Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A few of my favorite things: knot genie brush

Annika has long, fine, straight hair.  And it tangles like nobody's business.  Most of the time it's not so bad if I put it in a ponytail or braid, but when it's loose I know there are probably going to be tears at bedtime when it's time to comb it.  After a bath is also a pain (and it seems like detangling spray does nothing to help).  So when I saw a brush called "The Knot Genie" go on sale on Baby Half Off (one of my favorite deal websites), I figured it would be worth it to give it a try.  Let me tell you - this brush would be worth it even at full price!  I was absolutely amazed.  I love this brush (other than the fact that I don't find it as "easy to hold" as they say - I've dropped it more than a few times).  Here's the secret to it (from the Knot Genie website):

It all has to do with the different lengths of teeth on the brush. When brushing, they bend just right, to gently untangle the hair. And because of this lack of stress, the hair's cuticle stays unharmed... revealing the smoothest, shiniest hair you've ever seen.

I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has to deal with tangle-y hair.  It's made a huge difference for us - hardly any more tears or complaints when it's time to brush Annika's hair.  And Annika is much happier too! ;)

**Please note: this is not a paid advertisement, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review.  It's just something I like and want to share with you.**

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Not for me...

... but that's okay.

Carey brought Annika flowers yesterday, and I think it made her day. :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

The dentist

This morning the kids had dentist appointments - the first time for Emmett.  Annika was actually really excited to be going to the dentist.  She remembered the kid-size door, the big aquarium and coloring pages in the waiting room, the TVs on the ceiling, and the fact that last time she got 2 prizes and the dentist praised her on and on for being such a good girl.  She was also excited because she was going to show Emmett this time how to sit still for the dentist (what a great big sister :) ).  Before we left, she said this (and I actually jotted it down at the time, because it was such a great quote) - "going to the dentist isn't just about teeth, it's about fun!"

The kids both did really well, and no cavities for either of them.  Annika had a full cleaning and fluoride, and also had the tartar scraped off her lower front teeth (she gets tartar build-up due to her saliva, but they say it's not really a big deal at this point).

Watching the TV on the ceiling
Given that it's a children's only dentist, I wonder why they don't have smaller chairs...
Emmett watched Annika have her cleaning, and then it was his turn.  He wasn't too crazy about the chair, so they didn't make him lie down in it - he just sat in it.  The dentist counted his teeth and that was about it.  He's still pretty young to be going to the dentist (he doesn't even have all his teeth yet!), but I want it to be something that the kids get used to at an early age, so hopefully there aren't fears later on (I know that that's not really something I can control, but I'll do what I can).

A little uncertain...
After they were done, they both got toothbrushes and flossers and got to pick a prize.  Emmett picked a bouncy ball and Annika picked a little plastic puppy.  They also got stickers for being in the "no cavity club" and Annika's sticker had a special mark on it, so she also got a t-shirt that said "no cavity club" on it (although it's far too big on her - maybe she can wear it as a nightshirt).

Everyone was quite happy, which makes me happy too.  I think Emmett liked his new toothbrush more than his prize - I had a hard time convincing him it should stay in the bathroom!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Yesterday I was putting away laundry and when I finished, this is where I found Emmett...

I love that kid. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New recipes

I've tried out a few new recipes lately and I wanted to share them, because they were quite the hit around here (even the kids ate them!).  Click on the pictures to go to the recipes.

Cheesy honey mustard chicken

This chicken is amazing!  I've actually made it twice in the past week (once last week and then again last night) and Emmett ate it up both times.  He's my pickiest eater, so if he likes something (and actually eats it more than once), that means it's gold.  I let the chicken marinate in the honey mustard sauce for a few hours, so it was really flavorful.  I guess if you wanted to make it a bit healthier you could leave off the bacon and cheese topping, but really, isn't life better with a little bacon and cheese? ;)

Crescent lasagna pie

This tastes like lasagna meets deep dish pizza - and it's really easy to make!  Definitely will be making a re-appearance on our table.

Oatmeal raisin cookies

I never used to be a fan of oatmeal raisin cookies (probably too many disappointments from when I thought they were chocolate chip), but lately I've come around.  This is an excellent recipe, and the cookies are nice and soft and chewy.  The kids actually really like raisins, so they like these cookies too.

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Perfect match

The flowers Carey bought me for our anniversary and the new case for our iPad (just arrived yesterday).  Can you guess what the favorite color is around here??? :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Little kitchen stools

We have an abundance of stools in our house (and I'm just talking about the kind you stand on here - never mind the other kind!).  We have stools in the kitchen, in the downstairs bathroom and in the upstairs bathroom.  I'll admit, the stool in the kitchen is not only for the kids - I also use it to reach the high stuff in my cupboards (I'm only 5'4'').  Having a stool around is handy, especially when your kids love to "help out" as much as mine do, but it was always a bit of a fuss over who got to use the stool in the kitchen and who had to go get the one from the bathroom to use.  So I asked my father-in-law (who is an extremely talented woodworker - you can see some of his other stuff on my blog here, here and here, or more on his blog) to make the kids each their own stool.  Then, so there would be no confusion (i.e. arguments) over whose is whose, I painted their names on them and added their footprints.  The kids each picked their own color.  I love how they turned out! 

Emmett's footprints didn't turn out so well the first time (they looked more like big, smeary blobs of paint), so I sanded them off and we redid them.  The second time around I used a lot less paint on his feet, and then filled in a few "sparse" spots afterwards.  I think I did a bit too much touching up, though, because they look almost a bit too perfect now (but I'll live with it - I don't want to sand again!).  Annika's look more like real footprints.  For the lettering, I used this simple technique, and it worked really well.

I wanted to get a picture of the stools "in action", but of course, the kids didn't want to cooperate! :P  So you'll have to take my word that they work great - and they're sturdy enough that I can use them too! :)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Playing wedding "dress up"

Every year on our anniversary (which was on Thursday) I like to take out my wedding dress and try it on.  I think I've done it every year, except the year I was pregnant with Annika, and the year I had just given birth to Emmett.  My wedding dress has a lace-up (that is, adjustable) back, so it's been very kind to me, on those years when I was definitely heavier than on our wedding day, and now, when I actually weigh less than I did 9 years ago.  It's fun to get all dressed up.  I only keep it on for a few minutes (no, I don't wear it all day!), but I enjoy those few minutes of being a "princess" again.

Last year and this year, Annika has wanted to get in on the fun.  Now, I know there's a bunch of stuff on Pinterest about taking pictures of your daughter in your wedding dress, but I swear I didn't get the idea from there - Annika was the one who thought of it!  Here is her last year...

And this year (forgive the terrible lighting)...

I think we may have started another tradition!  I'm pretty sure that from now on, whenever I try on my wedding dress, she's going to want to try it on too!!

Oh, and how did I look in the dress? 

Please forgive the poor picture - Annika was the photographer!
Still felt like a princess! :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

This moment - new toy

"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."

Side note: this was not intended to be a toy for the kids (Carey and I used our Christmas money to get a "new toy" for ourselves) however, I think it won't be long and they'll be showing us how to use it!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

9 years

Happy anniversary to my wonderful hubby!
(click here to see more of our wedding photos)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wake-up call

Annika went back to school today (which she and I were both looking forward to), so it's back into our routine.  One part of the routine that I haven't missed over the past 2 weeks was waking up Emmett from his nap to go pick up Annika.  While I hate having to wake him, I love being able to catch moments like this....

So sweet. :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

First time skating!

We took the kids skating today - the first time for both of them!  Annika starts skating lessons on Friday, so we wanted to get her on the ice at least once before that, and our neighbours have a little rink in their backyard, so we were able to go skating in a nice, quiet spot.

Both kids preferred to skate with Carey - no wonder, he's much more stable than me!  I haven't skated for a few years, but I still remember how (just a little shaky).  Annika was quite nervous about skating (she said she was scared of falling), but once she got on the ice and got used to the feel of it, she said she was having fun (and we didn't let her fall).  Emmett wasn't a big fan of it (he actually fell a few times - oops), but I don't expect he'll be spending a lot of time on the ice this year.  Next year. 

Now.... bring on the skating lessons!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Good night, sleep tight...

Just wanted to post another little update about my insomnia, since it's been a while since I wrote anything about it.

I went back to my doctor at the beginning of December, since it seemed like the melatonin pills had stopped working for me, and I was still having bad nights (or taking prescription sleeping pills) fairly regularly.  My doctor had told me that if the melatonin didn't work for me, then he would prescribe a low-dose anti-depressant that was also commonly used to treat insomnia, since its main side effect was drowsiness.  It was not an easy decision to go on the medication (especially since I wasn't actually depressed!), but I felt like I had tried everything else and it just wasn't working for me.  In fact, it seemed like the harder I tried to relax and sleep, the more stressed I became.  I just needed a break from it all.  I was figuratively and literally tired, and I was just tired of being tired.

I've been on the anti-depressant for nearly a month now, and it's been pretty good.  I still have the occasional night when it takes me a little longer to fall asleep, but it's maybe an hour or so of lying awake, so it's much more manageable than before.  It made the Christmas season much more enjoyable, since I wasn't constantly worried about not sleeping and not having enough energy to make through the busy days.  I'm feeling more like myself again.  I'm still continuing with several of the things I was doing beforehand to relax and sleep better - avoiding alcohol and caffeine, exercising 4-5 times a week, and trying to eat better (okay, I kind of failed on that one over Christmas, but can you blame me??), but I've given up on some of the other things, since I was only doing them because they were supposed to help me relax, not because I actually found them relaxing (i.e. drinking camomile tea before bed, taking baths, aromatherapy).  I've also stopped going to counseling.  I went for 3 sessions, but ultimately, I just found it to be one more thing that was making me stressed - trying to fit the sessions into our busy schedule, lining up babysitting for the kids, once needing to find someone to drive me to my session because I hadn't slept well the night before and didn't feel comfortable driving myself (did you know that being severely sleep-deprived and driving can be similar to driving drunk?), the cost of the sessions (not cheap, and also not covered by our insurance).  While I'm still a believer in the benefit of counseling, this time it just wasn't working for me so I decided to stop.

I'm not sure how long I'll be on this medication (I forgot to ask my doctor, but I'm going back soon for a follow-up, so I'll ask then), but for now I'm happy with the decision I've made and where I'm at.  Is it ideal?  No, not necessarily.  Perhaps it's just a "band-aid fix" (at some point I may need to deal with this again to properly resolve it), but it's what I needed right now.  It's what my family needed.  So I think it was the right decision for me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Winter activities

Well, all the presents have been unwrapped, the food has been eaten (except for a few treats still lying around to tempt us) and the tree and decorations have all been put away (although I think Annika will continue singing Christmas carols until about mid-February :P).  We had a good Christmas, but to be honest, I'm ready for life to move on.  Carey is back to work today after being home for 11 days (and he only went in to work once during that time!).  He actually took on a project at home after Christmas - insulating our garage - which has kept him busy for the past few days, otherwise I'm sure he would've gone back to work earlier.  It's not exactly the ideal time to be working outside, but he says that he doesn't mind the cold (he's the one who made the decision to start working on it now), and I'll be happy to have a warm garage once it's all done. :)

Annika is also looking forward to getting back into our routine - the past few days she's been asking when she gets to go back to school!  Other than school and Y Neighbours, we don't have too much going on for the next few months.  Annika will be starting skating lessons next week (she's never skated before!) and I'm going to make another attempt at taking Emmett to the library for story time on Friday mornings.  I had wanted to do this with him last fall, but with all our other activities and my issues with insomnia, it just didn't work out and we only went twice before "dropping out".  The other thing that I didn't like about it last fall was that he was still in the "baby" group (0-24m) and it just didn't seem like a good fit for either of us.  There was mostly younger babies there, and Emmett seemed like a giant compared to them (and I felt a bit out of place with all the first-time moms and their little babies).  Now he will be in the 2 year old group, with kids closer to his age and size.

Other than that, we don't have too much going on, which is nice for a change.  Our next "big thing" to look forward to is our winter family vacation - we've booked a trip to Phoenix!  It definitely helps to make it through those cold winter days when you can look forward to being somewhere warm.  Annika and I have already started counting down the days (although we'll be counting for a while yet!).

What are you busy with this winter?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My new year's resolution

I don't usually make resolutions, and I actually started working on this a few weeks ago, so I'm not sure if it really qualifies as a "New Year's Resolution", but since it's that time of year, I'm going to call it that.  My resolution is to waste less food.

I've come to the realization that quite a bit of food in our house is wasted - fruits and veggies go bad; leftovers get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten; uneaten food on the kids' plates; restaurant meals that are too much for one meal (at least for me), but not enough to be worth taking home; that can of "cream of whatever" soup that I bought for a certain recipe but never made and now it's been living in the pantry for far too long...  sadly, I'm sure there's something here that most of us can relate to.  Food is so abundant here that we don't really think twice when it goes to waste.  There's always more waiting for us, right?

My goal for the new year is to try to minimize the amount of food that goes to waste.  Here are some of the ways I plan to accomplish this:

  1. Give the kids small servings, especially of new foods.  I am not one to eat my kids' leftovers (unless it's something like leftover cake ;) ), so any uneaten food on their plates usually ends up in the garbage.  If I start them off with smaller servings, they can always have more if they want, but hopefully then there will be less to throw away if it's not eaten.
  2. Don't buy items in bulk unless I know that we will eat them regularly.  A long time ago I bought a case of 12 cans of tomato soup (it was a good deal).  I can't remember when I bought them, but I know that we just finished off the last can a few weeks ago, and its best before date was September 2012 (yes, I still used it even though it had already "expired" - I figured a few months in the life of a canned good wasn't much of an issue.  And we were all fine).  Anyway, I'm often tempted to buy in bulk (or buy a bigger size) to get a better deal.  However, I'm learning that it's not always a better deal, especially if the food will expire or go bad before you eat it!
  3. Eat my pantry.  Sure, there are staples in there that I want to keep "on hand", but there's a lot of stuff lurking in the corners that needs to be used up before it goes bad.
  4. Create an inventory list for my freezer.  I want to buy a dry-erase board and hang it next to my freezer in the basement so I can keep track of what's in the freezer (and what's not).  Far too often I forget about what I have in there, and then I end up buying more (or I just forget about it, and it sits in there until it turns into a freezer-burned chunk of ice).
  5. Eat supper leftovers for lunch, or plan a "leftover night" once a week.  I'm not a fan of leftovers in general, so this one may be tough for me.  I also find it difficult to do a "leftovers" meal, since sometimes it can be hard to come up with enough food for 4 people, if there's just a little bit of this and that left over (or to find leftovers that the kids will eat - when they didn't like the meal on the first go round, it certainly won't be getting a better reception when it's re-heated!).  I think probably the best way to deal with supper leftovers is for me or Carey to eat them for lunch.  Or I could try to plan our meals better so that we either have no leftovers or else enough left over for a complete 2nd meal.
  6. Stop buying bagged salad.  Another tough one for me.  It's sort of silly - I don't even really like the bagged salad, but it's so convenient that I keep buying it.  However, we almost never finish off a bag before it goes bad (unless it's caesar salad), and I usually throw about half the bag away.  So I either need to stop buying bagged salad, or start eating more of it.
  7. Eat fresh fruits and veggies before they go bad.  It's usually those "almost-but-not-quite-bad" ones that get left behind (even though they're still quite edible), and then they go totally bad and get thrown away.  I need to make sure we either eat them despite the fact that they may be a little "past prime", or else eat them before they get to that stage.  (I guess I could also just purchase less fresh produce, but I don't really think that's the right way to deal with it - I like having a good variety of fresh fruits and veggies on hand).
  8. Try to order smaller meals at restaurants, or order something that will reheat well the next day if I have leftovers.  I wish more restaurants would make their "seniors' meals" available to everyone - basically they're just a smaller meal at a lower price, so why shouldn't everyone be able to order them?  
So there's my resolution - did you make a New Year's resolution this year?  Did you keep your resolution from last year??