Thursday, March 27, 2008

Weekend recap

It's almost Friday and I still haven't talked about the end of our Easter weekend away.

I had finished off with sitting around drinking wine and playing Settlers of Catan on Saturday night after a day of the kids playing together, having a bath together on Saturday night and generally bonding. On Sunday morning Emily was itching to get out of bed and hunt for eggs. I made her wait until Hope and Elias were up but allowed her to look at the Easter basket I had made for her. It held the bunny and eggs I had knit and a new pair of pyjamas. She literally grabbed the bunny and threw it onto the chair behind her, rifling through the Easter grass looking for chocolate. Did my heart sink a little as my work of art was carelessly tossed away? Only a little. I respected her focus and one-mindedness. And, as it turns out, she's had days of fun since we've been home, undressing and dressing the bunny and hiding the eggs.

When Elias and Hope were finally upstairs (Hope had a similar reaction to her bunny and eggs but seemed to really like her pyjamas) they quickly found all the eggs and divided up the chocolate.

We packed up our things and drove down the road to Cambridge to spend the rest of the day with John's sister Sue and her family and John's mum, otherwise known as Omi. Emily and Hope had a great time playing with their cousins. Emily tried riding a scooter for the first time and got supremely frustrated. We left just before supper, drove to the west side of Toronto, stopped for dinner and then drove the rest of the way to Ottawa. The girls were great on the ride home, waiting to meltdown until we pulled into the driveway and woke them up.

And that is the end of the first weekend away we've had since September. It was so needed and so much fun.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's cooking Wednesday and March Moment Day 26

Welcome to another week flipping through the pages of A Taste for Justice: A Bridgehead Cookbook. This week I made a recipe that was, like last week's, very easy however I didn't like it quite as much as the pork recipe from last week. The recipe for this week had rum in it and it was a little too overpowering for me. I would give this only a 3.5 out of 5 if I was a rating kind of girl. However, if you like to cook with rum then I definitely recommend this. By the way, Emily really liked it. Well, she really liked the cashews.

Cashew Chicken in Raisin Sauce

5 tbsp raisins, small, dark and seedless
5 tbsp rum
1/4 cup butter
4 chicken breasts, halved, deboned and skinned
slat and pepper
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup light cream
1/2 cup cashews

Soak raisins in rum and set aside.

Heat butter in heavy skillet. Add chicken, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Mix together the cornstarch and cream and add to the stock. Bring to a boil again, stirring continuously for 3 minutes. Add soaked raisins with liquid. When ready to serve, add cashews and reheat the chicken in the sauce with lid on.

That's it. Really, can you find an easier recipe that also has a decent shi-shi factor? Maybe I didn't give this recipe enough credit above. I mean, I did steal a few extra bites from Emily's plate after she had picked out and eaten all the cashews, including some of mine. I did like it, I just found the rum stronger than I expected. But, served over rice (I made a mixture of brown, white and wild), it was really quite good. Okay, maybe a 4 out of 5.

Clearly I won't be asked to come to Beijing. I'm a waffler.

And a quick foray into a small moment for today.... I had a surprise visit from Louise, Emily's first daycare provider. Louise and I became very good friends while Emily was with her. Emily only left because Louise closed the daycare (after ten or so years) to attend teachers' college. Now she is done, living back in Ottawa and supply teaching. She had the afternoon free and came by for a visit. I haven't seen her in about 18 months and it was so great to hang out with her and watch Emily fall in love with her all over again. Really, it made me miss her that much more. Hopefully we'll see each other more often over the next few months. Emily had Louise reading to her pretty much as soon as Louise walked through the door. Probably the words going through Emily's mind were "fresh meat."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March Moment Day 25 or another reason to keep him around

My morning is deep, deep, deep within a rut. The rut I'm in is so big it would take a LAV3 to get me out of there. And even then it would likely be with me kicking and screaming and scraping my fingernails along the sides of the rut.

I really like my rut.

It goes like this: Emily comes into my room and says something along the lines of "Get up you hosehead. Get me my morning juice and turn on the t.v. and then leave me to the subtle nuances of Curious George." I comply. After she's settled in front of the t.v., I go back to the kitchen, start getting her toast ready and, more importantly, fire up the old cappuccino machine. I deliver Emily's breakfast to her. Normally by then Hope has woken up so I get her, change the old bum, get her some juice and toast and then settle her in beside Emily. By then my best friend the cappuccino machine is ready to go. I make my coffee, toast and then settle in to read the paper. Hope usually wanders up after a few minutes. Her attention span for anything other than Veggie Tales is short. She plays on her own while I keep soaking up the news from in town and out. After that it is in the shower, blah, blah, blah and on with the day.

John knows I read the paper every morning, and usually thoroughly. And so he left me a wee gift this morning. A subtle gift, meant to give me a laugh, but also based on our totally parallel opinions on our current government, our love of politics (not to the point where we ever want to join in but certainly where we follow and comment and complain and maybe, just maybe, one of us has joined a certain left-leaning - okay, very left-leaning - federal party) and our oh-so-similar and therefore cockeyed senses of humour. So, there I was this morning reading through the paper when I found this:

For most of you who likely don't recognize Jim Flaherty, he is Canada's federal Minister of Finance and esteemed member of the ruling Conservative Party, which to my ears is like living in Dog River and hearing mention of Wullerton.

I have strong feelings about Jim Flaherty but John's eclipse mine. Which I suppose is obvious by his graffiti above.

All this to say that my husband knows how to lift my spirits in the morning without even being home.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Back home

After a fairly uneventful but long drive home, here we are this morning back to the usual routine: Emily watching Arthur, Hope still sleeping, me looking bedraggled and no food in the house for breakfast. Porridge it is.

We had an amazing weekend. I'll give the recap from yesterday and the kids' egg hunt later with some photos.

Hmm, after just having to turn the t.v. off because Emily is shouting and pouting from not having the "right" Berenstain Bears episode, I'm starting to think this isn't going to be the best day for her. Ugh.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The weekend so far

I finished the knitted bunnies for the girls just tonight, just in time for the big day tomorrow. They are now perched, ready for action, in their baskets, on Tamara and Greg's piano.

We have had a great weekend so far with Tamara, Greg and Elias here in Kitchener. Yesterday we walked to Tamara's school so the kids could play in the snowy and icy playground. The rest of the day we ate and played and read books and ate. Last night I drank too much wine, played Settlers of Catan and laughed and laughed and laughed. Today we went to the St. Jacobs Farmers Market for our quarterly supply of summer sausage. We were glad to get the summer sausage but it was so busy that we were all grumpy when we left only 30 minutes or so later. The days of leisurely browsing the tables staffed by Old Order Mennonites while downing some hot apple fritters are a thing of the past. The new reality is standing in the cold for twenty minutes, holding a one year old, waiting to get in the building to order your apple fritters while the rest of your group is fighting for table space to eat the pancake that they stood in line for twenty minutes to get. Good times, good times.

From there we went to our friends' Marnie and Paul's house and spent the rest of the morning with them drinking great coffee, watching the kids play and catching up with friends we see far too infrequently. Marnie is at the end of her fifth pregnancy and for that alone she is a total star in my books. The fact that she has three kids at home kicks her up another notch. What clinches it for me though is that she is still totally the same very cool, hilarious kindred spirit she was when I met her seventeen years ago. Crap. Seventeen years? How did I end up 35? Just yesterday I was 19, I swear.

This afternoon Tamara and I abandoned our kids to our husbands, did some shopping and had tea out on the town. Now, the kids are sleeping, we're sitting around reading, blogging, drinking wine or scotch and some of us are watching the hockey game. We'll soon be back to playing cards or something else.

Tomorrow is the egg hunt and then we're off to John's sister's house in Cambridge for an Easter lunch before heading home tomorrow night.

I hope you're all having a great weekend, too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March Moments Day 17 and 18

At least I'm consistent in not getting my tiny moments up every day. Now you know to expect inconsistency, which is consistent, right? See what I did there?

We've been dying a lot of Easter eggs. A lot. And a lot of fingers, too. Hope was not invited to participate this year because I prefer our floors, chairs and table to stay the colours that they are. She'll be in for next year. For now, we dye while she naps.

Emily is the resident pizza topper in our house. We make mini-pizzas about once a week for lunch. Emily has developed a very specific technique for the toppings, which are always the same: pepperoni, pineapple and cheese. She loves to make them. I love to eat them.

Hope gets the short end today but I'll make it up to her with an all-Hope day very soon.

We're off to Kitchener tomorrow afternoon for Easter weekend. We're staying with our very good friends Tamara and Greg who we see too infrequently. We'll be home on Sunday night late, I expect. Reports to follow on Monday amidst laundry, cleaning and all the rest of it.

Joyeuses Pâques, tout le monde!

What's cooking Wednesday

It is Week 2 of going through Taste for Justice: A Bridgehead Cookbook and let me say "Hurrah for this cookbook!" I've always liked the recipes I've tried from this book but I always go back to the same three or four. Tonight I tried something completely new: pork medallions with cashews and apricots. The whole family loved this, even Hope who tends to eat only vegetables lately. It is a recipe that has a big wow factor but is really easy to prepare. I would definitely make this for a special dinner and yet prepare it just for us too. It's that easy (provided you have port in the house) and that good. That being said, I didn't have cashews so I used pecans instead and it worked great.

Pork Medallions with Cashews (or Pecans) and Apricots

1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into thin rounds and pounded into scallops
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup port
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup cashews (or pecans or whatever nut you like) coarsely chopped
1 cup whipping cream (I used 1/2 and 1/2)

Pat pork dry and season lightly with s&p. Dust with flour. Melt butter in large flat skillet. Cook pork scallops in batches, 1 or 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to serving platter and keep warm.

Pour off excess fat. Add onion and port to skillet; bring to a boil, stirring up browned bits from bottom of pan. Cook for 3 minutes or until sauce is reduced to a 1/4 cup. Add apricots, cashews, and cream. Cook, stirring continuously for 5 minutes, or until sauce has thickened. Pour over warm pork scallops.

The photo doesn't do this dish justice. The photo kind of makes it look like dog food. Don't be fooled. It looked much better in person and tasted phenomenal. And it made enough to put another meal in the freezer.

Monday, March 17, 2008

March Moment Day 17

Here are several tiny moments from the last few days since I wasn't exactly on top of the blog this weekend. Old news, I know.

On Friday night I reintroduced the bath tub crayons and it was the whole "everything old is new again" routine. It re-energized bath time for sure. I had a hard time getting them out of there.

Today was paska-making day as Easter is almost upon us and me being the good Mennonite, well, I can't have me Easter without having me some Paska. It turned out really well. Hope and Emily helped with the sprinkles and with dragging their fingers through the tops of the loaves.

And back to the bath... Emily and Hope at the end of every bath flip over, pretend to swim for a while and usually end up hugging and kissing for a while which is absolutely heart-melting and I tend to really focus on it because I know from experience that when they're about 16 and 14 the idea of kissing each other will make them each want to vomit. So, I burn it into my brain (and blog) now.

I just had to add this little moment from tonight. Emily and wet hair - always entertaining - those ears... usually very red after a bath and they never cease to amaze me in their sticky-outiness. I blame myself for some awkward breastfeeding holds. Sorry Emmy. You can blame me if you are ever teased. I think they're adorable though.

Hope has this tendency to pee right after her bath (and because we're a little slow on the uptake, it is often without a diaper on) so tonight we stuck her on the toilet right after she got out. But of course the little bugger held it. She was still thrilled to be there being the big girl though.

And to end on an extra-adorable note, just before Emily climbed into bed tonight she gave me one last gargantuan hug and said: "Mummy, I love you sooooo much. I'm going to keep you."

Whatever else that happened today that might have made me grumpy or annoyed, that erased it all.

Friday, March 14, 2008

March Moment Day 13

I meant to get this up last night. I meant, I meant, I meant.... those words are starting to sound too familiar.

However, I wasn't mentally prepared to write about my day last night. It was still too fresh. I needed time to compose myself.

You see, it has been almost a year to the day that I experienced poop spread so willy-nilly around the house. In fact, on Wednesday I was checking back to the post I wrote last year on that day and it was all about Emily pooping in her underwear, refusing to go on the toilet or potty, blah, blah, blah. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll remember all too well.

Yesterday morning was like most mornings. I was having breakfast. Hope, all done hers, stripped out of her jammies and diaper and was marching around naked while I finished. The thought crossed my mind that I should put something on her bum. If air hits that child's nether regions, it's like Manneken Pis is on travelling exhibition. But, I didn't. I sat there drinking my cappucino, reading the paper and ignoring the little world around me.

And then I smelled something.

I found Hope in the kitchen. There were poop tracks on her legs. Poop tracks. A sure sign that there is poop somewhere on the floor. I found the poop - I'd seen worse - cleaned it up, took her upstairs and cleaned her up. I went downstairs to clean the poop off the living room floor rug. Anyone know how to get poop residue off of a rug fringe short of cutting the fringe off? She's got aim, that one.

Hope was still playing upstairs and then she started to cry. I told her that she was fine. (You can just award me that Mother-of-the-Year award right now, thanks.) She stopped crying. A few minutes later I went upstairs. I saw why she'd been crying. Now there was poop all over the upstairs carpet, all over her legs, feet and hands. A poopy handprint was firmly place on the bars of the gate where she been hanging on, crying, asking me to come and clean the damn poop off of her. Did I feel bad? Yeah, but karma got me with the shear amount of poop and the breadth of its reach.

It was, in a word, icky. Really, really icky.

Hope laughed. She thought it was really funny. In fact, it took her a while to stop laughing as I cleaned every inch of her body and then put her in the bath tub for 20 minutes while I scrubbed each and every inch of the carpet that had anything remotely poop-looking on it.

After that I was in a bad mood. It was 7:00 am and I was cleaning shit off of most surfaces of my child and my house. Things didn't really improve until about 3:00 when John walked in, the girls started listening better, I relaxed.

The evening got better and better as the girls got into their typical routine of dancing, playing, fooling around while John and I watched, read to them, played restaurant, etc. Emily was naked as usual. Hope, not surprisingly, had a diaper on. I thought the small moment below was the best way to sum up yesterday. If only I'd thought to do that around 7:15 am.

Today was much better. John played hooky. I enjoyed almost every moment of my day including that hour or so when I got to go out on my own. Lovely.

And today is only Friday! Which means two more days of John at home. I love the weekends.

You'll have to wait for tomorrow for today's small moment. All that poop talk wore me out. It seems that I'm out of practice.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What's cooking Wednesday

It's time to pull another cookbook off my shelf and wipe off the dust. For the next month I'll be revisiting a book my sister bought me years ago for Christmas: A Taste for Justice: A Bridgehead Cookbook. Back then Bridgehead was a trading company owned by OXFAM-Canada. They imported coffee, tea and other agricultural goods (mainly spices) from over 24 Third World countries. Their goal was to bring about a more equitable distribution of wealth betwen the First and Thrid Worlds. Essentially, they were one of the first organizations (they were established in 1981) practising fair trade. The term wasn't even coined yet. The cookbook is a collection of recipes that use Bridgehead fair trade ingredients (cashews, cinnamon, coffee, wild rice, etc). Each recipe always suggests using one Bridgehead ingredient but of course you can use what you have. The idea is of course to change the way we behave in the world, thinking through where your food is coming from, who is producing it and how our eating is affecting the world around us. Rather radical for 1990 when the book was published. The recipes were family recipes that volunteers collected from across Canada. The book is short, only 129 pages and not all of those are recipe pages but I've always had success with it although there are many, many recipes I haven't tried. That's about to change.

I should say that Bridgehead as a company has changed since 1990. They now only trade tea and coffee and boy, do they do it well. It is by far my favourite coffee house chain in Ottawa. They coffee is outstanding as is the food they make themselves (all organic of course). I love the atmosphere - completely unpretentious.

Tonight I made a leg of lamb and had some wilty asparagus to go along with it. I found a casserole recipe in the book that seemed perfect for my sad asparagus. And it was. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture. You'll just have to imagine a saucy, cheesy vegetable dish like mom used to make.

Nellie's Cheesy Asparagus

(I cut it in half)

6-8 medium onions, quartered and then boiled for about 5 minutes
2 1/2 cups asparagus in bite-sized pieces
1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cashews (I used sliced almonds)

Preheat oven to 350F. Place half of prepared onions in a lightly buttered 6 cup casserole. Cover with half the asparagus; sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat the onion and asparagus layers but reserve remaining cheese.

In mediume saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, stirring continuously, until sauce is thickened and bubbling. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over vegetables.

Back uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese and cashews. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and bubbles. Makes 6 portions.

This was a lot better than I expected. When I read through it I thought it sounded a bit plain but it really did remind me of simple, delicious stuff my mum would often make. The onions are what really make this flavourful. The white sauce and cheese make it comfort food.

I wouldn't make this with fresh spring asparagus as it would hid the freshness of it but it is great for some tired old asparagus like mine. Hope loved it and Emily would have too if she had been at all hungry.

It reminded me of the surprises in this book. I look forward to finding some more gems.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March Moment Day 10

Today wasn't a great day around this house. It started off on a good note but was downright sour by about 4:00. I, admittedly, lost it on Emily at least twice, maybe three times and I was really ashamed of myself. Hope was great, as she has been the last few days. She turned 18 months old and decided to celebrate by becoming perfect. She really summed up the day though at dinner when she decided to do most of it laying down:

Here's to a better day tomorrow.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Small Moment Day 10

After sharing her room with her cousins all weekend, Emily is back in her bed tonight (she slept on a little mattress on the floor and her cousins slept in her bed). The bed rail was off the bed all weekend as her older cousins didn't need it (although Kennedy did fall off the bed one night and landed on top of Emily so maybe it would have been useful). Tonight I asked Emily if she wanted it back on. She completely surprised me when she said "no." I've been working on convincing her to try it for a couple of months now. She had no interest but now that she knows that Kennedy and Claire don't sleep with one? Well, she wants to be the big girl, too. I left the little mattress there just in case she rolls out. I want her to have a soft landing.

Small Moment Day 9

I'm slowly catching up in my small moments. You knew, of course, that yesterday's small moment would be of snow, shoveling, digging, getting stuck or some snow-related activity. I won't disappoint.

That's John just starting to shovel the driveway. As I mentioned in an earlier post today, we got 56 cm of snow from Friday night to Sunday morning, with a brief reprieve during Saturday afternoon. We're a mere 33 cm away from the all-time record of snowfall in Ottawa, which occurred in 1970-71. It is definitely within our grasp.

Take note of the large divet at the bottom centre of the photo. John dug out a small area at the bottom of the stairs. It gives a good idea of how deep this snow was. And, we had just shovelled the night before. Holy smokes.

Small Moment Day 8

We're skipping Days 6 and 7 because I don't have anything I want to record about those days at the moment. Also, I took no photos so onto Day 8 which was Saturday.

Saturday was Storm Day and Baby Shower Day. It was my sister-in-law Cibele's baby shower (that is John's brother's wife), at her house which should generally be easy to get to from ours, about a 15 minute drive. It took a bit longer what with all the snow and blowing and white-outs. It was worth it however as I've never been to a Martha Stewart shower before. Check out these decorations:

There were many fun moments during the shower but my favourite was Emily's helping with the gift opening. She was supposed to be the helper. Watching, you would have thought the shower was for her. I made a few interventions to try to keep her under control. It had a marginal affect. And with that, here is the small moment of that day:

I do also have to add one more small moment from later that night when John's sister Sue and I shoveled the driveway just before building a luge in the backyard (I'm not kidding, we really did that and it was AWESOME):

And this is not the full amount of snow we received by the end of the storm. The paper this morning said 56 centimetres and I believe it. I'll have pictures of that later when I post a fuller account of our family weekend.

A wee bit behind on blogging but way ahead on shovelling

My idea to put up a small moment for 30 days has come to an abrupt halt. John's mum and sister and her two kids arrived on Friday and just walked out the door. Between those times we had 55 cm of snow, a baby shower and a heck of a lot of shovelling.

On Thursday and Friday, I had a pretty tough decision and then had to see that through. It was really hard and now I just have to get on with life so those two days were blog free as I was consumed with other things.

We're back on track and later today I'll give you a description of our weekend and some photos of the snow. You really can't imagine it. Seriously.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What's cooking Wednesday and March Moment Day 5

Yeah, so I missed March Moment Day 4. I took the girls to the Farm yesterday and hauled the camera all over the place and only realized as we were nearing the parking lot to leave that I hadn't taken it out of my bag once. So, while there were many tiny moments, none was caught on film.

Today I could just post a photo of white for our small moment. Just white and that would represent today because again Ottawa got slammed with another big snow. Officially, this is now the second snowiest winter on record in Ottawa. If we get 100 more cm of snow (within the realm of possibility) then it will be the snowiest. What an achievement. We received an email this afternoon from our city councillor. She forwarded an update from the city snow plough manager guy. Here is what Mr Plough wrote:
Sidewalk clearing is ongoing however will be delayed due to snowfall levels. Our sidewalk machines are now using snow blowers. Due to the ongoing demand for salt we are using grit/salt mixture on the main roadways.
Nothing mind-blowing or earth-shattering, I know, but notice the second sentence. They are now using snow blowers instead of the little tiny ploughs that do the sidewalks. Know why? Because the snow is so high beside the sidewalks, the little ploughs have nowhere to put it so they have to blow it up over the big high snow banks. Here is the most recent photo of our yard. John took it this morning (the pile is bigger now) to send to a friend in Vancouver who intelligently moved there from Ottawa last year.

Here is today's small moment:

Hope loves to play with these bingo dauber markers. Her game is to put the lids back on. I noticed today for the first time that she perfectly matched the right lid with the proper marker. I was so impressed. Another baby genius.

And now onto the recipe for this week's What's Cooking Wednesday. My month into The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines kind of fizzled out. I love that cookbook but I realized what I love about it is just browsing through it, learning some new things, but not actually cooking out of it too often. So, unward and upward. As a bridge into a new cookbook next week, I'm offering up an oldie but a goodie. This recipe is from Jean Pare's original Company's Coming 150 Delicious Squares, her original cookbook. My mum used to make this a lot and I do too.

Peanut Krispie Squares

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I used natural crunchy)
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tsp butter

Melt above ingredients over low heat and stir. Combine 2 cups rice krispies and 1 cup peanuts in a large bowl. Pour hot mixture over top. Stir well to coat evenly. Press in greased 8x8 inch pan. Let it firm up then eat.

Monday, March 03, 2008

March Moments Day 3

Today's small moment is brought to you by Emily, who took up my camera after dinner tonight. This is pretty much the only time I am caught on film since I'm normally the one behind the lens. I imagine that when the girls are older they'll be very happy that I let them play with my camera so that they would have some record of what I looked like back in the 00s.

Our after-supper routine is for them to play in the living room while John and I read book after book to them. We keep a giant basket of library books in the living room that is refilled weekly.

This is me having my dessert (and very delicious Bosc pear) and getting ready to read The Three Bears for the nth time today.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

March Moments Day 2

I realized as I was choosing today's photo that it is going to be more difficult with two great kids to choose one photo each day, so some days, like today, there will be two photos. I caught two great moments with them and couldn't decide which would go up. So, here we are.

Emily and Hope love to "play" the piano. Today Emily sat there for quite a while making up words to mal-melodious songs. Check out that reach with those freaky fingers: almost an octave already!

Hope decided she would revert to previous behaviour and start drinking the bath water again. So gross because we all know she is peeing in there. John said it is like having to watch Waterworld all over again. And who wants to do that?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A desperately needed break

Tonight John and I are going out. Without the kids. For supper. For spicy Sri Lankan food at what was once our favourite restaurant in Ottawa, and probably still would be if we ever, ever, ever went out without the kids.

Mike and Cibele are looking after the kids tonight so we can get a night out and after the past three weeks, but mostly this past week, I've never needed a night out more than I do right now.

The last three weeks have been tough. Sinus infection for me, bad colds for both the kids and more GD snow than I can shake a shovel at. Five more centimetres today. Just what we need on March 1... more snow. And we all know that there is a lot more still to come before that first crocus makes what will certainly be a celebrated appearance.

The last week has been the worst of my life. Okay, not the worst. The worst was the week after my mum died. That was, and possibly will always be, the worst. This is the second worst. Not just because of the colds although that has made it that much more difficult. I'll likely never get into why this week has been so bad but just for myself I wanted it noted so I can look back and hopefully be proud of the decision I made or at least proud of how I handled it all. It's very likely that this next week will be even worse. After that it will get better.

For now, I'm going to dwell on dinner with my wonderful husband. I'm also going to try to make this month, my least favourite of all months, a little better by stealing an idea from my friend Julie and posting a photo of a small moment from everyday in March. I think this will be a constant reminder of how great my life is, really, and how much I have, and even though it is grey and probably snowy outside, life is generally pretty damn good.

My first small moment is Emily. She is in love with t.v. so much so that I have become very strict about how much she watches. She hasn't watched any since yesterday morning so when I wanted to take a photo of her just now, she posed, but without taking her eyes of the beloved tube, my mortal enemy now.