Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Recap

One year ago, I was so happy to be rid of 2009, I entered the new year roaring, vowing that 2010 was going to be the year I took my first warm winter vacation, the year I got my husband safely home from a war zone, and the year I had my first back-and-forth conversation with Rosemary's Baby. And who knew that all those promises made weren't just big talk from an overly-emotional, slightly intoxicated nutball? Every one of them actually came true!

I spent last New Year's Eve celebrating the fact that the most craptastic year I'd ever had was finally over, and despite not having an actual grown man here to kiss at midnight, I made the best of my favourite celebration of the whole year. Case in point:

My dog is an exquisite dancer, in case you're wondering. And no, the Brady Bunch didn't call to ask for their fireplace back.

2010 was a good year. We had our ups and downs as always, but if 2011 is anywhere near as happy, we will have nothing to complain about. Here are my highlights.

The aforementioned vacation. Not only did I get to wear sandals (no socks!) in February, but I got to see three of my six (yes, I said six!) siblings while I was at it.

A great visit with Sister #4 in North Carolina. I still dream about those American dollar stores, homemade chili and corn bread, and goofy dogs doing their thing.

Seeing brother #2 in Florida was so much fun. Firstly, I finally got to set foot in Florida. Secondly, I could do the alligator boat ride 100 more times and never get bored. Thirdly, I am still trying to recreate the amazing culinary delight that is the peanut-butter-and-jelly hamburger.

And lastly, a stop in New Mexico to see Brother #1. After 3 decades of driving me bananas, he's finally stopped trying to push my buttons...and moved onto my poor kids.

I took another trip in 2010, my first one all by myself without the kids, and I saw my parents, two more of my sibs (if you're doing the math, this means that only Sister #1 was not graced with my presence this year. A goal for 2011, perhaps?) and an uncle I haven't seen in decades. All in all, a fantastic time!

Impromptu family portrait.


Sister #2 and offspring.

Other highlights include a wonderful reunion:


A new member of the family:


And so much news about the kids it would need its own blog post:

He finally figured out how to blow out the candles!!

And there you have it. 2010 in a nutshell. I'm sad to see it go, but I head into the new year with high hopes for more of the same.

From my family to yours, Happy New Year. May 2011 bring you much happiness!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions

Resolutions are a funny thing. You have to get them just right or they don't work. In the past, I have fallen into the same trap a lot of people do. My resolutions have looked something like this:

Watch less TV!

Exercise for an hour straight every day!

Eat more vegetables and less junk!

The problem with these kinds of resolutions is that they're way too specific. They box a person in and there's no wiggle room. The first time I miss my workout (January 3rd), I am a failure and the whole idea goes out the window. I suspect that a lot of people who don't make resolutions have given up on them for this exact reason.

And now I'm hearing about this newfangled way of making resolutions. Instead of coming up with something specific, you come up with one big word that will encompass everything you want to achieve in the coming year. The idea, I think, is a step in the right direction. Less focus on the specifics (suicide by exercise) and more focus on the important part (health, happiness, calm, and an occasional guilt-free trip through the drive-thru). But it's definitely not for me either. For one thing, trying to whittle down my hopes for the next 365 days into one word would be impossible for a scatterbrain like me. Also, walking around calmly repeating my one-word personal hippie-dippy mantra wouldn't be nearly dramatic enough. I'd always feel the need to throw in jazz hands.

So this year I'm trying to find myself a happy medium. I think that those of you out there who said you don't make resolutions, but told me you're hoping to feel more healthy or enjoy your family in 2011, have actually made resolutions there. They're just SMART resolutions. They're the resolutions that you can keep in mind every time you make a decision about anything, and they don't involve impossible-to-follow diets, or giving up anything cold turkey, or forcing yourself to do things that don't feel natural or normal. It's about choosing what's important and being mindful of that as you go about the business of day-to-day living.

My New Year's resolution started out as one of those all-or-nothing ones. I woke up sometime this week and decided that unless it was for something I really wanted to do, I wasn't going to take the 45-minute trek to the big city anymore, and that I was going to shop locally or online instead. I was feeling pretty passionate about that, so I had to ask myself why this was so important to me. The answers were easy--cost of gas, wear-and-tear on the car, the extra money I spend at the big box stores every time I go there, the irritation of rushing around trying to squeeze as many errands in as I can, and mostly just the time it takes out of my day. What I want isn't about the city. I'm looking to live more simply. Spend less money, enjoy what I already have, cook/walk/dance/sing/craft more, shop/covet/stress/surf less, use my time for what's important to me.

So that's my New Year's resolution. I guess if I wanted to, I could say my buzzword for 2011 is "SIMPLIFY!"

But the jazz hands would really, really ruin it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best Week of the Year

The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is always my favourite one of the whole year. The crazy rush of Christmas is over, we've all eaten our way into a turkey coma, and no one cares if the living room is covered in toys and wrapping paper and pine needles. The hazy beginnings of the new year's resolutions are forming in my brain as I guiltlessly inhale the leftover baking. Granted, the kids are a bit whiny and somehow bored despite all the new toys and books. But this is the one week of the year when chocolate has no calories, so I simply don't care.

The Captain being in Afghanistan last year really was a blessing in disguise. I've been hyper-aware this year of how much more joyful things feel than they did this time last year. Living in the moment has been easier this Christmas than ever before. Even the Christmas Eve Chinese food tasted better.

The Captain not only got me the sweeping robot I've gone on and on about for weeks, but he also got him a friend named Scooba that does the mopping too. Floor-cleaning has become a family spectator sport. We just sit around watching the robots do their thing. It's pure entertainment, and I never have to do floors again!

In the next day or so I'm going to make myself accountable for my new year's resolutions by posting them here. But first, I always love to hear what other people want to work on in the coming year. So, let's hear it. What are your new year's resolutions?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From all of us here at 2Kids, 2Dogs (and by "all of us", I mean myself, the cat and the child currently swinging from the chandelier), a very Merry Christmas to one and all!

I'll be back soon to catch up on all your blogs (it's been busy...), announce my unattainable new year's resolutions, and give you a recap of how many of us ended up in tears before the turkey was even served.

May your Christmas be full of love, laughter and joy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

3 More Days!


School went very late for us this year. Here's a shot of Firstborn this morning before heading off for the last day of school before the holiday.


The guy on the radio was complaining about school going so late this year since nothing could possibly be getting done at this point. But I'd like to make the argument that even if the last day of school was in November, the kids would be so excited about the upcoming holiday that nothing would get done then either. Plus, since ALL kids everywhere are insane this week, I was pretty happy that someone else took my kid off my hands!

And now he's mine until the Christmas sugar high wears off sometime in early January...


Friday, December 17, 2010

It's December the WHAT?!!

How is it December 17th already? One more week until the REAL insanity starts! Note to self: do NOT shoot overweight intruder in red entering through chimney.


See that pile of twigs to the left? It's a tree. Granted, a small tree, but the trunk is completely buried in the dumping we got on Wednesday. Firstborn's school bus was still not running this morning because the back roads have yet to be plowed out and the driver is stranded at home with his bus!

I got the already-broken snow shovel out yesterday to clear a path to my front door and managed to finish the shovel off. You'd be surprised at the total ineffectiveness of trying to clear snow with a garden rake!

If you still need to get out there and brave the mall, I wish you all the best. I'm staying home and baking!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's a White Christmas, Indeed!


The snow that's plagued much of the country finally descended on us yesterday. Firstborn was stranded in town overnight, the Captain slept in his office and my awesome neighbour came this morning and scraped our driveway for us. Here's a shot of what the kids have to look forward to when we get them a new sled (the old one's buried under there someplace):

In other news, thirty years ago this month, I received my first Sindy doll! For those of you not familiar, Sindy is the (more realistically proportioned, fashion-forward, and probably smarter) British version of Barbie.

I always assumed that one day I'd be buying my own daughter her first Barbie doll. Then I found myself in the middle of nowhere, animals running all over the place, and surrounded by stinky boys. Talk about a shock to the system! But last weekend I discovered the solution to this (very minor) problem.

Our local Zellers store has teamed up with Children's Services and put up a tree with tags at the front of the store. Shoppers can pick a tag with an age and gender on it, buy an appropriate gift and drop it off at customer service for a less fortunate child in our area. To make a long story short, there's a 5 year-old girl out there somewhere who'll be getting a Barbie doll with some seriously kicky outfits this Christmas! It's a piddly thing in terms of giving (I hope one day to be able to do what Jude did this year. Go have a look--it'll bring tears to your eyes!), but so far, this has been the best part of my holiday season!

I know times are tough economically, but I really encourage giving for the sake of giving where you can. There's no other feeling quite like it.

And on the topic of giving, I'm working on getting together the biggest gift basket I can make for the mom of Firstborn's best friend who is a single mom, works all day, goes to school at night and yesterday took in 4 extra kids who lived outside of town and couldn't get home. Not only did she take them in and keep them all safe and fed until the roads were cleared enough this morning for them to be rescued, she gave them all a bath, washed their clothes while they were sleeping so they'd have something clean to wear, and made them all lunches in case school was open today (it wasn't). Above and beyond the call of duty, no? The girl deserves some wine!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Par-tay!


Wow! That was a busy weekend for us! Of course, having to actually get dressed constitutes a busy weekend around here. We're not exactly social butterflies.

Friday night we got a sitter and attended the Captain's work Christmas party, which is a very casual affair. The roast beef was delicious and plentiful! Despite many people showing up in t-shirts and jeans, I felt that a little festive flair was in order. Mostly because I wear t-shirts and jeans every day, and I wasn't going to pass up a chance to dress that uniform up a little. Here's what I wore:

The kids had a great time with their sitter, too!

On Sunday, the annual children's party was held at the mess. For those of you not familiar, the mess is where the guys go on Friday night to drink. It's full of trophy cases and hundred year-old tables and naked-lady paintings. This party is a slightly more dressed-up affair, with a buffet brunch and lots for the little ones to do. It was minus five-billion or so here, so I opted to wear something I wouldn't freeze my butt off in:


Please pardon my still-wet hair, terrible posture and the fact that you can't even see my awesome boots. It's a bad picture all-round!

I've had this suede skirt for over a year now and I never knew how to wear it. I was actually starting to think about shortening it. But recently, I started following a whole bunch of style blogs (less expensive than buying fashion mags, far more realistic fashions, and with a lot of great ideas about how to use what's already in my wardrobe) and one morning I found an outfit on this great blog that set the lightbulb off in my head. Finally, this skirt could become a winter staple! Now, if only someone could show me how to keep little peanut-buttery hands off my butt.

Please note, that purse I was talking about on Black Friday is now mine, mine, mine! Thanks for the early Christmas present, Captain!

The kids' party was extra exciting for me this year. I was actually dreading it beforehand. In the past, I have always been the mother chasing her unruly wild-child from one room to another trying to keep him from wrecking something expensive. This year was sooooo different! He played! He posed for a photo with Santa! He sat on the floor with the other kids while presents were being handed out! He didn't once try to run off and get into mischief! Hooray for progress!!

And now...I need another weekend to recover from my weekend!

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Going to the Ball!

Okay, it's not really much of a ball. It's more of a super-casual army drink-fest, and I'll be the designated driver! But we have a sitter and I'm getting out of the house without my kids for a few hours! Woo hoo!

It's been a busy week, but I'll be back before Monday with outfit pictures and a weekend recap. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mondays Should've Been Outlawed By Now


It turns out that a good number of you were baffled by my reference to cheesy hair bands Sheriff and Warrant in my last post. This is nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, it's a testament to your good taste. But for those of you who are curious, here are a couple of photos for future reference. Because you just know someday I'm going to mention them again, and you don't want to be caught not getting the joke twice.

Sadly, this was the best shot I could find of the one-hit wonder Sheriff. Why do you suppose whoever edited this photo fuzzed them all out from the waist down? Definitely not Canada's finest hour. Nor mine, since I'm pretty sure I had this album on cassette.


And here we have Warrant. Need I say more?

Moving on...

What a cruddy day! We got called back in for a follow-up to Rosemary's Baby's celiac testing, so I canceled his therapy for the day and planned to run some errands while in the big city. After spending two hours at the hospital to be told that the tests were negative (which we already knew) and being asked why we were there (uh...because you asked us to come?), I wrestled with Rosemary's Baby in the bathroom trying to get him to pee on an unfamiliar commode, then promised him fast food as a reward when he finally gave up and got the job done. Then I promptly had to go back on my promise when I got a call from the school saying Firstborn had a sore throat and could I please come get him? Being a full hour away, I should've called my neighbour, but she just returned home from a day of travelling late last night, and I didn't have the heart to wake her up to deal with a sick kid. So I raced back immediately to get him myself. You should've seen Rosemary's Baby's reaction when I drove right past McD's without stopping. It made the public restroom wrestling match look like a trip to Disneyland.

But someone else here had an even worse day than I had. Cue the music.

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away...


Poor Anakin turned 6 months old last week, and this means he was due for a little operation this morning. Let's just say, he's not half the man he used to be...

So I guess I'll quit complaining about not getting my errands run and give the cat some love. At this point, he'll have to take it where he can get it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Three Weeks to Go!

This morning, something cheesy came on the radio and I asked the Captain, "Who do you think was better, Sheriff or Warrant?" And he replied, "Who do YOU think was better, Hitler or Mussolini?" proving once and for all that you cannot have a serious discussion on art with a man without it turning political.

In other news, I am waiting on the edge of my seat to hear if our only babysitter can come on Friday night to watch the kids so the Captain and I can attend his work Christmas party. Living where we do and having the kids we do makes finding a sitter a bit of a challenge. But I have my outfit all picked out. If she can't make it, I am not above getting all dolled-up up for a night in front of the TV by myself. Actually, this technically sounds more pleasant than hob-nobbing with the General and watching the Privates challenge each other to an arm-wrestle. But I could use a night away from the kids. So keep your fingers crossed for me!

More Christmas baking today and maybe (maybe) a trip to the Santa parade in town tonight. My over-the-top joyfest continues!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Zealand Shortbread

A couple of years ago at this time, I posted one of the Captain's family recipes that has become a tradition in our house at Christmas. I wanted to re-post that recipe today because, being lazy, I have adjusted it slightly this year to make it even easier to make. And it's still just as good.

I don't know why we call it New Zealand Shortbread, except that we do have family living over on that side of the world. So maybe that's where this recipe originated. I don't know. What I do know is that after the holidays, I can no longer fit into my pants. And I'm pretty sure these babies are to blame.

New Zealand Shortbread

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 can sweetened condensed milk

Mix everything but condensed milk well and press 3/4 of the mixture into a buttered and floured 8x8 baking dish. Set aside remaining mix.
Pour condensed milk over shortbread in the pan and crumble remaining shortbread mix on top. Bake at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. When completely cool, cut into 16 squares.

This recipe can be doubled, and in this house it usually is. They also freeze well, so you can make them weeks in advance and spend your actual holidays lounging around in front of the TV, occasionally getting up to sneak yet another one out of the freezer.

In case you can't tell, I am not a believer in self-deprivation during the holidays. December is for shameful, excessive celebration. I can restrain myself in January.

Bon appetit!



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Birthday Boy


Rosemary's Baby is five today. FIVE! Where has the time gone?!! It just seems like yesterday I was having contractions in the car and willing myself not to murder the Captain as he made stupid jokes all the way to the hospital. Oh to have the doula back! But hindsight's 20/20.

Rosemary's Baby was truly the loveliest baby. He slept through the night at 8 weeks, he smiled at everyone he met and he hardly ever cried. Of course, it turns out he was saving up all his evil for the toddler years. But back before I knew what was coming, he was so good I wondered if the hospital had accidentally switched him and he wasn't really mine.

As you may know, Rosemary's Baby has autism, so he has a significant speech delay. But he's not completely non-verbal. In fact, since he's been receiving intensive therapy here every day, the progress has been quite flabbergasting. He actually has quite good functional language and is usually able to tell us what he needs using at least one word. Sometimes he can even give us a short sentence. This week, he came up with a new one, and we're hearing it rather a lot.

"Chocolate"

Yup, he's definitely mine.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

It's Black Friday! Make out those Christmas lists because everything you want is on sale! Rock-bottom prices! Save, save, save!

Here's my list:




The Roomba for Pet Hair: I hate, hate, hate doing floors. Oh, who am I kidding?! I hate, hate, hate doing housework! The Roomba would be a great start to a housework-free life. They even have one that washes the floors after the regular one does the vacuuming. Will they have one that does toilets and windows by Black Friday 2011? I'm keeping my eyes peeled.


Croc-Embossed Purse: I've been seriously behaving myself this year where purses are concerned. So naturally, I think at this time of year I'm entitled to a nice one! I can't find a shot of it in purple (the colour I want, and the only colour left), but you guys are an imaginative bunch. I'm sure you can picture me walking down the streets of downtown Booming Metropolis, new hairdo blowing in the wind, gorgeous purple leather purse swinging from my arm. Now picture me someplace else. Quick. I'm about to get mugged.



Colourful Winter Wear: 2011 will be the year I embrace colour. I've spent much of my adult life going with nice, safe greys, blacks and browns in my wardrobe. It's time I learned to wear colour! And what better way to start a new year than with a bright, happy winter jacket or coat? Does it matter that I already have about 6 winter coats, and that I hardly wear anything but my big shapeless parka out here on the farm? Well...a girl can dream.


And really that's about it for me. After last year, I'm so happy to have the Captain home for Christmas, Rosemary's Baby using the toilet (and not just for the fun of flushing my most expensive perfume, either), Firstborn happy and well-adjusted, and animals running all over the house, presents are really just the icing on the cake.

Cake isn't quite the same without icing though, is it?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful


I managed to get some shots of the ongoing snowfall here in Manitoba this morning. We got about 4 inches yesterday and they're saying we'll have another 4 by nightfall.

Here's what my driveway looks like. Bear in mind it was cleared by my wonderful neighbour at 3:30 yesterday afternoon, so this is just what we got overnight.

And this is what Rosemary's Baby's tutor had to drive through to get here this morning. The girl deserves a medal.

I really need to get to town for some eggs and milk, but I think I'm going to wait until tomorrow when the plows have been out. I'm told in order to get down the highway, I need 4-wheel drive and I won't get out of third gear. I have no idea what that means, but it somehow doesn't sound like a job for my Chevy Malibu.

So, today I will hijack America's beloved November holiday and be thankful that I have enough milk in the fridge to keep us going until tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving, my American friends!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

I wanted to post a picture of our snowstorm today, but between chasing the toilet-training wonder around and resetting all the thermostats to blast heat into every room, it was dark before I got to it. But rest assured, we are buried in snow out here in the Prairies. So what better time to remind everyone that the big guy in red comes ONE MONTH from tonight!

What?! Wasn't it just Labour Day?!

If you have little ones who might like a personalized video message from Santa this year, don't forget to visit PNP here. And if you don't have little ones, you can amuse yourself by sending these to your adult friends and loved ones too. The Captain is on Santa's naughty list!

Stay tuned. There's more holiday blathering to come. Let the season of giving (and getting!) begin!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Even the Animals are Eccentric


His royal highness has found himself a cool new hangout.

Aren't cats supposed to avoid getting wet?!

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hijacked!

Firstborn has decided that my blog is the perfect place for him to advertise his artwork. Here are a couple of his masterpieces:

Here we have a southwestern mountain scene. He did this with my brother's girlfriend when we were visiting them in New Mexico back in the spring.


And this is the new obsession: mountain-climbing. This is a painting of Sir Edmund Hillary scaling Everest. Firstborn tells me that Tenzing Norgay is standing on top with the flag, just slightly out of the scene!

I'm finding he likes painting better when I let him use one of my canvases. And they sell some at the dollar store now, so I'm going to remember to pick him some up there. Between that and the little bottles of acrylic paints in the same aisle, this is a pretty inexpensive hobby for a kid. And using "professional" materials makes him feel like a grown up, so everyone wins!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Cheer


My early festivities are coming along swimmingly! I tried a new fruitcake recipe and ended up with the most delicious, moist fruitcake I've ever tasted. Expect to see much more of me by January! Sirius has begun the 24/7 traditional holiday music. And on Monday night, I went into town for a Christmas cardmaking class and had a great time. Here's a sample (this is just a small tag we made, but I love it!):

It may still only be November, but I am right into the swing of things! Happy Holidays!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Makeover Saturday

In case my profile picture hasn't tipped you off, I have issues.

One of them is that I am allergic to making appointments. And I mean seriously allergic. I have no idea what my parents did to me as a child, but I avoid having to commit to being anywhere at a specific time with such an inexplicable work ethic, I can only assume it is all their fault.

I force myself to see my family doctor and the dentist once a year, and am glad my insurance only covers an eye exam every second year, but other than that, I run from appointment-making like my life depends on it. As a result, no professional hairstylist has touched my hair in nearly six years. Yes, I said SIX years.

Back in June, the Captain (probably very tired of waking up next to a cat lady) wrote me up two homemade coupons. One gave me permission to get myself a pair of fashionable prescription sunglasses. The other ordered me to get my butt to a salon for a cut, colour, and whatever else would make me look less homeless.

The glasses were easy and I had that done by mid-August. The hair thing I put off and made excuses about for the next five months. This week, I made a couple of feeble attempts at booking myself an appointment at one of the two salons in our tiny town, and also with someone nearby who works out of her own home. But as soon as I hit a wall (one salon was fully booked, one didn't answer and one didn't call me back), I was ready to give up and wait another five months before trying again. Seriously, it was exhausting.

But this morning I had to take Firstborn to the big city for a haircut at one of those walk-in chains, so I decided to take a chance. Call me a cheapskate, but I'm perfectly happy with a $20 haircut if I don't walk out looking worse than I did before. Plus, young stylists just out of hair school need to start somewhere, and I'm happy to help them out. But if I'm honest, it's really all about not having to book an appointment.

My stylist had purple hair, an armload of tattoos and an opinion on just about everything. But man, she did a nice job! And she's the first stylist I've ever met who suggested I make use of my natural curl instead of trying to brush/flat-iron/spray it flat! My new do is cute AND easy! And I had enough cash left over to buy a whole bag of professional quality products designed to keep my hair from going all cat-lady dry and crazy again! That last part made the Captain roll his eyes so far back into his head, I wasn't sure his pupils were going to reappear. But I don't care. I'm happy with my hair, for the first time in YEARS!

And now, you be the judge. Here's my before and after:

Before: Note the creative use of facial expression to make myself look extra terrible. I learned that from reading fashion magazines.

After: It's a whole new me!

I realize that this situation has not been a self-help experience. I'm now more convinced than ever that I don't need to make appointments. But you know what they say in all those 12-step programs--one day at a time. I'll just make an appointment some other day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

I have a history of getting long-winded on Remembrance Day. It's the 6th grade teacher in me. So this year, I'm just going to make one request and then I'll pipe down.

Today, please take a moment to remember all the brave men and women whose sacrifices have secured the freedoms we spend the other 364 days a year taking for granted.

Enough said.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wonder Cat


If I could sleep like my animals do, I'd have superpowers.

Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mad Woman?


Thank heavens for the time change. If we hadn't been turning the clocks back this weekend, I'd never have gotten in my third post of the week. Whew! This must be what it's like to have a job!

With the ongoing popularity of a little show called Mad Men, it occurs to me that I would be perfect at advertising. And also wearing all those curvy, ladylike dresses. But let's get back to the advertising for a moment.

Since the ad agencies are clearly not on the ball enough to recognize my natural talent, I'm not currently getting any money to advertise anything. So I'm going to have to make my case using a product that I personally endorse, but that I am not actually being paid to peddle.

I have recently discovered a new (read: REALLY OLD) miracle product in the world of skin care. This product is fantastic, and apparently French women love it, so you know it has to be good. You scoop some of this stuff into your hands, rub it all over your face and then wipe with a warm washcloth and, voila! Soft, youthful skin right before bed. It's like a guarantee of a good night's sleep!

Here's my ad:

Brilliant, no?! I really should be getting paid for this. Though alternatively, I would also take ten minutes alone in a hotel room with Don Draper. Deal!

Now, I'm off to turn those clocks back and use that extra hour for beauty sleep. The Ponds people are good, but they're not miracle workers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Messy Gene

I have learned to organize myself by keeping a calendar, a daily chore list and three regular list pads on my fridge. It sounds anal, but considering how utterly disorganized my life still looks at any given moment, without all that stuff, I'd be sitting on my kitchen floor all day surrounded by chaos and crying.

When I was working and attending a lot of meetings, my notes didn't look like anyone else's. I started with the date or topic of the meeting in the middle of a sheet of regular lined binder paper, and I created a web of all the important information with arrows and bubbles all over the page. It made much more sense to me than listing things in a line down the page. My coworkers used to laugh about my "notes". I realize now that that must be what the inside of my head looks like. And I think it's hereditary.

This morning I made a quick trip into Firstborn's classroom because he's come home several days in a row now without his agenda book, which is what the school uses to communicate day-to-day bits of information for parents. He insisted that it had just disappeared off the face of the earth and was lost forever (please note: I use this argument on the Captain three times a week, and he usually finds whatever I'm looking for in under a minute). When I opened up his desk and saw that the inside looked like someone had set off a grenade in there, I had a flashback.

When I was in first grade, my teacher had a motivational tool called the "Fire Hat". Every Monday we'd all come in hoping the red plastic firefighter's hat was sitting on our desk for one of us to wear the whole week, indicating that we'd had the cleanest, neatest desk the Friday before. The other kids used to tell me I'd never get the fire hat because I had the messiest desk in the room (DUH! Way to state the obvious, guys!). The very last week of school came before summer vacation, and there was the Fire Hat on my desk, a pitiful show of mercy for the one kid who hadn't won it all year.

I think it might be time to teach my little absent-minded professor a few organizational strategies...


Monday, November 1, 2010

So Long, Halloween! Hello, Christmas!


I am such a Halloween grinch. Every year, I dread having to listen to Firstborn ask (in five-minute increments, starting at 7AM), "How many more minutes until we can go trick-or-treating?" But this year, I looked forward to getting it over with even more than usual. And the reason is this: in my book, November first is the official kickoff to Christmas!

Last Christmas, for all my insisting it was going to be just fine, really kind of blew. The Captain was in a war zone and I had to put on a show for the kids when I'd rather have just stayed in bed. So, for about a month now, I've been feeling a most ridiculous urge to completely overcompensate this year.

That's not to say I'm going to run up the credit cards and land myself in the poorhouse. I can exercise some restraint, you know. I just want to make sure that this year, I really maximize the joy. And also the baking.

I've already pickled the onions, and there's still some mincemeat from last year in the deep freeze. I plan this year to finally convince my kids that fruitcake is delicious, and I will make Nigella Lawson my personal guru. Christmas is for indulging. I can restrain myself in January.

Here's one last look at our Halloween:


Now, bring on the mince pies!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!


Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What to Expect...from Hollywood

Between looking forward to getting Halloween over and done with, and getting settled back into finally having a full-time tutor come in for Rosemary's Baby's daily therapy (YA-HOO!!!), this week is already starting to get away from me. But I have to quickly share with you this groan-inducing tidbit, just in case you haven't already heard it.

The Captain informed me at dinner last night that one of the big movie companies, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to make a lighthearted rom-com based on the classic pregnancy how-to What to Expect When You're Expecting. I'm picturing an adorably befuddled Hugh Grant making nervous conversation about mucus plugs.

Please God, let this one go straight to video.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Huckleberries


The vegetable garden is done for another year!

The last thing I had to harvest was the crop of huckleberries. We'd never grown them before, but the Captain likes to try something new every year, and these berries grew like nobody's business! It took me a good 2 1/2 hours to pick them, and I came in with purple hands and purple-stained khaki pants. I'm still not sure how the majority of the stains ended up on my butt. Anyway, here's a shot of what we ended up with:

To keep them from spoiling, I canned 12 quarts of them in water and turned the rest into jam. I'm told they can be used like blueberries (they're related), but I'm finding the taste a little...earthy. Anyone got any good uses for huckleberries? I have a feeling we'll be eating a lot of them this winter.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Random Thursday

I've reached a new low. Halloween is in just over a week and this is my SECOND post of the month! Lame! I really can't expect people to keep reading if I never post anything, so I'm going to publicly commit to a minimum of three posts a week from now on, even if it's just a picture of my cat sleeping on the couch.

Lots of random news to share today. Try not to die from the excitement.

New bloggers take heed: If I could start my blog all over again, I would go completely anonymous, not even letting my friends, family or husband know I was a blogger. That way, I could share with you all of the very worst things I see people say and do, and it'd be a lot more entertaining. I deleted a post recently after the Captain made the good point that even though the nameless horrible person I was posting about didn't read or even know about my blog, I'm just not anonymous enough to guarantee that it wouldn't end up causing me trouble. While I maintain that if you don't want your atrocious behaviour shared with others, you should learn to act like a civilized human being, life isn't really that black and white. My anonymity train has long since left the station, so I reserve the right to still complain about poor customer service or the crazy people who built my house, but the in-laws, friends, and local cranks will have to be saved for my anger management class.

Chicken soup does nothing: I'm finally reaching the end of a cold that has lasted for almost two weeks. Whenever I catch a cold it goes straight to my chest and I cough incessantly all night long. The Captain, who is a light sleeper at the best of times, wants to smother me with a pillow. By all means, feel free to share your home cold remedies.

This is not an ad: Hooray! Old Navy is finally shipping within Canada! My nearest store is two hours away, so this is a huge bonus for me. I order everything I can't get locally online, so between Sears, Old Navy and Well.ca, I'm saving a lot of time and gas. Now, if I could just get the grocery store to deliver, I'd be the most fashionable shut-in in town.

It pays to run out of pull-ups: Rosemary's Baby has made a giant leap towards toilet-training! We were going through ridiculous numbers of training pants recently, so I decided to let him go pants-less and see what happened. Here's what happened: he started TELLING me he needs to go pee! Whooda thunk it?! Of course, now he's so proud of himself, he's refusing to wear pants. Let's hope he grows out of that before he heads off to college.

Getting an early start on the jack-o-lanterns: Firstborn was playing in a box last weekend and somehow tipped himself over and right into a nearby chair. When the screaming subsided and the blood was cleaned up, this is what he looked like:

The whereabouts of the missing tooth remain a mystery.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happiness 101


Let's try this again, shall we?

A big thanks to Debra at She Who Seeks for giving me this lovely award:

I'm kind of lousy at passing these things on because I spend two hours deciding who to give it to and then another hour linking to them all, and then none of my laundry gets done and my kids ask why they haven't been fed. But I do love to participate, and for this one I have to list 10 things that make me happy. That I can do!

1. Skin care. I decided recently that because I can't possibly have expensive clothes or fancy furniture and expect any of it to stay clean or in good repair, I can at the very least take better care of my skin. I've treated myself to some Mary Kay products, which for a cheapskate like me is pricey, but very nice. And I counter that expense with a few budget-friendly techniques as well. Did you know that if you take regular old baby oil and slather yourself in it from head to toe right before taking a shower, it leaves your skin noticeably softer? When I'm 90, all the toothless old men at the nursing home will be flocking to my wheelchair, telling me I don't look a day over 76 and fighting over who gets to join me for a game of shuffleboard. That makes me happy.

2. The animals are getting along!

Here they are sharing in some mischief. The dogs pull the dirty frying pan off the counter and they all get in there and lick it clean for me. And when they do fight, the cat usually wins!

3. Beautiful weather.

Rosemary's Baby and I went out to enjoy some summer temperatures this afternoon. He tried to climb the hay bales and then we had a bit of a walk around the trees that surround our house. I got some great shots!

4. Crafts.
I've signed up for a table at the Christmas craft sale in town this year. I'm scrambling to get things made, but it's really got me thinking creatively for the first time in a long while.

5. Pumpkins.
Years ago, the Captain and I were walking down the street and I veered off with no warning towards a shop window. There was a painting displayed there of a pile of pumpkins. I should've gone in and bought it but I didn't. Now, every year, we grow a buzzilion pumpkins in the garden and I make pies and breads and pancakes and pumpkin seeds. It's how I know fall has arrived.

6. My kids. Firstborn came home today and told me he accosted his Science teacher at lunch to tell her he really liked her class. Rosemary's Baby took an entire bottle of my aforementioned baby oil the other day, emptied it into the bathtub, stripped himself naked from the waist down and spent the next 20 minutes sliding around in there, laughing like a hyena. How could this stuff NOT make me happy?

7. Reading. Books, magazines, catalogues (which technically don't count as meaningful reading!). I'm not picky. A cup of tea, a few quiet minutes and something to read--happiness!!

8. A long drive all by myself--just me and the radio!

9. Flavoured coffee first thing in the morning.

10. De-cluttering. I cleaned out the kids' playroom two weeks ago and bagged up all the toys they never actually play with. They haven't noticed anything is missing yet!

If any of you out there want to post 10 things that make you happy, feel free to grab this award and say I gave it to you!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Look What I Won!


Thanks to Suburban Princess for this awesome giveaway! It turned up in my mailbox this morning. If you can't win the lottery, three boxes of gluten-free cereal is a pretty good substitute!

Happy Thursday!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

7 Years


On September 20th, 2003, after four miserable hours of pushing, I earned myself a new title: MOM. Turns out, that was the easy part!

Those of you who have been following my trials and tribulations for any length of time might think that Rosemary's Baby is the only one around here pushing my buttons and wreaking havoc everywhere he goes. But, while Firstborn is definitely the calmer, quieter, gentler soul in this house, he too has had his moments. Let us review.


The four hours of pushing caused my 9 1/2 lb alien-baby some distress and he ended up inhaling his own poop on the way out. He had to be intubated and kept in the Special Care Nursery on an IV for the next three days.
Motherhood lesson #1: Being a mom is terrifying, and full of incidents involving poop.




Aquatots! While all the other babies splashed around with their parents and had fun, mine cried for the first half-hour because the water was too cold, and then fell asleep on me for the rest of the class. This shot was taken as we stepped into the water. One minute later, he was bawling.
Motherhood lesson #2: Saturday morning sports are for other people's children.





Firstborn loved his food and would fight sleep in order to keep eating.
Motherhood lesson #3: Blueberry pie+a tired child+a camera-happy new mom= some rather disturbing images.





An early attempt at watching Hockey Night In Canada as a family. Judging from his expression, I'm guessing the Leafs were doing what they usually do, and he was wondering why on earth we were cheering for them.
Motherhood lesson #4: Eventually, every kid comes to realize that his parents are idiots.





He has always been crazy for reading, which of course isn't a bad thing. But he's also always had a bit of a thing for characters who get into mischief. As you can see, it started with Curious George. Now he's into Calvin and Hobbes, and has learned that when he does something naughty, he can blame it on his stuffed toys.
Motherhood lesson #5: Hide the No, David! books until he's 30. We don't need him getting any ideas.




The Captain's Artillery School graduation. When Firstborn saw his father go up to accept his certificate, in his two year-old exuberance, he yelled out "Daddy!!" This got him a good few laughs from the crowd and encouraged him to stand up and do it again. And again. And again. I finally had to drag him outside, kicking and screaming, until the whole thing was over.
Motherhood lesson #6: A good babysitter is worth the expense.



And finally, what is fondly known around here as "the chocolate syrup incident".
Motherhood lesson #7: Lock up the fridge, and avoid shag carpet.

Tonight, we celebrate the occasion with a Batman cake, and lots of new Lego. But don't get me started on Lego...

Happy Birthday, little monkey!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

GFCF, FYI

Hola, blog buddies! I'm not doing too well at updating here lately, and I'm doing even worse at visiting your blogs. I have no idea how people with 1000 followers manage it. I'm just glad I'm not one of them!

The reason I've been so notably absent is that I have a new (unpaid) job, which is to fill in for the tutor we had working with Rosemary's Baby. I've been learning how to do his ABA therapy from the professionals and working with him on it every morning, which takes a chunk out of my day and leaves me feeling frazzled and stressed by the time the kids are in bed at night. But the good news is that, while I can't do this long-term and stay sane, for the time being I am learning some really important, really interesting stuff here. And it's made me realize that when we do get a new tutor (and there's one on the horizon now--woo hoo!) that this is something I can creatively implement during his downtime. So this whole sorry situation hasn't been a complete waste.

A few people have asked questions which I've been meaning to answer, so I'm going to switch gears for a minute and talk about the diet my boy's been on for about a year now. If this is simply not something that interests you, by all means stop reading, go grab another cup of coffee, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. I understand completely.

When I first realized that Rosemary's Baby was, in fact, not the seed of evil, but actually autistic, the lack of scientific knowledge of this disorder was deflating, to say the least. The idea that my baby had something that couldn't be cured by modern medicine, and that no one could guarantee me could be treated with any degree of success was pretty devastating. The most frustrating thing was that I had absolutely no control. And that's when I decided it was worth it to look into some of the alternative treatments that are out there. To be honest, I didn't really expect them to do any good. I just needed to feel that I was taking control of the situation.

The first thing I should say about the Gluten-Free Casein-Free (GFCF) diet is that it does not work for everyone and it is not a cure. And despite popular perception, for the record, Jenny McCarthy has never claimed that it is one. I am no autism expert and I cannot speak for anyone else. But what I think is happening with my own child is that yes, he has autism, but he also has some other medical issues (mainly of the gastrointestinal variety) that seem to be making the autism symptoms more severe. I believe that all of his medical conditions, including the autism, are ultimately the result of genetics. But that doesn't mean that environmental factors (like the Hep B shot he received unnecessarily at birth, the severe vaccine reaction he had at 18 months and the ever-increasing amount of junk that's put into our foods to make them last through to the next ice age) haven't helped his autoimmune problems along. And putting him on the GFCF diet and a probiotic, upping his vitamins (under the supervision of a pediatrician--VERY IMPORTANT!) and reducing the amount of sugar and processed food that goes into his body has made a tangible difference to his behaviour.

For my child, the big changes we saw were as follows: he started sleeping better (which affects absolutely everything else in life, no?!), his hyperactivity level changed drastically, his focus and attention improved, his language increased, and his skin and digestive problems improved. His stimming also slowed down. He is not cured of autism. He is not cured of digestive problems. But he has improved enough that I think it's made a difference to how receptive he is to the therapies that are proven to be most effective for kids with autism. So for me, the herculean effort (and horrendous cost, unfortunately) is well worth it.

Stepping down off the soapbox.

On Thursday night I was doing dishes when I was alarmed by the most almighty crash I have ever heard coming from the living room. I ran in to find Rosemary's Baby standing on the window sill, grinning at me, surrounded by yards of curtain fabric and a pile of debris fit for a scrap yard. Turns out that when a 45lb kid wants to swing Tarzan-style from the living room curtains, he'll bring down not only the curtains, but the curtain rod and 8 feet of crown moulding with it. Like I was saying, seed of evil...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Photo Project


Well, it's September, and I'm very glad to have a reason to post something that ISN'T just me whining and complaining about my life. I do appreciate none of you telling me to shut up after those past couple of posts. I find that in life, you get a lot of things thrown at you at once, but in the end, it kind of all evens out.

Onto the fun. This month, I embraced my creative side and indulged in a little photo-a-day project. Here are my favourites:

Around the middle of the month, we started to get large groups of monarch butterflies just hanging out in the trees. The Captain watched out the window with amusement as I tried to get close enough for a good shot without scaring them away. Thank heavens for my long lens, and living in the age of digital cropping.


Firstborn's portrait of Ozzy Osbourne. Dead on, no?!


First salsa of the summer! My life revolves around food...


I'm finding the best time to pick vegetables in the garden is after the kids are in bed. Now, of course, it's getting dark a lot earlier so I really have to move my butt out there. Either that, or wear one of those flashlights on my head. But the sunsets are worth it.


My final photo, taken yesterday while we here enjoying some cooler weather in the backyard. I can never seem to get just one shot of my kids together without one of them doing something goofy with his face!

And there you have it. Another creative project brought to a close. This fall, I move onto jewellery, knitted toys and purses for the Christmas craft sale I've (insanely) agreed to do. I hope I have as much fun as I did with this one. Wish me luck!