Sunday, December 18, 2011

growing by the minute: 15 months

I let the monthly updates slide after Jacob turned one. Now, to my utter disbelief, he is already one quarter through his second year.

Vital stats: At his check up last week, Jacob weighed in at 25 lbs and measured 81.5 cm, which puts him around the 75th percentile on the growth chart for his age. 

Milestones & firsts: So many. Running, full tilt, with confidence; climbing furniture; adding words by the day to his vocabulary; befriending Scarley; started going to Miss Allie's House during the week; learned to identify head, hair, nose, ears, eyes, belly, feet, as well as objects, animals and a few colours; moved into a new house and a new room and has made himself quite at home ... I didn't realize how eventful the past three months have been!

Teeth: Nine and counting. We recently went through a tough week of teething, and now he has four in the front, on top, three in the front, on bottom, and two upper molars.

(Teeth are great for eating cake pop treats!)

Speech: I can't even begin to count how many words this kid says. He never. stops. talking. Which comes to great delight to people who love to point out who he gets that from coughmecough. Some of his most-often said and best understood include: hi, ball, dog, mama, daddy, hot, don't touch, I did it, no, please, water, apple, banana, oh wow, cheese, oh no, bottle, bath, guitar and the gamut of animal sounds, such as moo, woof woof and meow.

Zzzzzzz: Dare I put it in writing? Sleep is good. Very good. Generally, Jacob sleeps 12-13 hours per night without waking, though sore teeth or head colds wake him from time to time. His usual bedtime is around 6:30 p.m. He also takes a noon-time nap at Miss Allie's house each day, which can vary from 45 minutes to 2+ hours.

Om nom nom: Jacob likes most everything, but his tastes vary depending on the day. Recently, he was on a huge pb&j kick, on everything from English muffins to tortillas. He loves all veggies, especially broccoli, and eats tons of quinoa and beans. He's certainly not a vegetarian though; he eats chicken like it's going out of style. Oh, and don't let him see a banana, or he'll pester you until he gets it.

Likes: Hide and seek, stacking towers and knocking them down, sitting in his chair, toting toys from room to room, trying to dress himself and playing outside.

Dislikes: Laying still to have his diaper changed. I seriously can't think of anything else. He's a pretty easy-going dude.



Challenges: Jacob had a bout with a fever and rash that made for a rough weekend recently. It's never fun when he's under the weather or uncomfortable.

Special moments:
Here's one perfect example: one night, when J was teething and having a hard time getting to sleep, we brought him into our bed for some cuddles and he just snuggled in between us and went to sleep. He stayed there, snug as a bug, all night. Felt so good.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

have i mentioned that i love being a home owner?

I owe you a follow up to this post, wouldn't you agree?

We started with a dark room and we are in the progress of completing several intentions.

#1: Rip out that terrible, old, dark carpet. CHECK.
#2: Remove wallpaper throughout the basement. CHECK.*
#3: Choose paint colours. Paint. HALF CHECK.**
#4: Have new carpet laid.***
#5: Put our feet up in front of the cozy wood stove.

* The wallpaper removal process seemed like a breeze, until we realized that the play room was still, in fact, papered. Under paint. What a mess. I couldn't bare the thought of leaving it that way. It's our home, I resolved, and it must be done completely, and done right. Well, after layers of paint thinner, wallpaper remover and loads of elbow grease on Husband's part, we've decided to crack fill and smooth it as best we can, and then paint over that sucker. I think it'll look pretty great once it's finished. And only I will know there's paper hiding under there. Well, and you'll know, too, but you won't tell, right?

** Paint has been selected and purchased! Yay! Now we just need to finish the job in asterisk No. 1 and we can move on to this satisfying stage.

*** Oh Home Depot. We are developing a love-hate relationship. It used to be all the former, but now I'm starting to drift toward the latter. We went in on Dec. 3 (yes, six days before we closed, because we're caraazay like that) and picked our carpet, paid the deposit and were told we'd hear back at the first of the week about a measurement appointment. Nada. Eight days later, the installer called on our quiet Sunday morning to announce that he would be there in 10 minutes. Super-awesome-advanced-notice-much? I was in my bathrobe and stayed dressed that way until he had come and gone. So, we promptly went into the store on Monday to pay our balance and book our installation. Three days later, still waiting. I'll keep you posted, but aim your eggs at HD until further notice.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ch-ch-ch-chaaanges

Day 5 in the new house, and things are starting to look a little different ...

Behold, the BEFORE:


Horrible. Hideous border. Dark carpet. Even worse forest green on every bit of trim.

Then, the most wonderful thing happened ... Husband scraped off that border and took down the blinds ... and it was like a Christmas miracle:


Then up came one layer of carpet:


And then another:


Isn't this the most glorious pile of trash you've ever seen?


I wonder if the neighbours are starting to talk ...?

And this is only the beginning.

Friday, December 9, 2011

closing day!

It's Friday! But more importantly, it's CLOSING DAY! The last 28 days have been a whirlwind (yes, that's all that spanned between the day we offered and the day we closed).


What you can't see here are the lovely mature trees in front, closer to the street. I love that yard. 16,000-square-feet of pure bliss, and it's all ours.

So, I think it goes without saying that we've got our weekend cut out for us. What are you up to?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

financial bucket list


Do you have a financial bucket list? Things you would do when and if you could save the money? I recently started reading Give Me Back My Five Bucks, a Canadian blog about finding financial independence, and it's given me inspiration to be even more aggressive about paying down debt.

Here are a few of the things on my personal financial bucket list:

1) Pay off debt as quickly and efficiently as possible. This includes student loans, two car payments and our new mortgage.

2) Create an emergency fund. Ideally, this would be enough funds to live for six months if something unimaginable happened.

3) Increase our retirement contributions. Who doesn't want to be set up to retire comfortably?

4) Increase our investment into education savings. Hopefully our children will pursue higher education and we want to be prepared to help them as much as we can with that.

These all seem quite logical, right? What are your financial priorities?

*Another huge bonus? Give me back my five bucks is hosting a great giveaway, so pop on over to learn more.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

countdown to christmas

I blogged for The Chronicle Herald on Wednesday about wanting to start a Christmas countdown tradition in our home. The idea that I liked best, of out all of the great ones I found on Pinterest, was a holiday activity for each day of December.

Here's what we're planning:

December 1: Sing Christmas songs.
December 2: Send letter to Santa here.
December 3: Bake Christmas cookies.
December 4: Watch Elf on CBC.
December 5: Colour Christmas pictures.
December 6: Make paper ornaments.
December 7: Take festive family photos.
December 8: Shop for stocking stuffers.
December 9: Send Christmas cards officially from our new address.
December 10: Deck the halls in our new home!
December 11: Watch Home Alone on CBC.
December 12: Make DIY Christmas gifts for friends.
December 13: Read Christmas stories.
December 14: Take an evening drive to look at Christmas lights.
December 15: Make paper snowflakes.
December 16: Go on a winter walk.
December 17: Do a good deed.
December 18: Build a snowman (weather permitting) or make an indoor version.
December 19: Make snow angels, inside or out.
December 20: Play outside.
December 21: Sip hot chocolate with candy cane stir sticks.
December 22: Read Christmas more stories.
December 23: Drive home for the holidays! Listen to lots of Christmas music along the way!
December 24-29: Celebrate Christmas with family.
December 30: Make a list of family plans and resolutions for 2012.
December 31: Stay up late, enjoy treats, and ring in the new year as a family.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

five things

Five things.

List five things we don’t know about you.

1) I can't iron. I hate to iron. I don't do it. Ever.

2) I can't watch violent movies.

3) I talk in my sleep. Often in full sentences.

4) I gave birth to Jacob naturally, without an epidural.

5) I've been pulled over twice for speeding. Received zero tickets.

Five things you’re knowledgeable about.

1) Cooking and baking. I am, by no means, an expert, but I love to try new things, so I'm always learning more.

2) Crafting and DIYing. I consider myself pretty creative and will try and project that comes my way.

3) The written word. I am an editor, after all. And yes, I know, the grammar on this blog isn't always to the letter of the English law, but this is my outlet. I'm allowed a few liberties.

4) Swimming, synchronized and otherwise.

5) Motherhood. I'm not going to pretend that I'm not learning as I go, but parenting takes up a surprising amount of brain real estate as of late.

Five things you know nothing about.

1) Football. I've been taught before, but I can't seem to retain all the rules.

2) Math beyond add, subtract and multiply. Don't ask me how to do long division.

3) Harry Potter, Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.

4) Current music, besides what's repeated over and over on my morning commute.

5) Gardening. I'm an absolute brown thumb. Don't tell the homeowner police, but I am likely going to destroy my yard.

And five things you believe.

1) I truly believe everything happens for a reason.

2) I believe in my instincts.

3) I believe in the good in people.

4) I believe in love. It is the glue of the strongest bonds in my life.

5) I believe in karma and the Golden Rule.

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer's prompt.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

house & home


As I leaked in my 30 by 30 post - we are now home owners! As of our December 9 closing, at least. 10 sleeps, if you're counting. I already shared a bit of the story here.

We started the search a few months ago, initially browsing MLS and ViewPoint, and then we contacted our Realtor. Our intention was to start looking to get a sense of what we liked, and then but the plan into motion after the holidays. 18 boring houses later, and we unexpectedly found ourselves standing in the living room of the house that just felt like home. The layout is exactly what we wanted, spacious and open. Three bedrooms for our little family with the potential to add a fourth in the already-finished basement. It has curb appeal and a big yard, with lots of room to play and entertain. And it's not perfect either. There's some wallpaper to strip, and floors to swap and little updates here and there, but those things might be what we're most excited for-- to make our little home our own.

With moving day less than two weeks away, we've already packed a significant amount of our current home into boxes and bins. I spend all of my free time pinning, searching and jotting notes in a lengthy Google Doc, keeping track of our to-dos and must-buys.

On the list of priorities after Dec. 10:
  • Install new (just purchased!) dining room chandelier and fire place sconces.
  • Strip wallpaper downstairs. Repaint.
  • Work on updates to J's big boy room.
  • Put a happy wreath on our new front door.
Looking forward to giving you the full tour once we're in and settled!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 by 30


Today, I turn 27. I don't dwell on age or the number. My year as a 26-year-old was pretty wonderful, and I'm looking forward to what life as a 27-year-old has to offer. In three years, I'm not going to have an ohmygodi'm30 freakout. It is what it is. Like a fine wine ... and all that.

I think we all have things in our minds that we intend to do in our 20s though. Some of my goals are time consuming, some are lofty. If I start now, I have a full 1,095 days to complete them. Doable.

30 by 30:

1) Eliminate half of my student loan debt. I have a chunk of student loan debt that needs to be paid.

2) Go down south for a week. This is something Husband and I have never done, and we'd love to do something like this together. Maybe for a 30th birthday celebration?

3) Volunteer for something that makes a difference. I'm not sure what this is going to be yet, but I'd like to use some of my spare time to contribute to something bigger than myself.

4) Grow my little family. I'm not going to comment on when this will happen or how many more children we would like to have, lets just say we're hoping/planning to give J at least one sibling.

5) Invest more. We have some of these adult things set up already, but I'd like to increase our contributions to better plan for our future.

6) Join a book club. I know this is kind of cheating because I did this already, but it really was one of my goals. I love our little club!

7) Try a new activity. Last year, I went to zumba for the first time and it was a lot of fun. I've always been curious about pilates. I will enrol in a new activity.

8) Take a cooking class. I love to cook and bake, but I've never had any professional lessons. I'd love to take a class to learn some new tips and tricks.

9) Buy a house. SURPRISE! This one is already finished, too! More on that soon!

10) Write more. Obviously I write plenty, between my weekly column gig, this ol' blog and various smaller projects like J's baby journal (which I don't update nearly as much as I'd like). I want to write more ideas down as they come to me, and in whatever form they take. I want to write more snail mail to friends and family to brighten their days. I want to be more creative/inspired/funny/interested.

11) Learn to use my SLR camera. It's a shame that I haven't cracked the manual on the camera we've owned for more than three years. I will make the most of that. Soon.

12) Buy adult furniture. Our couch and love seat are the kind you buy when you're just starting out. They served their purpose. Now it's time for an upgrade.

13) Read all of my hard-cover classics. I own 14 of them and have only read a few so far.

14) See more of the world. Visit one new province and one new state. It's all about keeping the goals realistic.

15) Take a course that will make me better at my job. I could refresh and learn more about Photoshop, or try some new software like InDesign or Illustrator.

16) Take a road trip with girlfriends. Shopping, anyone? Boston? Montreal?

17) Make yoga part of my regular routine. I love yoga, but often don't make enough time to practice. By 30, I'd love to be attending regular weekly classes.

18) Build something. With wood and nails and everything.

19) Donate blood. I've tried to do this years ago, but as a new vegetarian my iron was too low and I was denied the opportunity. I have a much better handle on my diet as an adult and I'm sure I would be eligible now.

20) Edit our wedding videos. These are now on three un-edited discs. I want to combine them and add some subtitles so we have a lasting time capsule of that wonderful day.

21) Dye my hair. I've done this many times in the past, but haven't done it for years. Then, just yesterday, a co-worker pointed out, "hey, you really do have grey hair!" ... yeah. So by 30, I fully expect to be a hair dye regular.

22) Attend my 10-year high school reunion. Next year. Where does the time go?

23) Do a 10k run. I've run a 5k since running the half marathon in 2010, so I don't see why I couldn't practice a bit more and run double.

24) Plant flowers and landscape my yard with success. I didn't say I could do it without help.

25) Dust off my trumpet. I remember the basics, but that doesn't mean it's going to sound good.

26) Try surfing. I'm sure I'll be as uncoordinated at surfing as I am at dancing, but it's worth a try.

27) Institute an actual moisturizing routine. Just because I don't mind ageing doesn't mean I'm just going to let myself go. This also includes never forgetting sunscreen again.

28) Sew more. Maybe even try some patterns. (Sorry, HH!)

29) Get CPR and first aid certification. Good skills for anyone, especially a mama.

30) Be thankful for my family and friends every day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

life as i know it

This post by Melissa at Dear Baby made me think about the old days. The time of my life when I only had to worry about myself, when I didn't have a family to care for, a child who is my life's greatest responsibility. Made me wonder if I made the most of that time. Did I go out often? Spend time with friends? Travel? Act spontaneously? Craft, cook, creative write? Did I do lots of things for me when my time was all my own? I'm not sure. It's hard to look back, from the perspective I now have, and decide. What I do know for certain is that my life, as it is now, is beyond fulfilling.

Racing home from work to soak up every minute of awake time my boy has left before bath time, bottle and bed. Spending the time after that cleaning up splatters of supper off the floor from below his high chair and picking up toys and books scattered across the living room floor. Working on freelance to make a little extra for our family, and planning, scheduling, organizing so everything runs smoothly of all three of us. And it's hard work. A careful balancing act.

That doesn't count the things I try to do regularly for me -- like writing on this ol' blog, reading book club books, cooking and baking, and crafting. This weekend, I enjoyed lots of me time -- got a good start on the latest Litwits book, went out on a festive date to the parade of lights with a couple great gals, and spent some time crafting with a few other lovely friends. Weekends like this put life into real perspective -- I've got it good.

Some days it's tough. Sometimes it brings out my less-than appealing side when stress and fatigue take over. But I do try my best to keep it all in check, letting the little things roll off and meeting the big things head on.

As noted in Melissa's post, we are doing important work -- raising kids, nurturing relationships, keeping life going well from day to day. It's not always easy or glamourous or fun. But it's important. And always worth it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

my batman

Dear Jacob,

It's really hard to believe that you have been entertaining us long enough now that we are marking your second experience with holidays, like Halloween. You were a great Batman, even though you refused to wear the special mask I made for you.


I love giving you treats and you devoured the mini areo bar I gave you to try. You ran up to the door every time the bell rang, greeting our trick or treaters with "hi, hi, hi" and lots of waves. It's so fun to see you interact with other kids.


I'm glad you had such a fun time at Miss Allie's house, too, with all of your friends.

I'll put each of these moments in my memory bank and keep them always.

Love,
Muma

Friday, October 28, 2011

lovely weekend

I'm heading out of town this weekend for shopping with some of my lady relatives, and my list is longgg. I'm imagining that I could potentially complete my Christmas shopping this weekend. In October. Whoa. That would be impressive, no? I'll let you know how it goes.

I'm not actually taking the dude shopping with me,
and just thought it was too over the top not to share.

Thennn, on my way home, I'm stopping to visit HH and her lovely family in their dream house, and I can barely wait!

And then, I suppose, I should work on some blogs ... both here and there. As per usual, I'm sure the weekend is going to fly by. Do you have any fun plans?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

try it tuesday

This is sort of a cheating Try it Tuesday, but it's something that I tried, that was fun, so I had to share. I just found such a fun online tool that is completely free -- thanks to You Are My Fave. It's called Photoboother.com, and basically you can upload photos and it transforms it into a photo strip for you, just like this:


Give it a try!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

house hunters


Lovely friend H bought the house of her dreams last week. So, the fact that I've been surfing MLS non-stop for the past week or so can be squarely blamed on her.

We love where we live now, but ultimately there are restrictions to a renter's life ... no planning big renos, no building equity, no ... well, ownership. We've done little projects here and there, but I have the decorating/organizing/diy itch often, and there's only so much you can do in someone else's casa.

We're surveying our options and counting our pennies, just in preparation for the inevitability. This isn't the first time we've started on this road, but who knows, maybe it'll end differently this time.

So, I put these questions to you, dear readers, and am happily accepting any and all advice in these matters:

1) Detached vs. semi-detached? I admit that I am already very set on this matter, but I will open it to the floor anyway.

2) Fix-er-upper vs. new construction?

3) Oil heat vs. electric heat?

4) Subdivision (0.2 acre) vs. more rural (1+ acres)?

5) What are your top "red flags" when it comes to viewing houses?

Thanks, in advance.

Friday, October 21, 2011

hello weekend

Happy Friday, friends!

The sun has come out from behind a record 104 mm of rain yesterday. A few fun plans this weekend -- TV night with friends, celebrating a lovely friend's birthday, and a brunch meeting with the LitWits. What are you up to?

*

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

22 things i've never done

I am 26 years old.
And I've never:

1) Made a prank call.

2) Travelled further west than Ottawa.

3) Owned a dog.

4) Kept a hanging basket alive for an entire summer.

5) Been able to dance comfortably in a crowd.

6) Completely understood the rules of football.

7) Done pilates.

8) Been carried over the threshold.

9) Watched any Star Wars movies.

10) Been a contestant on a game show.

11) Gone scuba diving or snorkling.

12) Bought an entire outfit full price.

13) Bought a house.

14) Waxed my car.

15) Eaten an egg, scrambled, boiled or fried. Eww.

16) Read a book in one day.

17) Mastered driving a standard.

18) Successfully water skied.

19) Been to NYC.

20) Liked Tim Horton's coffee.

21) Baked a pie from scratch.

22) Met a carb I didn't like.

What are some things that you have yet to do?

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer's prompt.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

stuff breaker


I'm having a problem with Husband. He keeps breaking my stuff. I'm not joking.

The list now includes:
- my favourite extra large ceramic bowl
- my Just Us travel mug
- my cookie jar
- the lovely white clock in our guest bathroom
- plus he dumped out my new house plant because "it was just a flower and was going to die anyway" ... ah, no! It was a plant that would last forever as long as I kept it alive.

What's a gal to do?*


*Yes, I am writing this to tease Husband. But yes, he has really broken all of these things. Good thing he's cute.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

10 things


A list of ten things you should never ask your spouse.

1) Wife to husband: Do I look fat? Really, it is completely pointless, because any man who values his sanity is always going to say, "No, of course not!" Even if you beg for the truth, he's still going to say no.



4) Husband to wife: Are you PMSing?

5) Husband to wife, while eating a lovingly prepared dinner: Did you follow a recipe?

6) Wife to Husband: What are you thinking? I ask Husband this question all the time. He hates it. He usually says, "nothing" when I'm really looking for something.

7) Any question that criticizes your wife's spouse's driving.

8) Are you going to wear that?

9) Wife to Husband: Is your hair getting thinner?

10) Do you really know what you're doing? The true answer is usually no, but if when asked this question, the askee suddenly feels the insatiable need to prove the asker wrong. In my experience, this usually doesn't turn out well.

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer's prompt.

Monday, October 3, 2011

meatless monday

The recipe swapping with lovely friends A and K continues. We traded last Monday — K offered up butternut squash and pear soup, and A made veggie chili. Here's what I made, one of my personal faves and something new ...

I love falafels, and this recipe is the best I've tried. I think it's the fresh cilantro. So tasty.

Baked Falafel
Makes about 21 balls

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I press my garlic; I find the flavour is distributed better this way)
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (I don't use fresh in this case because I never have it; I use dried instead)
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped (Fresh is a must here)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (Fresh squeezed is preferable here, too)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander (I skip this because I'm not a fan)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Put in a medium sized bowl and smash with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Form into small balls, about 1 1/2″ in diameter and slightly flatten. Place onto an oiled baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes on each side, until nicely browned.

Then, to accompany the falafels, I made homemade tortillas for the first time. I found this recipe via Suzie the Foodie.

2 cups flour (I used half white and half whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used the shortening option)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup warm water or 1/2 cup milk (may possibly need to add more, up to 3/4 cup) (I used warm water)

Sift the flour, salt & baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Into the dry ingredients, cut in the shortening, or add oil if you are using this option, & mix with your fingertips to combine.

Add the milk or water, working the liquid into the dough until a sticky ball forms. Wrap in plastic and let rest for at least 30 minutes. Divide the dough into 8-10 balls (for small tortillas) or 6-8 balls for larger ones, cover them again with the damp cloth.

Lightly dust a counter with flour and roll out each ball of dough into a circle or oval approximately 1/4" thick. If you want nicely rounded tortillas, trim off any ragged edges and discard.


Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. Cook the tortillas 30 seconds on each side or until the dough looks dry & slightly wrinkled & a few brown spots form on both surfaces. Do not over cook or they will be hard. Roll up and wrap in damp tea towel to keep warm as you cook the other tortillas.


These were easy to assemble, but cooking them was definitely a two-man job — Husband rolled them out while I tossed them in and out of the pan. Keeping them in the damp towel is definitely important, and they seem to continue to cook within the steamy wrap. Not something I'll make on a regular basis, mostly because it'd be tough to not eat them all.

Have you cooked any new meatless meals lately? Share with the class.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

nerd alert

Oh man, you guys, something has changed my life and I'm so excited to share.

I got a new household appliance on Friday. I hesitate to call it that though, because I'm pretty much ready to make it an honourary member of the family. It's a Black and Decker Steam Mop.


I have been in the market for a steam mop for a while, but there are so many to choose from. Just about every cleaning brand has their own version, and they're all quite similar. I knew for sure though that I wanted one that boasts the ability to kill 99% of germs on your floors. With a baby and a cat who like to lick get up close and personal with the hardwood, the idea of cleaning without chemicals was pretty appealing.

I decided on the Black and Decker mop after reading a great review by Mag Ruffman in my newspaper's Homes section. I then read several blog posts recommending it, too. I was convinced, and I'm happy to say it's everything I hoped it would be.

Pros:
- It heats up in seconds. The light on the front changes from red to blue when it's ready to go.
- It comes with three washable pads — no need to buy any expensive refills.
- It runs on water alone. No chemicals.
- The swivel head rotates so easily around edges and in corners.
- I could instantly see how much cleaner it makes the floor.

Con:
- I really can't think of anything. If I had to say something, I guess it's that I now have another appliance to store, but it's still more convenient and cleaner than a traditional mop and bucket.

Plus, listen to this:

Me: Oooo it's awesome! Husband, do you want to try it?
Husband: [thinks about having to do another chore] No ... knock yourself out.
Me: [happily steaming the floor] Ahh this is so satisfying, and easy! Look how clean the floor is!
[Five minutes later]
Husband: OK, can I try now?

Any appliance that can make Husband ask to do an extra chore is worth its weight in gold, wouldn't you agree?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

new do

I don't know what is more foolish, blogging about getting my hair cut and then not showing you how it turned out ... or posting photos of my haircut on my blog. Either way, let the ridiculousness begin:


Sort of a combo between styles No. 2 & 3. If you're local, pay a visit to Melissa Fox at Allure in Dartmouth; she's awesome.

Friday, September 30, 2011

happy weekend

It's almost the weekend! Can't you feel it? When I wake up on Friday mornings, I pop out of bed with a smile on my face. OK, that's not true. I still have to drag my groggy ass out of bed, but it's not as painful as the previous four mornings! That's got to count for something!

We're staring down the barrel at three days of rain, so our festival frolicking has been put on the back burner in favour of indoor activities. And baking. I love to bake when it's rainy or snowy outside.


*

all in the family

You may recall the last time I asked Husband a silly question.

Me: Husband, how much do you love me?
Husband: Umm ... [puts hand up, creates tiny space between tip of index finger and thumb] ... about this much less than I love Jacob.
Me: Gasp!
Husband: Oh come on ... if I asked you, the space would be even bigger.
Me: No comment.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

if i didn't have to work

10 things you would do if you didn’t have to work.

Just 10?

1) Stay home with my little dude. We'd have adventures, go swimming and take long walks. We'd visit the playground and go shopping and have lunch dates. We'd join mom-and-baby groups and classes and make lots of new friends.

2) I'd be oh so crafty. I'd try all of these, and then some.

3) Tackle lots of home-improvement projects. I'd have time to find thrift furniture to re-do and re-arrange each room often.

4) Send lots of emails and regular mail notes and cards. Given more time in my day, I'd stay in better touch with everyone I love.

5) I'd occasionally spend all day in my pjs.

6) I'd freelance. I'd get to pick and choose my projects and write for me.

7) I'd read so many books. I'd fly through my book-club books and read several more in between.

8) I'd cook and bake until my freezer was overflowing. I'd try new recipes and experiment with different techniques. I'd probably take a cooking class, too.

9) I'd exercise more. I admit that I wouldn't go to the gym, but I'd swim and do yoga daily.

10) Sometimes, I'd put my feet up and watch guilty-pleasure tv and movies on the couch. All day.

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer's prompt.

Monday, September 26, 2011

it's officially fall in my world

The perk of having a thoughtful husband who reads your blog ...


Pumpkin Spice Latte. Delivered.

link love: happy monday

It was a busy weekend full of birthdays, baptisms, and a whole lot of cupcakes. I dug out my fall decorations this weekend, and despite anyone's objections, I might pick up some gourds today. No, it isn't too early for gourds. And since I'm feeling so festive, I think I'll get my first pumpkin spice latte of the season, too.

This week I'm getting a massage AND a haircut! It's like I've won the over-scheduled lotto because there are two "me" things on the books. Hoorah!

Happy Monday, friends!

***

I hate mornings as much as Amalah does.

Smartsource.ca is now offering printable coupons!

Speaking of fall decor, this post really makes me want to make some adorable little buntings.

I think I'll give these a try this week.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

i am from

I am from a box of note cards and stationary with love and wishes yet to be sent. I am from Moleskin books and lists on every page.

I am from the warm and snuggly. I am from wood-burning heat and candle light and crisp fall air.

I am from daisies and tulips, the yellower the better.

I am from pizza Fridays and lazy Saturday mornings in bed and hours of silliness and laughter. I am from my boy and my husband.

I am from the foolish and fun. I am from the wonderful moments and the lessons learned from tough times.

From being polite, sharing with others, always caring. From respect and honesty and empathy.

I am from a belief in God and faith in something bigger than myself. I am from purposeful prayer and meaningful hope.

I’m from the Maritimes, farm fresh veggies and strong cups of tea.

From my mother's apron and my father's workshop, the pride of my grandparents, and the smiles of my dearest friends.

I am from a bookshelf full of memories. Photographs keeping special moments caught in time. Reminders of everything important, providing some often-needed perspective.


Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the Writers' Prompt. See the template for this exercise here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

one



Dear Jacob,

You are the most amazing person I have ever known. The last year has been a privlidge, a challenge, an overwhelming experience, a joy, and the best of my life so far. You are clever and warm and curious and delicious. I hope that I have taught you and cared for you in the best way possible.

Happy Birthday, mister boy.
I love you with all my heart,
Muma

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

barely a baby anymore

If you scroll way down to the bottom of this page, you'll see that there's a little ticker keeping track of Jacob's age. Today it says 11 months, three weeks and five days. Gulp. On Sunday, he'll be one year old. Why do I get choked up when I type that? I might be losing my mind.

Anyway, as we head into the final countdown to this very exciting day, I thought I'd share some of our baby faves of the past year. Things we love, things Jacob loves and the practical things that none of us could do without.

The Miracle Blanket. Truly a miracle. Jacob was always too strong to stay in even the tightest swaddle blanket, but the miracle blanket kept him contained, preventing him from flailing his arms and waking himself up.


Playtex VentAire Bottles. These are our lifesavers because they're the only bottles Jacob would tolerate. We tried many brands before settling on these ones and it's been smooth sailing since.

The Best Nursing Pillow Ever. I'm sad to say that I don't know the brand, since it has no tags, but it was purchased at the Cape Breton Baby Company and it is awesome.

Safety First Kirby Inflatable Tub. We originally had one of those big, moulded white tubs that are sold at any baby outlet, which worked great, but once Jacob was too long for it, we had to spend the time and waste the water to fill our tub up three inches for him to bathe. Plus, his little nekked butt slipped around everywhere. This inflatable alternative is great. It keeps him from standing up, he's more comfortable and safe, plus it doubles as a kiddie pool outside in the summer. Next time, we agree that we'll use this tub from day one. Also, between babies, we can deflate it and fold it up and out of sight.

Fisher Price My Little Lamb Cradle 'n' Swing. This swing was awesome. Jacob loved to sway side to side or back and forth. He could be in it freely or swaddled. It was great for naps in the early days, or to be able to put him down comfortable for relaxed awake time. It's one of the big things we don't mind storing because we'll know we'll use it plenty next time.

And because this really got me thinking, here are a few things we never used:

Baby towels. You can get the boy dried off much more efficiently by wrapping him up in a big, adult-sized bath towel.

Baby bathrobe. A big sorry to the wonderful person who bought it for us, but it was just something we didn't have much use for. And I think that person will agree that we'd rather see a nekked baby bum crawling around the house anyway.


Pee-Pee Teepee. While these things are super cute and pretty hilarious, they're really not useful for keeping that powerful stream under wraps. If you're going to get sprayed, you might as well grab that big bath towel for cover.

And since I'm still going, how about some things that are just so-so. We use it, but it's not awesome, and we might ditch it before the next baby comes:

Diaper Genie. Yes, it keeps the stink contained, but really, you could put them in a regular garbage can and take it out once a day. It's not a huge chore. Emptying and changing the bag system in the Diaper Genie is more of a pain, plus the inserts cost extra moolah.

An actual diaper bag. These bags are kind of a right of passage for new Mums. I get that. I had one and I loved it. Now though, I prefer to carry one of my own bags, most of which are plenty big enough for a few spare items like a couple diapers, small wipes case, a sippy cup and a baggie of snacks.

The Bumbo. We did like it, but Jacob was too big for it really early in life. Once he was semi-mobile, he had no interest in being confined in it, either. It's also awkward to transport or store. We'll hang on to it, for sure, but it's not something I'm really in love with.

OK, folks. Spill it. Baby stuff loves? Baby stuff hates? And ... go.

Monday, September 12, 2011

meatless monday

I can't believe I've never done this before. My neighbour-friend K and Miss A (J's to-be babysitter in one week!) and I did a freezer-friendly veggie meal swap today. It's as simple as it sounds -- we all made three portions of a vegetarian dish that would freeze well, and this morning we all swapped, giving us each three ready-made meals. So today, I have spicy chic peas with rice for lunch (which I portioned into seven lunch-sized portions in the freezer - thanks, Miss A!) and we're having zucchini-eggplant lasagne for supper (thanks, K!). And the best part? I don't have to cook! Simply brilliant.

So here I share with you the recipe I made. These are my Gram's stuffed shells. Totally and utterly delicious. In the spirit of our low-fat-ish, vegetarian theme, I changed this up a bit from the original, and they were definitely just as tasty.

Stuffed Shells

One box of large shells (It doesn't take a whole box though; I used two boxes and made four pans of shells to freeze with approximately 22 shells in each portion)

Cook shells until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.

Combine in a bowl:

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used low fat)
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (I used low fat)
1 container of ricotta (Again, I used low fat)
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I use the Italian kind because they're extra yummy)
1 egg
2 Tbsp. parsley
A few pressed cloves of garlic, depending on your taste
1/2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste

Stuff mixture into each shell.

1 jar of pasta sauce (I used a low calorie version -- blue label Our Compliments mushroom and garlic from Sobeys. For extra veg, I added a cup of grated zucchini and carrot to the sauce.)

Pour enough sauce into 9X13 baking pan to cover the bottom. Arrange stuffed shells in pan. Cover with remaining sauce. Bake at 375F for nearly an hour or until hot and bubbly all over.

So, so good.

(Photo here.)

Our swap worked so well that we're going to do it again in another two weeks! I'm thinking a Mexican dish next time. Have any freezer-friendly veggie recipes to share?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

a productive summer come and gone

I set a few goals for the summer months and, as far as I'm concerned, once school has started, we can pretty much consider summer officially ended. Here's a round-up of my efforts. What'd you get up to this summer?

1) Grocery shop less. I feel like I did well with this. I wasn't on a strict budget, but I tried to think about what we already had in our cupboards before going out to buy the things that I just wanted instead of needed. We got out to farmers' markets several times for fresh, local produce, which was part of this goal. Now, we're in the midst of revamping our family budget plan, so I'm trying to see how inexpensively the three of us can manage. There will be more to this as the month goes on. So far, a success!

2) Find more time to read. Enter The Litwits! Thanks to our new book club, I'm working on my second book in the past month and I also have a beach read going on the side.

3) Take Jacob to the beach and dip his toes in the ocean for the first time. Take millions of photos.

Here you go ...Bold




4) Journey to visit family. This includes NB, CB and anywhere in between. Done and done! We had some wonderful time with family this summer and hope to visit even more this fall.

5) Go camping. This was a lofty goal with a less-than-one-year-old, and it didn't happen this summer. We're super excited to take him out as soon as it's warm enough next year, though!

6) Keep my hanging basket alive. All. Summer. I'll spare you the photographic evidence on this one. I'd lie, but I know my neighbour friend reads my blog and would rat me out. The basket is dead. Dry, crunchy, dead. Never to be revived. Maybe next year I'll fill it with artificial flowers.

7) Sleep in. Please. Just once. Jacob was a peach this summer and many times Husband and I woke up before he did, which qualifies as a sleep-in for us. Waking up on your own, naturally, and refreshed feels so good.

8) BBQ. A lot. We did. Again and again. We filled the propane tank for a second time this year and we will BBQ well into the fall.

9) Wash both cars inside and out. We did clean both cars already, and just recently gave the Kia a second vacuum and wipe down. Being down to one-car family, for a while made it simpler, but we're a two-car household once again and I'm making it my mission to keep "my" car spotless.

12) Purge. Success as shown here.

13) Fix the DIY curtains I made for the front door. I haven't done this yet, mainly because I still don't know what I want to do. Must hit Pinterest for ideas.

14) Do a few little home-improvement projects, like touch up some paint, etc. This was so easy. In less than an hour, we patched holes in the Gyp-rock and re-painted some spots. Plus, we exchanged our kitchen hardware, which made a huge difference.

15) Scrapbook (or come up with a reasonable alternative). Even though I still have lots of scrapbooking supplies, I've put them aside in favour of organized photo albums for now. Rather than doing a rushed job on our scrapbooks, our albums will serve to keep our memories until I have enough downtime to do it properly. I also cashed in Pampers Gift to Grow points for a free Shutterfly photo book of J's first year, which may be my forever alternative to scrapbooking — it's so easy!

What are your most important to-dos for fall?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

what are you hoarding?

If you were a hoarder, based on your personality … what would you hoard? (better yet, ask someone who knows you well, what they think you would hoard).

I am probably the furthest thing from a hoarder. Yes, we have our storage struggles, and yes, we have tons o' stuff, but I'm not afraid to purge anything that isn't useful. If I had to choose though, based on my personality, my stockpile would probably include books, stationary and greeting cards, craft supplies, fun stuff for entertaining guests and home decor items. Hmm, why is this starting to sound like a good idea?

I also asked a few of the regulars for their opinions.

Mum's thoughts: cookbooks (I now have 29), coupons (I do have a designated coupon wallet), and lists (or rather books for lists since there's one in every. single. drawer. in our house).

Sister-in-law C suggested canned goods due to my slightly-weird love for grocery shopping. This might be true about kitchen staples in general. I'm certain we could go a month without buying groceries and still have plenty to eat. Her self-confessed hoards? Purses, shoes and magazines.

Grammie says books. Both my vice and hers. She makes great effort to pass along books once she's read them, to her credit. Often that means those books end up at my house though! For some reason, I'm holding on to many that I'm sure I'll never open again. Hmm ... maybe a donation to the library is in order.

What kinds of things are you holding on to at home?

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer's prompt.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

pancake supper?

Settle a disagreement?

I am very pro breakfast-for-dinner. Husband is not. To him, there are certain things a person eats in the morning, like bagels and eggs, and certain things you eat at night ... namely, not bagels and eggs.

But sometimes a girl just craves pancakes. Like the ones pictured here. Can you blame me?

What do you think? Breakfast-for-dinner: a do or a don't?

And if you side with me, do you have any tasty recipes to share?

Friday, September 2, 2011

long weekend

Happy long weekend, friends!

I hope you have some fun plans. We're heading out of town to visit family and take part in a charity golf tournament. The event is in honour of a friend's dad who passed away a few summers ago, and lots of friends gather each year to golf and raise money in his memory. Among the honours at the end of the day will be a prize for best team costume. Husband, his twin bro and their two buds took home this prize two years ago with their "nerdy" attire, including taped glasses and pocket protectors. This year, they're pulling a 180 and dressing up as these guys:


Oh dear. And Husband will be none other than The Situation. OMG. GTL.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

travel friendly



The 10 Dos and Donts of Airplane Etiquette.
  • Be kind. Help others in need to stow their bags overhead. We could all enjoy a little more courtesy while travelling.
  • Don't keep using your cellphone long after the flight attendant has kindly asked you to turn it off and put it away. I don't know what kind of interference your phone will have on the plane equipment, but I don't really want to find out.
  • That centre armrest serves as a no-man's-land divider. Don't hog it. Actually, just don't use it.
  • Don't laugh/hmmm/comment to yourself, outloud, while reading. The person sitting beside you doesn't care that you find your book funny/interesting/perplexing. It's just distracting and annoying.
  • Don't ask to switch seats. If you wanted a window or an aisle, you should have booked that in advance. 
  • If you're sitting in the back of the plane, don't make a beeline for the door as soon as the fasten-seatbelt light goes off, knocking down elderly ladies and small children as you barrell forward. Relax, you will get your turn.
  • Get your shit together. Nothing's worse than standing in line to board behind someone who's digging for their boarding pass or waiting for someone to pack up their belongings while other people are waiting to get off.
  • Don't pack stinky snacks. I don't want to wake from my mid-flight nap to the wafting smell of your egg salad or tuna. Gross.
  • Don't glare at parents who are doing their very best to calm a crying baby. They're probably more stressed than you are about it and they can't help it, so please cut them some slack.
  • That said, if you are that parent and you're not doing your best, or anything at all, to deal with your screaming/misbehaving child -- especially when the child is of the age that they should know better -- get control of the situation. Just because they're a kid, they don't have the right to kick the back of my chair or anyone else's.
Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer's prompt.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the litwits

Lately I've been thinking about making a bucket list of all the things I want to do before I'm 30. Just for the fun of it. I do have a few years to go before reaching that age, but judging by how fast the past year raced by (my baby's almost one ohdeargod), it can never hurt to start early.

One of the things I've always wanted to do was join a book club. I love reading; I love talking about books; I love drinking and eating and laughing with friends. So, last month, I emailed a bunch of great gals and started a club. The litwits. I can't take credit for coming up with the name, but isn't it great?

Our August book was The Help. We had a kick-off event at my house, where we all brought three books, then drew names until all of the books had been picked up by someone new. It was a great way to get the literary discussion rolling. (Take the word literary with a grain of salt. There were definitely a few chick lit books being exchanged.) We all read the book, discussed on a private Facebook forum, and gathered again for a group movie date to see our book on the big screen. It's turning into great fun.

Here's our upcoming book list, if you're interested in playing along:

September - Whistling in the Dark
October - Left Neglected
November - When God was a Rabbit
December - Sarah's Key

Monday, August 29, 2011

not me monday

I did not completely bust my front passenger-side tire on my way to work last week.

My car was not already 13 years old with 385,000 kms on it, for a little context.

I did not sell it to the highest bidder biggest parts collector.

For $300.

I know you're jealous.

I'm not carless now ... just automotively challenged.

Friday, August 26, 2011

growing by the minute: 11 months

Better late than never. Time feels so fleeting to me right now. I just want to grab on to each hour and hold onto it for dear life. I had no idea that this would be such an emotional time — maybe the most emotional since the week Jacob was born. From being back to work to ending breastfeeding, a lot is changing around here.


And soon this little monster isn't going to be a baby. He'll be a toddler. One year old.



Vital stats: His growth is definitely slowing. He went to the doctor today with Dada to deal with a pesky ear ache and we found out that he is only 22 lbs., 3 oz. That's only a slight increase from his weight at nine months, putting him in the 50th percentile. He's lengthening though, and still in the 90th percentile for height. Oh, and that melon, 95th percentile.

Milestones & firsts: We find it so adorable that Jacob has different waves for hi and bye, though he only uses them when he wants to. He's doing things less on demand now and more when he really means it. This makes me sad because I used to be able to get kisses whenever I wanted, and now I have to earn them.

Husband has taught J so much since they've been home together this summer. Some of our boy's new tricks include waving his fist in a circular motion while we sing the first verse of the wheels on the bus.


Teeth: Four and more coming! It's been a somewhat rough month of teething, but now Jacob has his two top centre teeth and there's at least one more trying to push through beside it.

Speech: Jacob has added a couple words to his vocabulary, beyond Mama and Dada, which he now says with distinction. He can also say Dog and Duck. They sound similar, but are different when he's refering to different things. So far, ducks are always ducks, but lots of four-legged furry things are called dogs. Meh. We take what we can get.

Zzzzzzz: Husband has taken over nighttime feeding duties lately, since I'm no longer breastfeeding. Jacob's still sometimes waking once per night (night = a 12-hour period, usually from 6:30 pm to 6:30 am) to have a few ounces of formula, though sometimes he'll just settle himself back to sleep.

Om nom nom: We've been feeding Jacob based on what we're eating. He's especially loving peaches and nectarines when he can hold the whole thing himself. He likes taking big juicy bites and squints his eyes when its sour. The kid loves anything that's sour, like raspberries blended and frozen into popcicle form.

Likes & dislikes: Jacob is the opposite of a homebody. He loves to get out and do things. He and Dada take regular trips to the library for story time, or just to play and take out new books.


Challenges: Screaming. We went through this stage before and it seems to be rearing its ugly head again. Husband mentioned it to the doctor, who assures us it's just his way of exercising his voice.

Special moments: I tried to clear my mind and focus entirely on Jacod during our last breastfeeding sessions. I didn't allow myself to be distracted by my phone or eReader. I just watched him, talked to him and snuggled him close.

We're loving watching Jacob develop. He seems to change daily lately, which is exciting and scary at the same time. He's growing up so fast.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

mom win

I was gone from home for four nights when I went to Chicago last week. Four. That's a long time in baby world. Long long. Lovely friend A dropped me off around 11:30 pm Monday evening and all I wanted to do was climb over the rail and crawl into J's crib and snuggle him all over. I smoothed his back while he slept soundly and I took in the baby smell in his nursery. SO happy to be home.

Husband and I stayed up for a bit, giving each other weekend re-caps, and then I heard a soft cry, and for the first time in almost a year, I was thrilled that Jacob was awake in the middle of the night. I made a beeline for his room, so excited to scoop him into my arms. As I got closer to his crib, I realized this was no ordinary wake-up we were dealing with. I flipped on the light to discover that my sweet boy was covered, head-to-toe, in vomit. The look on his face could have shatter the hardest of hearts ... he was so sleepy and upset from his admittedly rude awakening, but when he saw me, his eyes perked and a smile slowly spread across his face. Despite the layer of smelly disgusting that covered him and his bed, I picked him up and held him close. He instantly laid his head down on my chest and I felt his whole body relax. I held him and rocked him for a while before gently cleaning up my half-asleep boy. I snuggled him in and gave him part of a bottle to help soothe his upset tummy, and he fell back to sleep. I laid him back into his re-made crib and smoothed his back once more.

I went back to our room and peeled off my pjs, which were no longer in sleeping condition to say the least. I could've been covered in worse and I wouldn't have cared. The poor little sickie just needed his Mama. And did it ever feel good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

mom fails

A mom fail moment.

Just one, really? If you've been a mother for more than 15 seconds, you know that, while mom fails vary in severity, they are a fairly often occurrence. Such is life. We all strive to do our best, but none of us are perfect. Not even you, and definitely not me. But when it comes to the special privilege of executing mom fails, I think the first one is probably the worst one. The first time you think you've done something wrong feels terrible.

For me, it was during the first week that Jacob was at home with us. I was buckling my sleeping baby into his car seat, as carefully as I could, gently tucking in his teeny tiny baby limbs. Then, like a bolt of lightening, he was awake. And wailing. Loudly. What the ...? I looked down and realized I had pinched his itty bitty finger in one of the clasps on his car seat. It didn't break the skin, but it certainly startled him awake, and it nearly broke my heart. Knowing that he was crying because of something I'd done. Awful.

The next time was several weeks later, when I was trimming his finger nails. And he was again, sleeping. In my haste to get it done before he woke. I snipped a bit too far, and broke the tiniest bit of skin, which didn't even really bleed, but he wailed once more, and I scooped him up and smothered him with apology kisses.

Hey, it happens. I don't think I've inflicted too many more fails on him since those initial two, but I'm always on the look out for potential gaffes. But the moral of the story? You're still the Mama, and, thankfully, those sweet little faces love you anyway.

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer's prompt.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

simplest things

I'm writing this post as a reminder to myself. When things get busy, it's so easy to fall into old habits and forget about simple things that can make me feel good.

[+] Yoga. I love it, I really do. It refreshes me mind, body and spirit. Not all classes are created equal though. If you're local, I highly recommend Michelle's classes at Breating Space Bedford.


[+] Drinking lots of water. I hate it when I finish the work day and realize that I've barely consumed half a bottle of water. Not good. Must do better.

[+] Massages. Whether it's a splurge at the spa, a theraputic session thanks to health coverage, or a shoulder rub from Husband, it's all good.

[+] Taking vitamins. A simple multi, an extra vitamin D and occasionally a boost of vitamin C can make a big difference.

What makes you feel good?

Friday, August 19, 2011

a weekend frolic

Whoa, where did this week go? I know I owe you lots of things, most notably a "growing by the minute: 11 months" post, but I don't want to rush it, so it will have to wait.

Because, as you read this, I am here:



And I'm doing a little of this:


And this:



And on Sunday, I'll be going to this:



Happy weekend!