Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We're so proud!

I've been off work since Friday and don't have to return until January 4th! I've been enjoying lots of reading and games and performances by the kids. So far, there hasn't even been much bickering or tears.

Speaking of performances, I need to tell you an awesome story about Lisa.

The number one comment I have received from all of Lisa's teachers since JK has been "she's painfully quiet." She's so quiet at school that her teacher this year counts it as a victory that she says anything to him outside of what is required for her schoolwork. Two years ago, I talked to her doctor about getting her tested for Selective Mutism because I was just baffled by how my funny, loud child could be so quiet at school. She is often labelled as shy, which drives me crazy. She happily goes to school, has lots of friends and participates in any club, sport or activity offered. Anyway, my point is that she's very, very quiet at school.

One day a few weeks ago, she brought home a form for me to sign. She wanted to audition for a lead part in the school's spring opera production. She's in grade 4 now and this is the first year she is eligible to try out. For her audition, she had to sing O Canada and do a speech in front of a panel of teachers. I'll admit, her singing was not great. But! Here's what she came up with for a speech:

You're probably sitting there thinking, 'Lisa
Simpson is trying out for the opera? Shy, quiet, Lisa?' Well
I'm here to tell you that I was born to perform!

[She goes on to list her performance credentials, both with
dancing parts in previous opera productions, her Highland Dancing and violin lessons]

So set aside everything you think you know about Lisa Simpson.
Put me on stage and let the real me shine.

According to an email from one of the teachers on the panel, she delivered it in a strong, clear voice. She was "animated and intriguing." After they picked their jaws up off the floor, they made the unanimous decision to give her the role of narrator in the production. She got the part!

This child never ceases to amaze me. We are all so proud of her.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Today, my big girl, the one that first made me a mom, turns 9. NINE!

Nine years ago last night, my water broke while standing in line at The Future Shop. Luckily I was wearing a long coat and boots, so the water just kind of trickled into my boot allowing me to continue standing in line until I had made my purchases. "When are you due?" the cashier asked. "Soon," I said casually.

I got in the car and drove home. Homer was out of town at his company Christmas party. I called him to let him know that I thought my water had broken, but I wasn't yet in labour. I hung up the phone and called the hospital. The nurse asked me some questions, then advised me to come in for an assessment. I asked if I could wait the two hours it would take for Homer to arrive home. She said that would be okay.

While I waited for Homer, I had a shower, wrapped Christmas presents and packed my hospital bag. At the hospital, they confirmed that my water had broken, but that labour had not started. They advised me to come back in the morning if nothing developed overnight.

The next morning, I stopped in at work to wrap up a couple of things, then Homer and I walked over to the hospital. The thought was that they would induce me, but apparently there were a rash of babies to be delivered, so they hooked me up to an IV with antibiotics (because my water had broken) and I sat in a hospital room all day waiting for labour to start on its own. Friends from work stopped by to see me, I finished all my Christmas cards and Homer and I played card games.

At 5:45 PM, I felt a little cramp. It went away quickly, but then returned. When a nurse popped her head in, I mentioned it to her. She told me to get ready for a long night, because it sounded like labour was about to start. At 6:10 PM that same nurse came back and I was up on the bed on my hands and knees panting like a basset hound. She was shocked, did a quick assessment and called for a delivery team. The team arrived about 10 minutes later and I started to push.

I continued to push until 9:15 PM. Everyone in the room cheered as (with the help of forceps) my little baby girl finally entered the world.

She's a fantastic kid who never ceases to amaze me with her intelligence, wit and kindness.

Happy Birthday Lisa!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fun holiday recipes

If you're hosting any parties, putting together a goody tray or packaging up some treat bags for the neighbours, I have a few easy/impressive ideas for you.

First up, Spicy Crab Dip in Wonton Shells:

Have you ever made these wonton shells? They're super-easy and make a great little cup for any kind of dip. To make them, you'll need some wonton wrappers (my grocery store has them in the produce department, about $2.59/package of 48), a mini muffin tin and some cooking spray.

Spray the muffin tin and push the wonton wrapper into the cups. Bake at 400* for 3-4 minutes (watch them, they start to get brown quickly). Remove them from the oven, let sit for a minute, then just pop them out of the muffin tin. Voila - fancy wonton shells.

For the crab dip, mix together:
1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 tins of crabmeat, drained
1 cup mayo
3 green onions (white & green parts), finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper (it has quite a kick with 1 tsp, so use a little less if you're not into spicy)

Put the mixture into a large ziploc bag and cut one corner. Squeeze the dip into the shells. Garnish with chopped green onion. Makes 48.

Next up, Chocolate Covered Toffee:

I used this recipe from Zoe Bakes, except I didn't have instant coffee granules, so I just brewed some really strong coffee and used that for the water. Don't be afraid of the candy thermometer - I bought one specifically to make this recipe ($3.99) and now I'm anxious to try other candy recipes. Seriously, nothing to fear.

Anyway, this recipe is delicious. It's a little time consuming with the stirring of the toffee and the dipping of each piece, but it's not at all difficult.

And finally, Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Sticks:

There was some chocolate left over after making the above recipe, so I made these super-simple dipped pretzels. Just dip them in melted chocolate, then roll them in your sprinkle of choice. The one at the back of the picture has crushed peppermint candies. They're quite good with the bitterness of the chocolate, the salt of the pretzel and the sweetness of the sprinkles. And heck, they'll look great on a goody tray!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Quick Halloween pics

Everyone had a great time. Despite being in an "Outbreak School", all my guys were healthy and ready to beg for candy. The idea for the costumes was all theirs; the execution, of course, was all me!

Super Girl

Super Mario


Homer finds the whole thing painful

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween challenges

I really love making Halloween costumes. I like thinking of what to make, then thinking about how to make it happen with as little expense as possible. Lisa has never wanted to be a princess or a fairy or even an animal. She always likes to give me a little challenge.

2004 - she was c-r-a-z-y for Thomas the Train - we already had the Thomas hat and she is wearing Thomas shoes.

2006 - Of course we all love The Simpsons and she wanted to be Marge.

2007 - Little Miss Muffet. Note that Bart is wearing the same dragon costume from 3 years earlier!

2008 - A butterfly

Which brings us to Halloween 2009. "Mom, how about if I be cotton candy?" Sure! I say. I got a pink hooded sweatshirt from the thrift store and covered it in 2 lbs of pillow stuffing. Then, I painted it pink.

Pretty cute, right? She loved it.
I thought I would try it on for size. That thing was hot. I mean, steamy, sweaty HOT. Maybe great for trick-or-treating, but there's no way she could have worn it to school or to the costume party we're going to attend. But that wasn't the only problem. Homer had the responsible idea of testing its flamability. The pillow stuffing on its own was not bad - it was slow to ignite and then just burned slowly and the flame eventually extinguished on its own. But, after I added the spray glue and the spray paint... WHOOOF! It erupted into giant flames. So, cotton candy is now in the garbage and we had to go with a new idea. I'll post pictures after Halloween.
What are some of your favourite Halloween costumes from past years?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Proud parenting moments

Maggie pitched a giant fit when I picked her up from the babysitter’s yesterday. After I wrestled her into her carseat, then forced her out of her carseat at home, she proceeded to hit me, kick me and even tried to bite me. I laughed, which made her angrier. I carried her up to her room and closed her door. After she had calmed down a bit I held her and talked to her about her tantrum. We both felt there should be a punishment for the hitting and screaming. We agreed that the punishment would be… pants. Today she wasn’t allowed to wear a skirt or a dress to school; she had to wear pants. The horror.

Lisa has one kid in her class (“Joe”) that is wicked smart. Lisa does really well too, but just accepts that Joe will do better. She got a test back where she got 88% - the second best mark in the class. Joe got 94%. I told Lisa about how, when I was a kid, there was a boy in my class (“RJ”) who was just like Joe. I made it my mission to do as well as or better than RJ; that competitive spirit made me work harder and get better grades. Lisa’s response? “Not everything’s a competition, mom”. “Sure it is,” I replied. As I kissed her goodbye this morning, I whispered in her ear, “Beat Joe!”

The kids are always asking to help me bake, but when I do let them help they’re often dissatisfied with the tasks I assign to them. So, for the past three weeks I’ve been giving them baking lessons. During the lesson, they put on their aprons and make a simple recipe themselves from start to finish. Along the way, I’ve been teaching them about measuring tools, the science of leavening agents and some basics of food safety. I’m having so much fun coming up with new lessons and the kids are loving their Thursday night sessions.

Bart is picking up some great language at school. He’s always been fond of saying words like ‘fart’ and ‘crap’, but now has put ‘shut-up’ and ‘stupid’ into regular rotation. I am constantly asking him to not to use those words and have shortened my plea to “LANGUAGE!” Maggie has decided to help me reform the boy and shouts “ENGLISH!” when he utters one of his choice words. I have to say, it’s adorable coming from her wee mouth.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Am I alone here?

*I roll my eyes when I hear someone say their kid is so smart that he’s bored at school (usually an excuse for bad behaviour). Smart kids can entertain themselves in such a way that it doesn’t disturb others. Poorly behaved children need more discipline.

*My kids watch The Simpsons. We buy the seasons on DVD. Most of the inappropriate stuff goes over their heads. The stuff that doesn’t becomes a ‘teachable moment’.

*We have a portable DVD player, but it has never been used in the car. Long car trips are a great opportunity for kids to learn how to entertain themselves with colouring, reading, trivia games and small toys. I may reconsider for a trip longer than 5 or 6 hours.

*I don’t think a kindergarten teacher needs to change her voice to something that is slow, high-pitched and squeaky to speak to her pupils.

*I don’t really appreciate Canada being presented as a third world-ish country in the American debate over healthcare reform. Trust me, we have it pretty good here. We ALL have it pretty good here. Do we pay higher taxes for the privilege and peace of mind? Yes we do. Do I care? No I do not.

*Most competition-based reality shows bug me. I may give American Idol another chance now that Ellen will be one of the judges. I predict that whoever Ellen favours will win.

*Fall shows I am watching or will give a shot: Glee, Flash Forward, The Good Wife, Bored to Death and (maybe) Cougar Town.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Things accomplished this weekend:

  • Did some meal planning for the upcoming week
  • Went grocery shopping
  • Registered the girls for dance
  • Registered Bart for basketball
  • Soccer tournament for Bart
  • Went to a street festival
  • Grouted the tile in the shower (we’re renovating our bathroom ourselves)
  • Date night with Homer (Inglorious Basterds – good!)


  • Made Ginger Snap cookies
  • Made Cinnamon loaf
  • Soccer tournament for Lisa (she scored the winning goal in her last game)
  • Laid out the floor tile in the bathroom – there were approximately 8 tiles that DID NOT need to be cut.
  • Cured and cleaned the shower wall tile
  • Installed the shower curtain rod
  • Did three loads of laundry (because I didn’t do any on Friday or Saturday – I hate it when I get behind)
  • Made a roast beef dinner
  • Gave the kids their baths in the brand new bathtub (our only tub/shower – we’ve been washing up in the laundry tub for 2 weeks)
  • Put the kids to bed
  • Had a 15-minute hot shower
  • Slumped into a very deep sleep

I hope YOU had a relaxing weekend!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I’m not much of a people person. I’m okay with that. I could spend days upon days alone, not speaking to or seeing anyone and be perfectly content. I live inside my head a lot. I think more than I speak. I don’t do small talk. I would rather phone than visit. I would rather email than phone. I would rather stay home than go out. I would rather sit in my backyard than go on vacation. It’s a wonder I have a husband and friends. But, I have a blog, so I can’t be a total social dud.

There are just so many ways to be connected. The students around here are in constant contact with each other and, for many, with their parents. I had to make a “no cell phones” rule to keep them from chatting on the phone/texting while I was paying them to work. MSN messenger is not allowed on the office computers. I think it’s crazy that I have to explain to them why this is inappropriate. Why do they need to be so connected?

I’m sure I’m just showing my age, but here are some things I could definitely live without:

Cell phone: I now have one because my husband insisted. Two people have my number: my husband and my assistant at work. I don’t even know the number (I have to look it up on the phone, if I can remember how). Right now, it’s sitting on the kitchen counter. I am sitting at my desk at work. When I get home, there will no doubt be a message from Homer saying, “WHY DO YOU HAVE A CELL PHONE IF YOU NEVER HAVE IT WITH YOU?” Why, indeed.

Facebook: Even though I swore I would never have an account, I do. I mostly signed up because I was missing invitations to events, etc. because everyone (including MY PARENTS) is on Facebook. I used my maiden name and set my privacy settings so no one at work (i.e. students) would find me, but hadn’t counted on gooby guy that I rarely talked to in high school wanting me to be his friend. Many of my cousins are friends, which is fine, but I find I don’t really care that they “had a great time at Sherry’s party”. So, now I rarely look at it and I’m still missing the invitations.

Twitter: I guess it’s the “I don’t do small talk” thing, but I still don’t get Twitter. I’m on it, but don’t post anything, rarely respond to anyone who has posted and… yeah, I just don’t get it.

What about you? Do you like to be super-connected to the world, or are you content to unplug and miss some of the chatter?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sore losers

Lisa has a couple of girls in her soccer league that are real brats. They gloat when their team wins; they scowl, kick things and blame team-mates with their team loses. Their parents sometimes try to reign in their behaviour, but more often than not, these kids’ attitudes are chalked up to “intense personalities” or “fiercely competitive”. You probably know how I would cure these brats, but I’ll tell you anyway: I would not let them play. It would start with pulling them from one game, but if they kept it up, they would be pulled from the season.

I think all kids want to win. Each of my kids has cried because they have not won a board game or a round of checkers. The first time it happens, they get a talk about being a sore loser. The second time it happens, we stop including that kid in the game. It doesn’t take much to train them to be good sports.

It’s a valuable life lesson that not everyone learns. I’ve had encounters with the following grown-up sore losers just in the last year:

*A medical professional in his mid-40’s vying for retail space on campus who low-balled his rent offer and was not granted the space. He thought it was unfair that I didn’t inform him that his offer was lower than the winning bid so he could adjust his offer. There was yelling involved (by him – I’m not a yeller).

*A job candidate in his mid-20’s who was turned down for the position. I spent about 10 minutes with him by phone talking about his interview and offering tips and advice for future interviews. That night (when he knew I wouldn’t be in the office to answer the phone) he left me a voicemail message telling me that I had made a misinformed decision, one that I would surely regret. He added that I shouldn’t come begging him to take the job when my candidate of choice failed to pan out. No problem.

*A furniture salesperson in her early 50’s who has been given over $200,000 of business from me in the past 3 years, but missed the mark and was not awarded a recent contract worth about $45,000. She criticized the competition’s product, questioned my ability to recognize quality merchandise and implied that I owed her something because of all of the work she had done for me in the past.

Not surprisingly, I treat these adult poor sports the same way I treat the kids: they don’t get to play anymore. The next time there is available retail space, medical guy will not be invited to bid. Job candidate guy will never work anywhere near me. And the furniture lady? I called the company’s owner and asked for a different rep… she will not get another cent of commission from me. Their parents really should have beat them at checkers more often.

Monday, July 27, 2009

July in pictures

Isn't this getting pathetic, this once-a-month blogging deal? I do most of my blog writing/reading in quick breaks at work, but my schedule just hasn't allowed for much downtime lately, so it is what it is.

So... July! The weather here has just sucked. We have a pool. A big, expensive, hazardous, kidney-shape pool. Guess how many times we have used it in the summer of '09? ZERO! It's been so cool and rainy that it hasn't warmed up enough to even take a quick dip (or even want to). We also have yet to turn on the air conditioning. Boo.

July started out with Canada Day (Happy 142nd birthday to my home and native land!) I usually try to do something special for the day and had thought about just getting some strawberries and whipped cream (red & white theme). All the strawberries in the store were from California. Nothing against California, but there should have been some great local strawberries available. Alas, too much rain, not enough sun made for a small crop this year. Instead, I made these fancy rice krispie treats.

Now that's talent. Hee.

Homer and I also celebrate our wedding anniversary in July. It's been twelve years since the big day (vintage photo here).

He still looks pretty good, no?

We finally hit on a really nice day and headed out to the Toronto Zoo. It was a really great day. The kids are all asking to go back soon.

We also hit the water park. Maggie was a little afraid of all the sprayers, so Bart walked her through to make sure she had a good time.

Homer calls them Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. These two are the best of friends.

Lots of crappy weather meant the kids had to find ways to entertain themselves indoors. Maggie loves to make up songs and perform for us. The other two have become very good at all the Wii games.

We got rained out of a couple of barbeque events, but did manage to make it to one with some of my oldest and dearest friends. I've been friends with L. (in the middle) since we were 4 years old and with J. (on the right) since we were 14. That's a loooong time.

I need a haircut - suggestions?

To cap off the month, we decided to go camping. Here is the weather forecast for our trip:

But we went anyway! It was a little soggy at times, but it was still a great trip.

We couldn't have fit in one more thing in the car. The kids and I had sleeping bags, pillows and other miscellaneous items on our laps. I almost wished we had a minivan. Hahahahaha. Not.

Maggie was thrilled about the nature walks. Here she is, refusing to take even one more step.

She wasn't kidding. She was done. Homer carried her back to the campsite and the rest of us continued our walk - 4.2km!

Looking for the frog that hopped by.

Despite the wet weather, we still managed to make it to the beach a few times. The beach itself was a little muddy, but the water was warm and not at all crowded (go figure).

Despite the weather, July 2009 holds some good memories. Now, let's see what August can do about bringing some summer weather. I could totally go for a heatwave right now.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Family Scrapbook - June

Although it wasn't my intention, I've become a once-a-month blogger who only manages to post content that's interesting only to me (and Homer) (and Grandma). The one thing I love about blogging is that I have this journal of my life (part of it, anyway) that allows me to go back and reminisce about the little things we did, places we visited and things the kids said. So, until I can find more time to get back to some writing, I present our June scrapbook:

June started out with the winter activities (Brownies, dance, school, etc.) ending while the summer activities were shifting into high gear.

Here are the kids in their soccer uniforms on Super Soccer Saturday. The faces were entirely their idea:

June also brought school picnics and fun fairs. Of course the fairs for the big guys and Maggie were on the same night, which meant we were flying, as usual.

Yes, it is mid-June here and we're still wearing jackets and tights.

Lisa won the grand prize at the fun fair: a new bike! It's too big for her, but it will likely be perfect for her next year. She was kind of hilarious; not one for much attention, she couldn't get away from that fun fair fast enough! All those people offering their congratulations was making her skin crawl.

Fathers Day also falls in June. Homer was invited to Bart's school for a pool party and pizza. On Mothers day we got tea. Hmph. Do you like the tie Bart made for dad? That brings Homer's tie count to 3.

We also had a Fathers Day bbq at my parents' house, where my cousin pointed out that my mom had pictures of all the grandchildren in her bay window, except Maggie(!). Because she didn't have room for another picture frame, she requested that we try to get a good picture with Maggie and Baby S. together.

Just down from Maggie's daycare centre is a frozen yogurt place with umbrella tables outside. Maggie asks every day if we can go there, so on the first sunny day when we didn't have to rush to soccer, a fun fair or some other obligation, we went. I let her pick whatever she wanted and she was thrilled. She ate that whole cone!

To celebrate the last day of school/the first day of summer vacation, we picked up a bucket of chicken for a picnic at the lakefront park last Friday night. When we got there, we discovered a small fair was set up. After the picnic, we ventured over, bought some tickets and let the kids ride whatever they wanted.
I haven't seen one of these potato sack slides since I was a little kid.

We ended the evening with a treat from the ice cream truck by the lake.

When we were walking back to the car, Bart asked, "Was that Marineland?" Yes, son, it was.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Family scrapbook - May

Taking in some major league action at a Toronto Blue Jays game. We like the cheap seats... less chance of getting hit by a foul ball.

Entertaining the baby cousin. It's nice to borrow a baby for a couple of hours. It's also nice to give that baby back, knowing changing that next diaper is not your problem.

Maggie likes soccer. She comes running for a hug every single time she even touches the ball.

Homer will love that I added this picture. He has some surgery on his sinuses. Despite taking 4 hours to wake up from the anesthetic (it should have taken 1 hour), everything seems to have gone well. He's still in a lot of pain/discomfort, but hopefully he'll suffer from fewer sinus infections. He may even get his sense of smell back.

Bart turned 6! This year I went the easy route and planned a bowling party. Soooo much less work than last year's superhero party, but they still had a blast. He wanted a cake with "Spiderman having a fight with Batman" and I actually considered giving it a shot. In the end I got lazy and just made this one. I also made some basketball and baseball cookies for him to take to share with his class on his actual birthday, but failed to get photo evidence.
May was fun, but a crazy, busy month. I'm hoping June lays off a bit.