Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween een.

Costumes - check.
We have a Little Miss Muffet, a dragon and an owl.

School treats - check.
I made chocolate ghost suckers. I still have to tie orange ribbons around the sticks, if only I could find the orange ribbons.

Day off work - check.
I have Bart's parade in the morning and Lisa's in the afternoon. I'll have to pick Lisa up at noon to help her with her costume and then send her back. I'm also interviewing a new daycare provider in there somewhere.

Porch light changed - half-check
I bought the bulb, but have yet to install it. Will have to schedule that into my day off as well. This is an annual event... fix porch light so trick-or-treaters know that we are not lame and will be handing out candy. The rest of the year... meh, who cares if our porch is dark?

Pumpkins carved - check
They are sad, but done. Bart was pissed that the one I did wasn't scary.

Decorations up - ha!
Lisa would like to decorate our house like Grandma's (pumpkin lights, scarecrows, little witch figurines). I have a Dracula wooden thing somewhere, but can't even be bothered to dig it out. The aforementioned pumpkins are the only decor I can commit to.

Candy for the trick-or-treaters - CRAP!
We only get about 12 kids, but still I feel the need to buy enough candy for 100! I always think that one year our neighbourhood will catch on. We only have three small streets in our "neighbourhood", but the folks on the other two street are loaded and tend to give out full-size chocolate bars, cans of pop and handfuls of candy. My kids make out like bandits! The hold-back (I think) is that the driveways are quite long, so you can't hit as many houses in your outing, and then it's a bit of a distance to the next neighbourhood.

Have a happy Halloween! Looking forward to all the pictures on Thursday!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Baby!

To my baby girl on this, your second birthday...
You came out a little squishy, but you were an
instant hit.

You have always been such a happy little girl.

And a really good sport... just one of the gang.

You're not crazy about snow, but you love watching the kids.

You're feisty and fun and very sweet.

Happy birthday, baby!

Friday, October 26, 2007

My 50th post... what to do? what to do?

Well would you look at that? It’s my 50th post! I feel like I should do something celebratory like:

*List my 50 favourite things (ha! Like a crusty bitch like me could find 50 things I like)

*Share 50 things about me (seems long, boring and slightly narcissistic)

*Reflect on other things I’ve done 50 times (short list, has potential)

What have I decided to do? List 50 names I ever considered for my children (even if it was just briefly):


Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Health Kick? The final chapter.

Last post on this. Pinky swear! I feel so boring and a little preachy writing these, but the series is somewhat incomplete without this last entry, so bear with me!

So, I’ve covered nature and nurture. If you’re inclined to divide into breakout groups, may I suggest the topic “Is the nature a result of the nurture?” Discuss and share after the nutrition break [if you haven’t been to 5 billion conferences that made no sense to you. Sorry].

Disclaimer: I don’t profess to be any kind of expert on health and nutrition. I like the topic very, very much, so I pay attention when there’s any news about it. Most of my knowledge comes from:

1. My mom – we talk about nutrition all the time;
2. Magazine articles about health and nutrition; and
3. TV segments.

Beyond what my mom did, I have a few general rules:

Don’t drink your calories: I heard this from some star dieter one time and it made sense to me. My beverage of choice is water. I’ll drink one diet pop a day and also two glasses of non-fat milk. I drink coffee with just milk and tea black. Hot chocolate and other super-sweet drinks result in my lovely face rash, so why bother?

Zero trans fat: This is old news now, and most food processors are eliminating trans fats from their foods. But, we still read the labels and make sure that none of this artery-clogging fat makes its way to our house.

Everything in moderation: I may have implied that I don’t eat fatty foods or drink alcohol or eat sugar because of my body’s reaction to it. While it’s true that I don’t indulge in a lot of this stuff, I don’t cut it out entirely. Even with the meat thing, I don’t eat hunks of meat, but I don’t hesitate to use chicken or beef stock in a soup or stew. Homer loves meat and the kids eat it too. I think eliminating whole categories of food (like the no-carb diets, or going completely sugar-free) is a recipe for failure.

A little flavour goes a long way: I love strong flavours: spicy, sour, sharp are all things I like in a food product. You can make a delicious mac & cheese with a white sauce made with fat free milk and a little sharp cheddar or blue cheese (instead of 2 cups of cheese) with some diced tomatoes thrown in. I love spices and seasonings. I really like these things. The point is, you can create a texture and flavour that is tasty and still cut some of the fat and calories. I keep an eye on sodium levels too, because often salt=yummy.

Fibre is your friend: One of the things I check labels for is the fibre content – the higher the better. The basic concept is that you want your food to move through you (ew.) Refined sugar, white flour, rice and pasta all have very little fibre, so they stick with you longer. We only buy cereal that has at least 3 g of fibre, for example.

A couple of questions answered:

Artemisia asked: “How do you handle meals for you and your family? Do they ever stage a coup because they just want fries and a burger? Or have they just never known that stuff?”

We do eat burgers and fries. We’ll have veggie burgers, or I’ll make my own turkey ground or extra lean ground beef burgers. They’re served on a whole wheat bun. My “fries” are fresh potatoes cut in strips (skins on) and tossed in a little olive oil and sprinkled with some seasonings. They know all about McDonald’s and other fast food places, but visits are few and far between and, therefore, a special treat.

JMC asked: “How do you get your kids to eat well?”

The short answer is that I don’t really know. But they do, so I’ve been trying to figure out why. Here’s what I came up with:

*As babies, I kept to the schedule of introducing cereals first, then vegetables, then fruits, then meats. I did about 1 month on each stage.

*I always made my own vegetable and fruit purees, just mashing up whatever we were eating, so the consistency was lumpier than what you would get in the jar.

*They’ve only ever had whole wheat bread and mostly whole wheat pasta.

*They have had my homemade pizza more than take-out, so they’re not accustomed to big gobs of cheesy pizza (true story: Lisa asked if she could not participate in Pizza Day at school (every Wednesday), because the pizza wasn’t as good as mine).

*They really like all fruits and vegetables. In fact, they like almost everything. Lisa strongly disapproves of eggs, but I can’t think of anything else.

*The rule is that you have to take [your age] bites of even things you don’t care for.

*We talk about health and nutrition a lot. Lisa has asked many times in the cereal aisle “is this one full of sugar, mom?” Another time she broke down in a puddle of tears because she asked “what’s for lunch” and I reminded her dad had just taken her to McDonald’s. “BUT THAT’S NOT HEALTHY”, she bawled. At that moment, I knew I had to turn it down a notch.

*As Kath commented, I don’t have a “clear your plate” rule. I also don’t load up their plates. I can usually tell the difference between too bored to finish and too full to finish.

*I try to make things I think they will like. Last night, we had French toast (made with whole wheat bread), veggie sausage patties and fresh fruit salad. It was a hit (and really, why wouldn’t it be??)

The end. Except that I want some of Heidi’s Norway chocolate and I want Tessie to teach me how to bake bread successfully. Because, YUM!!

Maggie loves broccoli. She really, truly does!

And also? CHOCOLATE!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Health Kick? Part 2: Nurture

After the last post I probably seem like a bit of a freak of nature. This post will probably confirm that I’m also a freak of nurture.

My mom is a fantastic role model in so many ways. She’s a great mother, grandmother, wife, daughter and sister. She is thoughtful, generous and kind. These are all things I aspire to be. She also did a great job of modelling a healthy lifestyle. She had a natural interest in nutrition, both as a method of weight control, but also as a method of health control. Some of the things I grew up with:

Whole foods – I was the only kid I knew that brought sandwiches on brown bread. Our cereal options were cooked oatmeal and cream of wheat, Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, Shreddies and Wheatabix. My mom went to a health food store to buy whole-wheat flour, as it was not widely available at the grocery store. We always had a variety of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, and they were a prominent feature of every meal. We had milk (non-fat after the age of 2) at the three main meals, juice only with breakfast and water the rest of the day. My mom followed Canada’s Food Guide for the whole family, making sure everyone got what they needed every day. It sounds simple, but speaking to my peers, that wasn’t the case in many households.

Cook & bake from scratch - My mom is not a gourmet chef, not by a long-shot. We always had basic, kid-friendly comfort foods like mac & cheese casserole, meatloaf, pasta, pizza, tacos, meat and potatoes, etc. The difference was that she made almost everything from scratch. She always wanted to know what was in the food she was serving and most packaged foods had enough unfamiliar ingredients that she preferred to steer clear. She also loved to bake (like me), so there were rarely packaged cookies or snacks around (although I really wanted her to buy Pop Tarts). A “convenience food” in our house was the extra lasagne my mom made and popped into the freezer a month before. McDonald’s was a treat when we were on a road trip.

Portion control – My parents still eat every meal off a lunch plate. When I asked my mom about it several years ago, she told me that if you use a big plate, you’ll fill up the big plate and end up eating more than you need. Made sense, I guess. We always had treats around – candy, cookies, muffins or breads - and, we always had dessert. Dessert usually consisted of ice cream, pudding or yogurt with fresh fruit as a topping and a plate of cookies/brownies/ other treat. My brother would ask every time “how many are we limited” [for the treats] and the answer was always “two”. We had special nights with pop and chips where we all got a glass of pop and a soup bowl of chips and they were awesome and something we all looked forward to. We were never clamouring for sweets and treats, because they were always there. We just knew that there were limits on what we were allowed to have.

Cookie on the left is the size the recipe suggests, cookie on the right
is what my kids get.

Label Reading – Before nutrition labels were required on packaged foods, my mom would read the ingredient list and understood the ingredients that were acceptable and those that were not. Before I went away to university, she made a point of taking me shopping to learn the tricks. She had heard of “The Frosh 15” and she didn’t want me falling into that trap.

Fresh Air & Exercise - I know times were different way back then, but we spent way more time outside than even my kids do. I walked, rode my bike or roller skated (yes, skated, not bladed) almost everywhere. TV was something you watched Saturday mornings or for an hour or so in the evening. Never would we watch during the day.

It all sounds idealistic and restrictive. The truth is, I didn’t really realize what a nutrition/health superstar my mom was until I lived with roommates who introduced me to things like deep-frying at home, hamburgers from a box and TV dinners. Sure, I had my share of nutella and fluff sandwiches on Wonderbread when I visited friends’ houses, and I certainly ate more fast food as a teenager when I could make my own choices, but even then, I knew I was making less than healthy choices.

I really appreciate the foundation my mom laid for us. I incorporate a lot of this into the way I manage (wrong word but can’t come up with the right word) my family. I introduced Homer to the concepts from the time we met. Despite some resistance, even now (he grew up with meals that were zapped, prepared from a package or ordered in), he gets it and he can label read with the best of them!

So, that’s what I’ll write about next time. How the (freaky) nature and the nurture combine to create a pretty healthy model for my own kids. I don't think I have it down to a science like my mom, but I do have a few of my own tricks.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Health Kick? Part 1: Nature

I’m a pretty healthy gal, by nature and by nurture. Tessie made a specific request that I write about my “health kick”. I suppose it’s a health kick, if that term still qualifies when I don’t go in and out of healthy phases; I’m just always kind of always even stevens.

This is just Part 1, because it would be too long to write it all out. I thought I’d start out with the Nature part of my health regimen. My body likes healthy things and I physically react to things that are not good for me. Some examples:

1. Anything with too much sodium or sulphites gives me a wicked migraine. I can eat a few potato chips, but eating the whole bag is not an option unless I want to spend the night throwing up and avoiding light and noise. Back when I ate meat, bacon and ham would go straight to my head, literally.

2. I don’t digest meat at all well. This is the reason I am a meat avoider. It just sits there in my stomach, making me feel bloated and uncomfortable. There may or may not also be frequent trips to the loo.

3. Alcohol and sugar give me a very attractive rash on my face. It starts in the creases around my nose, then heads north to my eyebrow region, settling nicely on my giant forehead. The wine is gone in 2 minutes. The rash stays at least 2 days, if I treat it with cortisone cream. I have cortisone cream in my car, my drawer at work, my purse and my bathroom cabinet.

4. Fatty and fried foods make the veins in my hands bulge out and pulse (see attractive photo below). I also get some kind of tension headache.

My hand after eating too much Roasted Garlic Brie in Bread

5. I’m naturally pretty active. I don’t sit still for very long. I always feel the urge to be Doing! Something! I watch TV while doing a number of other activities. I challenge myself to do more crunches at the next commercial than I did in the last. Even now as I write this, my legs are crossed under my desk and the top leg is swinging randomly and, while I stop to think about my words, my hand is over my mouth with my finger tapping my nose.

Paints a pretty picture, doesn’t it? Bulgy, fidgety, rashy Lori. As ugly as all of this seems, it does lead me to avoid over-indulging in things that are unhealthy.

Next in the series: Part 2: Nurture. Can’t wait, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Total, complete randomness.

Pushing Daisies is both a good show and a good workout. I’m so nervous that Ned and Chuck are going to touch accidentally that I spend the whole show with my abs flexed. You’re TOO CLOSE. STEP BACK!

We went the Pumpkin Patch on Sunday. We had a great time going through the corn maze, climbing in the “hay”ground and digging in the corn box. What we did not do is come home with a pumpkin. Oops.

I have 637 “urgent” items on my desk, 3 meetings to prepare for and 812 phone calls to return. To tackle this mess, I have chosen to read blogs and write down my random thoughts.

Bart reveals nothing about his life in school. When asked who is in his class, he tells me about James, Henry, Percy and Thomas (all Thomas the Tank Engine characters). I think James might be real.

I was just asked about a project I worked on more than 10 years ago in another job. I remembered financial details that I should have purged from my memory long ago. I also remember my high school lock combination. And all my childhood friends’ parents’ phone numbers. I had a student work for me all summer. His name is Devin, but I kept calling him Dylan.

The school just called asking if they could feature Lisa’s picture on their website home page. This will be her third home page feature. The first was for the fire department when she was two, the second for an apple orchard when she was four and now this one. I’m thinking that maybe she’s photogenic. She does not get that from me.

I’m doing some cross-border shopping on Saturday. It’s been a very long time and I am sooo excited to get reacquainted with my good friends at Target. We have Zellers here in Canada and for awhile there they had a bulls-eye target kind of logo on their in-store signs, which I thought was a sure sign that THE Target was going to takeover Zellers and make my life complete. This did not come to pass. Obviously.

Maggie is the boss of me. She eats what/when she wants. She has a bottle when she wants. She goes to bed when she wants. She veto’s clothes she doesn’t care for. She holds out her hand and says “money” whenever she sees my purse (and I give it to her). I thought I was just a really good mom with the other two because they were so good and obedient. Turns out I was just lucky.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rating the new shows. Part 3. And final.

I know you've all been waiting for my third and final installment of the riveting series: Rating the New Shows. Without further ado, here are three shows I didn't like and one that I loved. For anyone keeping score, I have reviewed a total of 9 new shows (plus Dexter, which doesn't count as a new show) and have given an unqualified thumbs up to a total of 2. That, my friends, is a failing grade for the new fall line-up.


Starring: Bill English, Nick Kroll, Dash Mihok
Premise: Three cavemen living in modern-day San Diego, just trying to fit in.
Mini-Review: Thpp.
PVR: Will not record.
Final Words: This is based on characters from the Geico commercial. Not a book, or a play, or a really funny idea. A TV commercial. Good concept for a commercial. Dumb, dumb show. For me, it’s just not clear WHY they are still cavemen. Perhaps I’m over-thinking it, but it just didn’t seem well-developed enough to be really funny.


Starring: Bret Harrison, Ray Wise
Premise: On his 21st birthday, Sam learns that his parents sold his soul to the devil before birth. Now he must be a bounty hunter for the devil until he dies.
Mini-Review: Okay.
PVR: Will not record.
Final Words: I really wanted to like it. So many people said I would LOVE it. But, I didn’t. It was just okay. Kind of silly. Kind of shallow. My guess is that I’m not in the target market for this show, age-wise.


Starring: Jerry O’Connell, Faith Ford, Tim Peper
Premise: Four guys who carpool to work together.
Mini-Review: Not funny.
PVR: Will not record.
Final Words: I know I’m hard on comedies. They have to make me laugh out loud to make the cut. This just didn’t. I’m sure I AM in this target market and it just didn’t resonate with me. The guys are pathetic. Their wives are pathetic. Not a likable one in the bunch.

Pushing Daisies

Starring: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride
Premise: Ned is a pie-maker with the power to bring people back to life with just one touch, but they only stay alive until his next touch. He revives his childhood sweetheart, but can never touch her again.
Mini-Review: LOVED IT!!
PVR: Set to record the series.
Final Words: This is so different and quirky. It’s very “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in the way the story is told and the way it is shot. The characters are brilliant, and likeable and flawed. So, so good.


Making the cut

My husband likes fill up the PVR with looooong documentaries about the war and science and other boring things, so I need to rationalize my series recordings. Here’s what has made the cut:

Pushing Daisies
Prison Break
Rachael Ray (only one episode gets saved, and it’s just because I’m trying to be a better cook. Enough already.)
Dirty Sexy Money
America’s Next Top Model (I don’t know why, it makes no sense to me either)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Homer Stamos!

What do you get when you cross this guy:

with this guy?

You get my gorgeous, wonderful husband, who today, turns 36!

Happy Birthday... if you ever find this blog, you'll laugh at this one!

(P.S. Will edit tomorrow pending search for picture that adequately portray's husband's hotness).

Edited to add:

Cute, no?? Here, he was playing "monster" with the kids, where he chases them around the house ROOOAAARRRIIINNNGGG! For me, that really ups the HQ (hot quotient)!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Storing pictures. Help!

I love my digital camera. I love that I can take as many pictures as I need to get “the” shot. I love that I can fix the red eye, crop myself out and improve the picture before it is printed, or posted, or whatever. Frugal me LOVES that I can select only the pictures I want, send them to be printed and pick them up within the hour.

We have had a digital camera for 4 years… just after Bart was born. Every single picture we have taken is sitting on our hard drive. The hard drive that puffs and chugs and sounds like it might not make it through the next Pajama Sam adventure.

So, here’s my question: where do you store your digital pictures? Do you save it to a DVD? A flash drive? An online service? What’s the best way to go?

Not one of my kids has a baby book (Lisa’s was started… I got as far as putting in the ultrasound pics), but I always think it would be a good thing to do someday. My biggest fear is losing all those pictures before I get around to it (like, when I retire).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lame recipe post with just the one recipe.

In lieu of a real post, I offer a recipe post.

At Tessie’s request, here is a new appetizer I tried on the weekend and it was delicious! Really, with ingredients like this, how could it not be delicious?

Roasted Garlic Brie in Bread

1 round loaf sourdough bread
1 bulb garlic (the whole bulb, not just a clove)
sprinkle of rosemary
1 round of brie cheese
olive oil
Toasted baguette, crackers, raw veggies

Cut the top of the garlic bulb off, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary. Wrap with tin foil and bake at 400* for 40 minutes. Squish softened garlic into a bowl and mash with a fork.
Cut the top ¼ of the bread off and scoop out enough bread to make a shallow bowl. Fill bowl with cubed brie and top with roasted garlic. Put the top back on the bread, brush the whole loaf with olive oil and wrap with tin foil. Bake at 375* for 45 minutes. Serve with toasted baguette, crackers or raw veggies.

The best part of the bread was at the end, when there wasn’t enough “dip” to dip and all that was left was cheese that had melted into the bread. Is it bad that we hid this part from the kids?

I also intended to provide recipes for these yummy treats from the weekend:

Clockwise from upper left: Iced Pumpkin Cookies, Brownies and Pumpkin
But, alas, I’m at work and the recipes are at home. Perhaps on the weekend. It’s a long weekend here (Thanksgiving), so I may have some time between family functions. Ha ha! That was a joke.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Critical parenting error. Part 1 of ??????

I made a critical parenting error yesterday. I let Homer take Bart to his check-up by himself. I didn’t go. First time ever. Last time ever.

I sent him with his health card and immunization record. I also said I would like him to ask about two concerns:

1. His sleepwalking.
2. The fact that he seemed to get more overheated than the other kids when he played outside in the summer.

Besides these two things, Bart is a super-healthy boy. He eats well, has lots of energy, never gets sick. He has some speech problems, but nothing alarming given the fact that he’s only 4 years old (has problems with the sounds: L, Th, F, V and imbedded J).

Here are the results of the check-up:

-> Bart is not a sleepwalker. The Dr asked about his sleepwalking behaviour and Homer described late night trips to the washroom and conversations in the dark. No, that is not sleepwalking. What is sleepwalking (I’m pretty sure) are the times that he walks up and down the hall, does not respond if you speak to him, then settles back into bed. Or the times that he does respond but it only comes out as little grunts. Homer didn’t mention those things.

-> We suck (my word) because:
a. Bart has 2 cavities (that magically washed away when I brushed and flossed his teeth last night). Homer said that he usually brushes his own teeth with little help from us. Not even close to true.

b. We rejected speech therapy for Bart because we were “too busy with 3 kids” (yes, he said that). The only thing is that I took him to speech therapy and a hearing test, the speech therapist gave me some at home exercises, I took him back 2 months later and he had improved so much that she wrote on his file: “Will excel with parental coaching. No further intervention recommended.”

c. Bart is likely iron-deficient (indications: he is pale and Homer described the overheating as constant fatigue). Homer also said that Bart eats no red meat (not true). The Dr advised that we try to give him more whole-grain cereals and breads. Um, that IS what he eats. And, my whole family is super-pale. We're Scottish, what do you want?

-> On the plus side (or at least not the negative side), he’s in the 95th percentile for his height and 75th for his weight, which means he’s a big, healthy boy.

It amazes me that Homer spends almost as much time with the kids as I do, but he is absolutely clueless about any of their personal details. And now, my doctor thinks I’m a moron. It’s always the mother’s fault. Seriously, would I do anything to harm this little guy? No I would not.

First day of school!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Rating the new shows. Part 2.


Starring: Kevin McKidd, Reed Diamond, Moon Bloodgood
Premise: Journalist suddenly finds himself traveling through time. It’s his past, but he is leaping back to change someone else’s future.
Mini-Review: Good. Really good.
PVR: Will set up to record the series.
Final words: I enjoyed this so much. I was a huge Quantum Leap fan and of the time travel genre in general. I like that when he enters the past, he’s the same guy – his friends comment that he “looks tired”, as he has aged several years.

Big Shots

Starring: Dylan McDermott, Joshua Malina, Christopher Titus, Michael Vartan
Premise: Group of 4 friends who are high-powered, rich CEO’s. In business, no one can beat them. In real life, they’re as dysfunctional as the rest of us.
Mini-Review: Not bad.
PVR: Will record the next few shows.
Final words: It’s kind of like Desperate Housewives for men. I’m done with DHW, so we’ll have to see if the drama in this series gets too carried away. In the meantime, the eye candy is delicious.

Dexter (not a new show, but new season started last night)

Starring: Michael C. Hall
Premise: A serial killer uses his dark side to rid the world of evil people that won’t be missed.
Mini-Review: BEST SHOW ON TV!
PVR: Will record every show forever. Will write letters to Showtime if cancelled.
Final words: You know it’s good writing when you are rooting for the serial killer. Don’t get caught, Dexter. We love you! Every character is damaged and complex. Season 2 premier did not disappoint. If you’re not watching this, you should be.
Up this week:
Pushing Daisies - Wednesday
Bionic Woman (premiered last week, missed it) – Wednesday
Cane – still haven’t got around to watching the pilot
Reaper – has come highly recommended, so will give it a go on Tuesday