Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Lego Master

Yesterday evening Ben and the boys watched a short online documentary. It was all about rays (as in the kind of rays that live under the sea).

This morning our five-year-old rushed through his morning routine. He got dressed, made his bed, brushed his teeth and combed his hair in record time. Our boy ran down to the playroom and industriously constructed the following project:

It is a sting ray. I think our young Lego master did a great job!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Joke of the Day

"Hey. Mommy!"

"Yes, Buddy?"

"A cereal bowl and a cup are in an orange juice contest. Who will win?"

"Umm ... well. That's a tough question."

"I know who will win. The spoon!"

(Joke courtesy of our three-year-old son.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It is COLD

My goodness. When did we move to the Arctic? The weather has been positively frigid. I am grateful Calgary is blessed by such temperatures for only a few days each winter.

Here is Environment Canada's encouraging forecast for this evening:

Tonight ... Cloudy. 40 percent chance of flurries this evening. Wind south 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Temperature steady near minus 29. Extreme wind chill minus 42 this evening.

Minus 42?!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
January 27, 2008

Last night I finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It was an amazing book and I highly recommend it. Inspired by Kingsolver's journey, I placed a meat order with Country Lane Farms. Our first batch of farm-fresh chicken, beef and honey will arrive February 7th. I am excited to start supporting our local farmers.

Here is my menu plan for the upcoming week. It is COLD in Calgary right now. With the windchill tonight it will be about -40C! I am thankful Ben went grocery shopping yesterday and our fridge is full.

Monday: No cooking (supper with my parents)
Tuesday: Oven-roasted chicken, brown rice, beets, carrots
Wednesday: Encore performance
Thursday: Spud special soup, salad, fresh bread
Friday: Layered taco pie, brown beans, corn, salad
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: No cooking (supper with Ben's parents)

If you would like to check out more great meal plans, head over to Menu Plan Monday hosted by Org Junkie.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cooperation Makes It Happen!

What a full day. Ben and I accomplished a great deal, much more than I had hoped. We did tons of laundry, cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping. (Okay. So I did the laundry, cleaning and cooking. Ben did the grocery shopping!)

Best of all, we rearranged the furniture in the upstairs bedrooms. Our daughter was the proud recipient of her very own "big girl bed". She had great fun climbing and jumping on the bed while shouting, "Der it is, Mommy! I big kid!"

I think my nesting instinct had now been thoroughly exhausted. (At least for this week.) Ben assures me that I'll think of numerous other jobs before the baby arrives. We still have a few months to go, so I imagine my wise husband is probably right.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


The four letter word occupied prominent real estate on our fridge door. Aren't magnetic alphabet letters a marvelous invention?

Our five-year-old son is on the very cusp of joining the land of the literate. Every day the light of comprehension burns a little brighter. And every day I find interesting new words spelled out on my fridge.

I suppose my son's word-of-the-day is particularly appropriate. It seems I spent most of the day up to my elbows in it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Unexpected Guest

Yesterday I heard scratching in my kitchen cupboard. I suspected we might have a small, furry visitor in there but couldn't find any evidence of a mouse. I wasn't overly concerned. We'd never had a mouse in the house before.

Surprise, surprise!

This evening Ben found the culprit conveniently trapped in our empty trash can. We're not exactly sure how a mouse got under the kitchen sink, though. None of the walls anywhere near the cupboards lead to outside. Our garage door has been on the fritz, so maybe the mouse snuck in on a day I was unable to close the door?

Oh well, ce la vie. I suppose tomorrow is as good a time as any to reorganize (and disinfect) our kitchen cupboards. I just hope he didn't invite along any of his friends...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Baby Steps

A few months ago I registered a domain name for a small business. I feel God has planted the tiny seed of a dream in my heart. I don't know if I'll have time to pursue my little business any time in the near future, but I felt I should start planning and preparing.

Today I registered the trade name at the registry office. According to the province of Alberta, I am officially the sole proprietor of my own small business. (At least on paper.) My entrepreneurial husband must be rubbing off on me ;-).

And that's all I'm going to share until the ball gets rolling a bit more!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thoughts from Home

This morning we made Tammy's delicious whole wheat cinnamon graham squares. I like making bar cookies because the entire batch bakes at once. It is so much faster! I also appreciated Tammy's suggestion to cut the cookies with a pizza slicer before baking them. The resulting squares were very neat and tidy. Yum yum.

Here's little laundry tip I learned recently:

Our kitchen and bathroom linens tend to develop a yucky mouldy smell, even when I change them often. In the past, the only way I could eliminate the stench was by adding bleach to the wash cycle. I'm not fond of using bleach because it can discolour fabrics and break down the fibres. I now add 1/2 cup of plain vinegar to each wash load of linens instead. The vinegar is less harsh and my cloths and towels smell fresh! Such a simple solution!

Happy homemaking, and stay warm on this blustery day.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
January 21, 2008

I have been reading an excellent book entitled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This book is similar to the Canadian literary phenomenon The 100-Mile Diet. Kingsolver's book has taught me a great deal about agriculture, gardening, commercial meat production, economics, nutrition and even cheese making!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is changing my preconceptions regarding food and cooking. I think our family needs to make some big changes, but we're caught in limbo for the time being. (It is challenging to find locally-grown produce in the middle of an Alberta winter!)

At the same time, I believe in taking small steps toward a larger goal. In particular, Kingsolver's book has caused me to re-think our family's source of meat. I no longer feel comfortable buying regular meat from the grocery store. (That is, meat produced in commercial feeding facilities.) I do know of a couple sources for organic, local, farm-raised beef and chicken though. I plan to use up the meat we have in our freezer, and from then on, to buy meat from local farmers. I realize this could mean our family may not eat meat every day. Good thing our kids love beans, eggs and other vegetarian goodies!

Here's my proposed menu for the upcoming week. I have lots of frozen ground beef and chicken squirrelled away, so our menus will reflect that for the next while.

Monday: No cooking (supper at my parents')
Tuesday: Homemade soup (from the freezer), fresh multigrain bread
Wednesday: Whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce, green salad
Thursday: Foil-pack taco chicken dinner, steamed carrots, green salad
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: No cooking (supper with Ben's family)
Sunday: Orange-molasses glazed chicken, brown rice, steamed broccoli with almonds

Don't forget to take a look at the Menu Plan Monday Mr. Linky hosted by Org Junkie.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Our five-year-old son was fresh from the bath and preparing to don his pajamas. "Mommy, I need some lotion!"

I grabbed a bottle of baby lotion and wandered into the bedroom. "Here you go, Buddy," I said and squirted a small dollop into his outstretched hand.

I was busily pulling pajamas onto our three-your-old when Ben entered the room. My back faced toward to our eldest son. "Hey!" Ben exclaimed, "What in the world are you doing?"

I turned to see our son carefully massaging his chest with lotion.

"I want my nipples to be nice and soft, Daddy," he calmly explained. Ben stifled a laugh.

Our son innocently added, "Here. Smell my nipples!"

Friday, January 18, 2008

One More Temptation

Our family has a new favourite afternoon snack: apple slices with chocolate-hazelnut spread. Pure heaven for everyone (and not too messy).

Like my burgeoning belly needs any more sweets! ;-)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Grand Purge

"So, honey ... are you sure you're not nesting?" my husband gently inquired.

I brushed the hair from my eyes and straightened the bib of my (stylish) maternity overalls. "Of course not," I retorted, "What would give you that idea?" I began stuffing old clothes into a garbage bag.

"Well, you know. It's just that you've done a lot of cleaning lately." Ben paused. "Just how many closets did you re-organize today?"

I tossed my husband a sheepish look and added the bag to a pile. "Umm ... well. All of them."

A look of disbelief flashed across his face. "All of them?"

I scratched my belly and smiled apologetically. "You know how it goes. I got started, and one thing led to another, and I just decided to keep going, and the kids were being really good anyway ..." My voice trailed off.

"I thought you were going to take it easy today," Ben quietly prodded.

"Uh, right. You're absolutely right. I'll definitely take it easy tomorrow ..."


The fruits of my labour and some rather obscure discoveries:

  • Five big bags of clothes for Goodwill.
  • Two bags of trash.
  • A dozen empty toilet paper rolls.
  • Seven extra pairs of glasses.
  • An embarrassing assortment of unused, unwanted toiletries.
  • A double-breasted blazer circa 1995. (Uggh.)
  • Five bottles of expired sunscreen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


My husband bought a chicken suit.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Peek at My Bookshelf

A new year, a new stack of books to eat. I mean read. Here's a sampling of the books piled beside my bed...

Monday, January 14, 2008

An Attempt at Humour...

"Hey, Mommy. How do you spell cow?"

"I don't know, Buddy. How do you think cow is spelled?"

A cheeky grin. "You spell it T-H-268!"

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
January 14, 2008

Last week's menu turned out exceptionally well. I definitely recommend the Hearty Bean and Barley Soup. (I made a double batch for the freezer.) The Golden Chicken with Noodles was also tasty, though next time I will omit the water and lemon juice. The sauce turned out too runny.

Here is my menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday: No cooking (supper at my parents')
Tuesday: Golden Mushroom Pork and Apples, brown rice, steamed baby carrots, cucumber and tomato salad
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Turkey soup (from the freezer), homemade bread
Friday: Chicken masala, potato and chickpea curry with rice (from the freezer), steamed cauliflower, homemade naan bread
Saturday: Encore performance
Sunday: No cooking (supper at Ben's parents')

If you would like to browse other tasty menu plans, take a look at Menu Plan Monday hosted by Org Junkie.

I quietly snuggled with our three-year-old on the bed. He patted my bulging tummy and gently poked my exposed belly button.

"Mommy!" our young son exclaimed with a touch of wonder, "Your belly button is coming out of hiding!"

Our eldest son chimed in. "Yeah, Mommy!" he agreed, "Soon it's gonna be an outer!"

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Lists

I am a compulsive list maker. Thankfully, it is a nasty habit I am gradually starting to wean myself from. Lists involve such pressure. I often feel disappointed when I don't check every item off my list at the end of the day. (And let face it. These days I rarely complete even half the items on my list.)

This pregnancy I have not compiled an Almighty List. In fact, I have very few things I would like to complete before the baby arrives. I think Ben is relieved I have not gone into overdrive nesting mode this time around! I feel my nest is sufficiently feathered.

I have returned to making daily lists, though. My brain is starting to move into that unsettling fuzzy stage of pregnancy. I forget the strangest things. (Things like feeding the hamster or finishing the laundry.) This week I made prioritized lists each day, and it helped so much. I simply worked my way through the list, step by step. I didn't have to think too hard and felt unreasonably productive.

As well, I've finally given myself permission to leave my lists incomplete. I sadly run out of steam too quickly most days, and kids have a way of changing the best laid plans. Most of the time I can realistically finish four or five things.

Here is an example of one of my daily lists. (This is fascinating stuff!)

1. Sort and wash clothes (3 loads).
2. Phone Alberta Blue Cross.
3. Start bread in the bread maker.
4. Start supper in the crock pot.
5. Take down and put away Christmas decorations.

I also like having prioritized lists because I feel less panicked about my day. I can see what I need to do, and about how long each task will take. If my kids ask me to read books or make crafts with them, I can honestly judge my time. I've actually spent more time playing with the kids this week thanks to my lists!

I also have a Big Task List for the month of January. It has some longer projects that I would like to complete this month:
  • Learn to use Quicken. Make a new budget and enter receipts. (Completed.)
  • Compile preschool music binders. (Completed.)
  • Sew kids' pajamas. (The fabric is cut but I haven't started sewing yet.)
  • Write thank you notes. (The boys made adorable cards. I'm still filling them out.)
  • Re-arrange the furniture in the baby's room and boys' room.
  • Make silhouette pictures for the boys' room. (I bought the supplies.)
  • Go through my iPhoto library and print the good pictures for 2006 and 2007. Compile photo albums.
I'll likely not finish everything on my Big Task list this month. That's okay, though. I am learning to slow down, and as my friend kindly puts it, lower my expectations. ;-)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Conversation

"Hey, Mommy. Guess what."

"Yeah, Buddy?"

"You know, I really like that guy you married."

Pause. "You mean Daddy?"

"Yeah! He's pretty nice."


I think he's pretty nice, too.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Our eldest son has an oral fixation. That boy will put the strangest things in his mouth ... rocks from the street, lego, crayons, pieces of paper, twigs, pennies, play dough. He started sucking his thumb in the womb and recently developed the nasty habit of biting his nails.

The child is five years old. Will he never grow out of this stage?

Yesterday our son's teacher caught him eating chalk. Apparently, it was not an isolated incident. I was surprised to learn he has also been disciplined for chewing on markers in the classroom. I promised my son's teacher I would discuss his behavior at home.

The crux of the issue is this: Our son is incredibly bright, seems to be an auditory learner, and has an outstanding vocabulary. He's sensitive, compassionate, and has a strong sense of right and wrong. However, he is also strong-willed and difficult to motivate, highly independent and opinionated. He's prone to angry outbursts and sullen moods.

Our boy is a surprisingly difficult ship to steer. By the grace of God, we're working on it.

This morning my husband took our son aside to discuss the chalk-eating incident. Ben gently explained why consuming the classroom's chalk is unacceptable behavior. Our son did not take his reprimand gracefully.

Our five-year-old squared his shoulders, looked his father in the eye and exclaimed, "No! I will not eschew eating chalk!!"

Score one for the preschooler. How many five-year-old boys can correctly use a word their mother has to look up in a dictionary?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What's in a Name?

This weekend we bought a few little gifts for our children in Banff. Our daughter received a small plush turtle (primarily because I love hearing her say "tur-tle!").

Most stuffies in our house have names. The cat is named Mow. The rat is called Ratty. We have Puppy Wuppy, La La and Sheeto.

Our five-year-old quickly dubbed the new addition Turbo.

I think Turbo is a highly appropriate name for a turtle.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bedtime Prayers

We snuggled with our boys after their baths. Ben read a Bible story and we bowed our heads to pray. I diligently asked God to bless our nightly prayer list of family and friends.

"But Mommy!" our five-year-old quickly piped in, "You forgot someone!"

"Oh? Who's that?" I asked.

"You need to pray for Uncle Matt 'cause he's away in Hamsterdam!"

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
January 7, 2008

This weekend I wandered through the bargain books at Chapters and found the Campbell's 3 Books in 1 Cookbook. I regularly cook recipes from the Campbell's Kitchen site and I used some of my Christmas gift card to purchase the book. (I also used my card to purchase Pride and Prejudice on DVD. I was so happy to discover the movie in the bargain bin.)

Over the next several weeks I plan to try many recipes from my new cookbook. The book includes an entire section of lovely slow cooker recipes, as well as tasty soups, skillet suppers and casseroles. My menu plan this week features two new recipes --- Hearty Bean and Barley Soup and Golden Chicken with Noodles.

Monday: No cooking (supper at my parents')
Tuesday: Christmas turkey pie, tossed green salad
Wednesday: Encore performance
Thursday: Hearty bean and barley soup, homemade bread
Friday: Golden chicken with noodles, steamed broccoli
Saturday: Leftover night
Sunday: No cooking (supper at Ben's parents')

For more delicious meal plans check out Menu Plan Monday hosted by Org Junkie.
A Romantic Escape

What a wonderful weekend! Ben and I spent the last few days in the lovely town of Banff, nestled within the majestic Rocky Mountains. We planned a special getaway to celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary.

Our children spent the weekend with their grandparents. Ben and I stayed in a loft suite at a nice hotel. Our room had a small kitchen and a rustic wood-burning fireplace. A very romantic place, indeed. We stayed for two nights and slept in very, very late each morning.

On Friday night we went for a beautiful, moonlit sleigh ride. My hubby and I snuggled under a buffalo skin robe and enjoyed gourmet chocolates. The weather was perfect --- just below zero with light snow. After our ride we ate a delicious late supper at a local steak house.

On Saturday afternoon we toured around town and poked our noses through the local shops. I stocked up at the Rocky Mountain Soap Company, and Ben and I indulged in Bernard Callebaut chocolates. Late in the afternoon we visited the spa at the Upper Hot Springs. Ben and I each received a wonderfully relaxing massage. My massage therapist even used a special pillow for my baby belly. After our massages Ben took a dip in the hot springs while I wandered through the gift shop.

We returned home this afternoon rested, relaxed and ready to step back into a routine. The children had lots of fun at Grandpa and Grandmas'. This week our oldest son returns to school and the next few days are shaping up to be quite busy.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thoughts for the New Year

I've never formally made New Year's resolutions in the past. This time around I have a few thoughts for the upcoming year. Here are some things I'd like to work on in 2008:

  • Invite friends over for a play date once a week.
  • Take more time to call friends on the phone just to chat and be an encouragement. (This is a really tough one for me.)
  • Go to the Y twice a week (on Mondays, Wednesdays or Thursdays) to swim / walk / or take a water class.
  • Drink a glass of water before every meal and snack.
  • Include one soup recipe and one meatless meal in my menu plan each week.
  • Finish knitting at least one afghan block each week. (I've completed seven of the thirty blocks so far.)
  • Take the kids outside for walks or to the park as often as the weather will allow.
  • Read more classic Christian literature. I plan to start with C.S. Lewis' books.
  • Watch my critical tongue. I often say negative things (especially to my family) without thinking about how my words some across.
  • Make sure more clutter / stuff / junk goes out of our house than comes into it.
  • Shower Ben with physical affection and make going to bed early a priority.
I am excited to start the new year. Welcome 2008!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy Birthday!!

How can it be? Our New Years baby turned five yesterday. How could he grow up so quickly?

We celebrated with a small party for close family. Our big boy had a ball playing with his new toys and eating birthday cake. He was thoroughly spoiled, once again.

Our sons helped decorate the cake earlier in the day. The birthday boy specifically requested a Yoda cake, so I dyed his cake batter green. Apparently, the candies on the cake represent a fierce light sabre battle. Our son also added a few Star Wars figurines to the top of his cake. Additional figures mysteriously appeared throughout the day. By cake-cutting time the Yoda cake sported roughly a dozen plastic toys (and less-than-perfect icing).

Happy Birthday Buddy! Daddy and Mommy are so proud of you!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Nightime Woes

Our three-year-old son is not a sound sleeper. For the past few days he's been waking up four, five, six times a night. He'll cry, ask for a drink of water or a snuggle, and fall back to sleep.

Ben and I leave a sippy cup of water beside our son's bed. We have told him to not cry out in the night, but to drink from his cup. (This strategy is not working as well as we had planned.)

This evening at bedtime I tucked our son under his covers. "Goodnight Buddy. Have a good sleep," I said. I paused for a moment and then gently inquired, "What should you do if you're thirsty in the night?"

My son glanced down at his sippy cup and replied, "I should chase away the scary carrots!"