Sunday, December 30, 2012

A look back at 2012

Here's a little review of 2012 - I've picked a favorite or memorable post from each month of the past year.  I'm sure that most people won't click on all of them (and I don't expect you to answer the questions, unless you really want to), but it was fun for me to look back!

January: inevitably every mom will get unsolicited advice from a stranger - do you recall what an old lady said to me at the doctor's office?

February: Emmett took his first steps!  How old was he when he hit this milestone?

March: It's show and tell time at preschool - what did Annika bring in for the letter "U"?

April: I made a decision that I don't regret - what did I decide to hang on to?

May: I discovered a new hobby!  What have I been up to?

June: A day of family fun at the Children's Museum - what was Annika's favorite thing there?

July: July long weekend at my parents' cabin - do you remember who we met that weekend?

August: remembering an anniversary - what happened on this day?

September: Carey and I get away for a few days without the kids - where did we go?

October: Love this picture of the kids enjoying one of their favorite foods.

November: Annika and I have fun outside, despite the fact that I've been going through a rough time.  What have I been dealing with?

December: Emmett turns 2!  What was the theme of his birthday party?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Christmas

Here are a few pictures from the past week!  We had a great Christmas - hope you all did too!!

Dec 22 - on our way to see lots of Christmas lights!  Annika was soooo excited for this.

The nativity scene in lights.

Christmas morning excitement!

Checking out all their new stuff (side note: Emmett wanted to stay in his jammies, but Annika insisted on getting dressed - and dressed up - before opening presents).

Carey's present - can you guess what it is?  (It's a snow brush/scraper for his truck).

Emmett's new tools, handmade by his grandpa.

Something both of them can enjoy at the same time!

Emmett practically licked his plate clean at dessert.

Annika trying out her stocking stuffer - bath crayons (which were a lot harder to clean off than I would've liked).

Emmett got bath finger paints in his stocking, which, thankfully, washed off quite well.

Emmett loved playing with the "photo booth" props at our family gathering on Boxing Day!

So, that was a little glimpse of our Christmas.  I found this year to be a lot easier than last year, but it still was a busy few days (with 3 late nights in a row).  I found Christmas Day to be a bit much for Annika, as we opened presents at home in the morning, then at Carey's parents' place in the afternoon and my parents' place in the evening.  It's a bit overwhelming for a kid, and she was on a bit of a "mood rollercoaster" that day (lots of ups and downs).  Emmett just wanted to open and play with each gift, never mind keep opening presents.  I've always liked that we can spend time with each of our families on Christmas day, but maybe we'll have to see for next year whether something needs to change.  I feel like, since having kids, each year is a bit of a learning experience and just when I think I've figured things out, they change again!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hustle and bustle

Last year I wrote a list of all our planned activities for the week of Christmas, and it was really neat to look back on it, so I'm doing it again this year.  It's more for myself than anyone else, but in case you want to know what we're up to....

Today: we started off the day with breakfast out with some good friends of ours and their kids, then Annika went over to her Grandma and Grandpa's house to bake and decorate Christmas cookies.  While she was gone and Emmett and Carey were napping, I made chocolate coconut cream balls for taking to a family gathering on Boxing day (they are amazing - I'll try to post the recipe soon).  Tonight we are planning to go see the lights at the Winter Wonderland display.  We've done it for the past 2 years, and it's become a Christmas tradition of ours.

Sunday: church in the morning, nothing planned for the rest of the day except to make our annual batch of "Christmas" pancakes for supper - which are just regular pancakes, but I have a special pan that cooks special designs (snowman, tree, Santa, etc) in them.

Monday (Christmas eve): Family gathering (Carey's mom's side) for lunch and supper - about a half hour drive from here.  This is always a fun gathering, but usually ends up being a late night, which can be hard on the kids (which is then hard on us, the parents!).

Tuesday (Christmas): I plan to make Pilsbury cinnamon rolls for breakfast and we'll have a bit of family time at home to open gifts.  Then it's off to Carey's parents' place for lunch and my parents' place for supper.  We are very lucky to have both of our sets of parents close by us (10 minutes drive or less), so we get to see everyone on Christmas.

Wednesday (Boxing Day): for the past few years we've had 2 family gatherings on Boxing Day (one for lunch and one for supper), and we've made it to them both, despite having to drive around the countryside quite a bit.  This year we again have 2 gatherings scheduled for Boxing Day, but after the craziness of last year (when I felt exhausted and sick and sighing with relief when it was all over), we've decided to only go to one of them.  We'll be going to a gathering with my dad's side for the afternoon and supper - about an hour drive from here.  In the past I really haven't been able to enjoy this gathering as much as I would've liked to, since we often arrived late (after everyone was already sitting down and we had to go sit at a table by ourselves) and I was usually so tired by the end of the day that I just wanted to go home.  I'm looking forward to it this year, and hopefully I'll have a bit more time and energy to visit with family that I don't get to see very often.  It will be another late night, but hopefully the kids will sleep on the drive home.

No plans after that!  Carey "technically" has the rest of the week off work, but chances are good that he'll probably go in for a little while anyways.  But there will still be lots of time to relax and enjoy being together as a family, which is what I think I'm looking forward to the most!

Friday, December 21, 2012

This moment - appetizers

"A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Okay, I'm going to break the "no words" rule today - just wanted to point out (in case you didn't notice) that the chip bowl is nearly empty while the peas bowl is still full.  Yup, those are my kids. ;)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Then and now

I had wanted to post this for Emmett's birthday, but I didn't get to it in time.  Well, better late than never!

I've gotten rid of most of the kids' clothes as they've outgrown them, but one thing I've hung onto (for sentimental reasons) is their "going home" sleepers.

                               Then...                                                     ....and now

Isn't it amazing how they grow?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Getting to know you: Christmas version

I saw this quiz on my friend Tammi's blog, so I thought I'd play along.  Merry Christmas!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper.  It's just not as much fun to "tear into" a gift bag.  However, I do also have a fondness for a certain gift box that has passed back and forth between me and the members of my family for quite a few years (no one throws it away, it's kept and used again the next year - it's probably been around for more than 10 years!).
2. Real tree or artificial?   Artificial.  I wish we had a pre-lit tree, though - I can't stand putting up the lights.

3. When do you put up the tree?   Before Emmett was born I didn't have a set date for putting up the tree (usually end of November or early December), but now that Emmett's birthday is December 2nd, I don't put up the tree until after his birthday is done.

4. When do you take the tree down?  No set date, but usually sometime after New Year's.


5. Do you like eggnog?  YES!!  Love it!!!  I drink the light version, though, and sometimes I add in a little skim milk, so I don't feel too guilty.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? I don't know if this was my favorite gift, but it was definitely one of the most memorable - the year we got a VHS VCR.  I remember shopping with my dad at Canadian Tire before Christmas, and he put some blank VHS tapes into our cart and I said to him, "Dad, we have a Beta" and he said "well, maybe they'll fit".  Turns out they did fit - in the new VCR!


7. Do you have a nativity scene?  Yes, we have three.  Two are mine (no touching!) and one is a Little People nativity set for the kids to play with.

8. Hardest person to buy for?  My parents.
9. Easiest person to buy for?   Annika.  

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?  I can't really think of anything off-hand, but probably something from a "bring a gift, get a gift" exchange.  I usually would end up disappointed with what I got, so now we only participate in one of those kind of exchanges.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?   I usually hand out most of our cards in person - I think I've mailed cards once or twice.


12. Favorite Christmas Movie?  White Christmas.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?   Early December.  Every year I think I should start earlier, but it never happens.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?   Yes.  I don't have a problem with re-gifting - you just have to make sure the original gift giver doesn't find out!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?  Hmmm, that's a tough one - so many yummy things to choose from!  I love "puppy chow" (Crispix cereal coated with chocolate, peanut butter and icing sugar) - it's always a Christmas treat for us.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?  Clear.  We also have clear lights on our house.
17. Favorite Christmas song?  My favorite non-religious Christmas song is "Sleigh Ride" (it always reminds me of my high school band), and my favorite religious song is "Away in a Manger."
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?  Does going to family gatherings around Southern Manitoba count as traveling?
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?  Dasher, Dancer, Donner, Blitzen, Prancer, Comet, Cupid...  Rudolph...  how many are there???
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning.  However, when I was growing up my brother and I always opened our presents from each other on Christmas eve.  I may re-start that tradition with our kids when they get a bit older.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?  All the expectations - it seems impossible to be everywhere/do everything that we "should" be doing.  My cousin wrote a great post about this on her blog - definitely worth a read!
23. What I love most about Christmas?  Now that I have kids I think what I love most is seeing it all through their eyes - all the wonder and amazement and joy of the season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas is in the air

A few pictures of how we've been getting ready for Christmas....

Putting up the Christmas tree


The kids did a great job of helping me decorate the Christmas tree last week.  Yes, there is an abundance of decorations in the bottom 2 feet of the tree, but Annika is doing her best to help even things out.  I told her to try not to bunch all the decorations in one spot, and now whenever she notices that there are 2 ornaments on one branch, she notifies me and asks if she can move them (I've since told her that she's free to move them around without always telling me). ;)  As some of you know, I like my Christmas tree the way it is (blue and silver with snowflake ornaments) and I'm not crazy about the idea of a lot of mis-matched homemade ornaments, however, if you look closely at the picture of Annika and the tree, you'll notice that one ornament she made at school did in fact make it onto the tree.  It's a pine cone with sparkles on it.  Annika hung in on the tree, right front and center, and I haven't even moved it!

Christmas cuties

These are actually the kids' Christmas outfits from last year, but they still fit!  Emmett got a new shirt for underneath his vest, and he never actually wore those pants last year (they're a size 12-18m but they're way bigger than that), but I was so glad that his vest still fit - isn't it adorable?  He looks like such a little man, and Annika just loves this dress.

Making gingerbread houses

We normally make gingerbread houses with Carey's extended family (it's a family tradition), but this year we had to miss because of Emmett's birthday party, so we made gingerbread houses at Carey's parents' place the other day.  Annika decided that she wanted hers to be a gingerbread stable with a manger, instead of a house, so we left off one side and one roof piece to make it look more like a stable.  I just love her creativity.  I made Emmett's little house out of graham crackers, and he and Carey had a great time putting candy on it.  My house is the one on the left - I love decorating gingerbread houses.  I think it's something I'll never grow out of.  :)

Visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus

Santa and Mrs. Claus came to visit the kids this morning at Y Neighbours (another yearly tradition).  The kids aren't crazy about Santa (even though we actually know this couple in real life and I whispered to Annika to look closely and see if she recognized them), so we don't push the Santa thing too much.  We've never gone to see Santa in the mall, but it's nice to get a picture each year from at Y Neighbours.

The advent calendar

This tradition dates back till when I was a kid.  My mom made this advent calendar for me and my brother when we were little and we used it each and every year that we lived at home.  Just last year it made its way to our house, and I'm so glad that we could use it again this year.  The kids take turns putting an ornament up each day - Annika is working from the top down and Emmett from the bottom up!  It's so fun to see them enjoying a tradition that I enjoyed myself as a kid, and to hear Annika's different views on things.  For instance, my brother and I had an on-going agreement that the star would ALWAYS be the last ornament put up, on Christmas day, but Annika decided that it should be the first thing to be put up.  Also, do you see the little green angel (right above the deer, towards the bottom)?  Annika insists that that's not an angel, it's a dinosaur eating a person.  Where does she come up with these things??  She also thought that the baby Jesus looked like a girl. :P

How have you been getting ready for Christmas?  What are your special traditions?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Popsicle stick snowflakes

I saw this idea on Pinterest a while ago, so yesterday morning the kids and I made popsicle stick snowflakes.

Our inspirations....

Annika has been really insistent on doing crafts lately, mostly due to a book she found at the library about making ornaments.  I regret letting her take it out, not because I don't want to do crafts, or even because I don't want a ton of homemade ornaments on my tree (although those are both true to a certain degree), but mostly because a book of 30 or more crafts, most of which needed materials we didn't have, was just overwhelming, for both of us.  She wanted to do them all, right away.  I quickly returned the book to the library, and decided it would be better for me to find appropriate crafts (ones that we had the required materials for), one at a time, and do them with her.  Hence, the popsicle stick snowflakes.

I used a glue gun to glue the popsicle sticks together (Annika chose her configuration, and I did mine and Emmett's), and then we painted them white.  Annika added glitter and buttons to hers as well.  Then we tied on ribbons for hanging.  I think they turned out really cute.  I collect snowflake ornaments and other snowflake-themed items, so they fit right in with our Christmas decor!

Annika's snowflake

Emmett's snowflake

My snowflake

Friday, December 7, 2012

This moment - elves

"A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cranberry muffins

I found this recipe for cranberry muffins on and we made them today (I'm trying to use up some frozen cranberries).  They are delicious!!  The kids really love them too - Annika has quite a taste for sour or tart things!  Next time I won't put pecans in the whole batch so that Annika can take them to school for snack.  I made a few changes to the original recipe (some of my own, and some as recommended by the reviews), so I wanted to write out my recipe so I remember it for next time (and so you can enjoy them too!).

Cranberry muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour (I did 1 1/2 cup white flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (or slightly less)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Ground chia seeds (I don't measure too carefully- just throw a spoonful or two in)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a muffin pan, or use paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together applesauce, oil, egg and vanilla. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and chia. Make a well in the center, and pour in egg mixture. Stir until just moistened. Fold in cranberries and pecans. Spoon into muffin cups, 2/3 full.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes (about 18 minutes for mini muffins), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 2 minutes before removing.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Emmett's birthday

Here are a few pictures (okay, a lot) from Emmett's birthday yesterday...

We had to be at church early, but we took a few minutes in the morning to quickly take some family pictures, since we were all dressed so nicely (yes, I planned our outfits :P).  I think they turned out pretty nice, considering we were just using the self-timer!

After church we went to Montana's for lunch, just the four of us.  Emmett was NOT a fan of the big moose ears, but he did enjoy his ice cream cone (which Annika very nicely shared with him - they were actually her dessert, but she gave him one as a birthday present!).

After lunch we went home for a quick nap, and I got things ready for the party.  We invited a bunch of our friends and family over for a "come and go" party, from 3:00 - 5:00.  It was pretty low-key, but I was still pretty busy getting everything ready, since we had been out late (for us!) the night before for Carey's work Christmas party.  But everything got done, and we had a lovely afternoon.  The theme of the party was "Lego"- one of Emmett's favorite toys.

I bought a plastic mold in the shape of Lego blocks, so I made chocolate Legos to top the cupcakes and as treats for the guests to take home afterwards, and I also used it to make Lego ice cubes for the punch!

I made cupcakes because I find them easier than doing a cake, and because I thought it would be better suited for our "come and go" party (that way guests that had to leave early could take one home).  The other food was pretty simple - M&M's (yes, I sorted them by color - did you know that there are significantly fewer red M&M's than the other colors??), Lego-shaped candies, cheese & crackers, chips & dip, and fruit.  I also made some cranberry apple cider in my crock pot.

The decorations were also very simple, but I was quite proud of this Lego "happy birthday" banner that I made (I had to hand-color the yellow outline around each letter before cutting them out).  If anyone is planning a Lego birthday in the near future and would like to have it, please let me know!  It seems like a shame to just throw it away (please forgive the poor picture, it was hard to take a picture with so much light in the background).

Emmett had a great time at the party - I don't think he totally understood what a "birthday" is, but he enjoyed opening presents, eating yummy food and being with friends.  Thanks so much to everyone who came out!

Friday, November 30, 2012

This moment - baking cupcakes

"A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another session of ballet lessons

On Saturday was Annika's last ballet class.  She did another 8 (or was it 9?) week session through the city's Leisure Guide, and she seemed to enjoy it.  It always seems a bit hard to tell - at home she says she's excited to go to dance class and she loves dancing around and being silly, but at class she always looks so serious and half-interested (but maybe that's just her nature - she's always quite serious and quiet in public).

Anyway, she did well, learned a few new moves (she took level 2 this time) and listened well to her teachers.  I find the teachers for the Leisure Guide ballet programs to be really hit and miss.  The first time she did a ballet class I really liked the teacher and found that she had a really good balance between fun and learning in the class (and she seemed to be quite aware of what to expect from a group of 3-5 year olds).  Last session (same class) I thought that the teachers seemed to be far too concerned with teaching actual ballet moves and didn't seem to realize that little girls also need some time to just twirl and have fun.  They also didn't seem to have much experience with little kids.  This time around the teachers were good with the kids, but it seemed like there wasn't much actual ballet teaching happening (which I found odd, since this was a Level 2 class) - they played a lot of games and learned about different kind of movement, but they hardly ever did plies or talked about feet positions, arm positions, etc (things that the previous teachers had spent a lot of time on).  Oh well, I guess you can't expect too much from an 8-week class. :P

Now we have 2 weeks of swimming left (I'm kind of sad that Annika missed the past 2 weeks due to illness, since she has really been improving this session), and then a little break until the new year.  In January we're planning to put her in skating lessons - it will be her first time skating!  I guess we'll see how that goes!!