Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Heading West

I got word on Monday morning during my class at Carleton that my grandmother - my dad's mum - died on Sunday night. My grandma was 88 and not in good health. She'd had Alzheimer's Disease for about 7 years. I'm glad her suffering is over.

I lived with my grandma and grandpa for 4 months from September to December 1995. I was on a work-term from my program at the University of Waterloo. I was working at the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. My grandparents lived in Sherwood Park, Alberta - a very short commute into Edmonton. It was a great four months. I got to know my grandparents so much better and I spent a lot of time - mainly laughing, eating pretzels and playing cards - with my uncle and aunt at their house which was a short bike ride away. I was really lucky to have had the opportunity to spend that kind of time with my grandparents. I heard a lot of stories from both of them that I hadn't heard before. I helped Grandma in the kitchen. We talked a lot. My favourite stories from Grandma were about living in Saskatchewan during the Depression. She told me about men coming to the back door asking for food after hopping off the nearby trains. She also told me about she and her brother, Uncle Bob and her dad riding bikes around all the country roads on Sunday afternoon. She told me about her very grumpy grandmother who she never saw smile. Grandma laughed a lot. She was almost always knitting something. She loved to travel. She said that maybe growing up by the railway tracks gave her "itchy feet."

She didn't always have the easiest life but she greeted each day smiling. She made the best bread. She made an amazing beef stew with dumplings. She had a killer recipe for cappuccino muffins. She was particular about how the dishwasher was loaded. (Terrible photo below but all I can dig up at short notice.)

I'm looking forward to talking about her next week with everyone and hearing other people's stories.

I have to admit, I'm not looking forward to a two-hour time change with a baby. Five a.m. is going to come very early.

As an aside, I will be the one on the WestJet flight hauling a full case of Girl Guide cookies as my carry-on. My family out west has demanded that I bring a case for them to buy, which I think is amazing, and also very very funny. We Reyburns really like our baked goods.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Sugarplum Fairy dons a bunny suit

I've decided to branch out of being a one-season Fairy and try my hand wooden spoon at the Easter Season.

I have updated my Sugarplum Fairy blog. If you are in the Ottawa area and are itching for some homebaking (gluten-free available now as well!), please contact me! All my particulars are on The Sugarplum Fairy Homebaking site.

What recipes do you think of when you think of Easter? I find everyone has different opinions on this and I would love to hear about your Easter baking traditions (and possibly glean some ideas from them!).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The March Break I'd rather forget

My last post was so full of naive optimism. Since then I have become a dark and brooding soul, ripe with cynicism, dark humour and biting sarcasm.

At least in theory. Truth is, I'm still my peppy and perky self. Now that March Break, otherwise known as The Week I'd Rather Forget, is over.

To backtrack, we decided to go to my dad's in Gravenhurst - about 4 hours from Ottawa - from Tuesday to Friday last week. We got out of town about an hour later than we would have liked... which was fully expected because we always get out of town an hour later than we would have liked.

The kids were asking to watch videos literally 2 kilometres from our driveway. I should have known then that this would become The Trip from Hell. We should have turned around at that very moment.

We stopped seven times - yes, seven - on the way there banking a 6.5 hour trip. We stopped twice to feed Henry, once for lunch, twice because Hope thought she was going to throw up, once because I drank too much tea, and another time for who knows why. Henry did not sleep ONCE during the trip. We had to completely reorganize seating because Hope's tummy was very jumbly in the back. WARNING, WARNING! Did we turn back for home? Nope. Did John say outloud "I forsee this being a total disaster" and I say "you are such a glass half-empty person!"? Yes and yes. Was that the foreshadowing that had this been a movie would have left the audience screaming DON'T GO IN THERE at the screen? Oh yes it was.

We finally get to the bumpy, curvy road going into my dad's house. (FORESHADOWING, FORESHADOWING!) We're literally 500 metres from his door when Hope's face turns white and then green and then she projectile vomits all over herself, her car seat and bits of the car. We had about 3 seconds warning which was enough time to stop the car and watch helplessly as she showered herself in Wendy's french fries and ketchup. Luckily, I thought, no one ever drives on this road so it's okay that we're completely blocking this single-lane road. Oh Sweet Jesus, will I ever learn?

That's when man-in-Oldsmobile drove up behind us.

As I'm holding vomit-covered Hope in front of me at arm's length, I'm simultaneously explaining to man-in-Oldsmobile that one of our children just upchucked all over herself.

The look on his face was a cross between disgust and pity.

I stripped Hope down to her underwear and she sat on my lap in the front seat until we got to my dad's door. Emily, always looking for the up side (her mother's daughter) said: "Hope you're so lucky!" I'm thinking Hope wasn't feeling so lucky at that moment as liquid lunch dripped off her chin. I'm all about the visuals, people.

Arriving at the house, Hope went straight into the shower, washing away all the bad mojo we'd accumulated on the drive up. Time to start fresh! Right? Right?


That night Henry was up SEVEN times. The next day Hope whined all day and then puked at the end of the day at which point we realized she wasn't car sick, she was just plain sick. John threw his back out. He is still walking crooked. Hope declared her bed "not comfy" (a declaration I heard way too many times that week from her) and Emily moved into bed with me, John moved to the futon, Hope moved to the bed Emily was in. I got up 6 times that night and the rest of the night I was serenaded with Emily's teeth-grinding. Henry scraped his knuckles to bloody on the sides of his playpen simply because it made a cool sound (so he tells me). On the plus side, I baked bread in the stone bake oven which was really fun and we went in the hot tub on the deck many times. Donna even served me a glass of wine while I was in there at one point (alone!). I think that was the highlight of the week for me.

The next day was the good day: tobogganing (no one puked! Hope was happy!), walk on the lake, hot tub. Bad part: visit to the Muskoka Wildlife Centre which should have been good but Hope whined the ENTIRE TIME. The rest of us thoroughly enjoyed the place though.

When we got home, Hope hurled.

Next day... time to go home. The Griswalds pulled away. Drive home, 6.5 hours. Great lunch in Bancroft. No extra stops. Drove a beautiful route on the Opeongo Road. Had tea but didn't have to stop an extra time (still can't figure out then why it took us the same amount of time to get back as it took to get up there but whatev). NO ONE PUKED.

As much as I love going up there, sitting in the hot tub, playing in the snow, visiting my dad and Donna, someone will have to SHOW ME THE MONEY to get me to leave home for March Break for many years to come.

I need a holiday. Can we get a do-over?

Yes, of course there were some fun moments. If only there was less puke, more sleep, less pain. I have put some photos below to give you some moments (mostly good) from The Week I'd Rather Forget.

Hope and Henry sharing a puke-free moment on our first day in Gravenhurst.

Emily staying under the radar lest the Universe comes to get her, too.

A really fun morning of tobogganing. This was the first smile from Hope in a while.

Another smile! Tobogganing saved our trip for a while.

At the Muskoka Wildlife Centre. Lest you think Hope is looking for a dropped contact lens, she's actually refusing to move because she feels like stink.

Pretty much the happiest look she could muster.

Happy in the hot tub on the morning we were heading home. The hot tub was the other happy place. Especially for John's back.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March Break

I'm up early. It's about 6:40 a.m. Everyone else is sleeping. I'm reading through my RSS feed and my email. I'm drinking tea and eating pumpkin bread. While this all sounds lovely, I'd rather be in bed under my duvet. But, I have a chiropractic appointment at 8:00 and would like to shower before I go because when I get home it will be a whirlwind of packing. We're driving to my dad's today for a few days of March Break fun.

Granted, there will be rain and slush and probably mud but there will also be a hot tub overlooking the slushy lake.

And there will also be work. I have my major project due next Monday for the class I'm taking so my evenings have to be spent working.

If you are spending this week with your kids on their break, have a great adventure together.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, March 11, 2011


I've never been one to choose a "word for the year". You may have talked to or read other people who do this: something, in a word, to focus on for the coming year. For me, this is too close to making a New Years Resolution, something I run away from annually.

Mainly because I try to avoid failure.

But this year, I started thinking about it a bit, just as a game. What word would I choose for this year? Laundry? That seems to dominate my time. Candyland? Also takes up more than its fair share of my days. Maybe sleep? that often sought-after but seemingly unattainable dream when you have three kids six and under. After about all of 5 seconds, I had moved onto something else. Probably choosing which setting to use on the laundry machine.

And then I had a new neighbour over for tea.

Her name is Shahi. She and her family just moved here from UAE. I decided to pull out the proper teacups instead of using usual pottery mugs. I served cake on pretty china plates.

As I passed Shahi her cup, she said: "These are so pretty. People don't put importance on beautiful things anymore. Everything is about function. It's sad that we are losing beauty from our homes and lives like that."

I haven't gone a day without thinking about that since. She's so right. We so often give over to function over beauty. I have a sideboard full of china and teacups and silver and crystal. It gets used at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Or if we forget to run the dishwasher.

I decided that my word of the year would be Beautify. In fact, this may become my word for the next several years, if not my lifetime.

Being frugally minded, this doesn't mean I will be spending money to beautify my home and life. It means I'll start giving more playtime to the beautiful things we already have. I now have at least one cup of tea a day in a proper tea cup. I try and move things around occasionally to take better notice of some of the pretty things I own. For example, my friend Michelle was visiting last week from Waterloo. I put all the little travel size shampoos and soaps for her in a gorgeous silver bowl that we received as a wedding gift but normally sits collecting dust on a dark shelf in our family room.

It might seem like this all seems so superficial. But what I notice is that other people notice when there is beauty around them - they can be simple things, or simple actions, but they can have a profound effect on how someone's day goes. Seeing beauty and appreciating beauty is fundamental to human nature. That's why we make art, go to art galleries, garden, go to parks, cook lovely meals, make pottery, knit, sew, have meals together, read and write.

As I thought about beautifying more, I knew this should and would extend far beyond material things. I'm making an effort to beautify life.

I'm a patient mother - quite patient, in fact - but I can always improve and I'm making an effort to do that.

I'm baking more (gluten-free, mind you) than I have in the past two months so there is always something homemade to be had as a snack or small dessert.

My letter-writing project (sadly behind right now) is an additional effort to add a small amount of beauty to other people's lives.

I'm knitting for other people.

Emily and I have started a creative project that is almost finished that will add a bit of beauty and several smiles to the people around us. It's also given us something really fun - and therefore beautiful - to do together.

I've started ironing clothes. If you know me, you'll know that is nothing short of a miracle. But it is rather nice to not look like you slept in your clothes. You know?

Beauty is how you decide to define it. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I can see beauty - or opportunities to beautify - all around me. How about you?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The award is in the bag

Would you like to know what I just did?

I just finished making a batch of homemade doughnuts. Oh yes, I did!

Gluten-free pumpkin doughnuts to be exact. And after a very long hiatus, I'm putting this up on a Wednesday which means this is part of Shannon's awesome What's Cooking Wednesday.

Emily made the batter with me, I heated the oil and deep-fried those suckers and they are everything a homemade doughnut (in this case, Timbit, or doughnut hole for you Americans) should be: crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, sugary, pumpkiny, spicy, warm.

For those of you vying for the Best Mum of the Year Award.... how does my dust taste?!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

No one wants to be laughed at when they're naked

This blog is suffering from not-so-benign neglect. And just when there are so many things to talk about. It's always the way, isn't it? Lots been going on, much of it blog-worthy. Before the goings-on are filed away in my grey matter, never to be retrieved again, I'm going to try to get a few posts up this week. Saying it here may actually make it happen. Here's hoping, anyway.

I have funny kids... very funny kids... but the funniest (although the jury is still out on Henry) is Hope. She makes us belly-laugh frequently, never due to effort on her part, and then she gets extremely agitated (read: stinking mad) if she thinks we're laughing because of something she said or did. Which we almost always are.

Evidence: this week she said something funny (again) while she was changing into her jammies and yelled at us: I don't like it when people laugh at me when I'm naked!

Which did not make us laugh less.

In the past couple of weeks she has reached a new pinnacle of funniness. I've managed to remember three good Hope-isms, using top-secret, tired mummy-brain techniques, so that I could get them down and then free up that brain space for things such as remembering library book day and where I left my hemorrhoid medication. This is important stuff people. So very important.

Laugh #1: Hope tends to take Henry's toys right out of his hands. Yanks them actually. I caught her in the act a couple of weeks ago and explained how even though he's a baby, you can't just grab things away from him even if you want them. You have to treat him like you treat other kids, blah, blah, blah. I walked out of the room and back in to see her with Henry's toy again. I asked her how she got it.

Hope: "I asked Henry for it and he said yes."
Me: "But Henry can't talk."
Hope: "Yes, he can."
Me: "Uh no, he can't."
Hope: "Yes, he can, Mummy."
Me: "But how do you know what he's saying?"
Hope: "I understand baby talk."

A minute later, Hope turns to Henry and says: "Henry, can I use that when you're finished?" (She leans in to his face and listens near his mouth as though he were a stuffed animal in one of her pretend games.) "You're done? Oh good. Thanks!" Yanks toy out of his hand.

Laugh # 2:
Hope: I got my chest skin stuck in this zipper today at school. [It was a decorative zipper on the front of a dress.]
Me: Why were you unzipping that zipper?
Hope: My hand was tired so I was giving it some exercise to give it more energy.

Laugh #3:
(at the dinner table)
Hope: Mummy, you forgot to give me the broccoli I asked for!
Me: Oh, sorry. I didn't hear you ask for it.
Hope: That's because I asked you in my head.

And just so Emily isn't totally left out...
I was changing Henry's diaper last week when Emily walked into the room and said:
Is there poop in that diaper?
Me: No.
Emily: Good! Because the last time I saw Henry's poop, it was terrifying!