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!