Thursday, March 19th, I saw people outside walking w/o their coats on, and I actually thought, "PEOPLE, C'MON.... It's sunny yes, but NOT Springy...." And then I got out of my vehicle, I thought "Holy cow.... It is pleasant out". (Keep in mind as well that where I live, anything above 5°Celsius is down right tropical). So I too removed my coat and felt alive and free. The sun actually begins to feel warmer at this time of year. [The past 4 years, we've been in Arizona at this time of year, soaking up some sunshine down south, visiting our snowbirds.] Imagine if you, will my shock when I actually had to open my car window and turn the A/C on. It was positively joyous.

Friday as it turned out, was exactly the same. Mace was off school for parent teacher interviews and the start of Spring Break. We spent a little bit of time 'brainstorming' a list of things to do over the next week. Most of them are outdoor activities... Seriously, we're delirious about getting outside. We spent the entire afternoon in the backyard. We blew bubbles, the kids played in their fort, they named their fort, even they let me join the new club they formed. Such fun. There was even talk about running through the sprinklers... Which is funny, because if you look at the pictures, there's still snow, and lots of it, but it was WARM...Here's what the day looked like in pictures...

Bubbles of course, is a sure sign of spring...

Mason sporting his new spring shirt, which he was so proud to wear the first day of spring!

This kid is the best big brother a little girl could hope for. As long as she sits on that swing, he'll push her. You'd be amazed at how long she sat there getting pushed.
Then came Saturday. The morning started out great. I went out first thing, in nothing but a jean jacket, no gloves or anything! How risque.... The sun was warm, the ice and snow was melting. What a great weekend ahead of us!

By 1 pm, there was a shift in the weather. The arctic wind began to blow. The clouds began to roll in (or were they whipping in?). We'd gone out for the afternoon/evening and didn't notice the snow begin to fall. (Yes, there was a storm warning... But we'd seen that mean sky and whipping arctic wind all day, what do the weather people know any way?) We had to come home, on the highway, at night, where traffic crept along at a 40km/hr pace (which felt fast...) and Mason said "It feels just like we were in cyber space". Great. Just what you want... To feel like you're in cyber space, at 40km/hr on a 100km/hr highway, 1/2 an hour away from the city. But alas, we made it home, and woke up this morning to this...

Ahhh, there's my snow angel, ensuring the neighbors walks are all taken care of.

That's a LOT of snow on that vehicle!

(It takes me a half hour to get them ready and outside, and usually lasts about 15 minutes before coming back in rosy cheeked)

So, we had a taste, or a tease, or a glimpse of what we have to look forward to. For now, our spring break plans need to be altered, as we won't find any crocuses, or go on any nature hikes. We won't be blowing bubbles any time soon, on our deck, or having little deck picnics. No... We got a day and a 1/2 of nice. Enough to whet our appetite, and wish we were somewhere warmer! Wondering why we didn't throw caution to the wind, and go to Mexico with our friends. You guys are missing some great weather! We can only hope that it melts once again... And that our spring will come. Eventually.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

To Snack or not to Snack...

Pssst, listen up… I have something to share with you. Since January 30th, 2009, I’ve lost a whopping 10.8lbs with Weight Watchers. It’s not bad. In fact, I’m quite pleased with myself. The next time I head to the grocery store, I’m going to go directly to produce and pick up a 10 pound bag of potatoes, lift it up and down a bit.

I can’t say that I’ve really noticed a difference in my clothes (bummer) I’m pretty sure it’s ALL come off my “trip to Greece belly”. That’s right. When it’s +37° with humidity and you’re walking up ancient marble steps, and the difference between a bottle of beer and a bottle of water is a mere €.30, well forget about it, you BET I picked the ice cold beer! And while I was at it, why not order spanokapita to go with it, or a yummy Baklava. After all when you’re in Greece, do as the Greeks do! Being was on vacation, just the 2 of us, without our children, well let's just say there were definitely a few more indulgences in the area of food and drink… Enough said. Any way, the jelly-belly has diminished considerably, but the jeans fit pretty much the same. It’s a start at least.

Thankfully, once I get on the will-power wagon (which isn’t easy for me to do, but once I’m on, I’m on) I can put my mind to it, and be successful. I am anticipating that the first 10 lbs were the easiest ones to lose, I’m pretty sure the next 10 will be a challenge to say the least. Especially considering that in the past 6 wks, I have not once thought, “Gee, that was easy”. You know, come to think of it, WHERE is the easy button when you need it? A few things that I’ve done consistently are: have breakfast every day, drink more water (much more water) and decrease my portion size. I have added a minute sliver of exercise. I guess some is better than none, but in order to be successful, I think I’ll actually have to wrap my head around and embrace exercise.

My problem is I love salty snacks. Before I had babies I would have considered myself more of a sweets and chocolate girl. After having children that doesn’t float my boat the way the idea of chips & dip, or taco chips & salsa or, popcorn with LOTS of salt & butter do. Mmm…. Seriously, that’s the hardest part. But I have a few tricks. I’ve been eating raw veggies dipped in salsa (didn’t appeal to me the first time I heard about it, but it’s actually good) You get the snap/crunch of the veggies and the spiciness of the salsa. And guess what, ZERO points my friends! That’s what I’m talking about.

I also have a friend who recently gave me her recipe for home made chip dip (that’s right, you know who you are!). It’s easy-peasy and if you use fat-free sour cream a ¼ cup is only 1 point! Sweet! Of course it’s better to eat the baked potato chips with it, which are all right. Let’s be honest here, I am a chip girl. Maybe even a chip connoisseur… I know my chips, and I like the real thing. The full fat. The no-holds barred kind of chips, but a girl has to make some smart choices you know. For now, it seems to be working for me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Another little sickie...

First one, then the other. I have only a mere 6 years and 9 months experience at this relatively new job of ‘parenting’, but I have learned a few things. When you have more than one child, it is highly un-likely for one to get sick and the other not to. That said, now it’s Madelyn's turn. Thankfully it’s just the dreadful sinus cold that both Mason and I have had. I say just, not because it's been pleasant to be around her (it hasn't) and not because she’s not coughing and dripping with snot (she is). But if you remember, Mason had the flu a few wks ago, and threw up every 30 minutes, for nearly 24 full hours. So this is JUST a cold. We can deal with snot and coughing, it’s the throw up-ing that is a bit hard to endure. She had a couple of jammie days this week. In this particular picture, she actually fell asleep on the couch, in the middle of the afternoon, while watching a movie. This is something that is COMPLETELY unheard of in this house. When she woke up, she was SO MAD that she’d fallen asleep, that at first I actually wasn’t sure the 2 hours of quiet had been worth it… But I quickly realized, OF COURSE it had been worth it. I’m still bigger than she is! She can get as mad as she wants, I can still send her to her room. I'm the boss of her, not the other way around! I hope we’re out of the ‘bugs’ now, as both kids have each had 2 colds, and Mason, the flu, within the past month. I’m thinking we’re good until next year for sure!

For dinner I made this wonderful cheese bread, recipe out of….[drum roll please] Best of Bridge, called Chili Cheese Bread. It was yummy, and I had the smart idea, to bake it in 2 smaller loaf pans, rather than one big loaf pan. Guess what that means?! I have another one in the freezer! Yay! I also made a big ole crock pot of Tortellini soup. It too was de-lish, Bar and I quite happily ate it 2 nights in a row; I stashed the rest in the freezer for a future dinner. Who knows, perhaps I’ll challenge myself to a different recipe once a week, and blog that! I was looking through one of my cookbooks the other day and Mason said, “Oh great, you’re going to try something new aren’t you?” He said that less than enthusiastically of course. My sweet darling children, who love my meals ever so much... I don’t take it personally though, its food in general that they dislike.

And FINALLY, after 3 months of wiggling, we lost our first tooth! He left a note for the tooth fairy, because he wanted to save his first tooth. (she obliged of course) I thought it was him wanting to keep it because he simply wanted to keep it. But when Barry asked him why he wanted to keep it, he said “Because I want Mummy to have it”… Man I love that kid. Both actually. Count my lucky stars every day. Even when they're crabby. (Even when I'm crabby)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Holy Snap'in Turtles

Is it cold out. Man, have we had our share of winter this year! I am soooo longing for the days of capri pants and flip flops, perhaps a nice ice cold beverage in my hand... Sitting on my deck, watching the kids splash in the water, play in the mister, run through the sprinkler... In my head I see this:

And in reality, I'm greeted by this: (this little gem doesn't account for the windchill of course). Adding that made the temperature seem like -34°. Sweet...

You KNOW it's cold out, when your back door is iced over. Gruesome.

Since my last post, the kids finished up their swimming lessons. Madelyn advances on to Salamander, and Mason to Swim Kids 4. Man those two LOVE the water.

I have spent the last week battling a dreadful sinus cold. The kids started skating lessons, which went very well. Mason did great; I can tell he's really going to get the hang of it this time. And Madelyn, well, she's Madelyn, but that defiant attitude is certainly going to make her a better skater! She did great, and hardly fell at all. We've also gone from above zero, (last Tuesday) with snow melting like crazy. (And when I say crazy, I mean, it was hard to cross roads, on account of the rivers of water making it's way to the drain) To a Saturday night blizzard, that left us with another whopping 10-15 cm of snow, and a plummeting temperature. We've been through A LOT in the past week!
Not to mention that we're on the verge of our very first LOST TOOTH! Mason has a bottom front tooth, that's hanging on ever so slightly. Seriously, it could go at any minute. He's had friends lose teeth now for the past 2 years, so he is definitely ready. He wants to leave a note for the tooth fairy, because he'd like to keep and save his very first lost tooth. I told him that him starting to lose teeth was going to break my heart, and his response to me was:

"That's ok Mummy, you still have Madelyn".
Ahhh...Such a sweetie. So now it begins. The teeth falling out, and those darn big teeth growing in, that will look so out of place. Thankfully they grow into those big ole chiclets...
So that's my update for the past week. Tonight, I went swimming. I can't believe it's been so many years since I've done it, and I can't believe I forgot how much I enjoy it. Tonight I swam 1250 meters, that's 50 lengths. Not bad, didn't know the old gal had it in her! Now, to incorporate it into my life on a regular basis. I'm going to try my best. Ideally, I'd like to get it in twice, maybe three times a week. Is that realistic for me? I don't know. My body is screaming at me, "exercise... what's that?!" But it's something I like, so maybe that will be the motivation I need. Plus, I bought a new pair of goggles tonight. What a splurge!
Speaking of a splurge, we had Whiplash Chicken for dinner. Holy mackerel was it good. I think it might just be one of my favorite dishes. It's out of one of the the best of bridge cookbooks, Grand Slam I think. I don't think you'll be disappointed. I LOVE this line of cookbooks. I have a lot of favorites within the pages of the different books, I highly recommend them. This recipe is a must try. The nice thing that I've finally realized (after how many years) and started to do is make the recipe the way it says to, and divide it into 2 dishes, then we eat one, and freeze the other. In the past, I have tended to reduce the recipe, so it feeds our meager family of 2... Oops, I mean 4. (Yeah, like dinners go so WELL at my house) Any way tonight, was part II, it came out of the freezer, and we had a grand meal, with very little preparation. Yum-O!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Trashy TV

Last night, I went to a girlfriends house to watch this. Isn’t that trashy? Who would believe that I could get so caught up in trash tv, like the Bachelor. But it was great, because I was there with them…

And we got to eat these… Ummm, did someone say snacks?

The older I get, and the older my children get, it makes me so very grateful and blessed to have the awesome friends I do. We get to share and vent and support and love one another, they're all such special relationships. And the fact that we can all come together, in our baggy sweats, after our kids have gone to bed (well, some of our kids were in bed at the time of this photo...) and eat some snacks, drink a glass of wine, and have a few great belly laughs is AWESOME. Such a release.

And as we watched the much anticipated 3 hour finale... (which is ONLY as long as a NHL hockey game people, let's put this into perspective!!) There were some twists and turns, and ups and downs, we were completely shocked! (Well, 2 out of 3 of us were completely shocked, because one other had done some blog surfing and heard some rumors)

As Jason re-neged on his engagement to Mel, and went back to follow his heart with last nights first dumpee, Mol. Yowser, talk about some tense moments. I'm beginning to wonder if Jason doesn't have a significant other in his life, because he's got a screw or two loose... What do you think Steph? Nola? A screw loose? I just don't know if I could trust the guy, in light of the last show. Sometimes you really get a sense of someone, and feel much empathy for them, only to think, Hmmmm, maybe THEY'RE the problem...

Who cares. Good snacks, good laughs and a fun night with the girls was had by all, and we get an added bonus, of After, AFTER the final rose, tonight!! Woohoo!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Saturday Night

Saturday night we had friends over. It was great, because as the kids get older, they need less and less supervision, or do they? Mason and Ethan were engrossed in the X-box and to be honest I don’t think their bottoms got off the couch all night. Madelyn and Taryn were quietly getting along very well. Here’s a little tid-bit about Madelyn, she likes to be the boss. She wants to do what she wants to do, when and how, she wants to do it. So it makes playing with other kids, a bit of a challenge. All goes well, as long as it’s going her way. (Oh yes, I KNOW I’m going to have my work cut out for me, I already do).

After our guests left we went upstairs to put jammies on, and I was witness to the mass destruction that two little girls could do. Everything in Mad’s room was piled on the floor. And I mean EVERYTHING. (Including things I haven’t seen in ages, such as a breast pump, baby wipe warmer and the baby Bjorn carrier) You couldn’t see the floor. Of course I was annoyed, but it’s not the first time she’s pulled this crap. Then I went into Mason’s room, to close his blinds, only to find a very similar scene. They'd managed to make his room into a war zone as well. I lost my cool. It’s never pretty when I lose my cool, and everyone in the house typically knows I'm going to blow. "Oh-oh" they think and scatter…

“Madelyn, what on earth were you guys playing?” I asked.

“Make a mess” she responded.

And a mess it was indeed. I can’t believe that I didn’t pull out the camera for a picture. It was that obscene. I wanted to drop to the floor in the fetal position and sob. I knew there was NO WAY we begin to clean it up that night. Nope, just put her into bed, knowing we’d deal with it in the morning. Then, I went to the basement, to find… you guessed it ANOTHER mountain of mess. Oh yes, they’d been busy.

So the moral of my story is: when you think “goodness, they’re playing so good together, and they’re so quiet, AND getting along” GO AND CHECK. Immediately, go and see why exactly it’s so quiet.

The tears we’ve had that night and Sunday morning, were substantial. The garbage bags of stuff that’s been gone through, is impressive. There’s not going to be nearly as much stuff now, to pile up in any room. And she’s now not allowed to take friends upstairs, or downstairs for that matter. A tough lesson learned.