Monday, September 26, 2011

And... she's back. And now with more pumpkins!


I was on a roll there but then the old Karen came back to her infrequent stop-ins round these parts.  I know.  None of us like change so I'm sure you're as pleased as I am that I'm back to my old ways.

Also, my new stint as Guider-spread-thinly has taken up a lot of my time recently what with two Brownie meetings now under my belt and my new roll as a Spark Guider. 

Yes, you read that right.  I'm now leading a Sparks Unit as well. 

What's that?  Crazy?  Yes, I am.  I fully acknowledge that and also my inability to say 'no'. At some point I'll learn that word but for now I will continue in my roll as over-tired and stressed over-achiever. 

My issue is that I love to be loved.  I accept it.  I own it.  Let's move on to pumpkins.

(But not before you go and read this blog post that I wrote for the GirlGuidesCAN blog, the first in a series I'm doing for them about being a first time Guider.  Go on.  I'll wait.)

Today my lovely friend Isobel and I dragged took Henry to Miller's Pumpkin Farm just south of lovely Manotick for a morning of frolicking among the pumpkins while we took hundreds of photos of the boy.  Okay, I took the photos.  Poor Isobel.  She has a gorgeous camera and excellent photo-taking skills but her remembering skills were left behind today... with her memory card.

Luckily, I threw in my point-and-shoot at the last minute and the photos, while not as good as what Isobel would have taken, were not bad.  Not bad at all.

A smattering:

Taking a look inside the pumpkin hotel


Yeah, I'm cute all right.

Pensive pumpkin perusal.

It's hug a pumpkin day.

Hmm, I think this one deserves a Churchillian consideration.

Gah!  Camera!  I will wrestle that from your puny hands.

Gourds.  Me like.

Witty caption here.

It was a lovely, lovely morning.  The weather was perfect.  I drank in every moment of sunshine because I fear that we are running out of days where the temperature gets over 20 degrees.  I have to imprint this in my mind to get through the coming Ottawa winter. 

But let's not talk about that right now.  Let's just think of sunshine and roses.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Baby and You Blog Tour

If you're not Facebook friends with me then you don't know how much I really love Facebook. It isn't because I spend hours there. I don't. It's because I love checking in multiple times a day, for just a few minutes each time, to see what my friends are up to. I have loved reconnecting with friends from long ago and staying in closer touch with the friends I see on a more regular basis.

Having a tight circle of friends, whether in real life or virtual, has been a lifeline for me through the early parenting years and I imagine it will continue to be as the years roll by. I find Facebook is a great place to go to quickly vent or ask a question or tell a funny story about the kids before it is lost in my grey matter.

This is why I think using Facebook in new ways to help new (and old) mothers connect with one another is brilliant. The Loblaws family of stores has created a Facebook page called Baby and You where moms can connect with other moms, ask questions and, best of all, get coupons. I love me some coupons! There is a Baby Talk page which seemed pretty active and a Mom Talk page (less active... hopefully there will be more content there shortly).

On their wall, the moderators have asked a series of questions to get discussion and sharing going. I really enjoyed reading through the series on what surprised mothers most about labour and delivery. The consensus seemed to be how awful the nurses were... I can relate. (I have many lovely nurse friends... too bad none of them work in maternity wards!)

The one thing I didn't like as well is that the Weekly Flyer tab is simply a reprint, from what I could tell, of the weekly Loblaws baby section flyer. When I was on the page there was nothing available under Exclusive Offers. Hopefully more will be added soon. For me, I'm all about saving money these days and I know I'm not alone. I think Loblaws could do some work on this section for sure.

If you're a mom with young'uns, go check out this Facebook page. I'm sure you'll find yet another reason to whittle away some time on Facebook and avoid that big pile of laundry!

Disclosure – I am participating in the Baby and You program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Loblaw Companies. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to routines = deliciousness

When summer arrives, at least around here, regular routines are pretty much out the window. Bedtimes get later, we play outside after supper almost everyday, clothes don't get ironed ever (which is only a little less often then they normally get ironed), we're more relaxed about sugar and t.v. It's pretty much paradise.

There are drawbacks to the lack of routines however... at least in the eating department. In the hot weather I stop making some of our/my favourites. This summer I didn't make one batch of my beloved granola, which is a fundamental staple for a gluten-freebie like me.

On Friday I could stand it no longer. In went the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, ginger, cinnamon etc and out came my lovely, gorgeous granola. Breakfast has been delightful ever since.

Granted, it's difficult to spot the granola under the mountain of peaches. Here is my thought on peaches: God reached perfection the day s/he created the peach. Everything after that was downhill.

My morning granola bowl is constructed thusly: several large spoonfuls of plain yogurt. The yogurt MUST NOT contain any gelatin, cornstarch or other ingredients that make me say "blech!". I want pure yogurt and I do not want the container to say anything about low-fat. Low-fat yogurt means fillers to make up for the creaminess. That's where gelatin and cornstarch come in. No. Thanks.

After the yogurt comes the granola, then whatever fresh fruit I have on hand. Today I had this mammoth beauty *in* hand (as proof of its formidable girth):

I love me a Niagara peach. I wouldn't kick it out of bed for eating crackers.

I top my lovely bowl off with a drizzle of maple syrup.

After that, I cozy up with a "Hello. how you doin'?!" and dig in. But not before this is also ready at the standby:

And those two cheeky birds keep me company, looking on forlornly as they contemplate an existence without mouths.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Two big days

The first big day this week:

Both Emily and Hope were very excited for their first day. Emily couldn't wait to see everyone and find out who her teacher would be. By the end of yesterday she declared Grade 2 to be the "best thing ever!" (although the protests I received trying to get her out of bed this morning would make you think the opposite). Hope was beside herself with excitement about starting full-day kindergarten. She started with just half her class and had a great day.


She was back for her first "real" day today with her entire class (after having yesterday off so that the other half of her class could transition in). We arrived at the kindie yard to find every manner of helicopter parents milling around with their kids, many of them videotaping their kids... doing what? looking confused? waiting for their teacher? Now that makes for some riveting home movies!

Anywho, Hope didn't have any idea who these people were, she only saw one kid she recognized and, to make the whole situation a lot worse, her teacher wasn't in the yard. The only teachers were a myriad of ECE teachers that she didn't know. She went in, became a deer in headlights and burst into tears. And this is a kid who was jumping out of her pants to get to school every day last year and never cried once.

I stayed with her as long as I could, delivered Emily to her yard (where Miss Sympathy kept asking me what Hope's problem was... I do not see a career for her that would require a bedside manner of any kind), and then raced back to Hope to fulfill my promise of seeing her again before she went inside. I was happy to find that Mrs. B was outside, the bus carrying all of her regular classmates from last year had arrived and she was holding the door for her class. I caught her attention, blew her a kiss, wiped away a few tears (my own, not hers) and came home.

Parenting can really break your heart.

But, now onto the second big day this week:

Where does a newly-turned five-year-old want to have her breakfast? Cora's, of course!

John was able to clear the decks yesterday to celebrate with us over breakfast. Emily however was at school. "Not fair!"

Henry didn't give a rip that it was Hope's birthday. Just leave me to my melon, woman!

Last night we celebrated with Emily and dear friend, Anna, along with spaghetti and cupcakes. The big party happens on Saturday.

Not sure if she really likes birthdays though.

Most of yesterday was spent doing a few Girl Guide-related errands and then baking the cupcakes before we got Emily from school. As we left a local school where I went to hang a poster, Hope turned to me and said: "Um, I think you're forgetting something." Me: "What?" Hope: "I think you're forgetting that it's my birthday because we're just doing regular stuff." Priceless. This followed a not-so-gracious response to her birthday gift in the morning, which was one Barbie (she got her big gift, a scooter, in the spring): "Well, I was hoping there would be a lot more Barbies in this bag. Oh well, I'll get more from my friends this weekend."

This kid is a classic (and although it was pretty funny, I did also have a talk with her about greediness and graciousness).

Monday, September 05, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation

As school is starting tomorrow morning across Ontario (at least for those in the English system... as on Ottawan I must be sensitive to my Francophone friends) and thus students across the province will be following a long and glorious tradition of writing a paragraph about what they all did this summer, I thought I would stand with them in solidarity and do the same. Given that I rarely posted this summer (just having too. much. fun), this clears things up in one go with a first-day-of-school-essay to start the year off right:

At the beginning of the summer, the girls took swimming lessons at Carleton and played with friends. We spent Canada Day at Pinhey's Point. We went strawberry picking at Purple Cow Strawberry Farm (definitely going back there next year).

Our first really summery outing... Pinhey's Point. It was HOT!

Emily's strawberry picking skills are improving!

The second week of the summer, the girls enjoyed Vacation Bible School at our church (actually LOVED IT more than enjoyed it... how could they not when the theme was FOOD) while I packed for our almost FOUR WEEKS at the cottage.

From mid-July until early August, we lived the high life at the cottage! Swimming! Beach play! Hiking! Ice cream! Playing with family and friends! S'mores! Fires! Games! More and more swimming! We spent a day at Uncle Steve's cottage where cousins frolicked. Omi spent a few days with us at our cottage. We hiked up the hill with her and took the annual "couch photo" and a not-often-captured family photo. We started to relish the summer produce (along with a good glass of red). Pam, Jim and kiddos joined us for our annual weekend together at the cottage. We met Aunt Beth and Kate at Santa's Village in Bracebridge where we were elves for a day. Henry discovered corn-on-the-cob.

Emily and Omi chill on the hammock at Steve's cottage on Couchiching.

A gorgeous display of everything that is great about summer. Our kitchen counter at the cottage often looked like this around dinner time.

Omi and the girls on "the couch."

And here we all are at the top! This will likely be one of the few family photos I have to choose from this year for our yearbook. Gotta get better about that!

First fire (and s'mores) of the season!

Pam, Jim and crew joined us for another great weekend which of course, had to include a trip into town for ice cream. This year we went to Kawartha Dairy. Won't be going back to Nutty Chocolatier after this. So many flavour options!

Elves for a day!

Don't get between a man and his corn!

Back to Ottawa in August for exploring the vegetable garden, hanging out with neighbourhood friends, celebrating Emily's birthday and hosting her birthday party at our house (my baby is seven!), more swimming lessons at Carleton, back-to-school shopping, a driveway painting party with neighbourhood kids....

I was so thrilled to discover this orange globe in my garden. I've never tried pumpkins before but I ended up with six of them. So excited!

And beautiful Celebration Squash, too!

For Emily's birthday she requested her usual favourite birthday food: homemade sushi. We all win!

We weren't sure what Henry would make of it... but he LOVED the sticky rice.

Emily's garden-themed birthday party meant lovely ladies lunching.

Bathing beauties.

This may become a summer tradition!

And then... back to the cottage for another week with family (all the way from Alberta) and more swimming, swimming, swimming (and canoeing!). And then closing up the cottage for the season. Boo-hoo.
Uncle Brian and "Leonard" make their way up the dock.

Goodbye until next summer, Mary Lake.

A LONG drive back to Ottawa through Algonquin Park construction and then chilling at home, getting some jobs done around here and getting our heads back into the regular-scheduled-program. And a special end-of-the-summer excursion: Saunders Farm... this also may have to become a summer tradition. The place is awesome. Especially the huge jumpy pillows. So. Much. Fun.

Jumpy pillows!

Cedar mazes!

Adorable children!

A final weekend of fun this weekend... board games, pizza, tea party, baking and canning. Packing lunches.

Tomorrow my wee Hope starts full-day senior kindergarten. Oh, that sound? That's me weeping. I'm going to miss my Hopey so much.

It'll just be me and the wee man during the day (except for those days when I keep Hope home because I can't stand having her gone any longer).

And that, in a nutshell, was our most-amazing-fantastical-summer. I loved it so much and can't wait for next year.