Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tomorrow...It's nearly here...

Tomorrow is December 1st... It comes every year, and each year I seem to be taken by surprise by it. Once again, I'm home with a couple of sick kids. I certainly hope that history does not repeat itself, December of 2010 is something I care not to re-live.

The past couple of years I've driven myself crazy, with trying to do a home made advent calendar for the month of December. [Believe me, I know I have an entire year to prepare for this, but it still always seems to suddenly be here, so unexpectedly] The first time I did the advent, each day was filled with a little treat and something to do such as bake cookies, go look at lights, visit Santa, etc. It was overwhelming, I hadn't planned it out that well, and I tried to cram in WAY TOO MUCH. Last year I simplified it quite a bit, by saying things like: tell a friend at school you think they're awesome, or wish someone a Merry Christmas today, read a book to your sister after school. It made it much less stressful, but it was still a lot of work.

This year, I've tried something new yet again. On top of the bought advent calendars, which this year there is one for each [Star Wars Lego Advent for him, and Playmobile advent for her] I wrapped up all Christmas books individually, a book for each day. I had seen this idea on Pinterest [of course] as well as on other people's blogs. Imagine my delight when I counted our books [which are put away the rest of the year] and found that I had more than enough to keep us going for the next 24 days. [Thank heaven's for 5 years of scholastic book orders]

The kids don't know about this yet. I guess they'll find out about it tomorrow.

What's neat about this idea, is now they'll for sure read every Christmas book. In the past, when you have a pile of books sitting there, some of them might get overlooked. This year I think they'll be excited about the prospect of opening and reading a new Christmas book each day. Both kids are avid readers, so I think this will go over really well.

I also have my December daily book ready to go... Well, for tomorrow I guess. It's ready to go for tomorrow... See? How does it creep up on me like this every single year? And look at this, my sewing machine and I are friends after all, as long as I don't move it off the zig zag setting...

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm loving turquoise right now for Christmas colours. It doesn't seem feasible to throw away everything I have and start over, with all new decor, so I'm going another route. I'm focusing on turquoise in my December daily album for 2011.

My colours this year are turquoise and red, with green for good measure. I'm using an 8x8 Red American Crafts binder I picked up on clearance at Winner's/Homesense. This year the book will be put together throughout the month, but I'm planning on doing it partially digital, so I'll send all the pages away at once when I finish the last day. We won't be able to look through it quite the same as we have in the past, when I've done my best to keep up with it daily. I'll try it this way this year, and see if it's easier or not in the long run.

Now, back to the sad story of my sick kiddies... It's just a mess around here. It seems to be one thing after another. November has not been a good month for us health-wise. All 4 of us have been sick. Miss Madelyn seems to be getting the worst of it however... The last 2 weekends she's been sick 2 weeks ago she had a flu bug. Last weekend she seemed be be getting better, then by Sunday night had gone in the complete opposite direction. She's now laying on the couch with her croup-like cough and a face only a mother can love...

This child will NOT leave her poor mouth alone... It absolutely breaks my heart to look at her right now... I have been diligent about putting stuff on her lips, but she keeps licking them [and yes, I've even tried to scare her into stopping] but she just won't quit. She's either rubbing them, or licking them every time I look at her. So put in a prayer or two for us... Or our family picture for Christmas of 2011 is going to be a doozy... I've even looked up severe chapped lips on the internet. Barry has gone off to the pharmacy equipped with this picture and a plea of help. I hope we can get this under control. My poor little baby girl...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Coming Along

I had second thoughts this year, about doing a December daily. I'll keep it simple, I thought. I won't get stressed out about it, I thought. It'll only take a couple of days to put together, I thought. I'll only use what I have on hand, I thought. My sewing machine and I are friends now, I thought...

My thoughts were a bit off... I thought I was keeping it simple by using an 8x8 format, and creating my own digital template for the daily pages [that was the easiest part, it took no time at all to get that done] The daily pages happen daily... Once the template is ready to use, I don't need to look at them again, until the day I'm doing it. Easy-peasy. Then I started to get into the daily divider pages, and no, I don't need to do those. But it definitely looks nicer with them. Therefore I've spent way too much time, sketching and jotting, and figuring things out...

It's taken much longer than a couple of days, I'm hoping to be finished by December 1st! I have tried to just use what I have on hand, but have made trips to the scrapbook store [which seems to be the only time I enter a scrapbook store any more] And my sewing machine and I are absolutely NOT friends at the moment. I wouldn't even say we're on speaking terms for that matter. In fact, I might go so far as to say I hate her... [or him] I thought we were on the same page, but does this, for even a moment, look like we're on the same page? Nope. We are obviously not on the same page...

However, I go back to the previous years books... And I'm so glad I did them. They're full of great every day stuff from our past. Even now, it's hard to believe that Miss Madelyn was only in preschool the first time I kept up with a December Daily book, and Mason in Grade Two [with his first speaking part in the Christmas concert] The kids love looking through all the things I make and the scrapbooks I do, so that alone keeps me focused and looking forward.

So yes, the December daily book I'm creating for 2011 is much more work than I'd anticipated. But in the long run, I know it will be so worth it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Month in Photos - October

1. 3 cousins. 2. Halloween fun - made from crescent rolls. 3. Madelyn and Mummy playing Hi Ho! Cherry-O. 4. Decadent halloween s'mores. 5. Drawing pictures in the kitchen. 6. Outside pumpkin light. 7. Mason peering down at me. 8. Another cousin sighting. 9. Mason and baby Isabella. [who told me later, he connected with her] 10. Madelyn and Isabella [she so badly wants to be a big sister]. 11. Our front step full of pumpkins. 12. Little Red Riding Hood and Pirate Mason.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pie Party

I'm not a huge fan of pie. [Which maybe isn't the best way to start off my love the pie party blog entry...]

Don't be shocked, but I've never really cared for pastry... [You don't have to start paying super close attention to that I'll tell you right now, you will see me eat pie] It is after all, a dessert. For me, dessert is one of the food groups.

But one pie that I do love, was the Flapper Pie that my Grama used to make. It has a crumb crust, a creamy vanilla centre and a meringue top. I will never tire of this tasty treat.

She gave me a recipe binder for my 19th birthday [eeks, that was a long time ago] which had a number of hand written recipes in it, all being my favourite recipes of course. To make Flapper Pie with this particular recipe was time consuming. Plus it's very tricky not to scorch the filling, which would ruin it completely in a second flat. So imagine my delight when my Mum came across another quite simple recipe for the filling. I use the best of both recipes together and create this...

I don't know how people get the meringue so high, because mine has never been impressive looking, but it tastes just fine...

One bite of this pie, takes me back to my childhood. It's still my very favourite. Today for TidyMom's Love the Pie party was the perfect time to make a pie, for just because.

Flapper Pie

Crumb Crust:

1 1/2 cups graham crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine

Preheat over to 375°. Thoroughly mix graham crumbs and sugar, add the melted butter. Mix until well blended. [Reserve 1/4 cup of mixture for topping] Firmly press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool Completely.

Vanilla Cream Filling:

2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups milk

In a large glass mixing bowl, stir together sugar, cornstarch and salt to blend well. Add a small amount of milk to make a smooth thin paste, then gradually add rest of the milk. Stir until smooth. Microwave on high for 8 to 9 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, until smooth and thickened.

3 egg yolks, slightly beaten [use whites for meringue]

Stir half the hot milk mixture into egg yolks [being careful not to cook the egg... go back to high school home-ec] Then add yolk mixture back to the milk dish. Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is thick and glossy.

1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

Stir in butter and vanilla. Pour mixture into cooled crumb crust. Let cool.

3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, beating until white and shiny. Spread meringue over cooled filling, to the edge of the crust. Sprinkle on reserved crumbs. Bake at 425° for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

This is the type of pie that is best enjoyed the day you make it. It starts to get a bit weepy and soft by the next day. However, I can assure you that although it might not be quite as impressive to look at, it is every bit as delicious to eat.

Enjoy! Click the link below to check out all the yummy pies!

Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom sponsored by Cherokee USA, Le Creuset, Wilton, Bags by Bloom and Harvard Common Press

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lesson Learned...

Don't tell your kids that the rest of the Halloween candy is going to be packed up and sent to work with Daddy then leave the room...

Or there is a chance that 15 minutes later, you could come back to this:

I still can't believe no one got an upset tummy...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wanna Join Me?

This Wednesday, November 16th, TidyMom is having a Love the Pie Party on her website...

By golly, I think I might join her... Now, I have to decide which pie to make...

For more info, click on the Love the Pie Button on my sidebar. [Check out all last years pies... Seriously, how I'm not 250 lbs. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful, but I like sweets]

Friday, November 11, 2011

11 on the 11th of November, 2011

1. Today is 11-11-11... That won't happen again in my lifetime. It also happens to be Remembrance Day. Our family Barry and I watched the ceremony from Ottawa, tears streamed down my cheeks for a good portion of it. Once you become a mother, the idea of losing your child to war, is heartbreaking. There were women who lost multiple children to war... One lady lost her 5 sons in WWI. I can't even fathom that. While we were watching Miss Madelyn was busy at the kitchen table. Here was her contribution to Remembrance Day.

2. I am finally starting to feel like a human being again today, after being hit by a freight train dreadful head cold. It came on hard and fast, and I spent most of Wednesday and Thursday in the horizontal position. THAT is why it's awesome that both kids are in school full time.

3. I am spending WAY TOO MUCH TIME on Pinterest... Have you checked it out? It's insanely mildly addicting... Check it out my pins here... Ay-yi-yi....

4. I've been watching this season's Battle of the Blades. It's been fabulous. I'm in awe how these hockey players have turned into figure skaters. Seriously, if you just turned on the tv and didn't know what you were watching, you'd be positive you were watching figure skating guys. I'm pulling for Tanith and Boyd to win on Monday night.

5. I'm beginning to see hints of Christmas all around... I want to do another December Daily this year, but it's SO MUCH WORK... Having said that, I absolutely LOVE looking back to the years gone by... I just have to take the time to get it together, before December hits, or else look out. Already our calendar is starting to fill up, and I find that kind of overwhelming. This girl makes me want to not hedge and just go for it...

6. I took a photography course last weekend. It was all about getting off of auto mode and having a little bit more control. Creating the kind of pictures you want, by using apertures and shutter speeds to your advantage. I learned about a few buttons I didn't even realize I had on my camera. Now having said all that, I've used my camera very little since the class. It was overwhelming to say the least, but I'd like to try and utilize some of what I learned.

7. This year, for Christmas, if I could get away with it, I'd get rid of everything we have and start over. I'm totally into turquoise for some reason... I know that I can't get rid of everything and start over... Wouldn't it be dreamy if I could? I do have my Christmas Card template set up and ready to go... [guess the colour] Now I just have to get some pictures lined up. Just because I'm not starting over, doesn't mean I don't love the color scheme I see in my minds eye...

8. Speaking of documenting life... I would really like to do another project365. In 2010 I documented the whole year, day by day. It was HUGE... I won't pretend that it wasn't a lot of work, it was... But I see other blogs, that are documenting their daily lives via Becky Higgins Project Life, and I'm in awe... To remember the every day things... The details that we don't think we'll forget, but do... I love to look back at the year I documented, even though I came into this year thinking 'thank goodness I'm not doing that again...' I could capture how Madelyn calls head phones 'ear muffs' or how she genuinely thinks that it's Justin Beaver, not Bieber... I want to have it in me, I just don't know if I do or not...

9. I thought recently, that I'd like to create a recipe book, through an on-line company such as Shutterfly, one for me and each of the kids, of all our favourite recipes... And then I remembered, they both like 4 things, so I might hold onto that thought for a later date...

10. I don't mean to brag... But I have most of my Christmas shopping done...

11. Tonight we had Family game night. We played a game called Cuponk. I googled the game, for more information, I typed in top kids games of the 2011, and ALL the hits came up as video games.[ Xbox 360°, Wii, Kinect, ipad, iphone, itouch, PC, Nintendo DS...] Eeks... We can play without the aid of an electric device right? We had fun, there wasn't any tears and there were a few pictures to boot.

[no one was harmed playing games tonight, everyone is still in tact]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween 2011

Eeks, I'm a bit late with the Halloween pictures. The weekend before Halloween was so busy. I'd planned to get the kids dressed up in their costumes to take pictures, but we just couldn't fit it in. I thought the perfect solution would be to wait until the weekend after Halloween, to dress them up again and re-create the scene... Well, it snowed, so that changed plans again.

Here are a few pictures of the kids, dressed up and raring to go last Monday night.

Little Red Riding Hood and Pirate Mason, Arrrrr....

He doesn't look too happy in this picture, I wonder if he was getting into character.

Ready, set, GO!

One of these kids takes it all in stride, the other races up and down the street like her life depends on it... [One of them is ready to quit early, the other would go until midnight if you let her]

We got lots of great compliments on how spooky our house looked... Here's how the witches curtain turned out. There was just enough wind, to blow the plastic, to have our spooky witch peak out every so often.

And finally, our pumpkins.

As far as the candy they've collected goes... they've eaten a little bit each day. During the week they're allowed to pick something from their stash to take to school to eat after their lunch. Then they get to pick one to have after supper, for their dessert. They get to have their fill until Thursday this week. On Friday Barry will take what ever is left over to work. [thank goodness]

Pumpy-kin Carving

8 kids.
5 adults.
12 pumpy-kins to be carved...

This year we didn't host our annual adult and kids Halloween parties. The guilt factor worked it's way in and I hosted a pumpkin carving party instead. Low key. We picked up pizza for the kids, adults had a few snacks, we carved pumpkins and then we ate. [I tried this for the adults, it was easy-peasy and we were not disappointed] And Stephanie was gracious enough to bring a dessert, which was heavenly... Thanks friend.

I was most impressed with how the kids all took to cutting open their pumpkins, emptying their guts and cutting out faces. I was even more impressed that all the kids but mine, did this... I also had to laugh when Gabrielle asked Mason 'are you sure you're a boy?' Because he didn't want to pull the seeds out of the pumpkin. It is pretty slimy and gross. I have to admit, the idea of giving a sharp cutting tools to my kids, does seem slightly foreign to me. [I still sit outside the bathroom when they're in the tub for heaven's sake...] But after watching the other kids, we handed Mason the tools he needed. I was also shocked at how much effort the kids put into their designs. The kids went through templates, and picked the ones they wanted to do. Miss Madelyn wanted her pumpkin to look like Jack Skellington, no surprise there. From out of nowhere, Mason wanted his pumpkin to be the Calgary Flames logo. Alecia, Austin and Gabrielle, all did pumpkins that were very detailed, and they turned out great. [Alecia did the ghost, Austin did the owl, and Gabrielle did the Frankenstein though he didn't show up great in the picture below]

The kids had a great time. [I didn't have to plan any games or crafts] The noise steadily escalated, and then everyone headed home. It was a great night. Who knows, maybe we'll do an annual pumpkin carving for the kids from now on? I'm undecided.

I never got around to carving my pumpkin, that night, or the next. So I have a pumpkin sitting in the kitchen. I think I might attempt to bake/cook/roast it and make my very own pumpkin puree. Then I can make delicious muffins my kids won't eat...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Humble and Thankful

I have kept quiet about something. It turns out, I don't share my feelings too well. [Of course my close friends and family already know that, so this admission isn't new to any of them] Yesterday my Dad was in surgery. Major surgery, to remove a portion of his lung. We've been waiting patiently for this surgery to happen since the beginning of September. Let me go back a bit...

When we got home from our trip this past summer, in July, my Dad got word that there was a spot on an X-ray that was 'of worry' to his doctor. There's nothing quite like that conversation to change the way you view things, and nothing like those few words to put you in a place where you begin to think of every worst case scenario possible... Over the past 3 1/2 months we have worried and worried and worried some more. There have been tests, appointments, scans, probes, searches... The results have constantly evaded a diagnosis. It was decided that the doctor would remove the mass in his lung. It's a major surgery. We waited to hear about a date for the surgery since the beginning of September. Suddenly there was a phone call, and a date on the calendar penciled in. We found out the about the surgery on Wednesday, and it took place on Tuesday.

I have spent countless hours praying to God over the past 3 1/2 months. Early on I stumbled across this scripture: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" [proverbs 3:5-6] Immediately those words gave me such peace. Since this began, I kept finding myself coming across this scripture. So often it happened just when I needed to see/hear it most. It was God's gentle reminder to me, that I was not in control, He was/is.

The surgery took place yesterday. It went without a hitch. It was scheduled to be at least a 3 hour surgery, and it ended up being a one hour surgery. We all feared the worst, and it ended up being the best resolution possible. It turns out, the mass was what they call a 'burned out infection'. They removed the mass and it wasn't nearly as intrusive to the surrounding lung tissue that they'd first anticipated. The best news of the day it's not cancer...

Though the news is terrific it was still a major surgery and the recovery time is 6 weeks. He'll be in the hospital for the next 5-7 days.

I am humbled, that God is gracious enough to give our family this outcome. We are blessed and forever thankful.