Monday, November 26, 2012

our Christmas favourites: music and movies

it's no secret we love our christmas movies and music. in fact, last year someone told me that i own more christmas music than anyone else they know {my iTunes "christmas jollies" playlist has 191 songs.}. i take that as a compliment.
and then this year jamie suggested {aka challenged} me/us to watch all our christmas movies. in the words of barney stinson, "challenge accepted!".

so... music and movies - christmas style. {insert gangnam style music here.}

first up is boney m. seriously. does anyone NOT like boney m at christmas? maybe i shouldn't ask that. i'm sure there are some out there who very much do not like boney m. but me? LOVE it. i wonder if it's because it makes me think of my sister and i love my sister. last year i bought mary's boy child and have already had numerous dance parties to it. besides, if there's any christmas music that feels appropriate to listen to in africa, it's mary's boy child. by boney m. watch this video. it's a-maze-ing.

and mariah carey. i love her christmas album. i love mariah. is it really christmas if you haven't listened to "all i want for christmas is you"? i think not.

last year i was introduced to an incredible band called folk angel. they first released a christmas EP in 2009 and then an entire album in 2010. last year i bought both and loved listening to both old favourites and new songs that they cover. their music goes deeper than santa and christmas trees. i blogged last year about their spoken word piece called "god with us" - the lyrics are incredible. definitely worth a listen to. they just released their newest album. it's likely i will buy this one as well. {because i'm so close to 200!}

i love chris tomlin and diana krall and michael buble {seriously. check out that link! so fun!} and sufjan stevens. third day and christmas with the rat pack and jewel. i love 'em all. there's tons of fabulous music out there. but i need to get onto movies!

 so. this year we're attempting to watch all our christmas movies. we made a list and we've got 21 christmas movies. here they are {if you're curious}:

the holiday *
love actually *
how the grinch stole christmas {cartoon version}
how the grinch stole christmas {jim carrey version} *
national lampoon's christmas vacation *
the santa clause
the santa clause 2
the polar express*
home alone
home alone 2
white christmas
charlie brown christmas
8 crazy nights
elf *
christmas with the kranks
miracle on 34th street
christmas carol {the old version}
simpson's christmas special 1
simpson's christmas special 2
all i want for christmas
muppet's christmas carol

the ones i've put an asterix by are our favourites. national lampoon's is a family favourite and tradition from jamie's family and i've grown to love it. {that's marriage for ya.}
the grinch is a big favourite of mine because i love jim carrey. {the holiday is also quickly becoming a favourite of mine. because really? i love jack black. i think i have a thing for funny guys.}
and the boys really love the polar express. i like it too. 
i've crossed out the ones we've watched already. so it looks like we're 6/21 so far. 

we have a bunch of other kids christmas movies that we haven't "counted" towards our list, but the boys have already watched a bunch of them. one i got last year that is sweet and tells the story of christmas without annoying music {actually, the music is pretty good!} or voices is the very first noel. i highly recommend it. it's told from the viewpoint of one of the wise men and it's all in rhyme. it's very well done. you can actually watch the whole thing on youtube

so those are some of our favourites. what are yours?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

sugar-free, egg-free, gluten-free banana peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

that's a mouthful, eh? {get it? mouthful? okay. i'm done.}

i made these after having the recipe saved on my computer and hearing rave reviews from friends who had tried it. {i can't find the source
truthfully i was looking for something sweet to snack on.
these totally fulfilled my craving AND they are healthy to boot!

we were at mishmash for lunch today and i picked up some all-natural peanut butter from one of the vendors. the perfect addition for these cookies. 
{i seriously still can't believe these don't have any added sugar in them besides for the chocolate chips!}

anyway, i think these may be my go-to chocolate chip cookie from now on. i won't feel so bad letting my boys have an extra cookie now. {not to mention sneaking one or two more myself!}


banana peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
slightly adapted from the family kitchen

3 large bananas
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups oats
1/3 cup coconut
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

preheat oven to 350˚F.
in a large bowl mash the bananas with the peanut butter, oil and vanilla. in another bowl stir together the oats, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients along with the chocolate and stir until combined.
drop spoonfuls of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 12-14 minutes, until just set. makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

{these are only gluten-free if you are using gluten-free oats.}

Friday, November 23, 2012

a gobblety goop of things

it's been a good week. but it hasn't been an easy week.

we're currently experimenting with not swaddling blaise for his naps. he sleeps no better, but no worse. we'll see how it goes.

blaise got his 2 month immunizations on tuesday. he's been a bit irritable during the days. thankfully still sleeping really well at night.
i'm tired. and most days i feel like i fail more than i succeed. but there's grace. and strength.
i'm feeling a bit lonely and missing face-to-face conversations with people who know me and love me and understand me. but there's grace. and strength.

i had a bit of an ache in my heart the other day as we drove the streets of kampala. i was thinking about how i'll miss living here when we leave. i'm very much excited for the day we return to canada, but right now? kampala is home for us. and there are many things i'll miss about living here. {noah remarked to me almost seconds after i thought this that he is glad we're moving back to canada because the streets are bigger and don't have pot holes. yeah. that'll be nice.}

i crocheted a scarf. it's incredibly soft and thick. and warm. much too warm for here. but i'm saving it for when we go to spain in january.
you can find the pattern here.

i haven't exercised all week {tired much?} and i've been scarfing down chocolate. holding crying babies makes me crave chocolate.

jamie challenged me/us to watch all our christmas movies this year. we figured out that we have 22. so far we've watched five.

our tree is up. the stockings are hung. we're listening to christmas music. and i'm loving watching the boys act out the christmas story with their little people nativity set. the other day i heard noah yelling at jude: LET US IN! WE NEED A ROOM!!! LET US IN OR I'LL PUNCH YOU!
i looked over and found that he was holding mary and joseph and jude was holding one of the wise men. i think maybe he was supposed to be the innkeeper. i'm not quite sure that's how it all went down, but i like jospeh's protective and assertiveness.

a wasp flew into our living room the other day. as it was flying around, it got stuck in a spider's web. i have never seen a daddy long legs {or whatever this african equivalent is called} move so quickly! seriously. the spider was on that wasp so fast. but the wasp got free and we eventually "swooshed" it outside again.

i would like to sleep for the entire weekend. but that's not going to happen.
there are so many good things in my life. but life is not always easy. no matter your stage in life or where you live.
wishing you a wonderful weekend! {and a happy thanksgiving to all my american friends and readers!}

Monday, November 19, 2012

our favourite christmas iPad apps

so it's getting to be that time of year!!!

we love christmas around here. usually we wait until american thanksgiving to begin decorating and playing christmas music but this year we decided to move it up a bit due to the fact that it doesn't really feel like christmas here with the hot weather. and that's okay, it just means i get to play my christmas music a bit earlier than usual. so this weekend began the christmas season for us here in the strickland household {although we did almost "cancel" Christmas before we even had our tree set up due to whining, hitting and general bad behaviour. oh life.}.

in the next few weeks i'll be blogging about what are our favourite christmas things including:

music & movies
toys & decorations
ways to give

first up is iPad apps
jamie recently got an iPad and i've been going nuts downloading tons of fun {free!} christmas apps for us all to enjoy.

i tried this one out for the first time and had to stifle a laugh because noah was in the next room and i didn't want him to come and see. it's hilarious! you get to work in a barber shop and cut santa's hair. there are options to comb, cut, colour and grow back his hair. check out toca boca's hair salon. {you can also trim a tree as well. get it? trim a tree? aha.} the boys both love this one so it's an all 'round hit!

i absolutely love this one. it's a gingerbread cookie maker. so you guys know i love to cook and bake for reals, but this is baking without all the mess {well, and the actual cookie to eat, but whatevs.}. i love how you get to add the ingredients and stir it all together and even roll and cut out the cookies. once they're baked, you get to decorate them with icing, candies and nuts. this one is free and fun!

there are tons of free countdowns and of course you have to get the talking gingerbread man. my kids can't get enough of those silly apps. 

as for beautiful books you can read on your iPad here are my favourites:

this one isn't free {$2.99}, but it's beautifully illustrated and with the accompanying music of Tchaikovsky, you can't go wrong. it's a great way to introduce your kids to some great music and a beautiful winter/christmas story.

and this one is a classic. if you're going to pay for any iPad christmas app, let it be charlie brown's christmas. it's lovely. and i always love how the real Christmas story is told. word for word, straight from the Bible. love it. {there's also a free "trim the tree" Charlie Brown app, as well.}

what are some of your favourite yuletide apps?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2 months

dear blaise {aka "blazer", aka "smalls"}

you are 2 months old. amazing. it almost seems as if you change from hour to hour!

you are wearing 3-6 month and 6 month clothing. it would seem you are taking after your oldest brother in this regard. some of the clothes we were given didn't even get worn by you because you're growing so quickly!

speaking of clothes, how cute are you in your tuxedo onesie from your auntie bean? answer: SO CUTE.

you are at your smile-iest right after you've woken up and have had been fed {well, who wouldn't be?}. your smiles kill me and melt me right down into a puddle. wide, open-mouthed, gummy smiles.
your brothers fight to hold you {pretty much every morning} and you {for the most part} tolerate their over exuberance in hugs and kisses.

you will sit in your rocking chair for a bit, but you definitely prefer to be held. and by me. but whatevs. i know it's a short, short time and before i know it, you'll be tall and lanky like your brother noah. crazy.

you aren't really gassy anymore, {thank goodness!} but you do spit up after every feed but this only gives me an excuse to change you into another cute outfit.

and your hair! the number one thing people comment on is your hair. it just spikes up on its own! you also have developed the dreaded cradle cap. guh. i hate cradle cap. but i went to town on it after your last bath with a little comb and just combed as much of it off as i could. apparently you're like me in that you like your hair/scalp to be played with/combed/touched/etc. as you fell asleep shortly after i started.

you're doing swimmingly at sleeping at night. you generally go to sleep easily around 8pm and i'll dream feed you at 11pm and then you usually wake up to eat around 3 or 4am and then it's back to sleep until 6:30 or 7am. {sometimes later if i'm lucky.}

however with naps we've had to continue to work on and fight through. {why don't babies like to nap during the day? why?}
but you'll usually take a decent nap in the morning and then i have to be diligent in watching for sleepy signals in the afternoon but that last nap in the early evening is fought tooth and nail as you prefer to be held. {isn't that convenient?}.

your daddy and i often wonder what you'll be like as we've watched your two older brothers' personalities come through. you certainly seem to know what you want and aren't afraid to let us know. you have a smile that could melt the hardest heart and i think you'll be quite accomplished in the art of persuasion - using good old-fashioned charming methods, of course.

we love you oh-so-much and look forward to what the next months will hold.

i love you,

*see how blaise grows!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

things i'm loving lately

we're slowly getting into some semblance of a routine. blaise only woke up once last night to eat at 3:45am and then slept 'til 7:30am. glorious. absolutely glorious. he's getting better at going down for his naps, but we're still working on it.
i've been baking lots more and crocheting and am currently on the hunt {which likely means i'll just ask my mom to send me some} yarn that's in the colours of angry birds which i can hopefully crochet for christmas for the boys.
we've sorta scrapped the "screen time tickets" for now, but we do only let the boys have 30 minutes on the iPad at a time. {noah would literally play}

anyway, i thought i'd share with you a few lovely things that i'm loving these days.

chocolate. all things chocolate. i hit this phase every time i have kids. i mean, i love chocolate in general, but this is intense. it comes on strong at the 2 month mark post-partum. i could just eat bar after bar after bar of chocolate {and i have. but not every day.}. it's ridiculous and i'm trying to curb it. but right now i'm currently loving snickers and twix. chocolate and caramel-y goodness. *drool*

lullabies. even if you don't have babies or young kids {or kids at all} get this album. re-done hymns speaking God's truth and peace to your heart. so lovely. {i absolutely love Page CXVI and would recommend all of their albums for anyone who loves hymns.}

i finally got into angry birds. it took angry birds star wars to do it for me. i think it's cute. and i secretly try and beat all of noah's high scores when i play but man! the kid is shockingly good! an addicting game made even better by using one of the best movie series of all time.

i downloaded this book to my kindle a couple weeks ago when someone posted on facebook that it was free. i thought, why not? a free book on parenting couldn't hurt and if i don't like it, i'll just delete it.
i have thoroughly enjoyed this book so far {not quite finished}. as i've entered this new phase of parenting three little boys, jamie and i have been reflecting on parenting and what life was like before kids and how things have changed since. benjamin kearns is funny and speaks frankly while also communicating some powerful truths about parenting and God's desire to refine and shape us as parents. it's not free anymore, but it is only $2.99. well worth it, i'd say.

i'm still loving the homemade graham crackers i posted about last week {just took a batch out of the oven minutes ago. the house smells lovely!}. i'm itching to pull out our christmas decorations out and get started, but that will have to wait until this weekend.
and speaking of christmas, i'm hoping to post a few entries on some of our favourite christmas things. stay tuned for more!

happy wednesday!

Friday, November 9, 2012

a new friday links

somehow i've managed to crochet and try out new recipes. in a lot of ways it refreshes me, even though it does tire me out sometimes. get to benefit from my experimenting with new crochet patterns and recipes!

so here's a variation of friday links for ya!

this adorable crocheted elf-hat has been a pattern that's been saved on my computer for months. maybe longer. i finally got around to crocheting it with this incredibly soft golden yarn that my mom brought over for me. the cream-coloured yarn is not as soft and a bit bulkier, but i think it works. you can find the pattern here.

yesterday i tweeted that i had made homemade graham crackers. they turned out deliciously! i froze half the batch but the first half is almost all gone so i'm thinking of baking up the other half today. these are delicious and simple and the boys loved them. i followed this recipe exactly and i will definitely be making them again.

now these are only half done. yep. i still need to slice 'em up and bake 'em again. what you are beholding is a recipe for rosemary raisin pecan crisps {although i substituted craisins for raisins. i also omitted the flax seed because i didn't have any, but i'm sure it would be delicious and extra healthy with the flax added in.}. in similar fashion to biscotti, they need to be baked twice. they smell delicious and i'm excited to see how they turn out. i'm sure they'll be gobbled up just as quickly as the graham crackers. many thanks to my friend hannah for recommending that i try this recipe.

and i didn't take a picture, but last night i made a delicious slow cooker {o slow i love thee!} meal; coconut chicken curry. it was a bit time consuming to get the chicken off the thighs, but worth it. it was delicious. i don't remember where i got the recipe from, but if this is yours, let me know so i can give you credit!

coconut chicken curry
makes 4 servings

8 oz red potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 tbsp chopped dehydrated onion
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 (14 oz) can tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
1 tsp regular chicken bouillon granules
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
salt and pepper

1.  stir all ingredients (except salt and pepper) into a 3-5 quart slow cooker. 
2.  cover and cook on LOW for about 4-6 hours, or until potatoes are tender.
3.  salt and pepper to taste and add in additional seasonings, if needed.
4.  serve over rice.

my boys {the older two} often play well together, but lately they're starting to fight more as well. whether it's noah's quiet, but antagonizing comments {o hello fellow eldest child! how i know you well, for i am also one.} or jude's mass chaos and destruction to noah's carefully constructed lego the number of fights in our household is increasing. rapidly. i came across this website today and was drawn in immediately by the honesty and frankness in the style of writing {it's a marriage website, by the way}. then i came across the idea for a "kindness jar" and i was hooked. in fact, i'm making one today. we'll see how it goes and i'll report back here if it has worked for our family.

and one last link. i may be addicted to starting new blogs. i'm not sure how long this one will last, but lately jude has been doing and saying too many funny things. so i made up a blog specifically to document them. they probably won't always be long entries and they might not even seem funny to you, but they'll serve as a great way to remember this stage he's in. you can check it out here.

happy friday!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


every morning they argue over who will be first to hold blaise.

i suppose that's one argument i don't mind hearing. 
especially since it won't last long.
{how is my youngest baby already 7.5 weeks old!?!}

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

to market, to market

this morning we all decided to go out for a walk to the market to buy some bread. i put blaise in the carrier and we all headed out.

it's a bit of a jaunt but despite the boys' {fake} huffing and puffing we made it to the market {which i discovered also hosts a craft market! maybe just on wednesdays but o joy! crafts! this mama can't resist looking at all the pretty things...}.

on our way home we decided to stop in and say hi to some friends that were on furlough in the US for the past few months. we chatted with them for about an hour and then other friends dropped in on them so we decided to walk back home and have some lunch.
for some reason jude was full of energy, running up ahead of us all and not complaining about walking. he raced down the hill and up onto our front porch with noah in close pursuit of him and when i came around this is the scene i came across:

actually, this was the scene about 30 seconds after i came around the corner. jude was peeing into an old water container while noah was holding it for him. seriously. my first reaction was, "what are you doing!!!" {which hilariously made jude pull out, spray noah and then aim back into the bottle} and then jamie and i started laughing so hard. these kids. never a dull moment around here, folks.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

5 things i've learned since becoming a mom: love

this is the final entry in a five part series of things i've learned since becoming a mom 5 years ago.
click on the links to read part one, part two, part three and part four.

becoming a mom helped me to see the selfish idea of love that i had. sure i was married. sure jamie and i had dated for 4 years {plus 10 months being engaged}. but having kids and becoming a mom opened my eyes to my shallow definition of love. jamie and i had sailed through our first couple years of marriage with relative ease. sure we had fights, but we probably would have had even less if i had learned to really love and put his needs before my own.
but becoming a mother taught me about how to 


i remember sitting at a dinner table with a close friend of mine and watching her give up her strawberries from her salad for her son who loved {at that time} all fruit and vegetables that were red. i understood, but i couldn't imagine gladly giving up a fruit that was one of my favourites. {so immature, right?}

just today i have wiped two different children's bums and also picked up a large turd off the floor and deposited into the toilet {where it belongs}. 
i probably got 5-6 hours of sleep last night. and the littlest little is screaming his heart out in rejection of his nap. that he very much needs right now. {that i very much need him to take.}
i have listened to many a children's cd that i can't stand because it brings them happiness.
today is jamie's birthday and i managed to scrap together a slice of banana bread and vanilla earl grey tea for his birthday breakfast this morning. {he was very gracious and gladly accepted.}
i repeat myself over and over and over again as i attempt to teach my boys how to speak politely to grown-ups. 
i pray for my boys - for who they are. for who i hope they will be. 
i have devoured dozens of books on parenting. 
i have read the same bedtime story for months in a row.
their loves and passions have become mine. their accomplishments are exciting and joy-filling to participate in with them.
i have devoted countless hours discussing with friends about parenting challenges and issues with my kids. 

in learning to love these little boys, i have already gained a wider understanding of what it means to love my husband. it's hard. we have not so easily sailed through these last 5 years. no sir. i have learned what is meant by the saying "marriage is work". it is. but although our lives are so different now and sometimes we reminisce what it was like before we had kids, i wouldn't change a thing. having kids has deepened our love for each other and strengthened our marriage. 

love doesn't always mean giving my kids what they want, but it does mean that i'd gladly give them something that i used to selfishly keep to myself. whether it's a strawberry or my time...i'm learning to love with a more selfless, Christ-like love. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

three in november

blaise's face kills me. 
but i finally finished crocheting his blanket. 

i think he quite likes it. 

and the reality behind these pictures?
i was hoping blaise wouldn't spit up all over everything. {he saved it for the second i picked him up afterward.}
i also decided that if i couldn't get a non-crying shot of blaise, then i'd just tell noah and jude to pretend they were crying too. {blaise has been a bit fussier as of late.} turns out that he was more than happy to oblige me with some shots of him and his big brothers {he absolutely adores them}. 

last night was a bit brutal and the sleep deprivation is catching up to me as i {apparently} was frantically searching through our sheets and prodding jamie in attempt to find blaise {who has been sleeping in the pack 'n play now for a few days - he outgrew "the box" and i wanted my bed back}. whenever i start "being crazy" is when i know i need more sleep. oh sleep. i miss you. 

but life goes on and we're getting ready to say good-bye to my parents who leave tomorrow night to fly back to canada. we'll miss them a lot. and we'll have to adjust to only having one iPad around for the boys to play with {this generation. psh!}.

happy weekend to you!

i got this idea from steph who takes pictures of her four kids on the fourth of every month.

Friday, November 2, 2012

nutty granola

my parents are here. but they leave on sunday. *insert sad face here*

it's been a great month of having them here, doing life together and watching the boys play and laugh with their grandparents whom they haven't seen in over a year!
but whenever we have guests {yes, even family are "guests"}, i feel the need to offer more than our traditional "toast and cereal" for breakfast. this is a fantastic recipe that i modified from my friend kelly for the most delicious {and healthy!} granola that you can enjoy with milk or yogurt {oh how i miss really good yogurt!}, drizzled with maple syrup on top. it makes a big enough batch to share with guests, but i doubled it when i made it last week and we've still got a bit left over. i was inspired to turn kelly's regular granola into a nuttier version when my mom brought me 3 big {costco-sized} bags of nuts! enjoy!

nutty granola

start by baking 3 cups of oats at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

then add the following:
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

the uncooked granola, ready to go in the oven

bake for 15 minutes. and stir often! don't worry if it doesn't seem completely crisp when the 15 minutes are up as it will crisp up as it cools.
i used quick-cooking oats last time and it turned out fine. this time i found "barley flakes" that looked like old-fashioned oats so i decided to do half barley flakes and half oats and it turned out fine! feel free to experiment with different types of grains. i've even recently seen a quinoa granola recipe!
you can put in a pretty jar and give as a gift or enjoy it however you like your granola!

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