Saturday, May 31, 2008

I think it is hilarious that Mr. Boy and Sweet Pea want me to read them the comics. I remember when I was little and it was the only part of the newspaper that was interesting. So the kids see the bright colours of the comics and they figure it's for kids. Of course, the humour is a bit hard to explain, but they don't seem to mind. I guess I should just be glad that they are showing some interest in the newspaper.


Busting at the Seams

Thursday, May 29, 2008

With three young children, I am privileged to have creative little machines who like nothing better than to churn out art project after art project. Painted pots for Mother's Day. Clay figurines. Painted birdhouses. Scribbles. Paintings. Little snippets of paper stapled together. I appreciate the beauty of each of these items and know I'm lucky to have these wonderful children making me these projects. The problem I have is managing these items. Each child has a memory box in the basement which contains some special items like their sheets from their first day at daycare, coin collections, valentine's, birthday cards, a sweater or shoe or special outfit each, and lots and lots of art. My 4-year-olds box is overflowing already!

I could literally fill a recycle bin every month with the art. And I do. I have a secret. When the kids aren't looking, I put things in the recycle bin and save the occasional art piece. I write their name and the date on the back and maybe even explain what's on the front. Mr. Boy will find his work in the recycling and will be insulted. He'll demand that I take his prized art work out immediately. Very rarely, one of the children will ask for a certain project they were working on but which wasn't quite done. Then I'll unapologetically fish it out of the recycle bin and return it to them.

Once in a while I feel bad about doing this, but mostly I just try to figure out ways to prevent the children from noticing that their art is going out to the curb. I might cover the recycle bin with an old cereal box to hide its contents. Or wait until they're off to school before putting out the recycle bin. Either way, it is imperative that they not notice it leaving because they'll want it all back. The same thing happens when I put out boxes for the local charity to pick up. The older two will inevitably claim that something in the box is their 'favourite'. Heaven forbid I put something in there that they gave me!

In my defence, I will be drowning in possessions if I kept everything I was ever given. We have too much stuff in my house already. I could probably buy nothing for the next year and I would still have too much stuff. Sometimes managing my stuff takes up half my day. It's wasteful, not environmentally friendly, and stressful. I need to work on this and figure out a way to live more simply.


Pop Princess

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My husband and I do not have the same taste in music. My mom raised me on Nana Mouskouri, the soundtrack of The Sound of Music, and Luciano Pavarotti. My dad raised me on the Beatles and country music, especially Willie Nelson.

DH's taste is very cutting edge. He sees bands most people have never heard before, before they hit it big. He has introduced me to Shout Out Out Out, Modest Mouse, Portishead, Metric, Steely Dan, Death Cab for Cutie, among others. Some of the music I have really enjoyed, and Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favourite bands.

That being said, I tend to enjoy music that could only be classified as 'pop'. In my defence, it's called pop because it's popular. And popular music tends to be catchy. And that's what I like. I enjoy the pop princesses like Rihanna, Hilary Duff, Britney Spears, and I really like the new Miley Cyrus song, See You Again. I listen to country music once in a while, especially the Dixie Chicks and Faith Hill. My husband claims that I only like bands that have female singers, and it's true that most of the bands I like have female leads. But I do like ColdPlay, JT, Tim McGraw and Hedley too.


No glasses for Precious

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Here are the pictures of the bag I made on the weekend. I got the idea from the book Generation T which I had borrowed from the library after seeing the author featured on CityLine. The first picture is one side of the bag, and the other picture is the opposite side of the same bag. It took me longer than I had hoped because of figuring out the machine, but also because I didn't have quite enough fabric left over for the handles so I had to re-work the pattern, which took longer.

I plan to make a couple more bags sometime soon.

Today I was at the children's hospital for an eye exam for Precious. She sometimes trips over table legs or thresholds or over the edges of carpets so she was referred to ophthalmology. Turns out she doesn't need glasses. I couldn't be more surprised. To tell you the truth, I feel that maybe they didn't do their job correctly since she walked out of there without glasses. I wasn't too impressed with the doctor and I don't think she was too impressed with me after I (diplomatically, I thought) suggested that Precious would be more co-operative if the doctor lowered her voice a bit.

I expected Precious to get corrective lenses prescribed, and then we would see an improvement in her balance and also a reduction in her eyes shaking back and forth. I guess I shouldn't go looking for trouble, but I am a little skeptical about the results the doctor gave us.


Don't Poke the Bear

Monday, May 26, 2008

What was supposed to be a pretty quiet weekend turned into a busy weekend for me because DH got a major fever and was lying in bed for most of 36 hours from Friday night to Sunday before lunch. I felt terrible for him, but I had my hands full. Check out this video link. The kids and I went to the bike rodeo at the school in the morning and then I took all three kids to Sweet Pea's dance class for 11:00 so DH could sleep. After lunch, Precious went for a nap, and I got to work figuring out my new sewing machine. I made a tote bag from some used t-shirts I got at the Goodwill store. I'll post pictures once DH gets off the desktop.

I'm watching Rachael Ray. I love the end of her show when she shows you 'what's for dinner'. Today it's chili cheese fries, which I've never had before but looked yummy. I've made a few of the recipes and they were definite keepers. My favourite one so far is Elsa's Favourite Fish. This is a good one to serve at a dinner party because I guarantee that your house will smell like the best Italian restaurant.


Bouncy Children

Saturday, May 24, 2008

One of the best investments we ever made was our back-yard trampoline. It's 8 o'clock in the morning and the kids are out there jumping in their pajamas and toques.

We have a pretty quiet weekend plannned. The only really special part is the volunteer firefighter's breakfast on Sunday morning. The kids love looking at all of the emergency vehicles and eating a HUGE breakfast.


No Peeking!

Friday, May 23, 2008

When I'm out for a walk or jogging around my neighbourhood, one of my favourite things to do is peek at other houses. I don't look in the windows or anything, but I look at how houses are decorated on the outside. I notice the windows, roofs, driveways, and I always look at the gardens. I'm more interested in the garden design than the actual plants. I love those gardens that marry different textures and shapes together, and the ones where there is a lot of repetition.

I was out for a walk this morning and I brought my camera. I had seen a house that is the same model as mine and they have changed the style of the windows. I sent it to DH and we agree that we love it. We're in the market for replacement windows and I plan to show this picture to the salesman.

When I was about to take the photo, the front door opened and the owner stepped out, so I had to pretend I was adjusting my iPod and blowing my nose so I could stall long enough to get the photo. I felt weird asking permission and I'm sure she was on her way to work otherwise I would have asked her where she got the windows.


Parenting Help

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Now that Mr.Boy has turned 6, I'm realizing that we're entering a whole new world of parenting. I want to show him that I trust him to do things on his own. He's pretty independent already, but since he's turned 6, I've wondered which freedoms should he have that he doesn't have yet?

So I asked him - "do you need more freedom?" and he answered "what's 'freedom' Mommy?" That was pretty funny. In the end, he suggested that he would like to order his own food at restaurants, walk to school on his own and ride his bike around the block alone. The first one is easy. I can accept that. The second one is fine as long as he waits for us at the crosswalk. As for riding his bike around the block without me, I'm just not ready for that. There are just too many people backing out of their driveways for me to feel safe. So I had to say 'no' to that one.

Lord knows I need all the parenting help I can get. Some days I really feel like I'm in over my head! Last winter, DH and I took a course called "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" I'd read the book already, but taking the course, especially as a couple was perfect. DH and I had some really intense conversations on the way to and from the class every week, for 6 weeks. I realized that we were doing a lot of things 'right' (whatever that means!) but we could still improve. Sometimes my head would hurt trying to override my instincts (which aren't perfect) and instead use the techniques in the book. When emotions are running high or it's a stressful situation, it's a pretty tough thing to do.

It's been about a year since we took the course and so many of the techniques in that class have worked so well. I really think our kids are turning out great. I flipped on the t.v. one day and saw a show called The Parenting Show on the local cable channel. After listening for just a few minutes, I kept thinking "boy, does she ever make a lot of sense!" I was referring to the parenting expert, Alyson Schafer. I went to her website and knew I wanted to read her book "Breaking the Good Mom Myth".

I read it and there were so many gasps of recognition as I went. The very first chapter is about self-care, and how this benefits you and your family. She talks about the importance of making time for your marriage. She introduces the idea of family meetings. She addresses sibling rivalry. One of the best parts was her showing how motherhood guilt is a self-serving emotion. What an eye-opener!

I've been able to see the behaviour of my children in a different light since this book. We've even introduced family meetings (well, we've had one anyway) and the kids loved it! They keep asking when the next one will be. So it seems like this will be a tool that could really help our family.

Up next is "Kids Have Stress Too" It seems to divide the advice based on the age of your child. It helps you teach your children how to deal with situations on their own. Have you read it?


A Blog I enjoy

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm a digital scrapbooker, and if you're one too, surely you have heard of Jessica Sprague. She is right up there with all my other favourite idols/gods/amazing people. She does a thing called Photoshop Friday, where she posts videos or blogs instructions for making digital scrapbook pages on Photoshop. Her pages are beautiful and the things she shows on PS are often things I don't know how to do. She sends out an email on a Friday with the information, and there is always an example or inspiration page that she has made using the technique.

Of course, she blogs about everyday life too, and she has two kids, similar in age to mine, so I can relate.

I 'scraplifted' an idea from Jessica Sprague, and also used some freebies from her collaboration with Creating Keepsakes magazine.

I always enjoyed paper scrapbooking, but the flexibility of digital scrapbooking can't be beat. And, there's no set-up or putting away of supplies. Ideal when you have little ones like I do.


Favourite night of the week

Monday, May 19, 2008

Of course I love the weekends, but I also love Mondays. They might be my favourite night of the week. I call it Junk Food TV night. I watch The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men. I give myself permission to take it easy and forget about my to-do list and just sit on the couch.

After a day like today, I needed tonight in front of the t.v. Precious was running a high fever all day and I had to hold her for at least half the time she was awake. Considering how sick she was, she hardly napped so I had her on my lap a lot.

I laughed a lot in all the shows, but How I Met Your Mother is probably my favourite show of the three. I guess I relate to the characters more, even though that phase of my life was a good, long while ago. I thought it was sweet when Barney showed that he loved Robin. And I really liked Lily's orange dress!


Favourite Movies

Sunday, May 18, 2008

For our 8th wedding anniversary, DH and I went out for dinner at Domus, then to a movie. We had trouble choosing a movie because of the types of movies that were out. Speed Racer? No way. What Happens in Vegas? I don't think so. We were in the mood for a quiet film; something that focussed on interesting people rather than special effects or action.

We went to the movie theatre with no idea what to see. It's one of those enormous places with 24 different theatres inside. The clerk at the ticket booth told us a bit about both of the movies that held any promise (ie. those we hadn't heard of). We settled on The Visitor. Turns out, it was exactly what we were looking for. It was a gentle movie with awesome writing and acting. Richard Jenkins was perfect. And I just loved the energy and charisma of Haaz Sleiman.

My list of favourite movies would be pretty long, so I'll list a few of my favourites in this genre.
Magnolia. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The Barbarian Invasions.

We had a great time celebrating our marriage and enjoying good food and a good movie.


Energizing day trip

Saturday, May 17, 2008

We're suburbanites, so a trip downtown is not something we do everyday. Although it is only 20 minutes or 25 kms, we always have some reason not to go. With it being a long weekend, all of the children's activities were canceled, freeing up our Saturday morning. With rain forecast for the rest of the weekend, we knew we only had one chance to go downtown to the Tulip Festival.

I didn't find too many things for the kids to do at the festival proper, but with free admission, how can you complain? There were plenty of things to see, and photo ops, and snacks to buy. We even managed lunch on a patio where the children were so well behaved, they were 'easy'. Mr. Boy was so hungry from running around all over that he ate twice his normal ration.

Before we even made it to the festival, we walked around the market (a charming section of downtown) a bit and the kids has so much fun outside the National Gallery, seeing the giant spider, and just running up and down all the different pathways.

Once inside the festival, there was a long row of decorated tulips that were taller than the children. They were each decorated in their own way, but my favourite was the green tulip with the mirrors on it, with the red metallic leaves.

We were so energized by our trip downtown, that we started talking about what it would be like to live there again. I remembered the convenience and the energy, but also the noise and the bright lights all night, and beeping delivery trucks and snowplows at night in the winter.

I think it would be a bit different with kids. Where would they play? Would we have room for a garden? Would we need to go up and down an elevator to get to our condo/apartment/house?

For now, we're going to stay out here in the 'burbs.


Favourite Scents

Friday, May 16, 2008

Do you have some smells that just transport you to another place or time? Fresh bread make you think of Grandma? Does the smell of Tide detergent make you think of your cousin? Ever have a smell make you pause and think of something you couldn't quite put your finger on?

Smells are really important to me. I can live in a messy house from time to time, but never a smelly one. I wish smells could be sent over the internet so you could smell these lovely lilacs.

My neighbour invited me to borrow her Grandpa's weeder so I could attack my dandelion problem. She also offered me some cuttings from her lilac. What a gorgeous smell!

This spring, I planted my own 'common' lilac in the back corner behind my pine trees. Not much other than goatsbeard grows in that shady spot with the acidic soil.

When I was little, my mom used to cut lilac branches from the bush down the road, wrap them in wet paper towel and then tin foil. I would bring them to my bus driver and teachers. What a great idea that was!

I love the smell of cinnamon and vanilla. Fresh cut grass. Laundry hung on the line. Newborn babies. Christmas trees. Peonies. Farenheit cologne. Chocolate cake baking.

What are your favourite smells?


Down at the Farm

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I pulled Mr. Boy and Sweet Pea out of school today to go to the farm with Precious and her school. We had fun seeing the animals and trying out tractors.

There was a heart-wrenching experience when the workers took a lamb out of the pen for the children to pet. The ewe cried and make the most horrible sounds while she was separated from her baby. It reminded of Mr. Boy's first few days, when the 'birthing centre' tried to take my son away to the nursery. I understood the ewe's pain and longing.

We had a great time at the farm. Boy, were those piglets ever cute!


Blissed Out Spa Experience

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

After hearing about Le Nordik from friends and acquaintances, I knew I had to go. I could just never find the time. Or someone to go with me. Or whatever lame excuse. Finally Christine asked me to go to celebrate my birthday and how could I resist? When I lived in Japan, Jessica and I made it a habit to visit the onsen regularly. We would enter tired and harried and emerge fresh, clean, relaxed, and sleepy. The onsen we visited there were segregated by sex. Upon entering, we would scrub every surface of our bodies vigorously, then start the process of going into the various mineral pools and hot tubs. My favourite experience was a particular onsen where we had a gorgeous view from the outdoor hot tub. Of course it started snowing lightly. It was magical.

No snow last night at Le Nordik, but every aspect of the place is made to ensure relaxation. From the steam room (with eucalyptus infusion), to the outdoor fireplaces, heat lamps, hot tubs, sauna, relaxation rooms, 'refreshing' waterfall (15 degrees Celcius), to the restaurant with their cheese platter... AAAhhhhhhhhhh (big sigh of happiness).

I stayed much longer than I had planned and got home and had to tell Hubby about it all, even though he was sleeping when I got home. I feel like I just spent a whole day on vacation. Hubby even said he might come with me next winter.


Happy Mother's Day

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I was so pleased to be woken up this morning by my children who rushed upstairs, homemade cards in hand (even Precious had a few scribbles on a piece of paper that she had folded up) and a delicious breakfast tray with my all-time favourite breakfast food - french toast!

I got a chance to sleep in a bit (even though it wasn't my turn!) and now I'm off to gymnastics with Precious.

Some mothers choose to do things with their family when this day rolls around, but I'm not ashamed to say that I enjoy a little time to myself on Mother's Day. Maybe a trip to the garden centre by myself. Perhaps a walk or a bike ride around the neighbourhood. Or even a nice, quiet nap.

I hope your Mother's Day is exactly what you want it to be!


Patience is a Virtue

Friday, May 9, 2008

30 Minutes or free. Instant Messaging. Overnight Delivery.

Why are we in such a rush?

One of the things I like about gardening is that it moves at its own pace. No one can really make the flowers bloom or the plants grow much faster than they would on their own. Time is not counted in second, minutes or weeks, but rather in seasons, months, years and even decades.

When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. When is the second best time? Today.

I love to putter around my garden and look at all the plants that are slowly making their way out of the ground. I like to make changes here and there and I moved some hostas to a sunnier location, which they seemed to like. We'll see how they do this summer. They're spreading already.

Peonies 'resent' being moved, but I moved a bunch last year and the year before and managed to get two blooms off one of the plants the first year after the move. I was delighted! I wish I was always so patient!

Right now I think I won't be making any changes to the garden this year, but we'll see what happens once everything is up and I see how it all looks.

For now, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my birthday!


These Are a Few of My Favourite Things

Thursday, May 8, 2008

This post is all about the robin's eggs I found yesterday and today. In driving school, over 20 years ago, Yoni taught me to 'aim high in steering', but I realized that sometimes you need to look right in front of you to see the special things.

I was out walking with my friend Mindy and I noticed something pale blue on the ground. In my paradigm of toddlers and preschoolers, I thought I saw a toy or a candy, but on closer inspection, it was half of a pale blue egg shell. It was so delicate, that I put it in my pocket and before I could show Sweet Pea (child #2), she fell into me and it was crushed. The old me (before kids) would have been so upset that my precious find was smashed, but I managed to shrug it off. Imagine my surprise this morning when I was outside and found another egg! This one was deep blue and gorgeous.

What I've learned from this is that sometimes looking to the future is a waste of time when everything you need is right in front of you. My kids are here with me now and they're perfect, so I don't need to worry about the next milestone or event or improvement I want to make in my life. I can cherish these moments. I am so lucky.


Favourite Magazines

Style At Home
Creating Keepsakes
Canadian House & Home
In Style
Yoga Journal
Real Simple
Digital Scrapbooking
Marie Claire


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