Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

Thankful for...

1.  Bibs that cover their sleeves!  And yes, my daughter has nutella for breakfast.  She also wants to wear a headband every morning but it usually just makes it through breakfast.
2.  Realizing Kai would love Suduko puzzles.  He loves math and logic.  Perfect for when he needs a little break from playing with Koen.  
3. Seeing the kids excited over simple things.  Kai used his tooth fairy money for tooth #2 to buy a pack of gum.  I know I'm a bit mean but the only money they are allowed to spend as they wish is their tooth fairy money so I always love seeing what they decide to do.
4.  Relaxing Saturday/Sunday mornings.  This doesn't always happen with sessions/weddings but this weekend it did!  The boys helped Gary prep french toast with raspberry sauce.  Kai wants to go to culinary school.   
5.  Fall walk in the leaves.  So great. This is Koen's `You took me away from my cars so I'm going to go on this walk but I am NOT going to enjoy it. I'm especially not going to enjoy this big leaf that I think is so cool' face.
6.  Bottle donations!!  We had two big donations this week!  We have decided that half will go to the Menchies fund and half will go to support our friend (old student of mine and bball player of Gary's) Sam.  If you would like to donate bottles, please let me know:)  Also, picked up 3 groupons for Menchies today which means we save even more!  For $15.00 our family of 5 will be able to go 3 times.  
7.  Piles of leaves.  I know I said walks already but piles to play in (and put them down your mommy's pants, thanks Koen) are awesome.
8. Dental Care!  There are not many places to go to remember my mom.  The Run for the Cure, the church we grew up in, Green Lake, my oma's house, and...the dental office!  My mom worked there for 20 something years so we definitely have a connection to it.  It doesn't have all the newest bells and whistles but we love my mom's old coworkers.  Koen and I went this week and there are no cavities for us!  When I was in Kenya, the kids would clean their teeth with a stick so I am definitely thankful for all of the oral care we get here!
Koen: Why do we need to go the dentist?
Me: To make sure we don't have cavities.
Koen: What are cavities?
Me: Holes in your teeth?
Koen: Poles?!
Me: No, holes.
Koen: Well, you don't want poles in them either.
9. My owl mug.  It makes me happy.  I drink 1-2 cups of coffee in the morning and then just hot water throughout the day.  We aren't turning on our gas fireplace this year for safety reasons (Nya) so are finding other ways to stay warm :)
10.  Awesome memories of Poett Nook.  Growing up, we would go to Poett Nook near Bamfield, BC (west coast of Vancouver Island) for about 2 weeks to fish like crazy.   We did this every year for about 10 years? The owners were awesome and it was solid family time.  We could identify different types of salmon, take turns getting up at 5am to go fishing with my dad, and catch (and clean!) our limit.  There was always some seasickness but I don't think any of us will forget Cree Island.  My mom was soooooo brave and hardworking to have all 5 of us camping there for the 2 weeks.  The last time I went, I was about 19 years old.  Not sure if we'll get back there again...the roads are pretty wild to get there!  I love that we go with our family to Ucluelet (very close to Poett Nook but on paved roads!) every spring break.

I hope you have a wonderful Thursday!

We will be trick or treating tonight and also handing out candies to about 300 (?) kids in 2 hours (sooo many kids here!!).

Love, Louise

PS Potty training Nya started yesterday.  I'll update you later, it's been interesting!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

About a month ago, I made my first batch of Oatmeal Fudge Bars from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook website.  The first batch was a bit dry (sorry D & E!) so the trick is to only bake for 25 minutes.  Now that I've got it figured out, I love them.  They are a bit pricier to make compared to regular cookies due to the condensed milk and amount of butter, but I think they are worth it:)

 Here is the recipe via link and here it is copied below:

chocolate fudge
  • 1 can (10 oz / 300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • I cup butter, room temp
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  1. On medium/low heat, melt fudge ingredients, stirring as needed, until well combined. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl of mixer, cream together butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs.
  3. Gradually, stir in flour, baking soda and oatmeal. This will end up resembling a stiff cookie dough. For easier mixing you can use a hook attachment on the machine if you have it... but it works fine by hand too.
  4. Using a wet spatula or wet hands,  press 2/3 of the dough into a 9x13 inch greased pan. Glass or light colored aluminum is good. Keep 1/3 for top layer.
  5. Spread with fudge filling.
  6. Randomly scoop spoon fulls of the left over dough all over the top - like islands - allowing spots of the filling to show. (I add a few Tbsp of milk to this part of the dough to have an easier consistency to work with)
  7. Bake at 350 F for 25 - 30 minutes. (Do not over bake - may appear a bit jiggly when you take it out of the oven) Let cool. Cut into 36 - 48 bars. Keeps well for days, refrigerated. Freezes well.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

17 Months

I'm a little late on the 17 month post but better late than never.  I've always said that the 18 month stage is my favourite.  However, as we are approaching it, I'm not so sure.  I love my baby girl.  Very much.  However, the older she gets, the stronger her personality, and man, does she have a stubborn streak!  I feel like I'm getting glimpses of teenage Nya and it scares me a little.  

She will arch her back and go into seastar mode so you can't get her in her carseat.  She will punch me in the face repeatedly if I try to pick her up when she doesn't want me to.  Just this week, she ripped out my earring (with a backing!) because I took her out of Koen's preschool class.  She does not want my help while walking up and down stairs.  Who knew a 20 something pound girl could hurt you so bad!  If I look at her wrong, I get the biggest glare.  She is the grumpiest with me after a nap.   I know my  mom is smiling about this because this attitude sound like 14  year old Louise (although I never hurt my mom physically, just my sister Maria).  

Now I will focus on the good stuff.  

-She love her baby and she LOVES receiving blankets (she calls them bubi's).  
-She loves books and especially `Brown Bear, Brown Bear' (which I am so tired of!!).  
-She eats almost anything and everything.  She especially loves our morning smoothies and grapes.
-She loves music and has some sweet moves.
-She loves watching our fish `Swimmy'.
-She has started calling Gary and I `Daddy' and `Mommy' instead of `Dada' and `Mama' and it is sooooooo cute.
-She has many, many words; apple, baba (banana), cat, dodi (doggie), up, Dai (Kai), mommy, daddy, baby, bubi, poo, buba (bottle), one, two, fower (flower), peas (please)...
-She has 1-2 bottles per day and 1-2 bf per day.  I'm thinking of continuing through the winter to try to keep her healthy?  Also, selfishly, with all her meanness to me (hitting/glaring), I crave the sweet times.  I definitely never planned on doing this.  I just thought  I would do it until she was one.
-She love, love, looooooooves her daddy.  I would say more than the boys at this age.   Where they may have craved more snuggles and affection from me, she craves that physical-ness from him.  
-She goes on the toilet several times a day as she will tell me  she needs to go by lifting up her shirt and saying `poo'.  I'm thinking of `potty training' her (putting her in underwear) next month but will need to get a potty as she can't get herself on a toilet on her own.  Has anyone potty trained a child at this age?   I don't want to to cause issues down the road but I think in the `olden days' they used to do it this early and she clearly understands what's going on.

-she still does not have enough hair for a ponytail but you can see we had a barrette in for a bit:)
-she is comfortable in the church nursery and at daycare. Phew.
-she loves being outside (what kid doesn't?)
-she loves being with her brothers but she bugs them so much by taking their cars and whatever else they are playing with.  They often lock her out of the room and I understand, she is a pest!

Oh Miss Nya, we love you so much.  You add a very sweet and feisty dimension to our family.   We look forward to the day when you sleep through the night consistently, although we are thankful that you do at least 50% of the time.  I appreciate your strong will and ability to assert yourself, I think you will be a strong young woman.  Just be nice to your momma.

Love you Nya Pya.
Love, Mommy.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Thankful for...

1.  Hearing positive feedback about my husband.  The night before, Gary and I had just talked about how it's often hard in teaching to know that you are appreciated.  On Friday, while I was subbing, we had `Homeroom' groups.  It's where about 15-20 students from grades 8-12 meet with a specific teacher to connect.  This week we talked about the school and what they loved and didn't love about it.  First of all, it seemed that every single person loved the school because the students were so friendly and that the teachers really cared.  Secondly, several students pointed out how they really liked Mr. Chapman.  He is funny and he teases them.  I always worried when Gary talked about bugging kids, what if they were laughing on the outside but crying on the inside?  But one student said, `He knows me well enough to make fun of me and know that I would like it' and I get that.  Because Gary makes fun of me too:)  Some also mentioned how they appreciated the teachers that open up the gym early and coach etc.  It really helps me to be reminded of this so I don't complain when it disrupts our lives.

2.  My kitchen mat.  We've had it for about a year.  It's one of those squishy mats from Costco that makes cooking a whole lot more comfortable!
3.  The heart that Koen made me last Mother's Day.  Very often, when we get in the van, it reminds Koen about his love for me and he says `I love you mommy!'.  Then, we often talk about how the red bead is a symbol for the red Tassimo coffee maker he won for me:)
4.  Sunshine.  Oh man, the sun has been out and I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE it.  I feel like I should book 100 sessions for this weekend but I'm sticking to the one.
5.  Gary is home tonight!!!  He's been gone hiking in Manning with his LEAD class all week.  The kids are excited to see him and I'm happy too.  Yesterday I felt quite sick so it was a rough day, especially since my nights are not always fantastic.  And can I tell you what made me stay so calm?  My only goal for the days was to take care of the kids and minimal housework. I would really only work and do emails etc at night.  That way, I wouldn't get frustrated when I couldn't get something done.  
6.  That Gary normally brings Kai to and from school.  It was fine this week but tricky when we had to be somewhere else by 9 am.  We don't live close to the school so it just means getting up and out of the house earlier than we'd like in order to drop Kai off and drive another 30 minutes.  This was us getting out of the house this morning...Nya also has her hair gelled.  She likes to be like the boys.
7. Gary and I got a night away.  So good. So thankful.  Need to do that more.  So glad we decided to work on `us' more with books, podcasts, prayers and conversations.  Should have started sooner.
8.  Chapter 6 of `Simplicity Parenting'.  It's about Filtering Out the Adult World.  A lot of it has to do with tv but this was a good challenge to me as I often talk with my kids about adult stuff.  There are some things that I should wait on.  I like this quote: ` I'm reminded of the road sign: CAUTION; BRIDGE FREEZES BEFORE ROAD.  The bridge is  more vulnerable to frost because it lacks a foundation.  The earth below the road provides grounding and warmth.  In the same way, too much information can freeze a child.  Not only do they lack context for the information, they lack the foundation that childhood slowly provides; the foundation of years of relatively safe observation, interaction, and exploration.'

It's a balance right.  You want your kids to know about the world, to care about it, but you don't want to scare them.
9.  Smiles.  My momma was not one for make up.  She just taught us that a smile on your face was more beautiful that anything else you put on.  So true right? Although, I won't go anywhere without mascara.
10.  8 pm.  Freedom. Ha.  No picture of that.  Sorry :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Family Photos

It is no secret that I love having our family photos done.  I have always  loved documenting everything:)  Anita is a local photographer and friend/fellow mom of 3, so we did a family photo swap.  I did her photos last year and she did ours just a few weeks well!   We chose a super close field that I love and the morning was perfectly overcast as we met at 9 am.  The kids behaved, sort of, with chocolate chips, and here are just a few photos.  I'll save our Christmas card one for later.  

Miss Nya was definitely the trickiest as she just wanted to run away, but we got a few of her right at the start.   Lest you think we are always smiling, I would say that Koen has a disgruntled look in most of the photos.  And yes, I `encouraged' my husband to carry a couch to the middle of the field.  I like it:)

{Pretend Koen isn't wearing Cars did his feet grow overnight?!  I had everything all laid out and made sure it fit, except for their shoes.}

 And now to figure out which ones to print and put up.  And where.  And should they replace some etc.

I love this  family of mine and I'm thankful that Gary is totally good with family photos every year:)

Hope you are having a good week!

Love, Louise

Monday, October 21, 2013

Simplicity Parenting

I'm reading a parenting book right  now that I would highly recommend.  It is called `Simplicity Parenting' by Kim Payne.  The subtitle is `Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids'.  It's not rocket  science.   A lot of it describes my childhood and I am very thankful to have had such a good one.  Things like routines in the day, family dinners together, fewer toys and clothes and food options (less clutter overall), time outside with nature, talking about what the next day will be like, AMPLE DOWN TIME etc.  The importance of boredom (the creativity that stems from it) and anticipation (not constantly getting but looking forward).

These days I feel pressure to put my kids in `stuff' but I know that they are near their max already.  Kai and Koen, with unstructured time, can spend HOURS together playing `Amazing Race' with their stuffies or digging in the garden or whatever they are doing.  And seriously, are we supposed to do play dates every day?!  Way too stressful for this momma.
Here's one quote, `In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out isn't the splashy, blow-out trip to Disneyland but the common thread that runs throughout and repeat; the family dinners, the nature walks, reading together and bedtime..., Saturday morning pancakes.'.  

I am trying to get through it in the evenings as it's got a hold on it at the library so I need to get it back.  But, I just thought I would take a second to recommend it as it was recommended to me and I do like it!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Harrison Getaway

Gary and I just got back from a quick getaway.  On Saturday afternoon, we brought the kids to his parents house and then we continued on to Harrison Hotsprings.  On our way, we hit up the Bottle Depot and thanks to Auntie Trisha (Nut), we have enough for a Menchies Trip!  The kids LOVE the sorting and I tried not to be grossed out by all the yuckiness of the depot and the fact that Nya was trying to drink from the bottles.

We said `Goodbye' to our Honda which is at their house as we are trying to get $1200.00 for it.  Any takers? Needs a new transmission or it won't move.  Also, the right sliding door needs a new motor.  Otherwise, decent vehicle:)
On the way we stopped at the Cactus Club for lunch (gift cards!) and then went to check into our hotel.

  We then went hiking, in the pools, out for dinner, back to the pools, reading (well, Gary watched sports), walk around the lagoon, drank wine (well, I did)etc.  It was so weird to have so much time together! I feel like we had a months worth of quality time in just 24 hours.
 It was relaxing and restful.  I was feeling a little like `oh my goodness, cram as much relaxing as we can in!! How do we do that?! What should we do?! Hurry! Relax!'.    I'm still exhausted as I think it would take 3 days of being without the kids to be `normal', whatever that means.
Gary's parents brought the kids to our house last night and then my sister Maria slept over here with them (and had to do bedtime and wake up with them).   We do love being with our kids and were happy to see them again and look forward to going back to Harrison with them next time.
And seriously.  I thought I would sleep until 9 am for sure.  I woke up at 6:30 am!!  Gary was up too so we went for a morning walk:)   

Thank you to our family for watching our kids!!  It was a great time.  
PS Not sure the pools are as fun without the kids.  We sat in it for half an hour and were like, `Uh, what do we do?'. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

1.  The Boys Menchies Fund.  The boys are collecting cans and bottles so that they can go to Menchies again.  We don't drink pop or juice boxes usually so it takes a long time to get the money.  They are thankful that I drink beer and wine, although definitely not enough to be beneficial to them:)  They also raid gramma and grandpa's recycling bin.  Here they dove in for a can that snuck into the recycling bin.  They may have taken home everyone's empties at the Run For The Cure:)  So far with their bottle collection, they have been once.  This also means that no  matter where we are (our family photo shoot, test driving vans), they are picking up gross bottles to bring home.   If anyone would like to donate to their fund and rid themselves of their cans and bottles....
2.  PMS tea.   It actually works a little. Not  as awesome as a bottle of wine, I'm sure, but safe to take during the day:)  I've been trying to find something that makes me a little nicer to Gary during my crazy `hormonal shift'.   I got it from Nature's Fare.
3. Nya putting on make up with me.  It is sooooo cute when she crawls on the bench next to me. Unfortunately, she is messy and I may have to stop her from joining me but eek, it's so cute!
4.  Cousins.  So blessed with so many cousins that all live so close.  The Chapman ones are older but they still let our kids participate in their activities and they love our kids.
The Dekens' side is basically a sweet gong show every time. Love it. 12 kids in 7 years.  Awesome. Baby Grace is not in this photo.
5.  Work.  I love that I have a job that is flexible. I can work and take care of my kids and stay in my yoga  pants.  I can make as little or much money as I want  depending on how busy  I want to be.
6.  Lauren.   Nya's bff  is almost one and possibly the cutest kid out there. And when I say `cute', I mean not only is she adorable but her personality is amazing.  This weekend, she  just crawled into my lap and snuggled me and I melted.  Lynette and Bryan have been `mom and dad' for almost a year now.  So awesome. 
7.  Coupons.  I love a good deal!  I usually only get stuff on sale and it just feels so good.  Talking about that, I usually buy the coupon books later into the fall when they are half price but they lowered  the price this year to $30.  Perfect.
8.  My wrist rest.  I have pretty bad wrists so this saves the day with the hours of editing.  The paper that it sits on is actually something from about 8 years ago or so.  It is from my old job where people wrote encouraging things to me on it.
9.  Friends.  This picture has been on my fridge for, uh, almost 8 years?!  I was pregnant with Kai in this picture.  I appreciate these  two because they aren't afraid to speak the truth to me and I know our friendship is valued.  Ali is also in the parenting stage with three young kids with me which means we are navigating this chaos (of wild boys and minivan stress) together.  
10.  Okay, I am trying to be thankful for a new van.  I'm not sure I am. to phrase it.  I am thankful that the van buying process is complete and we have a `new' van and I am thankful that we found one that works within our budget.  We got a Toyota Sienna.  I will maybe blog more on it later as I have a lot to say but I think it is probably beyond boring.  There was one van that was better than this one (this was #2 out of 5 on our list) but it was $3000.00 more (same year but had an 8th seat that we didn't need, lower km's, and pristine condition).  Maybe we should've gone for the best one but I feel comfortable with our decision.  Somehow having a van with dings in it makes me feel less nervous about the kids destroying it.
PS. Wanna giggle?  This was 5 years ago when we bought our Honda.  I was very pregnant with Koen and  apparently  only had short shirts? What the heck am I wearing?!  As an emotional note, that is my dad's house in the background, before it was torn down :(
This van has taken us to Alberta twice (loved Drumheller), Green Lake and Vancouver Island numerous times, and camping in Oregon.  I am usually a very sentimental person but we did not have a great  relationship with this van as it was not reliable.  I have mixed feelings. 

I would just like to say that doing my Thankful Thursdays has really helped me to focus on the positives throughout my week. I would recommend it:)   Just don't put pressure on yourself to do 10 or pictures or whatever. 

Have a wonderful weekend. We are almost there.
Love, Louise