Friday, 30 November 2012

Our Wreath for The Tweed Festival of Trees

    In Tweed we are very lucky to have a group of volunteers who create a magical Christmas paradise for the people of Tweed.  This group of ladies works all year to produce the Festival of Trees.   We are most fortunate to have the ladies of Beta Sigma Phi in our community to bring such a magical event to life.  We are also most fortunate to have community members who support these ambitious women's visions of the winter wonderland.  One of these community members is my friend Jane Patel.  Every year Jane either sponsors a wreath or donates money.  I really like it when Jane sponsors a wreath, because that means that I get to decorate it.  

    I love decorating the wreath.  Let me tell you it is not an inexpensive venture to do it properly.  Jane spent upwards of $100.00 just for the decorations.  I could never spend that kind of money on a wreath, but I love to decorate it.  I love that feeling of accomplishment watching the pretty greenery transform into something really special.  
    I also enjoy doing the shopping with Jane for our wreath.  Our theme is always a mystery until we find that special theme while shopping.  This year I tried really hard to convince Jane that we should do a girlie wreath. There were the cutest lipstick ornaments.  I could just picture the looks on my girl's faces when they looked at the wreath.  I had planned lots of pink and lots of sparkle.  Jane looked at me like I had two heads "ahhhh no" she said shaking her head.  In the end we went with a snowman theme.  It was no "Pretty in Pink" as I had fantasized about, but it was still fun.

    The first thing that I did to decorate the wreath, although you can't see it in the above picture was to put the lights on the wreath.  We went with bight blue lights.  It took me much longer than you would think.  I ended up running an extension cord and plugging in the lights so that I could really see how they looked.  Once I had the lights the way I wanted, I wired them all in place.  Let me tell you by the wreath was finished, my fingers ached.  
    The next step after I had wired the lights in place was to add a layer of snow spray.  I quickly wiped up the spray on my kitchen table.  I was unsure if the snow spray would pull the finish off of my table (like it even matters, that beautiful table is peeling worse than a bad sunburn).  I discovered the hard way, that you should give the spray a few minutes to dry before continuing on.

    The next thing I did was to make my blue ribbon.  If anyone would like me to, just leave a message and I could do a tutorial on how to make the ribbon.  Wire ribbon is not necessary, but really makes the job easier.  I then cut the stem off of our gorgeous white and sparkly poinsettia flower.  I wired the poinsettia into the middle of the bow, and then wired the whole thing onto the centre top of the wreath.  
    The snowman was the largest thing on the wreath, and so he went next.  I chose to place him on the side, so that it would not look too symmetrical.  I felt a little badly because I essentially garroted frosty.  I wrapped the wire around his neck tightly, under his scarf.  I then wired him onto the wreath.

    Next was the white branches.  They were much bigger bundles, but I cut them down.  I tried to hide them in the under branches.  Wiring, wiring, wiring.... everything had to be wired.  After each layer of decoration I would stand on top of a chair and see where the next ornaments had to go.  I added the glass "Winter Wonderland" ornaments last.  I tried to space them around the wreath.  The last thing I did was to add a more concentrated snow spray along the branches that did not have ornaments.

    There was a certain amount of humble pride when Rowan and Riley searched the Festival of Trees to find the wreath that I had made.  They were really proud of it.  It was a little pat on the back.  They sufficiently ooohed and awwwed over it.  

    I really enjoy doing the wreath.  It's an opportunity to be crafty, and not have to pay for any of it!  It allows me to be crafty, and not take up room in my already overcrowded little house.

Lunch Lady Friday - Gingerbread People Sandwiches

    Sorry for the long absence, but I'm back, problems hopefully resolved......
    Today's lunch for the kids was not woo woo.  Maybe that's the whole point.  It does not have to be bells and whistles every time, it's more about breaking up the monotony for them and for you the lunch maker.  You don't have to take an hour making radish roses, just making an effort should be enough.  Sometimes I question when I go all out if I'm doing it for them or for praise for myself.  I guess either way the kids win.

    Last night I did not have a lot of time to commit to the lunches, so I went with fun and simple.  I pulled down my giant bin of cookie cutters (that's a lie, I made Christopher get them down because they are on the top shelf and he's tall).  I decided on gingerbread men shape.  For Riley and Rowan I cut out two and a cheese Christmas Tree.  For Elly I went with one sandwich and used the silicone cupcake mold that I bought at the Dollar Tree to make Ritz Bits and cheese a little more fun.  All three got a fun little ring game (the teachers are just going to love me).

    For their junky snack I gave them each powdered doughnuts.  I found these neat little ziplock bags at the dollar store.  To add that extra fun I put snowflake cupcake picks in the top.  It's fun and it's easy.

    I try to include all of the food groups in their lunches.  I am not always successful, but I try.  I added applesauce.  To make it more fun (and possibly cause my children to choke) I added little candy Christmas Trees Sprinkles.  I don't know why, but those dollar store sprinkles just seem to make everything more fun.

    I was in Micheals the other day and spotted the neatest things.  It was little pads of paper with the Hangman game printed on them.  I just thought how much fun would it be to play that with a friend if you were done your lunch?  I put one sheet each in the big kids lunches.

     So there you have it, Friday lunches!  Fast and fun, and anything but boring.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Our Bi-Polar Christmas


  We are quickly approaching a very bipolar season for Christopher and I.  I say bipolar because it is such a conflicted season... full of extreme highs and extreme loses.  For me the Christmas season is a magical time.  Christmas brings out the best in people I think.  It is the time of year that you feel grateful for what you have, and want to reach out to those who are in need.  It does not matter who you believe in or what religion you subscribe to (if any) chances are you celebrate a major holiday in December.  That to me says that this is a special time of year, a spiritual time.  I still feel that tug, that tug that goes against everything that I believe as an adult, at this time of year I believe that magic could really happen, that miracles could really exist.  I feel different in my very soul at this time of year.
    The other side of this is a heavy suffocating depression that makes it's way every single December.  I try to put things into place for the month of December in November, because I know that beginning December 1 until mid- February, I will be suffocated with grief, and depression.  Each day after December first feels like another rung down into the abyss of disspair.  We lost Gabriel December 24 of 2004.  I kept thinking that there would be a Christmas miracle that would rescue my baby, but that miracle did not come.  Christmas means that I have an ache that cannot be cured.  Every holiday decoration is like rubbing salt in my open wound.  How can I celebrate when I have no oldest child to celebrate with us.  For the first few years anytime I smiled I felt guilty that I could smile and my poor little boy could not.
    Here is the balancing game for us.  We have four little kids, who want their Christmas.  They don't understand that Christmas is hard for Mommy and Daddy, and let's be honest, they don't care.  They want Christmas.  I know that I sound like a broken record, but I feel like my job as a mother is to ensure that my children grow up as healthy and as well adjusted as I can make them.  None of us are perfect, but I try to make the intent, to do the best that I can do by them.  I am not always successful in this, but I try.  I am honest with them and tell them that Christmas is a sad time of year for Daddy and I because we miss Gabe. I want them to remember Gabe, even if they do not have their own memories of him.  I want them to know their real brother, that means I tell them about the things that he did that drove me crazy.  I tell them about the things that he did that made me proud of him.  I want them to know their brother, but I do not want to make him into this larger than life martyr, and I certainly do not want them to resent him.  They would reset Gabe if we did not celebrate Christmas because it was too hard for their father and I.  I try to make Christmas magical, and I do some of my best acting.  Sometimes the funniest thing happens....  I forget that I am "acting", and get lost in the magic.
    I get through the season by planning.  I plan and I plan and I plan.  If it's on paper and widely known then even if I don't feel like getting out of bed and facing the day, I have to.  If I make a promise to my kids I always make good on the promise.  Through the month I will share our holiday plans, and hopefully I will have the picture thing resolved soon.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

My Sister and Trevor the Monkey

    My sister is kind of like a big kid, a big kid who has kids.  In other words she does fun things.  She does fun things that I wish that I had thought of.  One of those things is Trevor the Monkey.  I believe the story goes that she bought Trevor while out on a girls week-end.  Her friends all thought that she was nuts (they were correct), and wondered what on earth a grown woman needed a tiny plastic monkey for.  She decided to prove them wrong.

    Trevor the Monkey goes on all of Mandy's family trips.  Every vacation there is a pose that features Trevor.  It's almost like an eye spy game looking through through her pictures... "Where's Trevor?"  Trevor the Monkey is more traveled than many people that I know.  Trevor has been to Mexico, Florida, He's been to Newfoundland, and all of the provinces in between.  
    I can only imagine the look on my brother-in-law, Spooner's face as Mandy pulls out Trevor (does he travel in her pocket or purse?)  I can only imagine the face's of the people that she poses Trevor with when she asks.  I wonder when Mandy is packing for their trips if she's thinking... "O.K. we'll need 5 pairs of underwear each, 5 pairs of socks, two pair of pants, oh, I need sunscreen and bathing suits.... Oh I almost forgot to pack Trevor".
    At the end of the day I think Mandy should write a book "Trevor's Travels".  It could feature the many poses of Trevor the Monkey, on his many travels.  I just wish that I'd thought of that one.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Lunch Lady Fridays #3 - Ciabatta Tree

    Today's lunch selection is not really that difficult, but maybe that's the whole point.  This has been the week from Hell (o.k. maybe the last two have been).  I have had really sick kids this week.  They have had high fevers, vomiting, rash, and as if that is not good enough, followed by open sores (I just made you feel a whole lot better about your week didn't I).  It was a bit of a crap shoot to see who would be going to school on any day.  I have pretty much just been in survival mode.  I have been seriously considering running away from home.  As I sit here and write this you will be glad to know that I have three down, and one on the go (apart from Christopher and I).
    Basically what I am saying is that time has been at a premium this week.  Although time has been at a premium, the above lunch only took a few seconds more to make than a plain Jane sandwich.  I have been so busy running after sick kids, that the "well" kids have been a little neglected.  I don't for one second think that by turning their sandwich into a Christmas Tree it makes up for my lack of attention, but it reminds them that I still remember them, that although I can't take the same amount of time for them that I usually do, or would like to, they are still important.
    The theme for the lunch started on my trip to Costco.  I saw these 9 grain ciabatta buns.  They were triangle shape.  Healthy, and fun.  I had made a turkey on Monday, and had turkey meat left.  I chopped up the turkey, and some celery.  I then added a little salt and some mayo.  I discovered that adding a little stuffing to the mix gets me rave reviews.  I used my trusty tiny cookie cutter to cut out the angel, and then some little cheese scraps for the decorations.  It really didn't take much extra time.  I poured some strawberry yogurt into one of the lunch compartments.  Some dollar store Christmas tree sprinkles added some fun to the yogurt.  Although you don't see it in the picture, I also cut up an orange, yup that's right, all the food groups (do I get a prize for that).
    So that was today's Lunch Lady Friday.  I'm hoping that next week is a better week, but with four kids it's a snot crap shoot.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Elf on the Shelf.... I don't get it!

    Last year I noticed "The Elf on the Shelf" book in the stores.  I didn't really give it a second glance other than to notice that everyone and their brother seemed to carry that book with the weird looking little doll that came with it, and the expensive price tag that was attached.  As you know I am very addicted to Pinterest, and every second pin I see in the "holiday" section involves this weird looking doll in pictures up to mischief.
    Some of the pictures feature this weird little doll with no feet might I add, making snow angels out of powdered sugar.  There is a picture of him fishing on the back of the toilet.  Oh that elf gets up to some mischief (she says with a disgusted grunt).  So the concept for this is that everyday the elf watches the kids to see if they are naughty or nice, and then at night when they are all tucked into bed, he flies back to the North Pole and reports back to Santa.  You are supposed to hide the doll around the house, so that the kids see that he moves around.
    Check out  people have even posted some weird videos about them... below is my case in point (I am pretty sure that some people may have too much time on their hands... I know you say that about me too.)

    This thing has become a phenomenon.  They have even made a children's Christmas special.  I have included the clip.  I'll be honest we all know that I will have to watch it, but I won't like, I won't like it!  

    So I began to get really curious.  I have this weird personality trait that makes me afraid that I will miss out on some cool new trend.  I read all of the "Fifty Shades of Grey".  I thought the books were terribly written, and yet I read all three because I did not want to be left out of the loop.  I was not about to be left out of this Elf on the Shelf trend if it could possibly be fun, and I just wasn't seeing it.  I asked the kids if they knew anything about "The Elf on the Shelf".  They did not.  Gracie then went on a mission to find out.  She was on the computer for about a half hour and then she reported back to us her findings.  
"Have you ever wondered how Santa knows who is naughty and who is nice? The Elf on the Shelf® - A Christmas Tradition is the very special tool that helps Santa know who to put on the Naughty and Nice list. This interactive holiday hide-and-seek tradition is perfect for children and families of all ages."  
The tradition begins when Santa sends his scout elves out to Elf Adoption Centers. Waiting for their families to bring them home, these patient elves hibernate until their family reads The Elf on the Shelf®, gives their elf a very special name, and registers their adoption online. Once named, each scout elf will receive its Christmas magic and become a part of the family's Christmas each and every year.  

Excellent listeners and even better observers, these scout elves are the eyes and ears of Santa Claus. Although they cannot be touched, or else they may lose their magic, the elf will always listen and relay messages back to Santa. Taking in all the day-to-day activities around the house, no good deed goes unnoticed; these scout elves take their job seriously.

Each night, after the family goes to bed, the scout elf uses his magical Christmas powers to fly back to the North Pole. Once there, the elf will make his or her daily report to Santa and visit with elf friends where they will tell stories about their beloved families, play with the reindeer, and of course, sneak some of Mrs. Claus' cookies! 

Before the family awakes each morning, their special scout elf will fly back to their home from the North Pole. However, since these elves like to play games, don't expect to find them in the same spot!  While some like to hide in the freezer (probably because it reminds them of the North Pole) and others prefer to sit on the fireplace mantle or hang from the chandelier, these elves love to play hide-and-seek with their families. 

On Christmas Eve, the scout elf will listen for Santa's bell and then fly back to the North Pole until the next season, wishing every girl and each boy a Christmas of peace and a year full of joy. Join the tradition and get your own Elf on the Shelf® now!

To this Riley disgustedly reported "That's just creepy!"

    O.K. I admit it, it does sound a little like fun, although the little elf is creepy and weird looking.  I do find it a little weird that people keep posting their pictures of what their elf gets up to, but maybe I'm just jealous that I didn't think of it first.  I will admit that my first thoughts are that I would really like to pose the elf in disgusting, un-Christmas like, and certainly un-child friendly poses (I think there might be something wrong with me).  I think we all know that I am too cheap to buy into the $35.00 book and doll kit, but I do have elves in my Christmas collection.......

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Held Hostage By Sick Kids.... Send HELP (I mean chocolate and Pina Coladas))

    I have been held captive, against my will by a nasty germ that has slowly and insidiously spread through my children.  Elly was the first to bring this germ home.  Ever since she started the snot factory/ germ warfare headquarters school, she has been sick at least once a week.  This germ seems to follow very carefully laid out rules.  I don't know what the bug is called, but I know it's rules, oh I know it's rules.  I should know the rules, because I have been held hostage against my will had sick kids for over two weeks now.

    Here is how it goes....
Day 1 -  "Mom my head hurts" followed shortly by "Mom my throat hurts".
Day 2 - They wake up with a fever that ranges from 103 to 104.  Shortly after that the vomiting starts.  I'm talking the Excorsist type of vomiting.  The vomiting where you wonder where it is all coming from.  Vomiting that usually misses the puke bucket.
Day 3 - They need help to get up to use the washroom because they are so light headed.  More vomiting, although not as much as day 2.  This is then followed by "Mom it feels like I swallowed razor blades".  Oh and the pin prick scarlet rash and a low 100 degree fever.
Day 4. -  Still a low grade fever.  Throat feels better, but still tender.  Still have the rash, but it's now does not look like I tried to boil them alive.  Feeling a lot better than they did (meaning that they felt like death).
Day 5 - Feeling better, but still weak.
The weird rash, but this picture does not do it justice.
    So are you jealous?  Elly started this beauty off.  She was on around day 6 when Rowan caught it.  Then Rowan was on around day 6 when Riley caught it (and still has it).  I figure two or three more days until Grace catches it.  I'm not sure if it's better or worse that they have caught it one kid at a time.  Some kids are a lot more demanding than others.
    I am afraid to open this months water bill and hydro bill.  The sound of retching and the washing machine have been the soundtrack to my life lately.  I go to sleep to the sound of the washing machine, and then am awake for a minute or so before I have to start it again.  There are a lot of "Mommy I puked in your bed", or "Mommy I puked in my bed".  There is a lot of puke.  I'm not so sure that I will ever get that smell out of my house!
    So wish me luck and pray for me that Christopher has already had this germ.  If not don't be surprised to see me on the evening news.  "This just in, a mild mannered housewife has just murdered her husband.  Neighbours say that they always suspected that she was just not quite right."  If I catch it first, you will read a more non- descript article in the news paper.  "Local woman has been found dead in her own vomit.  Sources say that the family only discovered her body because they were hungry and wondered where their favourite sweater was."

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

We're Reading "The Guardian - Book One"

    The kids are really excited to watch The Guardians at the movies.  I have to admit it does actually look pretty good (as far as suffering through children's movies go).  I did not know it, but it is a book series.  I have this thing reading books before watching movies.  I think that it drives the kids a little crazy, but that's just how I roll.  To me, the book is usually better than the movie, and I like to compare them.  When we read Harry Potter and then watch the movie I really like to ask the kids how the movie compares to the book.  Did the characters look and sound the way they did in your mind?  I know I'm a nerd.... I think that I may have already shared this fact with you.

    The kids were pretty excited to begin a Christmas activity.  I made them all hot chocolate, and snuggled them in blankets.  We then settled in for our read, The Guardians; Book One - Nicholas St. North and The Battle of the Nightmare King.  The books are written by William Joyce and Laura Geringer.  As I began to read, the style of writing seemed like an older author.  By older author what I mean is I expected the books to have been written in the early 1900's, but it was written in 2011.  The writing is really excellent, it's very vivid, it's really smart.
   "Looking wildly up at the sky, Pitch sniffed the air in ecstasy.  With one shrug and a toss of his midnight cloak, he blotted out the Moon.  He crouched down and dug his fingers into the earth, letting the scents of the surrounding forest reach into his searching brain.  He was ravenous, overwhelmed by a fiery hunger that burned him from within."
    I like that the writing has not been dumbed down for kids.  Every few paragraphs I would stop and ask them questions.  "Do you know what ravenous means?"  They did not.  " Do you ever remember being really hungry?"  They did.  "Now think about how it would feel if you had not eaten in a few days.  That is what the word ravenous means."  I looked into their eyes and they got it.  I would ask little questions throughout the story.  They were all excited to tell me what they thought, including Elly.  It took longer to read the story, but I feel like they are getting more out of it.  
    They look forward each night to reading a chapter of our book.  They beg for two chapters.  I feel like we are getting ready for Christmas but it's together time.  We are all sharing our thoughts.  As we are enjoying the book we are also anticipating seeing the movie together.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Dreaded Family Picture.... and my nervous breakdown

Real Classy

    It's that time of year... Christmas card picture time.  Every year I have this extremely unrealistic fantasy that my kids will all behave, and I will get an amazing family picture.  Every year I end up having a screaming fit, and feel like the worlds worst mother (it's not pretty, let's just say that).   At least one of the kids has red eyes because they have been crying (because of all of my yelling).  At least one of the kids is looking in the opposite direction.  My kids all loose their ability to think as soon as the camera comes out.  Oh it's never very good.  One of these times I am pretty sure that I am going to have a brain embolism.  I say this, and yet every year I think that I will this year get that perfect picture.  Isn't that what they say the definition of insanity is, doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results?

In this picture Elly was standing with Grace, but decided
that she would rather sit on her Daddy's lap, after I had already
set the timer, and raced to sit,  leading to my hysterics. 

    One of my acquaintances is a photographer and she has been doing beautiful pictures and posting them on Facebook.   It makes me hate her just a little (don't tell Jody).  She is this amazing photographer, and her pictures all look effortless (I know they are not).  I would love to be a great photographer, and so I am like a dog with a bone, waiting for that great shot.  On some of Jody's pictures she used O'Hara's Mill for one of her back drops.  Her pictures were so gorgeous that I decided that is where we would have our family pictures this year... famous last words.  I used my trusty timer and tripod.  I should have learned from last year.  Last year I nearly had a heart attack with all of the setting the camera on the timer and then running like Hell to be with the rest of the family.  I didn't learn.  Did I mention that I thought it was a smart idea to include our dog in the pictures?  I look really healthy if there is an upside (because my cheeks are so flushed from running... something that I am very unaccustomed to).  What's that hilarious thing that they say in Hollywood,  "Never work with kids or animals".  You may have notice that gorgeous picture I have led off with on the top.  The picture of the kids posing, and them in hysterics as the dog pees all over the steps.  I could not have planned that, (not that I would really have wanted to).  

    And then there is Elly.  Elly our youngest suffers from Fifth Child Syndrome, in other words she is spoiled rotten.  Elly is as stubborn as a mule, I think she gets that from her Dad (Mother do not say a word).  Elly just makes up her own rules, whether we like it or not.  For the above picture she decided that she should wave for every picture.  I kept telling her in a make you barf sickly sweet voice (because I did not want crying this early into the game) "No honey, no waving, just give me a pretty smile".  Ha Ha Ha Ha.  So she would stand there with this angelic smile, until I put the camera to my eye, and then she would start waving.

    In the picture above my little darling stomped off in a temper tantrum because I finally stopped using my make you barf sickly sweet voice, and said "STOP WAVING!!!!  JUST STAND THERE AND FRIGGING SMILE".  You will notice that the big girls all found this highly amusing, and Rowan looked like he was just released from the insane asylum... why do I think this is a good idea every year?  Oh yeah because it would be too embarrassing to have witnesses and have to pay someone to take these pictures.

    So on the above picture I thought that the back ground would be really pretty.  Now to try to get everyone to co-operate.  Elly as usual refused to look up, she found a pine cone.  Rowan by this point was tired of sitting up straight.  The dog was thinking about trying to sniff Grace's bum.  Christopher if you notice only knows how to do one pose.  Every single picture he is wearing the exact same face.  He's not unlike a paper doll.  The hair cut may change, the clothes may change, but that exact expression remains the same... remind me why we need a family picture?  I guess I should not complain, it's better than the one he used to do until I told him I would divorce him if he ever did it again( oh it was a real beauty.  He would stand with his mouth wide open and an expression of glee on his face).  In fairness to him, if you look at his family's family pictures, his dad does the same goofy grin in every single picture.  It's like an evolution.  Here Don is dressed in 70's plaid clothes wearing the same smile, then the 80's ... same smile.... 90's looking older, same smile... I don't feel like I need to go on... maybe it's genetic.  Can you have a goofy look gene?

    Out of 143 pictures,  I have around three usable ones, well I guess that's better than last year.  At least in the above picture the kids are pretending that they like each other, maybe we can fool people.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Toronto Santa Claus Parade- A Christmas Tradition

    I was moving things around in my room the other day and came across a box of old photos.  There was a young fresh Christopher and I with Gabe and a little Gracie.  I got that goofy teary eyed smile as I thumbed through them.  We were so young looking, our faces not yet touched by tragedy.  The other thing that hit me like a lightening bolt through the heart, was how normal it looked to have Gabe in the pictures.  There he was, just sitting enjoying the Toronto Santa Claus Parade.  I sat on the bed clutching the pictures to my chest.  That was a beautiful memory.

    From the time that I was a little girl I loved to watch the Toronto Santa Claus Parade.  I would save my Halloween Candy (well as much as I could.  It was usually just suckers.  My sister Mandy on the other hand horded all of her chocolate and chips because she had will power.  I think that the thought of me looking lustfully at her hoard was what allowed her to save it) and snack on it while I watched the parade.  Nana lived in town and had cable, so we would go down to her little apartment and watch it there.  My Mom would reminisce about the parade when when she was a girl.  She would ask Nana if she remembered Punkin Head (a big brown teddy).  They would talk about the old floats.  That would lead to stories about the windows in Toronto.   It really was one of the highlights of my year.  It was the highlight, but I always dreamed of the day when I would see the parade in person.

    My first year at York, my best friend and I took the subway downtown to see the parade.  You may recall my story about having a race up the down escalator... well I was on crutches to go to see the parade.  We stood in front of our beloved Eatons Centre.  The crowds were about 10 layers thick.  Everyone was pushing and shoving.  Street vendors were walking around selling red noses, and candy and other trinkets.  There was excitement in the air.  I by this point had long ceased to believe in the right jolly old elf, but I wanted that magic.  It was so cold, my leg was throbbing, so we decided to head up to McDonald's and watch the rest of the parade at the window.  I had fulfilled a childhood promise to my older self.

    When I became a mother I decided that I would take my children to witness that magic.  We took Gabe and Grace.  We were lucky and found a not so busy spot.  It turns out that the busiest spots are the ones near the camera crews.  We bundled the kids up, and sat on the curb.  I was more excited than the kids.  I was so looking forward to witnessing that magical excitement through them.  Gabe was so excited that he was almost vibrating.  At one point we looked up to see friends of ours from Tweed.  We had no idea that they were going to be there too.  We gave each other that excited wave.  The vendors came around selling their wares, two little kids eyed them greedily.  
    We each took a child and snuggled them in close to us, sharing warmth and excitement.  The floats came by, Gabe gasped.  On T.V. those floats look 200 feet high.  They seem so huge.  In reality, they are not that big, but maybe even more impressive.  Our babies little hands nearly fell off with all of the waving.  I sat there silent tears running down my face as I watched their little faces.  This was the magic.  I thought we would all explode when Santa made his way down in that big sled.  We promised that we would come back.

    True to our word, we took them back two years later.  This time we went with our friends.  We took camping chairs and blankets.  We bundled the kids and wrapped them up tight in blankets.  It was that cold that gets into your bones.  We were freezing, and yet the kids did not seem to notice.  They were too excited, now they knew why they were so excited.  It was just so beautiful.

    We took the Grace and Riley and Rowan a few years back.  We went with Christopher's sister Shannon and our nephew Jacob.  We had lost Gabe by then.  Christmas had lost much of it's magic, well for Christopher and I.  We knew that we could not rob the kids of the magic we had given so freely to Gabe.  All of the kids were bouncing with excitement.  It was a pleasure to see the kid's face's.  It reminded me that there is still magic, even if that magic is just a little tarnished.
    We have a tradition at our house (on the years that we don't venture into Toronto).  My parents come over, and we order pizza.  The kids bring down their left over Halloween candy.  Mom and Dad bring bags of junk for the kids.  We all sit around the T.V..  We comment on the floats, waiting for Santa.  When Santa comes, we all shout "Hi Santa", and the kid's little hands wave so hard I am afraid that they will get carpal tunnel syndrome.  I shout out things like "Don't come this year Santa, they've all been really bad".  This is then frantically followed by "We've been good Santa.  Mommy's just joking!"  It is the beginning of our Christmas season.  It kicks off the beginning of the magic.
    Christopher and I had secretly planned to take the kids into Toronto this year.  Elly is old enough now that she would really enjoy it.  Strep throat destroyed that dream.  We had visions of one of the two that has yet to catch it, to catch it while we are standing in the cold.  I am glad that we didn't tell the kids. We will eat that pizza, eat that junk.  We will kick off our Christmas season.  On that note, I had better finish this off, because the parade is just about to start,  and I can't miss a minute of it.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Our Special Girl's Night Out - Making Earrings

    Having 4 children is a blessing.  There are times when people ask what it is like to have a large family.  I always give them this blank stare, because I don't feel like we have a large family, and yet I know that it is.  In our house it is never quiet.  Someone is always singing, laughing, shouting and / crying, and sometimes all at the same time.  Loneliness is a word that I am not acquainted with.  There are times that I would like to feel lonely, just for a few minutes (during my bubble bath for example).  Having said all of this, there is also very little time for one on one attention.  Everything must be shared, like it or not, this includes Mommy and Daddy's attention.  There is just not enough time in the day for "one" person, and this includes me.  If we want to have one on one time, we have to really carve it out.

    Our library, The Tweed Public Library has been offering some wonderful classes to the children in our community.  There have been art lessons, sewing lessons, knitting, crochet, dance and my girls favourite the beading class.  Cindy Crowson from Bead Girl has been coming to Tweed to teach beading.  Riley loves it!  She looks forward all week to Wednesday nights.  Because of scheduling (that means overlapping children's schedules) Grace has only been able to do one class.  The girls love it so much that I decided maybe we could do something special, just the big girls.  I made invitations and they each handed them to friends inviting them and their moms to a "Make and Take Christmas earring making party".  It would be real quality time with my big girls.

    We rented the library's meeting room.  In the end there was just a small intimate group of us (8).
It was a beautiful evening.  It was just so nice.  It was quiet, with the occasional giggle from the girls.  I have to admit that I love the sound of their girly giggles.  All of the girls were beautifully behaved and so polite, it was like heaven.  

    We made 7 sets of earrings.  Cindy would stand at the top of the table and give us a step by step on how to make them.  She would then walk around and help anyone who was having trouble.  I'm sure that my Mom and Glenda were getting tired of me uttering with a happy sigh " Oh this is just so nice."  It really was just so nice.  It was nice to take a break from high fevers, puking kids, and life's responsibilities.  It was nice to watch such simple little things like beads, come together to make something that is beautiful.  It was nice to spend quality time with my big girls and their big girl friends.  It was nice to spend time with my Mom and to spend time with my friend, it was just nice (could I say "nice" anymore times).  I guess that the word "nice" to me if we were doing word association means "calm".  Calm is something that I don't get as much as I would like.

    When we got home, the girls were so excited to show Daddy their treasures that they had made.  I will admit, the earrings were beautiful.  Honestly the earrings look like something that you would buy in an upscale boutique.  I acted cool about it, but really I wanted to push the girls out of the way to show Christopher my own treasures.  I just could not believe that I had made such beautiful things with my own hands.

    The idea behind us doing the earrings was to spend time together, but also for them to make gifts.  They would be giving their teachers earrings that they had made themselves.  The problem is that the girls LOVE all of the earrings that they made, and apparently do not want to part with any of them.  They looked hurt when I reminded them "that" was the whole idea behind our evening.  "But they are too pretty to give away!" an affronted Riley gasped.  I guess that we will just have to see who can part with their treasures.

    So the end of the story, we had a really wonderful night, grown-ups included.  I think the general consensus is that we need to do this again after Christmas.  I think this time we may travel to Cindy's shop, although that could be expensive (I think I'm addicted to jewelry making).  It was a nice way to spend creatively, with nice girls, and their nice Moms.  

    If you are as impressed as I am with the earrings and want to buy the kits, then visit

Friday, 16 November 2012

Lunch Lady Friday #2

    Here we are Friday already.  Where did the week go?  Oh wait I know the answer to that... Strep throat hit my house, and I have been wiping tears, emptying vomit buckets, and checking frighteningly high temperatures and then giving doses of Tylenol and Advil, that is where my week went.  I say good riddance to this week!  Now that that little whine and cheese party is over......
    I have to tell you that when I started posting the pictures of the kid's lunches I expected eye rolls and the under the breath mutterings of either "She has finally lost it!", or "Man she has wayyyyyyy too much time on her hands!"  Instead I have been met with approval and encouragement.  This week a few friends (you know who you are, you nice ladies) have sent me pictures of fun lunches for inspiration.  That is a nice pat on the back, so I say thank you.  To those of you who are muttering, that's o.k. too, you may be right, I may very well have lost my mind, but I assure you, I do not have wayyyyyyyy too much time on my hands.  I was inspired by the amazing Bento blogs out there.  It honestly only takes a fraction longer to make a fun lunch, and I find it as much fun to make as the kids do to eat.  The other up side is that the other kids in their class crowd around their desk at lunch time to see what they have today.  It gives the kids mini-celebrity status.  More than anything else, it's kind of like a little love note to my babies.  You know that someone loves you a whole lot if they go to that much trouble for your lunch!  No one is asking you to be a food artist, just give it your best, and fill it with love.

    For today's lunches I decided to swap out the sandwiches for hot dog rolls.  Pilsbury Crescent Rolls were on sale for $.99 this week, and so were chicken hot dogs.  It works out to be cheaper than sandwiches, which in this penny pinching Mom's opinion, is a good thing.

    I know that everyone knows how to make these bad boys, but humour me will you?  I discovered after a few failed attempts with whole hot dogs, cutting them in half gave the best results.  I also cut a little bit of cheese and placed it on the top of the hot dog.

    Then I rolled.  In my head it was a thing of beauty, in reality, not so much.  I discovered that I had too much left at the ends, and so I was struck with genius, or so my poor sleep deprived mind thought.

    To make those little bundles look adorable, I would pull the loose ends into the middle and make it look like a tiny little bow.  In my head it was darling.  In reality I believe that Grace would call it "An Epic Fail".

    They looked pretty good when they came out of the oven, the cheese had melted and rolled out of  the wraps.  It took most of my strength to fight those kids off (especially the big kid that I am married to).

    I have this huge basket full of cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes.  I was looking for my snowflake cookie cutters, but they seem to have vanished.  I did find a few different sizes of snowman cutters.  I have tiny little ones that were perfect for using to cut the cheese.  I then used my tiny tree cookie cutters for cutting the apple slices.

    Elly got the wrap that I demonstrated for you.  I added a cup cake pick that I got from my girls at Sweet Temptations (o.k. it came in the peanut butter ball that I have become addicted to.  Ummmmmm peanut butterballs).  I added tiny carrot sticks for arms.   You cannot tell this, but that weird looking thing in the right hand corner is a Rice Krispie Square I cut using the snowman cookie cutter.  I then added sprinkles to make the sad looking face.  Elly loves yogurt, so I added yogurt.  To make it a little more fun I added a few snowflake sprinkles.

    For Grace and Riley (notice I did not say for Rowan.  He's home sick).   I went with more hot dog wraps and added a fun gingerbread man cupcake pick.  I also added some larger squares of cheese to go with the cute, but very tiny snowman cheese.  The above picture is Grace's lunch.  Riley hates ketchup.  Grace on the other hand would slather everything with ketchup if I let her.  I'm thinking that I should be buying shares in Heinz.  The big girls also got yogurt topped with snowflakes, and they got a Rice Krispie Square , just bigger.

    To those of you who have sent me pictures for inspiration, I say thank you.  I hope that my insanity will encourage you to make a fun lunch too.  If you do, I'd love to see them, or drop me a line and let me know how they turn out, and what kind of a reaction you get.  Happy Friday!