Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday's random thoughts.

*I'm at work. The kids don't have school, so they are at the babysitter's today. For those of you keeping a tally, that's an extra $35 the school board is costing me because they give the kids/teachers a day off that is not a statutory holiday.

*If you haven't guessed it, I'm grumpy.

*The weekend was a lot of fun. There was lots of candy and chocolate. Maggie was most pissed this morning that she couldn't take her basket of treats to daycare with her.

* I made this cake. The kids were very impressed.

Poor guy's a little hard of hearing now, if you know what I mean. Hee.

* On Friday, I'm going to Chicago with my four best friends. We do a lot of talking, saying we're going to get together, go away together, etc., but this time we're actually doing it. We have plane tickets and hotel reservations and everything. We're using aliases when we go out on the town. I will be Kate.

* My brother is relocating to London, England in under a month with his wife and two children. Because they will only be there for 3 years, they are looking for rentals. He expects to spend the equivalent of $17,000 a month on rent. You read that correctly.

*My aunt, who is a serious shopaholic and the most generous person I know, gave me two full bags of clothes she had purchased for my kids. Included was a snowsuit for each child for next year, complete with matching hats & mittens, and two full outfits for each kid, including socks and underwear. I have never had to buy a snowsuit for my kids... they have always been provided by my awesome aunt.

Hope you're having a great day!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Eggs!

When I was in high school, my mom saw a recipe for Chocolate-dipped Easter Eggs in her Woman’s Day magazine. They were such a hit that she and I have made them together every year since. Back then, our family Easter dinner had 12 people. Now, with kids and extended families involved, we have 25 people, so the recipe has to be doubled to make sure everyone can take home an egg.

These are very sweet and lend themselves nicely to taking just a slice at a time.

Recipe for Easter Eggs


1 can (15 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 pound butter, softened
11 cups sifted icing sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon salt

Mix up the dough until smooth and almost dry. Divide dough into thirds and add a few drops of yellow food colouring to one of the thirds.

Divide yellow dough into 18 equal parts and form into balls. This will be the yolk.

Divide the white dough into 18 equal parts, flatten slightly and shape around the yolk. Mold into a rounded egg shape. Place on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet, place another piece of wax paper on top and cover it all with a kitchen towel. Allow to dry out at least 12 hours.

Chocolate coating:

1 lb molding chocolate wafers (they look like this):

Place wafers in a glass bowl. Cook on 50% power for one minute. Stir. Cook in 30 second intervals at 50% power, stirring in between, until chocolate is completely melted.

Using kitchen tongs, dip each egg in the chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl and place the dipped egg on waxed paper. Allow chocolate to harden – about 30 minutes.

At this point, you could quit, because the tasty part is over. They will look like this:

If you’re so inclined, you can keep going and decorate the eggs to make them fancy (yes, we do this next step).

Ornamental Frosting:

3 egg whites
5 cups icing sugar (approx.)
¼ tsp cream of tartar

Put egg whites in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons icing sugar. Beat 3 minutes with wire whisk, or electric mixer at medium speed. Repeat until 1-1/2 cups sugar are used. Add cream of tartar. Add sugar by spoonfuls, beating until frosting is stiff enough to hold its shape. Test with a knife by making a cut through mixture. If frosting remains parted, it is the right consistency.
Colour portions of the frosting as desired and pipe onto the hardened eggs. You can do zig-zags and stripes, names, flowers, whatever. Here's a sample of the finished product:

I know they seem fussy and time consuming, but they’re really not. They’re fun to make and they’re one of those things that seems like a big deal to the grateful recipients.

Have a great Easter weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This is Maggie.

This kid cracks me up. She has opinions! She’s stubborn! Now that she speaks very clearly at the ripe old age of 28 months, we get an even bigger glimpse into what is going through that little mind of hers.

Maggie on fashion:

Remember these boots?

She has worn these every single day since September. She has several other pairs of shoes including adorable hiking boots, sweet Mary Janes, short black boots, character running shoes and faux-Uggs, but she insists on wearing only these boots. She will put on her “sparkle boots” for playing in the snow, but that’s as far as she’s willing to give on the issue.

Speaking of footwear, she also has strong opinions on socks, as in: if they don’t have a picture of Dora on them, do not even try. I bought a whole 6-pack of Dora socks after Christmas when Santa left one pair in her stocking and they were all she would wear. Unfortunately ½ the pack featured Boots the monkey; those ones have never been worn, not once. And no, you can't see them under the boots, but she does not care.

Maggie on potty training:

My other two were trained by 28 months, but Maggie will have none of it AT HOME. I was informed by the daycare staff a couple of weeks ago that she was doing “great!” with the potty training. Really? At home when we try to even broach the subject she gives kind of a sarcastic cackle while saying “nooooo”. It’s like she’s saying, “Are you a moron? Of course I will not be peeing on the potty. You’re funny, though. Appreciate the effort.”

Maggie on stubbornness:

Her stubbornness comes through not only in her fashion demands, but in so many other ways too. She has only ever referred to herself as “Baby”; never her own name. She will not say please, thank you, sorry or anything else considered to be polite unless it is her idea. She likes to eat soup for breakfast and will upend any appropriate breakfast food on the floor if you dare to serve it to her.

Maggie on sweetness:

It’s not all battles with her though. For the most part, she is incredibly sweet. When she wakes up in the morning, she’ll yell “Mom!” just once. I go in to find her playing or just lying there waiting. I’m always greeted with a huge smile and a “Hiya mom!”

At night she gives Bart and Lisa each a hug and a kiss when they’re in their beds.

When she is tired, she likes to snuggle in close and hold just your pinky finger, which she calls, “your baby”.

Oh my baby, who initially came as such a shock to us, what would we do without you? Who would entertain us?

Monday, March 17, 2008


We have this gorgeous Neville Clarke print hanging on the wall at the top of our stairs.

The Bubble Boy. Neville Clarke
Available for purchase at

It has been there for about 18 months. Yesterday, my son and I had the following conversation about it.

Bart: Is that a picture of me when I was just a little boy?
Me: Do you think it looks like you?
Bart: Yes. I have those bubbles.

My Bubble Boy

Busy, fun weekend here.

To help try to redeem ourselves as fun (after being firmly bumped out of that category by my parents), we took Lisa and Bart to see this:

It was really good. It was Bart’s first movie in a theatre and he loved it. He didn’t really understand the concept before we got there, as he asked if we could bring his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie for them to play. What a pricey outing for a family… for the four of us, with concession stand treats, it was $70. I would think that price would be out of range for a lot of families, which is sad.

On Saturday, Lisa and I went to see this:

The tickets were a Christmas gift (for Lisa, not me) from my brother and sister-in-law. It was more fun watching Lisa’s reaction to the show than watching the show itself. She was in seventh heaven, for sure. In her innocence, she asked if Troy (Zac Efron) was still doing the Hairspray show, because he didn’t look the same on skates… she actually thought that the actors from the movie had laced up their skates and put on a show for us. I didn’t burst her bubble.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today! We’re not Irish, but the kids are all wearing green today and we’ll have some cupcakes with green icing after dinner tonight. That’s as creative as I get today. I looked for chocolate coins to put in their lunch boxes (pot o’ gold), but couldn’t find them. I’ll have to remember to set some aside next Christmas. In honour of the day, I’ll share my favourite St. Patrick’s Day photo. This was taken four years ago… Lisa was 3, Bart was 10 months and that’s my little nephew with them, who was 2.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Food hang-ups

Last night, Homer, Maggie and I went to a local burger joint as a treat. This place has really good burgers (including veggie burgers), amazing onion rings and a huge selection of hard ice cream, in case you haven’t indulged enough with your first course. Kids love the environment because it’s bright and loud (the workers sing as they’re making your meal) and kids always get a free ice cream and balloons.

It was fun and Maggie loved being the centre of our universe, eating French fries with ketchup! And Pickles! And Chocolate Milk! And Ice Cream! Not a healthy meal, by any means, but thankfully she eats well and the daycare feeds her good stuff all day.

I had the veggie burger and Homer and I shared a small order of onion rings. Homer took Maggie up to select her ice cream and got some for us to share. I felt a little gross after eating all that junk, and immediately looked up the nutritional information when I got home, which made me feel even worse.

Why do I do this? I eat really well most of the time, but when I do indulge, I feel guilty and sick and a little fatter than an hour before.

I have some really strange food hang-ups. Like, in my building at work, there is a food court with all manner of healthy and not-so-healthy meal options. I have access to donuts, fresh pastries, cookies, chips and chocolate bars all day. There are 4 different places I can go for coffee. Sounds convenient and awesome, right?

EXCEPT, I don’t like other people to see me eat junk food. So, I WON’T buy the cookies or the chips at work. I have never had a pizza slice or even a sandwich on a onion bun here. If I don’t bring my lunch, I usually opt for a whole-wheat bagel with light cream cheese or a bowl of soup.

I usually buy two coffees a day, but never 2 from the same place in a day. What if the ladies make a comment about my coffee consumption?

If there’s a potluck, people always comment that they count on me to bring something healthy.

At the grocery store, I feel the need to tell the cashier that the bag of chips amongst the sea of fruits, vegetables, yoghurt and whole grains, is for my husband. We wouldn’t want this random person who I do not know to think that I’m scarfing down that whole bag, would we?

Last week, I spotted a White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookie when I was ordering my coffee. Man, I wanted that cookie. Did I buy it? No. Did I go out after work that day and buy white chocolate and macadamia nuts and make my own whole-wheat version of the cookie? Why, yes I did. So, instead of buying the one cookie for $.89, I spent ten times that on ingredients for a whole batch. But, at least I’m eating them in the privacy of my own home.

I know these hang-ups are just weird. I’m sure it’s somehow my mother’s fault, but I don’t know how. It’s like I have a health rep to protect. Like, if I’m *caught* someone will out me for not being who I pretend to be. Like one walk on the junk side will take me from health hero to health fraud. Except, I’m not a health hero, so what am I doing?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Ding dong, the mullet is gone

He couldn't take it anymore and he conceded that, yes, he was sporting a mullet in the making. So, he let ME fix it! You can officially add hair stylist to my list of talents (because, I know you're keeping score). I don't have the after shot, but here's the approximate cut-off point.

American Idol and my gambling habit

I don't actually have a gambling habit, but Homer loves to participate in all things gambling, especially sports pools. In a (condescending) effort to "help the wives understand" the sports pool obsession, his bookie (not really a bookie, just the guy who runs the pools and refers to himself as the Supreme Benev0lent Dictat0r - I kid you not) set up Survival Idol. Homer signed me up. Here are the rules:

1. Each week after the performances (but before the results show) you have to pick someone who is NOT going home.

2. The catch is that you can NEVER pick that person again.

3. If your person makes it through, you're in. If not, you're out.

So, the strategy each week is to try and predict who will be eliminated the following week - or who is second worst this week.

I haven't really followed Idol since the Clay/Ruben year, so I had to work hard to get back into it (Paula is a nut job). This week my top three are: Carly, Brooke and Michael. My bottom three are: David H., Syesha and Ramiele. I'm thinking David H. is going, so I was going to bet on Syesha. Thoughts?

When the kids are away, mom and dad will...

...secretly thin out the toys in the playroom. Lisa and Bart are spending some quality time with my parents (and having a ball!) and the playroom thing is not something I can do with Lisa around. Bart will happily purge toys (he gets that from me), but Lisa attaches a meaning and memory to everything and cannot bring herself to get rid of anything (she gets that from Homer). After one big bag of garbage and two big bags of donations, the playroom is still packed, but at least a little more manageable. It's hard to decide what things can go when there are things that are too young for Lisa, but still too old for Maggie.

Maggie as an only child

Speaking of Maggie, she does not like being an only child. She keeps asking "where my guys?" and "guys come home now?" The house is a lot more subdued with them gone. I didn't really realize how much they entertain her. I miss them too but I don't begrudge their "vacation." I spoke to them on the phone on Monday night and last night and they reminded me that I was to pick them up Thursday night, NOT day. I get it, Grandma and Grandpa are fun, we are not.

The end.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

But, he doesn't even play hockey.

Homer got his hair cut yesterday. He's got such thick hair that it gets quite big and bushy if he doesn't keep it fairly short. Unlike me, he will not go to some random SuperCuts to get his hair done, or *gasp* a barber. No, he has a stylist where he makes an actual appointment and sits in a pretty shop sipping espresso.

When he came to pick me up from work and I commented that his hair looked good.

Then, I caught the side profile and quickly checked the car. No, we were not driving in a Camaro.

As I followed him into the house, I got a good view of the back. Hmm. Was I seeing things?

Or, did Homer actually come home with the makings of a mullet? You know, business in the front, party in the back... hockey hair... the 10/90... Kentucky waterfall...

(photo credit: mulletsgalore)

He explained that the stylist kept it a little long in the back so that when it grew out, it wouldn't be so bushy. Okaaaaay.

So, you decide. Sensible hairstyle, or Achy Breaky Big Mistakey?

Monday, March 10, 2008

The snow is as high as an elephant’s eye.

Hooooo-eeeeey did we ever get a lot of snow on Saturday! It was blowing and drifting like you wouldn’t believe. We didn’t even venture out to play in it for fear that one of the children would go missing under a massive snow pile.

The most exciting part of the snowstorm happened on Friday. I’ve mentioned before how much I love snowstorms, mostly because I love snow days. I love watching the morning news, with the little ticker at the bottom telling you what is closed and what is not. SOMEONE at the university where I work is responsible for making that call. SOMEONE gets up early, presumably consults with other SOMEONE’s and says “the university is closed due to dangerous weather conditions”. There are cheers heard across the city, as students and staff alike rejoice in NOT having to go to school/work.

Well, on Friday, I was a SOMEONE. It being the Friday before March Break, many of the real bigwigs that would normally be consulted on such a matter had already taken off for (presumably) their respective, awesome family vacations, befitting of bigwigs. I was called in as an honourary bigwig to decide whether the university should be closed, thereby cancelling midterms, tests, continuing education classes and scheduled events. Of course, I voted in favour of cancelling (as did the others), and so, we closed.

Okay, so not such a big deal. It was, after all, a Saturday. But, I was ON THE WEATHER COMMITTEE. I am moving up, my friends, moving up. Indeed.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tidy-up Fridays

By the end of the week, our house is looking less than orderly. The kids’ beds, which at the beginning of the week had fresh sheets and a solid tuck-in from me, now have random lumps and bumps, which make them look dishevelled, even when made. Our bed isn’t much better.

There are baskets of clean laundry, some even folded, that have yet to make it into drawers and closets. Some of them have been rooted through to find a missing sock or favourite shirt.

The TV room (which is supposed to be a dining room, but functions better in our house as a kid space) has remnants of various kid activities: dried up play-dough, glue blobs, little bits of paper, scattered crayons and markers, etc. The kids clean up the big stuff, but the little stuff lingers.

The counters need a good scrub, more than the hurried wipe they get each morning and evening. The dishes that have been left “to soak” have soaked enough and need to actually be washed and put away.

The floors. Ugh, the floors! The carpet needs vacuuming; the kitchen and entranceway need a good mopping. The whole upstairs needs a damp cloth to catch the dust and bits.

The crazy thing is, the kids are only awake in the house for about 4-1/2 hours a day during the week. Part of those hours are taken up with eating and reading and bathing, leaving not much time for all this mess-making. And yet, we are faced with this end of the week challenge every week.

Anyway, for the past few weeks, we’ve been doing Tidy-up Fridays. Homer buys Lisa and Bart a special treat (like, they split a bag of Cadbury eggs, or he buys a cheap kid movie). When we get home, Homer starts dinner while the kids and I tackle the house. The goal is to get most of the tidy-up work done before dinner is served. While cooking, Homer does the kitchen. If the kids participate enthusiastically, they get the special treat.

You know, it has worked pretty well. I still have things to do on the weekend (never-ending laundry, changing the beds, cleaning the bathrooms…), but the stuff that used to really annoy me is dealt with during a flurry of activity on Friday evening. Not exactly the way I would choose to use my Friday evening, but it’s something.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The well has run dry.

I can honestly say, I have nothing to talk about today. No kid battles or brags. No sleep issues.

Oh, I did get my hair cut. It’s okay. Homer likes it. There are bangs.

And there’s lots of snow and ice today. After waiting for the bus for 25 minutes, we finally drove the kids to school, and then understood why the bus was so late. There were cars stuck all over the sub-major roads and side streets. No snow day though, which was disappointing this morning, but I understand the decision now that I’m looking out my office window at a clear, bright day.

There has been a big issue on campus the last couple of weeks (you know, one of the BIG hot-button political-type things that often comes up on university campuses). Somehow, I’m very involved (not AT ALL in a political way, mind you) and I’m getting to see how fallible even the most poised and experienced of senior administrators are when they don’t have the solution that makes the issue go away. It has been enlightening to say the least.

I’ve been watching the HBO show In Treatment. Homer hates it because, “it’s just talking!” But I love it – can’t get enough of it. Really.

Next week is March Break for Lisa and Bart. They’ll be going to Camp Grandma and Grandpa’s, where they will get their fill of Whatever they Want! Whenever they Want It! My parents are retired teachers and they love to have this kind of untethered access to the kids and their young minds. We’ll see how they feel after a week of it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Check your batteries…

… and hug your babies.

There was a tragedy here over the weekend. An early morning fire claimed the lives of 5 people, including three little girls and their mother.

The fire chief has said that there were no working smoke detectors. On the news last night, he had tears in his eyes as he said angrily, “We too often find that there are smoke detectors without working batteries in fatal fires. Then we find that the TV remote control batteries are working fine.”

Even though we just changed the batteries in our seven (yes, 7 – I live with Elmer the Safety Elephant) smoke detectors at Daylight Savings Time a few months ago, we changed them all again yesterday. All the while, somewhere, a mother and grandmother was arranging 4 funerals and wishing to go back in time.