Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tis the season

To be thankful.

Gratitude should not only be expressed at Christmastime but this year has been extra emotional.  A mere two weeks before Christmas we were shocked by the shootings in Newtown, CT.  That night every parent went home to their kids and held them extra long and extra tight because we became shockingly aware of how precious life is.  Each day we send our kids to school assuming they are in a safe secure place until they arrive back at home.  Any shooting spree is a shock and leaves us rocked, but this was so much worse because the majority of the victims were children.  Defenseless, innocent, and undeserving of having their lives taken from them for reasons that we may never fully understand.  The fallen adults were heroes.  Many giving their lives to save the students that they could.  It's the ultimate sacrifice to give your life to save that of another.  I have nothing but respect for the adults who did so without hesitation to protect the children. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1T7JwwyAv8

I thought this tribute was extremely classy by artists on The Voice.  Well done.

These are my gratitudes:

I am grateful to have my baby safe and happy and warm. 
I am grateful for my wonderful husband who is a wonderful father and my best friend.
I am grateful for my parents and siblings.
I am grateful for my friends.
I am grateful for every day I am able to spend with them.  
I am grateful to have a home, a job and steady income.
I am grateful.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.  May you all be lucky enough to spend them surrounded by love, as I have been.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The terror of night

Seriously.  Sometimes my dreams scare the beegeezus out of me.  Last night was particularly creepy.  Halloween dreams visiting a bit late, but man I woke up in a panic!  Visions of vampires, monsters, and things standing between me and my baby.  Fighting to get to him, to protect him from things he should not see.  It's a dream that crops up every now and then in different forms, I guess every mom and dad has similar dreams every now and then.  The minute I woke up I shot out of bed to make sure he was still in his.  Of course he was.  Sleeping like an angel.  What a relief.  Still felt like it took about 10 yrs off of my life though.  And I really don't have them to spare. 

What is it about our psyche that releases all of our anxiety in our dreams?  Why are mine so vivid and panic ridden?  Psychologists would have a field day with me, I'm sure.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy All Hallows Eve

The Witches’ Spell


Act IV, Scene 1 from Macbeth (1606) by William Shakespeare


A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.

Enter the three Witches.

1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.

2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.

3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!

1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;

In the poison’d entrails throw.—

Toad, that under cold stone,

Days and nights has thirty-one;

Swelter’d venom sleeping got,

Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

2 WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the caldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,

Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

3 WITCH. Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;

Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf

Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;

Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;

Liver of blaspheming Jew;

Gall of goat, and slips of yew

Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;

Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;

Finger of birth-strangled babe

Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—

Make the gruel thick and slab:

Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,

For the ingrediants of our caldron.

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

2 WITCH. Cool it with a baboon’s blood,

Then the charm is firm and good.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Neglecting my blog

Does not mean that I neglect other aspects of my life!

Quite the opposite actually!

We are back into the full swing of Autumn, school has started my SK kid is right back into the routine of school.  It's different this year, he has HOMEWORK!  That dreaded word that makes parents and kids alike shiver with dread.  It's not that intense, but I can see it coming down the road.

The focus right now seems to be developing printing skills, working on letters, colours, lots more focus on French, on chante beaucoup en fran├žais, and to my surprise, safety!  Safety rules at school, fire safety, our family has now talked about a safety plan in terms of having a fire in the home, J does not quite understand about not stopping to put shoes on if there is a real emergency, but we're working on it!  He knows where all the smoke alarms are and also what the CO detector is for.

Work is work, it's busy busy and going to be more so over the next few months.  My boss is retiring, happily for her and sadly for the rest of us.  Her work will have to be absorbed partly by us and partly by other management.  It's not looking like they will replace her.  C'est la vie.

We are back into swimming lessons.  I have a front crawler!  His skills are coming along so well!  Seeing lots more of his head in the water which was always really challenging for him, but he's realizing now that he can swim much faster with his face in the water.  He's bringing his arms out of the water and starting to resemble more of a fish than a boy!  

Halloween is on the horizon and then shortly after it will be Christmas.  Where the heck does the time go?  Life is moving way too fast. 

"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen." Mark Twain

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nine eleven oh-one

11 yrs ago when the World Trade Centre was attacked, I was at home watching tv, my program was interrupted shortly after the first tower was hit, I then watched live as the next plane flew into the other.  I knew at that moment, those buildings were going down.   When they collapsed I felt horrified that this could happen not that far from where I live, devastated for all the lives lost on that day.  I can't imagine what it must have been like to be in or around those towers on that day, to be a loved one getting a call to say goodbye, or don't worry, or I'm leaving the building I'll see you soon.  Some made it home, but many more didn't. 

First responders and others are still suffering the effects of illness from inhalation injuries/diseases.  They have been fighting all these years for medical coverage they so desperately need and deserve for serving the people of New York in the most heroic way possible.

This is the thought I want to leave you with.  How will we survive as the human race if we continue to choose violence to settle our differences?  We need to accept each other and embrace our diversity and understand that we are all equal.  Violence, oppression, exploitation, slavery have no place on this earth.



Call me an idealist, see if I care. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Labour Day it is!

Generally the busiest weekend of the year!  Trying to cram in one more bit of fun, get the kidlet ready for school, make sure the pantry is stocked for lunch making, realizing that I may have forgotten to pick up some clothes, since I am just about certain all of his pants won't fit anymore...ACK!  Total disorganization.  GDI.  What else is new?  Totally.Freaking.Out. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

French toast

This is my own recipe for French Toast.  It's very similar to my mom's, but she uses white bread, I'm a fan of whole wheat but tomayto tomahto.  I don't own the copyright or anything but it's the balance of flavour that I enjoy and he will eat and then ask for more!  That's all a parent really wants, is to see their kids eat!  I love to make this on weekends when we have time to cook in the kitchen together.  He's an expert mixer, soon he'll be ready to learn to crack the eggs!  His favourite part is the eating, and really can you blame him?? 

5 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6-8 slices whole wheat bread (at least day old works best)
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil


20120825_082146-1.jpg

The key to this recipe is to preheat your pan then lower the temperature to about medium or slightly lower.  Don't crowd the pan, I use a fairly large skillet and only two slices at a time.  Halfway through, add some fresh oil. 


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Serve with *real* maple syrup and your choice of fruit!  My picky eater likes bananas, but they can't be on the same plate as the toast.  :)

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Hell can be heaven

I don't watch many reality shows (anymore), I used to be really hooked on Amazing Race and Survivor, but those have not managed to sustain my interest.  At the moment I am currently hooked on Gordon Ramsay's shows, kind of my guilty pleasure. He has several shows and I find I enjoy watching all of them.  Kitchen Nightmares, Hell's Kitchen, and now most recently Hotel Hell.  Not only is Ramsay an amazing chef, but he has a sharp business mind which is why he is so freaking successful!  I also love how he is not afraid to swear.  He says bollocks alot too, which always makes me giggle!  He has high standards and knows how to push people when they need pushing and how to support them when they need it.  And no bullshit, he smells it a mile away.  Excuse me...need to get back to my tv. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Banana bread "cupcakes"

Following a very lovely Cupcakes and Squares party thrown by a good friend and true soul-geek mate, I would like to share the recipe I used to share with the hostess and the other lovely ladies who attended.  It was nice to meet some new friends. 

4 mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Blend together first four (wet) ingredients.  In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until smooth.  Add the chocolate chips last.  Divide batter equally into 12 large muffin cups.  Bake at 350 for 25 mins. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bring on summer!

School has ended for the year and so it's time for our little ones to have a summer full of fun.  J was super excited to be done with having to do "jobs" at school.  He brought home an amazing, glowing report card.  His teacher had nothing but good things to say about him, he is more than meeting the expectations of JK, he has started reading level 1 books and understands everything he reads.

Our plans for the summer are as follows:

Long, long Canada Day weekend up at the cottage with Nanny and Grandpa, come back Sunday for an annual bbq with Poppa. Monday will be spent doing laundry and getting J ready for his summer program  They are requesting we send alot of items with the kidlet.  J will attend the summer program that his school is offering to the kindergarten students.  They will spend their days playing outside, getting wet on nice days, and hopefully having some quiet time in the afternoons.

At the end of July we will be off together for 2 weeks, plan to go to Calypso, head up to the cottage and get some much needed R&R.  On nice days, when we're in town, we'll hang at the splash pad, bike ride, and on not so nice days we'll go to the library, and generally just take it real easy!  We're not really in a position to take a "vacation", and I much prefer the idea of a "staycation".  

We have many family birthdays to celebrate this summer which always gives us a reason to get together and have fun. 

All too soon September will come and we will be planning for the school year ahead.  Time sure flies when you're having so much fun! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bowling bash

A few weeks before his birthday J and I were discussing what kind of party he would like to have.  He started by saying he wanted his grandparents and aunt and uncle to come over for supper.  I told him we would do that too, but I was really asking what kind of kids party he would like to have.  His eyes nearly popped out of his head, such was his surprise.  "A kids party?  I can have my friends at a party?"  He was so happy about that simple fact that he really had no clue what kind of party he should have.  So I gave him a few choices (based on my cost analysis research) and he ended up picking a Bowling Party at Merivale Bowling Lanes.

First of all, bowling is a great activity for kids.  It is active, fun, and really not all that hard to do.  They put bumpers on the lanes for kids so there are no gutter balls to discourage them.  This way, they hit the pins a lot more making it more fun for everyone.  The bowling balls are smaller, not as heavy so the kids can handle them fairly easily.  I don't recommend it for kids under 3-4.  There is music blasting, lights are low and the shoes glow in the dark!  Such simple things to enhance the experience. Young or very sensitive children may be a bit scared or overwhelmed by the music, lights and noise of the bowling alley.  My son invited six of his friends, 3 boys from school and 3 kids he's known since he was very little through my friends and daycare.  The kids dove into bowling with lots of enthusiasm, they picked up quickly when it was their turn and how to keep track of their scores, and at one point we had a mini mosh pit of little boys rolling around on top of each other.  Birthday boy was at the bottom, of course.  His friends were all so excited that they just piled on top of him to wish him happy birthday!



Merivale Bowling lanes did a really great job with my son's birthday party.  They were well organized, had a hostess assigned specifically to our party to facilitate our experience there.  We had one hour to bowl and one hour in the restaurant for lunch and cake.  Our hostess organized all the kids with their shoes, programmed all the lanes with names and such and checked in with us regularly to make sure things were going smoothly.  When we were done with bowling we went to the restaurant and the table was set with all the gifts at one end, and the food was ready so the kids didn't have to wait for anything.  They could dive into their pizza, bash open their bags of chips (yes, there were chips everywhere!), and they were all thirsty and so there was apple juice for all sitting at their places.  Presents were opened and cake was served.  Overall, the food was really good and they did a great job on the cake.   

We would definitely go back again, both for just family bowling and likely for another birthday.  The cost was really very reasonable, it saved me a whole lot of work, all we had to do was bring the loot bags for our guests.  We bought gift bags in bright colours and filled them with fun items from our local Dollarama.  At the end of the party everyone seemed happy and the birthday boy was thrilled with it, which was, above all, the whole point. 

http://merivalebowlingcentre.com/

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Exploring nature safely

When we are out enjoying nature with our little ones, it's really important to be safe in our environment.  We must encourage our kids never to eat something such as a plant or a berry found outside unless we are absolutely certain it is in fact safe and edible. Many species of plants look very similar to each other, so if you are not sure, err on the side of caution and bring a snack with you!  

 If you suspect your child or another adult has ingested something or is feeling ill do not wait to call the Ontario Poison Centre.  They operate 24 hrs a day and in cases of suspected poisoning, time is critical.

Ontario Poison Centre (24 hrs) 1-800-268-9017
ontariopoisoncentre.com

Water Hemlock is the most poisonous plant in North America.  One mouthful of this species will kill an adult.  This plant should not even be touched.  Small amounts even through skin absorption can make you ill.  This plant can be found in wet, open areas, along shore lines and in marshes. Ingestion of this plant would require immediate medical attention.  It has small white flowers, jagged edged leaves and a long, hollow, purple stems.  People mistakenly use the stem as a natural straw and end up extremely ill.




Poison Ivy is a very common and irritating plant.  It coined the phrase "Leaves of three, leave them be." It can be found close to the ground, climbing trees, or poking through rocks.  It also develops white berries at the base of the plant.  These are not edible.  Their leaves can have a glossy, purplish sheen, or be quite dull.  Most people will develop a skin rash as an allergic reaction to the oils in the plant.  You can pass it on to someone else, so no touching if you have it!  If you need to treat someone, please wear latex gloves.  Oatmeal baths and other topical ointments can be helpful in easing the itchiness and pain.  Calomine is messy, but effective.




Poison Sumac is just as common, but more aggressive than poison ivy.  There are many leaves to a branch and is a much larger tree, can be 6-7 feet tall.  It's berries look very much like those of poison ivy, white, small and hard.  It grows in wet areas or damp ground near water.  A person's reaction to poison sumac is very similar to ivy, only more intense.  The same treatment is recommended.





Red Baneberry and White Baneberry or "dolls eyes" are very poisonous if eaten.  Children are most often poisoned by these since they are easily grabbed and the red ones are quite attractive and glossy.  As few as 5 berries can make an adult seriously ill and just a few more than that are fatal.  Few people would ever eat that many since they are quite acrid tasting, but medical attention should be sought if ingested.




Canada Moonseed is often confused with grape vines. The leaves have a heart shaped base and lack the tendrils of grape vines.  They do bear a grape-like fruit but these berries and the roots of the plant are very poisonous.  They contain high levels of alkaloids and ingesting them can cause seizures.



Please be careful when out there exploring with your little ones and animals too!  Nature is so much fun to enjoy, but has it's own natural defenses built into it.  What looks like a pretty berry could turn your day in the forest into a trip to the emergency room.  

(Photos from www.wildwoodsurvival.com)


Sunday, May 13, 2012

To mothers

Her beauty lies in her strength
To conquer the beasts of sleep
To sparkle when they laugh
To rejoice in the smallest steps

Her strength lies in her compassion
To feel their emotions
To soothe away the sorrows
To cry their tears

Her compassion lies in her need
To understand their thoughts
To push them to succeed
To realize their dreams

Her need is to mother, for that is who she is.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A tribute to the moon

The moon is a white strange world, great, white, soft-seeming globe in the night sky, and what she actually communicates to me across space I shall never fully know. But the moon that pulls the tides, and the moon that controls the menstrual periods of women, and the moon that touches the lunatics, she is not the mere dead lump of the astronomist.... When we describe the moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness.
(D.H. (David Herbert) Lawrence (1885-1930)

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
(Edward Lear (1812-1888), British poet. The Owl and the Pussy-cat (l. 29-30)

The Moon for all her light and grace
Has never learned to know her place.
(Robert Frost (1874-1963), U.S. poet. "Two Leading Lights.") 

The moon, like to a silver bow
New bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.
(William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Hippolyta, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, act 1, sc. 1, l. 9-11. To Theseus, whom she is to marry.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Photo free

Why don't I post photos on my blog?  It's not as straightforward an answer as you might think.  I tend to over-complicate my life by worrying a lot.  I am a very shy person.  I cover this up pretty well because I am also quite social.  It just doesn't come easily.  I work really hard at this because it would be my preference to avoid social situations altogether.  It has nothing to do with not liking people or not wanting to have friends.  Quite the opposite actually.  I have a lot of difficulty with crowds, loud and noisy venues etc.  After a certain amount of time I feel like I am having sensory overload and have this immediate need to get out now.  Maybe it's anxiety, maybe it's just my tolerance is lower but each and every time I will have that flight response.  (I'm not really a fighter).  So we come back to the photo issue.  When I write on my blog, I feel like I am already baring my soul, so to speak.  For me, adding photos would be more like voyeurism.  My blog is public, I don't know who out there is reading it.  And words are just words when it's a stranger reading them.  Photos are a window into my personal space.  At least on other social networking sites I set up some privacy parameters so only ppl I want see my photos.  (yes, I understand this has it's limits too, but I feel more comfortable sharing photos there rather than here)

Alright alright.  So maybe I'll post photos that aren't too personal.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Proud day

Today was a great day.  My kid is so amazing.  At the pool this morning, he swam, all on his own, for the first time.  For the last little while, I knew he was close.  He could float on his back with only the most minor amount of help, and it was more fear than anything else that was getting in the way.  As soon as the swim instructor Daniel would let go, he'd put his feet down.  Today though, they took the kids into the bigger pool, he put J on his back told him to kick, and off he went.  I think he did about half a lap before he even realized that Daniel had let go.  Then he put his feet down, but at that point, I think he was over it.  He wanted to do it again, and again, he was so happy.  And there I was, standing at the side of the pool, teary-eyed.  A marshmallow, I tell you!  A melted one.  Throw some rice crispies on me or something to control the goop factor!  Something as little as learning to swim completely unravels me.  How is that even possible?  It makes me the happiest parent on the planet.  It never ceases to amaze me how these small successes for him can just send me over the moon.  Also, another example, in the last two/three weeks, he has started to read.  He is reading level 1 books from school, twice a week he comes home with a new reader and he wants to read to me!  I'm no longer the only one to tell the stories.  He can read them too.  It's so scary how quickly it happens.  It's also exciting, I want him to enjoy school, so many kids don't but I just think that if I encourage him and support him, he'll want to keep trying and keep working to achieve the next goal.  Today was a proud day, his dad and I made sure he knew it. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hippity hoppity

Easter's on it's way!

I am thrilled that the four day weekend is here!  Here's why:

Not as busy as Christmas.  Only have to worry about setting up a little hunt for my little man.  He loves this just as much as opening pressies from Santa.    I also happen to think the Easter Bunny is way cooler.  Most of his presents are made of CHOCOLATE!  What's not to love?

Shopping is minimal and expectations for gifts are MUCH lower. :)

We will be visiting family and friends this weekend. We always look forward to seeing everyone. 

Did I mention it's a four day weekend?  Just checking.  Four days off in a row is decadent.  Not quite a vacation, but a nice long break from the Monday to Friday grind.

Today we decided to just hang out.  We stayed our butts home, did a bit of cooking, a bit of game play, took a nap, and essentially just enjoyed each others company.  Tiling didn't go so well, but we'll take another crack at it before the weekend is over.  Minor glitches that I think DH has sorted out how to work around.  The end is in sight but the detail work is time consuming.  Can't wait for it to be done though.   Saturday we'll be attending a birthday bbq and J will have an opportunity to make some new friends.  He loves to meet new kids, so it should be a fun time!  Monday I think we'll check out a movie.  I want to see Mirror Mirror with J, he said he would come with me even though it's not a cartoon.  I was shocked.  I thought I was going to have to wait for it to be released to video. 

Hope everyone has a wonderful long weekend!  Happy Easter to my family and friends.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Swimming success

Well after that teaser week of summer in Ottawa, it has made me start itching for the real thing so we can go swimming regularly up at the cottage.  Since he was 3 (now almost 5) J has regularly been taking swimming lessons through the City of Ottawa.  The first round of lessons was really an adjustment period because he refused to participate for the most of the lessons.  He would get in the water but not cooperate with the instructor.  However, since then he has been quite happy about going, some of the tasks are hit or miss with him, he doesn't love having water in his face or ears, but over time, things have improved.  The spring session started last week and I swear, that was a totally different kid in the water!  He was dunking his head, happily floating on his back, front float has improved drastically, he will actually put his face in the water, tentatively, but he used to outright refuse!  He loves to play the games like "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" and "Red light green light" It's too bad the lessons are only 30 minutes long, I think he would benefit from a longer lesson, even another 15 minutes would be great!

The City of Ottawa's Learn to Swim Program offers the Red Cross swimming levels.  They include Parent and Me classes, Preschool classes, and School-Aged program (up to 12 yrs old).  Follow this link for more details.

http://ottawa.ca/en/rec_culture/class_activity/reg_mem/courses_available/swimming/learn_swim/index.html

Not only are swimming lessons fun, but swimming is also a very important skill for a child to have.  Many people have a fear of water and so having lessons in childhood can help to prevent this.  Fear leads to panic and if you panic in the water, the outcome is terrible.  Just knowing how to handle yourself in the water can prevent so many accidental drownings.  Of course, even the best swimmers can drown, and I highly promote the use of life jackets in boats and on inexperienced swimmers in deep water.  Simply knowing how to float and keep your head above water is a critical skill, in my opinion.  I am a strong swimmer, my parents insisted we take swimming lessons and I am doing the same for J.  It is also the kind of class that grows with the child.  They continue to build upon and learn new skills including rescue maneuvers and CPR.  Also something to think about:  teens who become lifeguards and swimming instructors are paid quite well.  They can work at city pools as well as summer camps earning their own money.  The benefits just keep adding up.

For information about how your teen could become a lifeguard visit the National Lifesaving Society's webiste. 

http://www.lifesaving.ca/main.php?lang=english&cat=main

Who knows if J will ever go that far, but what's important to me is that he learn to swim and be comfortable around water.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Springtime = SUGAR SHACK!

I am so pleased I was feeling well enough today to go and visit Stanley's Olde Maple Lane Farm. I had been there with J before, but this time we brought Daddy and Shannon with us. DH has never visited a sugar bush before. Poor deprived person. I have had the pleasure of visiting several at different points in my life and love the experience. Stanley's is what I would call the Cadillac version of a sugar shack. It is fairly commercialized, but they do give you the whole experience. They also specialize in weddings and events the rest of the year and I'm sure they do a booming business outside of maple syrup season!

We had such a beautiful day today, we hit 25 degrees, it was like summer! We stripped off our jackets mid-morning and were able to just enjoy the sunshine with no bugs! We did see the odd wasp, but they were still pretty dopey and not at all aggressive. Give it a few more weeks and it will be completely different.

We started the day with their buffet breakfast, pancakes, french toast, belgian waffles, sausage, ham, frittata Y.U.M.! We followed up with a wagon ride around the property, had the pleasure of seeing and hearing cardinals, blue jays, robins and probably a hundred birds I wouldn't recognize the sound of. Our horses Judy and Erica were very gentle and our wonderful driver let J sit up front with him and handle the reins with him. J was so excited when the horses went to a faster pace, he thought he was doing it, well, our driver was letting him think that anyway. Afterwards, we let our little man run some of his breakfast off at their playground, which is dated, but cute and has a nice long slide! Taffy on the snow, let me just say that I haven't eaten enough of that pure sugar treat in my life. Some don't like the sticky sweetness, but it's right up my alley! Don't try to pick it off your teeth, it will melt eventually! They show you their original boiler for maple syrup although it would be illegal to sell products made in there, lead lined systems like this one were banned long ago, but they still operate it to show the history of maple syrup making. We skipped the barn, the smells are too overwhelming for J so we didn't push it. He saw some animals from afar, like the pot-bellied pig Wilbur, some cows hanging out in their enclosure, and he enjoyed the ride with the horses as well.

When we got home we knew it was a great day, because he fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours. When my no-napper naps, we call the day a success!

Thanks to Stanley's, see ya next year!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday mornings

What is it about Sunday mornings?  They are just the best.  While I look forward to Saturdays the most, it usually ends up being quite a busy day with lessons, visits, shopping and whatnot.  I am just as exhausted Saturday night as I am on any other week night.  It's a good exhausted because it usually means that I have enjoyed my day. 

Sunday mornings though are luxurious.  No alarms sounding, wake up when I wake up (or when munchkin crawls in to say "Hi mommy!  I'm hungry!") and no particular schedule to keep or routines to complete like shower, dress, breakfast, make lunches and be in the car to get to work on time.  Sunday means a slower pace, relaxed time lines, eat when we're hungry and decide what to do when everyone is awake.  Sometimes we make plans in advance, but often we just see how the day progresses and go from there. 

Today we woke up to the Black Eyed Peas.  J and I were having our morning chat and cuddle and he was pretending to be a bear in his den waking up from his winter hibernation.  He asked for some berries to eat and wanted to hear some dance music.  So of course, I fed him his pretend berries and put on the first song I could think of that had some good beats.  After our little bear den dance party, he decided it was time to go downstairs and watch cartoons. 

Sunday mornings, so very sweet.  And did I mention yet what an amazing kid I have?  Didn't think so, needed to throw that in there. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tiles of fun!

Tiling in the kitchen is well underway.  We finally got it all together and went out and purchased the tiles and related supplies we would need to finish the backsplash area of our kitchen.  Let me go back a bit.

When we first moved into our house, we decided we would update the look of the kitchen, it was not decorated to our taste and the counter tops were horrendous.  We replaced the counters and were very pleased with our choice.  Next step was to paint the kitchen, however, we discovered the previous owners had painted over wallpaper.  Our attempt to take down the wallpaper revealed we had SEVERAL layers of wallpaper mixed with drywall compound to hide seams and whatnot.  This brought us to a standstill.  Funds at the time were limited and we decided to wait a bit so we could fix it properly.

Such is life that we had a major leak in our bathroom and so kitchen work was further delayed.  We are not rich and have to take things one at a time.  We also had a wee one and let me tell you, daycare is VERY expensive, worth every penny with the right person (or people as our luck would have it), but expensive nonetheless.

Now, I am thrilled that we are finally working on the tiling in the kitchen.  DH is doing the bulk of the work, but in my supervisory capacity, I believe it is going extremely well.  He is very particular and precise about the placement of the tiles and pays so much attention to detail, it's unreal!  He is also planning a small tiling job for the powder room which pleases me to no end!  That tile saw was worth buying for sure. 

I love home renos, for real too, not just watching them on tv!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Disney on Ice

When I was a kid, we used to go to the Ice Capades.  My mom and grandmother would take my sisters and I to see the figure skating show, since we were huge fans of skating in general.  None of us were destined to be figure skaters, but we sure enjoyed watching!  I remember being so excited to go watch these events, back then we called the venue the Corel Centre.  I'm pretty sure the last show I attended was a mix of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.  My younger sister would have been about 7 or 8, so we're talking more than 17 yrs ago!  I can't tell you how excited I am to be going with my own son.  I know he may not love this type of event for very long, but for the moment, he is thrilled to be going to see Disney on Ice:  Treasure Trove.  The show is tonight, so my next paragraph will describe how the evening transpired!

I took my son to see the show on Friday night.  It was such a wonderful event!  First of all, I myself am a huge fan of Disney.  You just can't go wrong.  It is truly fun for the whole family.  If you follow me on Twitter you would have seen my tweets throughout the show.  I didn't intend to Tweet like that during the show, but, I was excited, and my 4 year old was even more so!  When we walked in the front doors to Scotiabank Place we were immediately bombarded by the souvenir stands.  Immediate eye candy, for both him and me.  Of course I let him have a look, and of course I let him have an Incredibles spinning light toy!  It is his favourite Disney movie!  He is a particular fan of Dash because "he runs really fast Mommy!".  I bit my tongue and just paid the $20 for it because it made him happy.  Off we went to find our seats a few minutes before the show started.  We ended up having really good seats.  We were able to see everything with no difficulty and close enough to make out facial expressions! 

The show itself covered many wonderful Disney movies, they played out on the ice the most beloved scenes from each movie that was part of the show while Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy narrated between scenes.  I will give you some highlights from each scene.

Act I

Alice in Wonderland:  The playing cards had amazing choreography.  It was fairly intricate group skating with a lot of intersecting lines where the skaters had to be quite close together.  It looked so good!

Peter Pan:  The crocodile costume that the skater wore was incredible!  He skated on his hands and feet with picks on the front and his blades in the back to maneuver around the ice.  The Lost Boys set was very true to the movie with a tree house and slide.  Tinkerbell was a little firecracker and got to be suspended by wires, how cool was that?

Act II 

The Lion King:  Again, wonderful costumes, skaters with billowing 2 piece costumes, one part was carried overhead and looked like a herd of what I think were meant to be buffalo, they were just gorgeous!  They also did the giraffe in the same style, very visually appealing.  And what can I say, I LOVE Timon and Pumba.  I sang every word of Hakuna Matata.

Snow White:  Snow White and her Prince were beautiful dance style skaters.  I really enjoyed just watching their skating solo.  They were expressive and to me their skating was quite good.  Again, fantastic costumes on the dwarfs and the witch.

Aladdin:  Amazing job on the set in this scene.  Jasmine's balcony was just like the movie.  I was disappointed they didn't have Rajah, Jasmine's tiger in this piece!  He was such an important part of the movie!  Or  Abu, the monkey!  ("Kiss the monkey, Blech, hairball!")  They of course had Genie and the magic carpet ride, but I honestly think this one could have been better!

The Little Mermaid:  Ariel, Sebastian, and fish of many beautiful flourescent colours.  It really looked like it was Under the Sea! 

The Frog Princess:  I have never seen this movie, but I am glad to see that Disney is embracing multiculturalism more and more.  Princess Tiana had a gorgeous dress and I enjoyed the skating the most in this scene. 

The final group skate incorporated many characters from movies they didn't cover during the show.  We saw Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Mulan and so many more!  What an enjoyable evening.  My son was very well behaved, he was enthralled by the show, and he smiled and danced throughout the performance.  He also amused himself with his spinning light toy, just like a boy!  It was all said and done just before 9:00 pm and of course, my son fell asleep in the car on the way home, surefire way to tell the evening was a success!

Check out the official Disney website for clips from the show!

http://disney.go.com/disneyonice/

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The small and the sweet

On this day of flowers, candy, and romantic dinners I would like to share with you some of the unsung romantic gestures that I can say really do add to the sweet life that I have. 

1.  He comes home, to us, every single day.  With a cheerful "Hello!"  I can tell he's happy to see us at the end of the day.  

2.  He takes the garbage out, every week.

3.  He is a damn fine cook.

4.  Cleans too!

5.  He is a great dad, loves our son to pieces and would do anything for him.

6.  He is honestly my very best friend and we have always had fun together.

It is wonderful to have romance, flowers and candy to celebrate the love that we have for each other.  The points I mentioned above are the glue that holds things together for the long haul.  Without the consistency of a partner that can be counted upon for anything in any situation, it just doesn't work.  And it goes both ways.  Equal partners however the division of labour is decided.

So this Valentine's Day, for me, is about recognizing what happens every day that makes me feel loved.  Kisses and hugs to my sweetie and to my little bug as well.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Be my valentine

I have realized that this year, I will have the pleasure of writing Valentines for nearly 30 kids!  WOW.  Um, I haven't started yet.  I think I might be underestimating the time it will take to actually do this job.  Especially if I want J to attempt to write his own name on each one.  Maybe my expectations are too high.  At least I went for the pre-packaged variety of Valentine's Day cards.  What kind of mother am I??  Not to hand make each individual card for each child in his class??   Um, a smart one.  With almost 30 kids in his class, I just can't see us making that many little cards by hand.  We would have had to have started at Thanksgiving.  :)  The joys of having a child in school.  You just don't think of these things ahead of time!  I wish he could be a baby again...playdates and diapers and bottles.  Seems so simple now...they say it gets easier, but here I am to bust that myth.  It actually gets much more intricate.  Try explaining to a 4.5 year old that talking about their problems is actually a good thing.  It has taken me 2 days to figure out what was wrong that he didn't want to go to extended care at school!!  Turns out there is a little boy who likes to play a bit rough, and J doesn't like that at all.  I'm not concerned that he is being hurt or anything, but my guy just isn't physical in that way with others.  When he backs off, he expects they will too, but not all kids at this age can read those cues, especially if that's how they are used to playing  They don't get that it might not be so much fun for another kid.  So we came up with a plan to first tell the boy he doesn't like it and he wants him to stop.  If that doesn't work, he needs to get the help of a teacher.  All that to say that in some ways things get easier, but others get much more complicated.  Explaining life and the nature of people is something so abstract and hard to grasp for our little ones.  So we muddle through as best we can and hope they learn something...

So now, to devise a plan to complete many many Valentines before the 14th...sigh.  I know I'll be up late the night before. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lady and the Tramp Giveaway

I am now addicted to entering contests.  Here is my latest endeavor!  Wish you luck if you choose to enter as well!

I really enjoy Nolie's Place website/blog.  Everything I read there is entertaining, enjoyable and I seem to relate to really well. 

http://www.noliesplace.com/blog/2012/02/lady-and-the-tramp-prize-pack-giveaway/comment-page-2/#comment-20583

Friday, January 27, 2012

Helmets are healthy

I am tired of reading comments from people about how they never wore a helmet when they were kids and they turned out just fine.  I never wore a helmet as a child, I am fine, and I consider myself extremely lucky.  Choosing to not put a helmet on a child for this reason is plain silly, I'd like to use another word, but we'll leave it as silly.

Head injuries and spinal cord injuries are not to be brushed off lightly.  They are extremely serious and can be fatal.  Case in point:  Sarah Burke.  Beloved Canadian half-pipe skier who recently succumbed to her injuries after a training accident.  She sustained injuries so severe, wearing a helmet (which she was) didn't even matter.

You're not a stunt skier?  Not relevant.  Even a mild-moderate fall without even a bump necessarily, can be fatal.  Over.  Lights out for good.  Remember Natasha Richardson??  Concussions, whiplash, all part of the same family of head injuries.  A good hard shake is enough to cause brain swelling or bleeding.  If wearing a helmet during recreational skiing, snowboarding, skating, tobogganing, skateboarding, rollerblading, biking, can protect your brain, to me, that's a no-brainer.  You think strokes are only for the elderly?  Think again. 

Acquired brain injuries and spinal cord injuries leave permanent physical impairments.  Spastic muscles, vision impairment, loss of speech/communication, loss of mobility, loss of ability to eat, loss of bowel/bladder control.  I am not a doctor, but I see it everyday.  No one in my business would wish this on anybody.  They gladly strap helmets on themselves and their little ones because they have seen what can happen.  These types of injuries cost our health care system millions of dollars every year.  Not only for hospital treatment, but for rehab services like physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, wheelchairs, adapted equipment.

Helmets don't protect from all injuries, but they sure don't hurt.

Protect your brain, it's the only one you've got.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I disagree, the fraud's a fraud!

My friend Jenn called herself a fraud.  I'm here to explain to you why she is wrong, hence, why the fraud is a fraud!!

Now I can't say I know Jenn better than anyone else, that just wouldn't be true.  However, I know enough.

Jenn is one of the kindest people I know.  Here are some words in my vocabulary to describe Jenn.

Smart.  Jenn is a very intelligent woman.  If she wasn't sharp as a tack, I wouldn't be able to use this next word. 

Witty.  If you look closely at her writing, you first note a little silliness, but soon you realize that there is real substance behind her every comment.  There is depth to all of her posts, but if you read them too quickly, you might miss it.  She describes herself as awkward socially, but I just don't see it!

Nurturing.  She is a beautiful mother.  She looks after her family.  If she blogs about being irked with her family life, it's completely normal.  Simply an outlet to vent frustration.  Everyone does it, so what??  She is also a very supportive friend.  She knows how to offer encouragement in the right way at the right time. 

This is why my friend Jenn the fraud, is a fraud. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Help - A book review

(Please note, none of the language contained in this blog is meant to be offensive.  It is in keeping with the language used in the book.)

I recently finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  It is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960's.

I would like to start off by saying what a touching book this was, in so many ways.  There were also some awful parts to it, about how black people were treated dreadfully; as inferior to white people.  For me, this book was about courage.  How a white woman, Miss Skeeter, had the courage to find out what really went on in Jackson society.  How the black women had the courage to tell their stories, good and bad, only because they had hope that it could change things.

Aibileen was my favourite character in this novel.  The development of her character was so rich.  She recognized her own faults and obviously loved and missed her son who died working for the white man.  He was so unimportant in their eyes that they just dropped his dead body off at the black hospital.  The description of her mourning was so real and aching.  Her love was soulful and touching, she loved the children she cared for, her "white babies" as much as her own child.  She could not stand to stay with them too long, because eventually they became jaded, taught to hate coloured people.  At first she resisted telling her stories to Miss Skeeter, but somewhere she knew that change would come, but only in small steps.  By the end of the novel, she was telling stories to her white babies to try to teach them that colour does not matter.  What matters is that we are all people.   We saw a shining example of Aibileen's efforts at the end when Mae Mo says something like "Miss Taylor taught it!"  That 3 yr old girl knew she had to lie to her daddy to protect her Aibee, so in the end Aibileen was successful at making a small change in one person.  Maybe it would last, and maybe it wouldn't, but the risk was worth it for her. 

Surprisingly, my next favourite character was Celia Foote.  Although I felt, in part, that the author could have developed her character a little more, she showed that not all white people adhered to the lines between white and black people so vehemently.  There were some social norms that she just didn't understand.  She was paying Minny, her maid, double what other maids earned from other families.  Minny attributed it to what she called her "white trash" background.  I guess coming from a place like Sugar Ditch meant that everyone was in the same boat.  Likely poor as dirt across the board.  Not many white ladies in that novel would have fought so hard to save the life of a black maid.  Minny had already been beaten up by her husband, and she was ready to fight for Miss Celia, but Miss Celia ended up beating that sexual offender to almost a pulp to save Minny's life.  I could see Hilly, for example, closing the door and locking it and hiding in a closet to save her own skin rather than even think of helping the maid.

This was a great book.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  It provoked thought and surprising emotions about something I have never experienced.  Except that one time when someone said to me "You hate me because I'm black."  I have never hated anyone for that reason.  It still bugs me to this day.  However, this book has given me a little bit of insight as to why that person may have said that to me. 

 

Monday, January 9, 2012

A gymnastics tale

J started his gymnastics class today.  I was apprehensive, mostly because this kid, will never go barefoot. When we got our introduction letter in the mail, I was made aware that bare feet were compulsory.  I was determined not to let this stop him from trying something new and something that I was fairly certain he was going to enjoy.  I started prepping him a few days before the class would start that he would need 3 things in order to participate:  a t-shirt, shorts, and bare feet.  We learned of this class via an advertisement that came home from his school.  School sends home tons and tons of paper with the kids and I find it very hard to sift through it all.  I am glad I did not throw this one out with the school catering menu or something.  Not only were the classes happening at his school which is a hop, skip and a jump away, but the timing is perfect.  8:45 in the morning on a Saturday for one hour.  I was also looking for a bit of a change from his usual activity which is swimming.  He loves those classes too, but I thought that over the winter, we would try something different.

The City of Ottawa is offering a great program for 4-5 year olds.  It is called Gymnastics - Junior Gym.  The goal is to learn basic recreational gymnastics skills as you are introduced to various gymnastics equipment.  It is approximately a 4 or 5 : 1 ratio and the kids get to participate at different activity stations with different gymnastic apparatus that are laid out in an obstacle course.  I was very impressed how they integrated pictures into the activity to give the kids a visual aid about which skill to perform and how it is done.  It meant that if the coach was working with another child they could still understand what needed to be done at a different point in the obstacle course and could attempt it on their own.  They got to bounce on a trampoline, jump off the springboard, walk the balance beam as well as snake across it on their bellies, swing on the "high" bar (it wasn't that high off the ground and there was plenty of padding for soft landings), and perform some simple tricks at the tumbling area.  J learned very quickly how to get into a handstand position against the wall by squatting beside it, putting his hands in front of him on the floor, and then walking his feet up the wall.  He was so proud of himself! All in all, it was a great experience.  I also felt so proud of him!  I always knew he was coordinated, but today I really got to see it in action!

I highly recommend this class to anyone wanting to encourage their child's gross motor, visual-motor, balance/coordination and problem-solving skills!  Very sensitive kids may not enjoy it so much as it was a very loud and busy room with lots of distractions since they had three different groups running all at once.

 This post also appears at kidsinthecapital.ca !