Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

And they're off...

Tomorrow starts the beginning (ending? climax?) of the Christmas crazy travelin'.
My heart feels so much more ready for Christmas - that is, to celebrate Jesus' birth - than it has been in many, many Christmases past.
I am excited to be with family and friends.
I am excited to love on my hubs and my boys.
I am thankful for friends and family and you!

Merry Christmas from the Stricklands!

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace 
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the lord of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9: 6-7

Hazelnut Chicken Bites

These aren't specifically Christmasey but I think they look Christmasey and I've wanted to make them for years now, but never got around to it.
Last night I got together with a bunch of really good friends from over 10 years ago. We all met through our church and while we haven't all stayed in touch, we pretty much pick up where we left off every time we get together.
So yes. I made these. They were simple {if not a tad time consuming} and delicious. A great party appetizer.
This summer we were given a jar of Dijon beer mustard from Quebec and while we've used bits here and there, I saw this and realized it would be perfect for these little tasty morsels.

Next I had to toast and chop some hazelnuts that I've been waiting for a recipe to use them in {so they've been sitting in my freezer for almost a year now}.
{pretend I took an awesome picture of this.}
Then I poached some chicken and chopped it up into small squares.

Put it all together and start rolling and dipping!

Then spear those babies and you can even add a cherry {or I used grape} tomatoes for a festive feel.

Look at these beauties!
Merry Christmas!
Hazelnut Chicken Bites

2-4 poached chicken breasts
1/2 cup dijon mustard of some sort
3/4 cup toasted and finely chopped hazelnuts

Cut the poached chicken into smallish cubes. Roll in the mustard and then in the chopped hazelnuts.
Spear each cube with a toothpick and chill, covered until you're ready to serve {for up to a day}.
Garnish with cherry/grape tomatoes if desired.
Makes about 4 dozen bites

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

more conversations with Noah

Noah: Mom, I don't want my ears to be round. I want sharp ears.

Me: (confused) Sharp ears?

Noah: Yes.

Me: Who has sharp ears?

Noah: On Rudolf the small boy has sharp ears.

Me: (having a sudden realization) Ooooh. Like elf ears?

Noah: Yes.

Just another day, folks. Just another day.

And now for something TRULY lighter...

Jingling all the way!

Jingle All the Way! from Vanessa Strickland on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

bound and gagged

I have so much that I want to write and say, but right now is just not the best time.

Change is hard.
And slow.

My first inclination is to just shout it to the world, throw it in your face, talk non-stop about it until it finally sinks in for you, but I think {and so I've been told} that this is perhaps not the most effective way to facilitate change in others.

So I need to


s l o w.

And be gentle.

Sometimes it's hard to remember where you used to be when where you are seems like all you've ever known.

Sometimes I suck at showing grace.

Sorry for the totally and completely vague blog post. I hate it when others do it and here I sit, doing it myself. Just know there is more to come. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

this winter is...

wishing you were outside playing with your brother in the snow

the wall of cheer making me smile every time i walk past it

wrapping presents all in red

welcoming keven home with a huge party; everyone crammed into my parents' living room to watch a slideshow of his tour in afghanistan

baking, baking, baking!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

tantrums and my own issues

Lately I've been struggling with my responses to Noah's meltdowns. Like screaming-in-my-face-in-the-middle-of-Chapters meltdowns. Like throwing-metal-cars-across-the-room meltdowns.
Everything in me just melts down into one emotion: pure rage. And then embarrassment if we're somewhere public. And then frustration because I don't know how to
I read somewhere {Raising Boys, maybe?} about testosterone surges in boys at ages 3 and 7 and then of course during puberty I think. This would explain the pure rage and anger Noah exhibits, but how to explain mine?
I've mostly been able to keep it under check but it's definitely a wake up call that I need to work through my issues of control and pride {because that's what causes my embarrassment in a public situation}.
But it's frustrating to feel like I'm back here again. Working through these issues all over again.

Today I decided to play out a future situation with Noah.

Me: Noah, we're going to Hannah's house after lunch. And we're going to stay and play there for awhile. But after awhile we're going to have to leave and come back home. So when I say "Noah. It's time to go." You need to say, "Okay Mom." and then we'll get our coats and boots on. Okay?

Noah: Okay.

Me: So let's practice. Noah. We're having a fun time at Hannah's house but it's time to go.


Me again: So what do you need to say?

Noah: Um...okay Mom. Boots and coats, now?

We rehearsed this a few more times and I also reminded him of this in the car on the way there.
While we were there we had a minor struggle for a diaper change {more on our goal of The Great Potty Training of 2011 later} and I reminded him of his response when I would soon tell him that it was time to go.

And then when it was worked! He said, Okay! {and then quickly asked if he could watch something on tv while I prepared dinner when we got home.}
So all the rehearsing worked. I wasn't a believer of the practicing and preparing beforehand in the past, but I guess I needed to actually get him to say the words and pretend. I think it helped a lot.

I hope this will help the rage in our household. Because Jude watches and is The Ultimate CopyCat in his spitting and hitting and saying "NO!". It's shocking because he's so young, and kinda scary at how much he picks up from watching Noah so I'm really trying hard to set firm ground rules of expected behaviour because I do NOT want my children screaming in my face, much less anyone else's!

It's truly a good thing they are so cute because all I have to do is look at pictures like these {no matter how my day has been} and my heart goes to mush.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Today was a really wonderful day.

My brother came home from serving in Afghanistan for the past 7 months.

My sister running out to hug Kev as he arrived at the house.

It was a great reunion. We picked up right where we left off.
I love my family.

Reunited and it feels so good. (Seriously. Look at my Mom. She's practically glowing!)

I had to drive home shortly after our family lunch so I could be back in Guelph for our staff team potluck that we were hosting at our home! And it snowed about 20 cm!
To be honest, I kinda felt sick about driving in that kind of snow. But I got onto the highway and about 1km into my drive the roads had cleared and were almost completely dry! I was in shock and awe as it had REALLY snowed for the 3ish hours I had spent at my parent's house.

And then my heart welled up with gratitude to God for taking care of me and showing me that of course he would provide for me and my family - be it with the safe arrival of Keven, or a smooth, easy drive home with both boys who sat quietly in the back of the car {Noah actually fell asleep!} or the wonderful time of food and fellowship we experienced tonight with our incredibly fun staff team.
As I listened to Chris Tomlin sing "Glory in the Highest" on the drive home I worshiped with my whole heart and felt the smile of God shine down on me - His daughter. Precious to Him and provided for.

And then we partied tonight with some amazing co-workers who are also some very good friends. I am {again} so very grateful to have such awesome friends and community in my life. Oh and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.
And delicious food. :)

The dessert spread was far too decadent.

Thank you God for your abundant provision for me. May my worries fall away when I remember your steadfastness and may my doubt disappear when I think upon your love for me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

3 Pepper Spice Cookies


I have found my 2010 favourite Christmas baked goodie. 

So about a month ago I signed up for the Better Home & Garden 12 days of baking emails and every day for 12 days I received mouth-watering emails that only added to my list of to-bake items.
Among the many this recipe popped out at me: 3 Pepper Spice Cookies.

Three pepper?!?

Yep. We Stricklands like our spicy foods. Cayenne, chili pepper & black pepper. 
Now I looked everywhere {sorta} for this ground chili pepper but I couldn't find it. So I ground up some red pepper flakes and voila! Red pepper! 
These are spicy {of course} but they also are very spiced if that makes sense - clove, ginger and cinnamon give these delicious morsels a really full and warm taste. And then dipped in chocolate...I die.

So I thought I'd share the recipe here with you. Enjoy!

3 Pepper Spice Cookies
adapted from Better Homes & Garden

     2/3  cup  butter, softened
     1 cup  sugar
     1 ½   teaspoons  baking powder
     ½  teaspoon  ground ancho chile pepper {I used red pepper flakes ground up}
     ½  teaspoon  finely ground black pepper
     ½  teaspoon  ground ginger
     ½   teaspoon  ground cloves
     ½ teaspoon  ground cinnamon
     ¼ teaspoon  cayenne pepper
     1 egg
     1 tablespoon  milk
     2 cups all-purpose flour
     Medium-grind black pepper
     10 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped
     1 tablespoon shortening
1. In a large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, ground chile/red pepper, the 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl ocasionally. Beat in egg and milk until combined. Add the flour. If necessary, knead dough slightly to blend. Shape dough into a ball. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 6-12-inch-long roll {the longer the roll, the smaller your cookies. My second batch looked like two cucumbers before I cut them}. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper; chill 4 to 24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle cookies with medium-grind black pepper. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are golden. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.
3. In a small saucepan, combine chocolate and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip each cookie halfway in melted chocolate; shake off excess. Place chocolate-dipped cookies on waxed paper. Let stand until chocolate is set. Makes about 60 cookies.

Also, don't use your coffee grinder to grind up whole cloves and red pepper flakes. Just sayin'. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

living in community {not the tv show}

oh hello adorable.


Well, I'm back. We're back.

And it feels good.

Ever notice how AWESOME your bed is after you get home from being away and sleeping in a particularly crappy bed for a week? Yeah. That.

We were up north for a week of a training with work. Well, Jamie went to the sessions. I hung out with the boys and the other Moms and their kids. It was great.
The boys doing some colouring and crafts. (ages in this picture span 16 months-4.5 yrs)

And SNOWY! I love the snow. It's gorgeous and it makes me feel cozy and Christmasey. But bundling and unbundling 2 children {and myself} 6 times a day is enough to make anyone hate the winter. Perhaps hate is a strong word. Because every time I looked out the window and saw the lake with the snow covered trees, I sighed a little romantic sigh. It's just so pretty!

on the drive up. thank God for winter tires. 

Honestly I really do love living in community with others. Doing meals {even though they are stressful at times} together, hanging out in the evenings after our kiddos are in bed and talking until it's way too late; we even threw a triple baby shower for three expecting Moms. A triple baby shower! It was just too much fun.
I feel so incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful women {and awesome men} in my life. To be able to go to things like this and know my kids will be loved on and have other kids to play with is really such a gift and I always feel so thankful for the flexibility and family-friendly events we're able to attend with work.

Oh the chaos. Love it. 

So it was a good week. And I'm thankful to be home. {and now I'm baking lots. stay tuned...}

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Life with a three year old is essentially a pendulum swing. There doesn't seem to be a neutral middle place to hang out in. It's either rude, cranky, tantrum-throwing defiance or happy, hilarious, intelligent adorableness.

Often heard in our house by Noah:

"I'm the one with the poop."

"Uhhhhh NO!"



"Mom? I asked you a question!"

"Can you turn on the Christmas lights, Mom?"

"Can I watch something?" {I hate this one. Granted, it's usually asked when I'm unable to engage with him directly at the time and he's just bored.}

"I want a snack!" {This one could be said moments after any meal or instead of a meal.}

The entire alphabet sung either in French or English. Or Frenglish.

Noah is really into drawing {and he draws people now and I LOVE it. The head with the arms and legs coming out of it just kill me.} and doing crafts that involve gluing, colouring or cutting. Today I let him colour our sample Christmas photo card and when I looked at it afterward I laughed when I saw that he had coloured red over top of his and Jude's faces looking very much like street graffiti.
He wants to help me wash the dishes and do the laundry. He'll often help me with Jude and the tenderness he shows toward his brother melts my heart completely.
But he's also throwing tantrums on a whim and pushing his brother's buttons {and vice versa. I know. Already.} and I can see his internal struggle to work out the emotions he's feeling - whether they be frustration or anger or guilt or disappointment. I know it's hard for him and I'm trying to help him work through it and put names to emotions and let him know it's okay to feel those emotions, but it's not okay to, say, throw a chair or kick his brother or outright defy me.

How do you teach a child to obey even when he doesn't want to? {For now that's a rhetorical question. I'm pretty sure I know what we need to do at this point it's just getting around to doing it and focusing on training him to obey the first time, every time.} I know this leads into a fantastic spiritual analogy for my own life and I'm working that one out as well.

Three years old is way harder than two ever was. But as I watch and listen to him make up hilarious stories or imagine an empty box is a fantastic pirate ship or make me a birthday cake out of Play-Doh and then sing "Happy Birthday to You", I know that whatever we are working through and will work through is worth it to see him grow and develop into the person that God wants him to be.

Friday, December 3, 2010

and now for something a little lighter...

Jamie and I have picked up a new show to watch. Community. If you have not seen this gem of a show, you MUST WATCH IT NOW.
I laugh so hard during EVERY episode.
Like last night, for instance, we watched an episode and I couldn't stop laughing {I still can't!} at this clip:

Am I the ONLY one out there who says it like Britta? Anyone? {For the record, Jamie has always made fun of me for saying it this way AND my family makes fun of me as well, so I'm not sure where I got it from, but somehow I got lucky enough to say it the RIGHT way.}

Or what about this {I cried just now watching I was laughing so hard.}:

My absolute favourite character is Abed. Jamie likes Pierce {of course. He can't resist Chevy Chase.} the best.

I think it's the hilarious, quick banter that gets me. And the lack of filter. And the lack of PCness. And the complete stereotyping that they knowingly do. Okay and it's totally quirky at times. I love me some quirkiness.
This is a series I would watch over and over again.
Just search "Troy & Abed" and you'll find tons of hilarious videos on YouTube of Troy & Abed's antics.

Here's a classic and one to put you in the Christmasey mood:

I think this was what sealed the deal for me:


Thursday, December 2, 2010

a momentous occasion

An historic and momentous occasion occurred in the Strickland household last night.

Are you ready?

At bath time, we had our very first floatie incident.

As in someone pooped in the tub.

That would be Jude.

Honestly! Noah has never pooped in the bath (except while he was a baby - like a newborn maybe?).
But sure enough, within a couple minutes of putting Jude into the tub and letting the water run he started farting. Then he crouched and paused.
Then he leaned forward and...



So I did what any Mom, fearful of the quickly disintegrating poop getting EVERYWHERE, would do. I grabbed it with my bare hands.


Anyway, luckily Noah wasn't in the bath yet. Or any of the toys. (This was Noah's first concern - whether the poop got on any of the toys. A valid point, I suppose.)

Anyway, so that was our excitement for the evening.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I've always wanted to live in a house with a fireplace and large mantel and then go all out and decorate it to the nines for the Christmas season.

We moved into this house last summer and by the time Christmas came around I felt like I was just getting my feet back under me five months into Jude's life. So needless to say, I didn't go all out.

This year, however, I have found a gusto for decorating with style {and thrift} and scoured the internet looking for ideas and inspiration.
I finally found some inspiration when I stumbled upon a mantel decorated with a large sign that said, "Peace" and had a picture of a dove.
I was all set out to copy it and put it on my mantel, except life just doesn't work that way. {I couldn't find the materials I needed and then was inspired to use the word "peace" in another, simpler way that fits my lifestyle of having two very busy, active boys - who currently cannot stop pushing each others buttons - but I digress. That is a post for another day.}
So I took that idea and turned it into my own.

 This was last weekend when my in-laws came and helped us put up our tree. Note the mantel with our family pictures.

Bare mantel. All nekkid.


I love it. I have to admit, this is one honkin' huge mantel and I found the space somewhat difficult to fill up, but I think it works. {I may alter the final product, we'll see.} 
Don't you LOVE the golden tree/cones? I love. They were .... FREE! My sister is kindly lending them to me as they were part of her February wedding decor. {Thanks, Bean!} Gorg.

So here it is, broken down:

I love this piece. "Peace" With the nativity in the "A". Love, love, love it. This was what inspired me to drop my other idea, or at least to let it evolve into this one. I found this {and the "JOY" piece} at Michaels and they were both 40% off. Score!

Ah. I love this. This is a hand-carved nativity scene that I picked up during one of my trips in Tanzania. I love it. I love the dark wood and I love that it is centered in the middle of my mantel, causing me to remember what it is that I have to be thankful for, to anticipate and to take joy in.

And speaking of joy...again with the nativity scene in the "O". Love. and joy. 
The rest of the things {tinsel, small ornaments, pinecones} I either already had or bought cheaply from the dollar store or borrowed {from my lovely sister}. 

But in case you think {as it seems to happen in the blogosphere where you can show only the pretty parts of your house/life} that the rest of my house is gorgeous and clean and fully decorated, check out what I still have to clean up:

Booyah. I'm normal. {and so are you.}

Monday, November 29, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday: on the road

For some reason it's become increasingly difficult to be on top of this whole "Muffin Tin Monday" thing, but today I managed to remember, despite the fact that we were at my Mom's house today {waiting for Jamie to come home! Woo!}.
So I present to you, Muffin Tin Monday: on the road!

Top row: 3 "sticks" of cheddar cheese {which Noah dipped in the strawberry yogurt and ate. Um...okay.}, multigrain cheerios, some Ikea letter cookies, a Clementine orange
Bottom row: a few nuts and raisins, strawberry yogurt, some raspberries, dried fruit

By the end of the day most of this had disappeared, but due to the fact that this was an 8 muffin tin, instead of our usual 6 and that Noah {and I} just finished a rather nasty bout of a stomach bug, I give him credit for eating what he did. {A double dairy dip? No thanks.}

Thursday, November 25, 2010


i love a busy house.

when my house is full of people, laughter, food, noise

when it's full of love, warmth, little hands and feet, toys

these are the days i want to remember.

Jen's daughter Naomi, Bekki & her daughter Calli and Jude playing in the living room (Jen, her other 2 kids and Noah were also there, but not in this picture)

the little friendships that have started between these precious little boys and girls

i hope they last for a long, long time.

someone once said

never be ashamed of your home and never let your circumstances stop you from offering hospitality 

i think those are very wise words. i want to live by those words. 

what are you doing this Christmas season to show hospitality?

Monday, November 22, 2010

The war against pasta

When Noah was little and I was introducing solids and textures, I was cautious. I wasn't adventurous. I didn't give him lots of variety. Mostly because I didn't really know what to do. And I felt the need to not overwhelm Noah. And I'm totally reaping the consequences of that now. Noah tends to be quite picky and textures {like pasta} that are wobbly or wiggly he gags at or just plain out refuses to try it.

I've definitely learned my lesson. I've introduced and re-introduced foods to Jude until he tries it and eats it. Namely, pasta. Noah will NOT eat pasta. Not even alphaghetti. Or kraft dinner. {I'm so serious.} Pasta has got to be the easiest meal to make for kids so I was determined to have at least one child who will eat pasta.
And we're finally there.
{And he's using a spoon!}
Check it:

He's messy, but um...he's eating PASTA! I am happy. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Easy Cranberry Yogurt Muffins

Ah, I love a simple, fast recipe. Muffins by nature are a quick bread, but the quicker it takes {in my mind}, the better! This is one I could have on the table by the time Jude is freaking out in his booster, ready for breakfast {this happens every.single.morning. I have never let the kid starve so I'm not sure where this is coming from, but um,  it makes Mama go crazy}.
Oh my gosh, you guys. These muffins are SO delicious. Make them. Today.

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (you can sub for applesauce, but I didn't have any)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups chopped cranberries

Mix the oats with the yogurt. Add in the oil/applesauce, sugar, egg. Make sure to beat well. Sift in flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda. BEFORE stirring, sprinkle the cranberries on top. Stir until just blended. Fill muffin cups and bake at 400F for about 15 minutes {or longer, my oven is on the hot side}.
I got 18 muffins out of this one.
{Did ya catch that? You only use ONE BOWL. What up!?}

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Apple Cranberry Yogurt Coffee Cake

I love baking and cooking. I really do! But often it's the clean up that deters me from actually doing it aside from the usual breakfast/lunch/dinner clean up that already exists.
But not today.
For some reason I was highly motivated to try new recipes and use up some old yogurt and fresh cranberries I had in my fridge {um, yeah. my poor fridge totally needed a clean out. and it got one. and now you're getting this recipe as a result. win!}.
So among other recipes {yes, I did try Joy the Baker's Salted Cocoa Roasted Hazelnuts...and oh. I died. and I had to put them away so I wouldn't eat THE ENTIRE BATCH.} I present to you my take on the apple cranberry yogurt coffee cake:

1 1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple sauce
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 apples {but I only had one}, cored and roughly chopped to 1/2 inch pieces

Preheat your oven to 325F. Lightly grease and flour a 9x13 pan {or you can use smaller pans - I used two 8 inch cake pans and a loaf pan because I wanted smaller cakes to freeze}.
In a small sauce pan, simmer the water, sugar and cranberries on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries just begin to pop {I learned something new! I never knew they did that until today!}, about 5 minutes. Remove the berries with a slotted spoon and reserve.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Once creamed, add in the apple sauce. Lightly beat the eggs with vanilla and stir to combine.
Into another bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the apple pieces and toss to coat.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine.
Fold in the yogurt and gently add the cranberries, being careful not to break them apart.
Pour the batter into your chosen pan(s) and bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on your pan size - a tooth pick should come out clean when poked into the middle.).
Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving.
And enjoy!

Adapted from The Dannon Kitchen

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cheese Stars

On Tuesday I went over to my friend Chantel's house to attempt what some might consider "crazy";
a Christmas baking day.
with 5 children.
that's right.

It was an incredible feat and a lot of fun! And...we made a double batch of my Cheese Stars.

I've blogged about these Christmas favourites for several years now {I've made them every year since I've been married!} but never published the recipe. So here it is for your baking {and eating} pleasure.

Cheese Stars

1/2 cup butter
2 cups grated old cheddar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper {don't skimp on the cayenne!}
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 F.
With an electric mixer, cream butter. Stir in grated cheeses.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, cayenne and salt. Add the cheese mixture and mix well.
Knead the mixture a few times on a lightly floured board. Divide in four. Roll one piece out to about 1/8 inch thick, be sure there is enough flour to release dough from your working surface.
Cut out star shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet. {Or whatever shape you want, but then they won't be cheese stars if you make moons. Or trees. Or motorcycles.} When the cookie sheet is full, brush each shape with egg, then sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Bake for about 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Warm in a moderate oven before serving.
Makes about 8 dozen 2 inch shapes.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2 blessings

I'm so blessed.

Even though Jude is in a hitting phase {wherein he hits only his brother and as hard as he can!} and Noah often screams this ear-piercing scream whenever Jude approaches his beloved puzzles.
Even though Jude hangs off my pant leg when I'm trying to make dinner and Noah is sometimes whiney and asks to watch tv many, many times a day.

I'm blessed to have these two children in my life. They make me laugh and smile. They teach me to wonder and take joy in the little things.
They make me strive to be more creative, to really SEE the beauty in things, to love and pray more.
When I see them hug, when I watch Noah share his favourite toy with Jude and teaches Jude to say "truck" or "book"...

My heart.

it goes.


Monday, November 15, 2010

He did it his way

This morning after breakfast I was playing with Jude in the kitchen and I got him to let go of the table while he was standing. He was free standing! Then he sat down and stood up by himself without holding onto anyone or anything! I clapped and cheered like only a mother can over such a small accomplishment.
He smiled so proudly and continued to do it over and over again.
Jamie eventually came downstairs to find out what the commotion was all about.
Jude had another cheerleader and was as proud as a peacock!
Later that morning we went to the Y and I dropped the boys off in the playcare center. After my workout I went to pick them up and I walked in to see Jude standing, bopping up and down and clapping along with the song the staff were singing. I just about died. It was seriously the cutest thing ever.
Of course he refused to do it for either of our friends when I tried to get him to do it later today. So classic.
Oh Jude. You make me smile.
He wants to do things his way and in his own time. He won't walk, but I'm convinced he totally could right now if he wanted to. So maybe he'll walk next week, maybe next month. When he wants to, it'll happen.

{In the meantime, I need to get his standing skills on video!}

Muffin Tin Monday for the win!

After a couple weeks of missing it, we're back at it again; Muffin Tin Monday!

Meals {it really doesn't matter which one these days} have been a bit of a battle lately with Noah. Even today we had a minor meltdown, but overall, I count this as a success because ALL the food got eaten. By Noah.

So we have:
Top row: slices of green pepper, half a banana {the source of the meltdown}, "sticks" of cucumbers
Bottom row: vanilla yogurt {his favourite part of this particular Muffin Tin Monday}, leftover sausage, chunks of granola bar.

I think the reason Muffin Tin Monday works so well is because it's small amounts of food. The food is all separated from each other. And the food is usually presented in a fun/cute way. Usually that spells success for any toddler/preschooler {heck, I'd like someone to make ME a muffin tin meal!}. 
So we keep on!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


November isn't always the most pleasant of months.
November 2010 has been downright delightful.
I am so thankful for sun and warmth, for friends and friends for my kids and being outside.

On Friday, the boys and I went for a walk with my friend Chantel {who becomes more and more dear to me the more we hang out which is making me more and more sad to be leaving next year} and her two girls and the little boy she looks after. Her daughter, Hannah, was born 2 days after Noah and they are seriously two peas in a pod.

{I remembered to bring my camera on our walk.}


The start of our walk. It was so cool to walk down this made-for-a-movie path lined with tall, old trees.


Hannah & Noah have a blast telling us "red light" and "green light". A friend told me she thought it looked like they were singing "Stop in the name of love.". Maybe they were....



A snack break in the sun.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Get ready to die a sweet, sweet death {from diabetes or heart failure}

The first time I heard about The Pioneer Woman it was in direct relation to her to-die-for Cinnamon Rolls. That was months (and months?) ago and I finally got around to making them yesterday.
They were so worth it. Noah and I split one pan. I gave the other two away {and still have 1/2 the dough sitting in the fridge waiting for more butter and cinnamon before I start round 2}.
I got The Pioneer Woman Cooks for my birthday and decided to follow the recipe from a real live cookbook rather than the internet.
I got to step 3 before I realized I had already screwed it up {or at least I thought I had}. Unfortunately, due to the slightly overwhelming layout of pictures accompanying each direction {which works amazingly on her website, but in her book...well, lets just say I learned my lesson} I read the directions from Left to Right instead of going up and down the columns, following the numbers posted below each picture.
So I didn't add the yeast when I was supposed to.
I quickly realized my error and hastily added in the yeast and hoped for the best.
Then I realized I also forgot the salt.
So I added that in too. {And again, hoped for the best.}

Then I facebooked my woes and had many lovely people give me virtual back pats and I felt much better afterward. {And hoped for the best.}

Let's be honest, friends. It was a rookie mistake. But {get ready for this}...I've never made bread before. Or any kind of bread {other than quick breads like cakes or muffins}. So I had no idea what to do with the yeast.
But...check out these beauties:

Before icing amazingness.

After icing amazingness.

I think it's safe to say that my rookie mistake did not hurt the outcome too badly.
Seriously. YUM.

Psst...stay tuned for my {gasp} modifications on her recipe!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Remembrance Day.

Over the past few years Remembrance Day has been more poignant and emotional for me.
This year was even more.
This year my brother Keven is serving in Afghanistan. He's been there since this spring and we are praying for a safe return before Christmas.
I am so thankful for him and for those who have gone before him both in this war and in wars past.

Hurry home, Kev. We're thankful for what you're doing but we miss you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blanket Time Version 2.0

Oh this one is going to be interesting.

So I started blanket time with Jude and so I set out our "ducky" blanket and put Jude on it with some cars and a ball.
I told him he had to stay on the blanket until the timer went off.
Then I went into the kitchen. He sat there and was so enthralled by the ducks on the blanket that he didn't even seem to notice. Then the timer went off.

And he seemed to like it.

So I set the timer for another 5 minutes.

I was just about to take a picture of him when he crawled right off the blanket.
So I stood up so he could see me and said, "Jude. Get back on the blanket."
And then I almost died laughing as he crawled backwards onto the blanket.

He's a smart cookie and definitely understands what "blanket time" is all about! Or at least he understands the boundaries of a blanket.

So the last minute or two I had to tell him to get back on the blanket multiple times, but it went really well! We'll try blanket time every day now and hopefully be able to increase the time.
Seriously. This kid cracks me up.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

the joy of learning

I think one of the best things about being a parent is watching your child learn. Whether it's learning to roll over or crawl or walk or eat with utensils or cut with scissors or create art or read, it really doesn't matter; it's just a lot of fun to watch your kid learn.

Lately Noah has been drawing people. Requirements for a drawn person by Noah:
1. a large, somewhat round head.
2. eyes - often more than 2
3. legs {i was surprised that legs came before arms for him - no reason, really. it's just interesting to see the progression}
4. hair {sometimes - but i love his drawn hair - lots of vertical lines. love.}

Today Noah made a person out of Play-Doh. It had eyes and a mouth {!} and two toothpicks sticking out of the head {i'm not sure if they were arms or legs}.

"Cheese". Noah & Play-Doh Guy.

Hannah & Noah - BFFs.

I'm sure it seems uninteresting to you because he is not your child, but I am amazed and joyfully anticipate his drawings now that they are actually taking some sort of decipherable shapes/objects.
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