Sunday, August 31, 2008

A movie to see

Graeme and Beth recommended Lars and the Real Girl to us. If you haven't heard of this movie, if you haven't seen this movie, rent it. You won't be sorry. It is so, so, so great.

And thus concludes my post of this evening.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'd like to forget about that too for a while

Today, after four days without naps, Emily was grumpy. Emily was grumpy like she has been.... the last four days.

This does not bode well for the next few weeks. She starts Junior Kindergarten next week. She's going in the afternoons. No more naps. More grumpiness.

Today after grumping her way through lunch, she decided she wanted to leave the table. John told her she could only be excused if she went straight up to her room (for a nap that never happened in the end). After some arguing and more complaining, she said:

"I'm going upstairs to my room and forgetting about myself!"

It shouldn't have been as funny as it was but it kept us laughing for a long time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A new diagnosis?

We're back from our few days at the cottage. It was a great weekend for the most part. I'll give a fuller report when I have more than a moment to spare.

And someday I'll actually participate in my good friend Shan's What's Cooking Wednesday again. Truth be told, I made a roast chicken tonight that should have been great, and was I suppose, after I put it back in the oven after under-cooking it, a fact I only realized after I carved it up. Aren't meat thermometers supposed to solve that kind of problem? I guess the manufacturers have to depend on the fact that a numskull isn't using it. A numskull who consistently under cooks roasted chickens.

If you're ever having dinner at my house, hope that it isn't roast chicken coming out of the oven. Otherwise, you'll be eating corn and tomatoes for dinner. Chicken will be dessert.

On to the title of this post. My shoulder that I once claimed was all crapped up from knitting, turns out to be a more serious problem. I have now had three (awesome) massages by Craig at Metta Massage (I want Craig to get some credit for all his work. Also, he's awesome. Did I mention that?) and I'm seeing little progress. Okay, I'm seeing a little progress but I really thought I would be better by now after a month of chiro and three weeks of massage.

Craig now says I need to see my GP, likely get an ortho to look at it who will likely diagnose me as having "Frozen Shoulder" which is just a fancy term to say my shoulder is all fucked up.

All this to say, I sure hope that my insurance is willing to kick more money towards massage or I might be living with this for a while. A long while.

On the bright side, Craig said my knitting did not cause this (although we're not sure what did; let's blame the kids) and it isn't making it worse.

Well, that's something.

I do plan to start swimming again very soon and start up yoga again. It's been too long and it can only help I think.

I'm only 36 and yet I have the body of a 65 year old. Whasssup?

Again, let's blame the kids.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Last hurrah

We're off to the cottage tomorrow morning for one last hurrah. We're meeting friends Tamara and Greg there and plan to have a great time. I always am sad during the last summer weekend at the cottage. Yes, there will be more weekends there in September but the sun isn't as warm and therefore the place isn't quite the same. The last weekend at the cottage to me means the last of summer.

Still, it will be great to be there for a few days. I plan to get swimming as much as possible, pick blackberries, hike, drink some coffee and then wine on the porch, have a campfire and roast marshmallows. It shall be good.

See you back here on Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Miss Kate

Happy birthday to my wee-est niece and totally adorable niece, Kate! I wish I could be there to celebrate with you! Of course, most one-year-olds don't really get into the celebrating in a serious way. However, make sure your mummy lets you have a cupcake or something to destroy. And captures it on video too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Calgon Weekend

I was taken away but not by Calgon. It was Porter airlines, now officially deemed "best airline in Canada" by me. It was the best flying experience I've had in years.

Porter flew me direct to Toronto Island Airport, which is perfect since Deb and Andrew live in the Beach. I knew the airline was different when they started offering complimentary wine and beer IN GLASS. No plastic here. Also, free sandwiches. Also, ample leg room. Also, the flight was only 39 minutes so I could have probably put up with almost anything for so short a time. But I didn't have to because THEY WERE NICE AND GAVE ME FREE BOOZE.

A great way to start the weekend.

I got off the plane and took the ferry over to the mainland. I could have swum across the channel in less time than it took the ferry. Honestly, it almost seems ridiculous because the water is so narrow there. However, swimming with luggage would have presented a problem. Also, I was wearing a skirt.

Andrew dropped us off at a great and very hip restaurant in Leslieville, not far from their house while he went home to nurse his headache. Andrew is a surgeon and had been called in for a trauma the night before. He was working on very little sleep.

The restuarant we went to didn't have a name out front. Just a big nose. I'm not kidding. Just a big nose. That's how hip it was. No name, just nose.

Apparently the name of the restaurant is Gio Rana's Really Really Nice Restaurant but it is too cool to actually be gauche enough to put that on the outside. Then again, why would you need to when you have a giant nose on the outside? Anyone could find that.

Enough about the nose. The food was southern Italian. Very good. Small portions and small prices. I like that. We shared some great procsuitto with fig and blue cheese and a beet salad with gorgonzola and I had some pasta filled with squash that was great.

The music was really loud, very hip and the place was PACKED. Made me feel like small town girl came to the big city, which is kind of what it was. Ottawa felt so hick after eating there. Really, we don't have one place here that would compare with the hip-ness and groove of this joint.

Time to move on. After that we walked back to Deb's, Andrew and I drank a good amount of wine (which seemed to quickly become a theme of the weekend for me) and went to bed.

On Saturday morning I got up and read the Globe and Mail. We had a leisurely mini-breakfast, coffee and then did some gardening. We took Otis, their dog, dog to the dog park by Lake Ontario, a quick walk from their house. It was beautiful to stand by the shoreline and look over at the CN tower and the rest of the city's skyline. It's something I haven't done in too long and it reminded me how beautiful Toronto can be. It also reminded me that I should have taken my camera on our walk.

After that we went back home and then went for a late brunch just on the corner of their street at a restaurant where, a while back, Andrew saved a guy's life who had collapsed on the floor.

Apparently that actually happens to doctors.

After returning back to their house again, Deb and I decided on a whim to get a pedicure. Toronto, or at least The Beach, has a few sweatshop-like mani-pedi joints where the chairs are lined up against each wall of a narrow shop and young Chinese women give you pedicures for $25 a pop. They do an amazing job. I spent an extra $5 and got a beautiful design put on my big toes. The women do these designs freehand and they are works of art and perfectly executed.

We then trudged home, had a quick snack of hors d'oeuvres and headed out to catch the Chinese Lantern Festival at Ontario Place. After sitting in traffic for what seemed like forever, we decided to park further away and take the streetcar and then walk the last bit. I decided to pause to take a photo of the CN tower since we were so close and I wanted photo proof for you all that I was actually in Toronto and not just hiding in a closet in my own house.

Unfortunately, right after that photo was taken, I turned, took three steps and then went down when I stepped on uneven pavement, my bum ankle gave way, I sprained it again thus ending our chance to the see the lanterns. I protested and protested but Deb and Andrew insisted we skip the lanterns. They were right. I couldn't have walked far without serious pain.

We spent the rest of the night watching Gordon Ramsay on Food Network.

On Sunday, Andrew made us wonderful blueberry pancakes, I hung around the house icing my ankle, sitting on their very comfortable patio furniture staring at the sky above their yard trying to convince myself that I was in Toronto Centre (see photo below) while the two of them took Otis for a walk and then, when I started feeling more mobile (mainly due to some pain killers I took), we went to Queen West for some shopping and another great meal, this time at Terroni's, a great southern Italian restaurant (seemed to be a theme) that is a Toronto institution.

After that it was time to return home. Another great flight with Porter. The lounge at Toronto Island has free lattes, capps, coffee, Americano and free Walkers Stem Ginger Cookies and Shortbread. What more could you ask for in an airline I say?

Hope greeted me at the airport with a poopy diaper.

Ah, it's great to be home.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekend mini-report

I had a great, great time in Toronto. I'll give a fuller report at some point. Not sure when. Right now I am trying to clean the house a little before John's mum arrives. It isn't exactly in stellar shape right now. Kind of gross in fact.

Add to that that I sprained my ankle while we tried to make our way to the ultra-cool looking Chinese Lantern Festival at Ontario Place. It's the same ankle I sprained last year. I went down like a sack of hammers, ripping my new pants by the by, and ruining chances to see said lanterns. It really sucks to be clutzy. Anyway, now I am trying to clean and do laundry while really I should be sitting with ice on my ankle but if I don't do some of it tonight, it won't get done.

Perhaps a cup of tea will give me the extra energy I need.

Also got a wicked pedicure with special toe nail designing but I'm afraid to show the world my toes as they are decidely troll-like I'm told.

And with that, back to cleaning.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

This is a grumpy mummy

I'm feeling really bad right now. I got pretty angry at Emily about an hour ago because she wasn't listening. I'd explained something to her 4 times already and the fourth time she still couldn't tell me what I'd been telling her. She ended up crying. I ended up shouting at her, sort of, and now I feel terrible.

I get really irritated when she doesn't listen. I hate repeating myself. Worse than that today though was that I really wanted her to understand what I was saying.

Still. I should have kept it together. I'm the adult here.

Emily seems to have this notion that looks are important. She always wants to look pretty. She wants to wear something pretty. If she spills something on her clothes, as she did today at lunch, she wants to make sure that she changes into "something so she'll look pretty." It drives me batty. I don't know where she got this sense that pretty is important.

Take one look at me and you'll know that it wasn't from her mother.

I can't remember the last time I wore make-up or used a blow-drier. My clothes often have yogurt stains or snot on them. And I don't bother to change because why create another target when this one is already hit?

So, I calmly (the first time) explained that your clothes aren't important, it doesn't matter what you look like; what matters is what you are like as a person: kind, considerate, fun to be around, caring, nice to other people.

And then, right after lunch, she said it again. I went through it again, calmly, but this time she started fiddling with things and playing while I was trying to talk to her. My temper started to rise.

I explained it two more times over the course of the following ten minutes and I still wasn't getting through to her. I was mad.

And now I'm mad at myself for treating her this way when I was trying to explain that "it matters what you're like as a person." I probably should have added "but don't use me as an example."

I'm trying harder lately to be slow to anger. Unfortunately, that isn't my nature. Which means it is a bigger battle with myself, more of a challenge. I just wish I was seeing more success.

I don't want my kids to think I'm a grumpy mummy. As much as I adored my mum, she was a bit of a grumpy mummy while I was growing up. At least at times. I don't want my kids to remember me that way.

But I also want her to listen and learn and understand.

And I want to be a better example than I was today.

All this to say, I think I really need a weekend away.

Good idea, self. I think I'll take one. Tomorrow. I'm going to go to Toronto to visit my friend Deb.

Oh, and look at that. The flight is already booked. How fortuitous!

Hooray! Full report to come on Monday!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Final party post

This will be my last mention of Emily's birthday party for a while. Probably until next year when I have to think about another one.

The party was great. It went way better than I expected. The kids loved the activities and those were broken up well with time to just play on their own in the backyard and playroom in the basement.

The first thing we did was put on the aprons I made for each of the kids. Then we got started making the pizza dough. The kids gathered around the dining room table and got messy kneading the dough. After the dough was done and rising we went outside, they played a bit while the adults (my trusty helpers and me) set up the cookie making stations.

Each kid had their own station outside with all the ingredients they might want to use to make cookies: flour, baking soda and salt mixed together; butter; Smarties; Clodhoppers; vanilla; cinnamon; raisins; brown sugar; an egg; and a few other things I can't remember. The kids LOVED this activity. They loved getting to decide what went in there and mix it all by themselves. It was really interesting to see each of their personalities dictate how they made the cookies. For example, Emily dumped everything in at once and went at it. I could have predicted that. They got to shape the cookies too of course. After all that we baked them and tasted and decided who had the smoothest, biggest, lumpiest, best decorated and fastest mixed (Emily of course) cookies. Each kid had a prize.

After that it was more play time and then we set to making pasta. I made the dough the night before so they just had to crank it through the machine. They each really liked that although Emily and Daria liked it best. They kept cranking long after the other kids had gone back to playing.

After that they played in the basement while we cleaned and got the stuff out for making pizzas. Emily opened her gifts, the kids made their pizzas and then we all ate. By then the house was full of other parents who I'd (crazily) invited back for "grown-up pizza".

I was exhausted at the end, the house was a minor disaster but man, did those kids have a great time! Emily L-O-V-E-D it! She kept telling me over and over again how much she loved it. That made the exhaustion and days of preparation worth it.

Although I'm really really glad that her birthday only comes once a year.

I'm not sure I'll do a party of this scale next year. I think I'll go on a two-year rotation of big preparation party and easier party.

I have to send out HUGE thanks to Meredith for helping me organize, set-up and wash everything, and to Pam who took all the pictures and helped when help was needed with anything. Thanks guys!

Monday, August 11, 2008

To my 4-year old

Dear Emily,

You are 4 years old today, a fact that you have let no one forget! You are almost as excited to be 4 as you were to have your first real birthday party. And that's saying a lot.

After the big party on Saturday, I knew that we would spend today doing normal, everyday things; the kinds of things we do every day and the kinds of things I will always think of when I think of our weekdays together, just the three of us. And that's what we did.

We started off by going to the bank and opening your first bank account. You were so excited when the bank lady told you to sign your own name and you did it in both spaces. She gave you your own pass book and a princess colouring book because it was your birthday. You now love the bank.

After that we deposited your money from Omi and withdrew $20 to buy a toy. Then we went to the Parkdale Farmer's Market, ate raspberries out of the basket, you and Hope played at the park right next to the Market and then we zipped over to the toy store so you could spend your money on some furniture for your new doll house.

When we got home we shucked corn on the back porch, had corn and ham roll-ups for lunch, and then you and I fell asleep together on your bed. When you woke up we started making sushi, your request for your birthday supper, and had a great time doing it together. We've only done it twice but it is becoming one of my favourite things to do together in the kitchen after making cookies. We ate a lot of sushi and then the four of us went to Purple Cow for ice cream. We chatted with a few friends who walked by and now you are calling me from upstairs telling me you need to check your email.

Really, a perfect day for both of us I'd say.

You are such a great kid in so many ways and the last year has driven that home even more. If I had to qualify what the past year has been for you I'd say it was the year of The Curious. You started being curious about everything; you want to know how things work, why things happen, what we're doing, what Hope is doing. I've tried to foster that by looking for answers to things I don't know, mostly at the library, and by trying to explain things in detail and with patience. I don't always succeed with the last one. At the end of the day, I'll admit that I sometimes am tired of the questions but I'm working on still answering you. I never want to squash that inquisitive spirit of yours. It's going to take you far.

You are shy. You've had a number of anxious moments in the past year when you're faced with new experiences or even relatives or friends you haven't seen in a while. You'll often hang back and then get more and more worked up about how shy you feel. I hope that Junior Kindergarten will help you work this out. I don't want you to miss out on some of the fun that you keep yourself from.

You are so so so excited about starting JK in September. You have already drawn a picture for your teacher. She is so lucky to have you in her class. She has no idea, but she will. I'm envious of her discovery of you. I already know how amazing you are but I still remember that discovery unfolding and would love to relive that again.

You are also very challenging. Somedays I feel like the Grumpy Mummy because I've been on you all day about your behaviour. Somedays you are just downright grumpy yourself. You struggle lately with remembering to be polite. You are always very demanding and this is what wears me out the most at the end of the day. Having said all that though, you're still awesome and I wouldn't trade you for anyone anywhere. I'm so glad you are you.

You keep me laughing; you love to play games (which is so great because I love to play them too even if they are kids' games); you are very silly; you love to dance and sing and put on "shows"; you love to play outside, investigate things in nature, dig in the garden, collect things; you LOVE to cook and bake, thus the cooking-themed birthday part and your declaration on your JK intake form that Jamie's Family Dinners is one of your favourite books; you are still the most affectionate child I've ever met and all my friends are envious of me because of that; you always start the day snuggling with me in our bed; you often ask for snuggles during the day; you still want to hold my hand, sit on my lap, give me kisses; I do not take this for granted and never will; you love friends, particularly playing with Nevan, Ella, Rebecca, Mimi, Kennedy and Claire, and of course, Hope.

You and Hope are very close. You give each other kisses and hugs every night before you go to bed. You are often the first person Hope asks about when she wakes up and if Hope is having a long nap and you aren't having a nap at all, you ask if she is up yet. Yesterday as we walked home from the park, Hope was cuddled up into your chest in the Chariot. You had your arms around her and she was hugging you while she rested in your arms. I choked back a tear or two. Daddy was a little overcome too. We love how close you are.

That doesn't mean you don't have arguments. You have a lot of them. But I also know that comes with being sisters. I just hope the hugs last for a long time.

I recently decided to extend my leave from work for at least two more years and that is in no small party because of you. I just don't want to be away from you and Hope.

Thanks for being you, Emmy. You make my life wonderful in so many ways, in some ways I'm not even aware of yet.

You are the perfect 4-year-old for me.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

All done but the crying

The party went great. The kids LOVED the cooking theme. Emily had a great, great time. The kids all played together really well.

More tomorrow or sometime. I'm so wiped out.

Friday, August 08, 2008

In the heat of battle

I'm approaching the 11th hour on the birthday party. Things are pretty well organized but there is still lots to do.... and I've been doing stuff all day.

The helium balloons are in place, the house is as clean as it's going to get, the deck is cleanish, the pasta maker is primed, the pasta dough is the in the fridge, the pizza dough is also in the fridge (backup in case of diaster with the dough the kids will make), I have a list of cookie ingredients I have to set out tomorrow morning, tables are arranged for cookie making stations but one still has to be put together in the morning, I still have to move all the play stuff out of the yard and onto the city property behind us.

The cake is made and.... it..... is...... awesome!


Okay, my camera doesn't do it justice at all. It really looks better than that.

I, who generally sucks at cake decorating, pulled it off. My only major concern is that the jelly in the middle will run over night and meld into the sprinkles. It is currently in the fridge so hopefully that will keep the jelly well congealed.

Deep breath.

I still have a bit of cooking to do tonight and then the rest is for tomorrow.

I hope I have fun. So far? Not so much.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Emily's recipe

Here is my one-day-late edition of What's Cooking Wednesday.

As you know, Emily loves food which translates into loving cooking. Up until recently she has really only stuck to baking and left the savoury stuff to her pretend play. Last week however I discovered a bunch of kids' cookbooks at the library. We checked out a couple and I started allowing her, with supervision of course, to prepare parts of dinner. The best thing she made was Sweet Potato-Praline Marshmallow Casserole.

Yeah, I know.

Not exactly the healthiest way to serve sweet potatoes but what do you expect from a cookbook by Emeril Lagasse? And let me just say this: I have never tasted better sweet potatoes in my life. It tastes like pumpkin pie, which I totally love, but better. If that is possible.

It tasted like dessert, except it was served beside meatloaf.

We ate it for two nights and would have kept eating it, although with a side order of shame, for another night if there were any left.

And now, on to the recipe. Try it if you dare. You won't be sorry. Just a little guilty.

Sweet Potato-Praline Marshmallow Casserole

3 or 4 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup softened butter
2 tbsp cream
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup pecan pieces
2 cups mini marshmallows

Place sweet potatoes in large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil. Cook potatoes until fork tender, about 35 minutes. Drain potatoes and set aside to cool for one hour or so.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut potatoes in half and squeeze potatoes of their skins. Mash in a bowl. Add 2 tbsp butter, cream, 1/4 cup brown sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, allspice and salt to the potatoes and mix well with wire whisk.

In separate bowl, combine remaining 2 tbsp butter, remaining 1 cup brown sugar, and pecan pieces. Stir.

Spoon potato mixture into 9 inch cake pan. Dot top with pecan mixture and arrange marshmallows over nuts. Bake until marshmallows are golden, about 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe notes: We didn't have orange juice so I left that out of the recipe. I suppose it would cut the sweetness a little but I didn't really miss it. He calls for WAY too much brown sugar to mix with the pecans. I would cut that down to 1/4 cup. I ended up with a huge amount of brown sugar in the bowl after I put the pecan pieces on. If I'd put all that sugar on as he suggests it would have been sickeningly sweet.

I know I promised a report on my spa night but I have a very messy basement that needs to be cleaned so I can actually see the carpet to vacuum it tomorrow so the report will have to wait one more day.

Let's just say two things: I don't like to have anyone yank on my big toes and I find it difficult to remain quiet for 3 hours, as was made clear by the spa guy who had to come over and shush me.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What's cooking Wednesday

I'll tell ya what's cooking for me tonight: hot swedish baths, a massage and wine and cheese platter of stinky, Quebec cheeses!

That's right!

Tonight I am off to a long-needed evening at Le Spa Nordik in Chelsea. I haven't been there in way too long although I have previously proclaimed it the best way to spend a day.

So, tomorrow I will post an actual recipe that Emily made last week that is essentially dessert disguised as a vegetable dish. So good.

Report coming tomorrow on my amazing evening.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The civil holiday

All right, so today is actually The Civic Holiday. More specifically, if you're in Ottawa, it is known as Colonel By Day. But, I'm renaming it the Civil Holiday because we're going to spend it at a friend's cottage (so nice that it isn't ours - then we don't have to clean or host or cook) in Perth and that just seems downright civil. First, we only have to drive one hour to get there. Next, we'll be drinking wine and eating great food. Finally, the kids will have lots of other kids to play with which means they won't need to be entertained. By me. Hah! Great.

I have something embarrassing to admit.

I have a repetitive stress injury. Okay, that part isn't embarrassing.

I think it's from knitting.

Oh my. Embarrassing.

It actually began last year, before the knitting, while I was breastfeeding. Hope always plopped her heavy head on my right forearm and it started to aggravate the tendon in my upper right shoulder and bicep. It got to the point where I couldn't lift my right arm while bent without a lot of pain. My chiropractor fixed it.

But then knitting.

It flared up in a new and terrible way while I was at the cottage. I showed Beth that I couldn't lift the ketchup bottle while my arm was extended. Yah, sad.

So, my chiro has told me that it's repetitive stress injury which she says is most common in mothers with young children. What about mothers with young children who recently took up knitting and started to knit intricately patterned socks and don't generally put them down? I didn't go into all that because? yah, embarrassed.

Anyway, sadly, knitting is on hold but sewing is in full swing with the party aprons almost complete! Pictures to follow. But first, coffee, packing for the day, hitting the road, relaxation.


Happy Civic Holiday everyone. Or, depending where in Ontario you are, happy: Simcoe Day (Toronto), Joseph Brant Day (Burlington), Founders' Day (Brantford), McLaughlin Day (Oshawa), Alexander Mackenzie Day (Sarnia), James Cockburn Day (Coburg), John Galt Day (Guelph).