Thursday, March 28, 2013


I attempted something new today - baking Paska buns (or Easter buns).  For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's a sweet, citrus-y bread or bun, topped with icing and sprinkles, made at Easter time.  I found the recipe at Mennonite Girls Can Cook and figured I should give it a shot.  I love Paska - it's been a part of Easter for me for as long as I can remember - but I've never made it myself.  I've never even baked with yeast before, but I figured that given my Mennonite heritage, I must have the bun-baking skill deep down inside me somewhere.  And if things didn't go well, then I'd just add a little more icing and sprinkles to them.  (hmmm, I wonder if that's why the icing and sprinkles are there in the first place?  Did someone long time ago burn a batch and needed a way to cover it up???).

After the first rise


They got a little dark, but they're still nice and soft inside

YUM!  (Almost) just like Grandma used to make

They got a little dark on the tops, but Annika and I taste-tested one, and they taste delicious.  I got the seal of approval from Annika (she said she was definitely going to eat all her supper tonight, so that she could have one for dessert). :)  Maybe now I'll have to practice baking regular buns, so I can get the Paska perfect for next Easter.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

First time at the movie theatre

I took the kids to a movie at the theatre today - a first for both of them!  The local mall kids' club was sponsoring a $2 movie morning today, for spring break, and we went to see "The Lorax" (the movie was only $2 a ticket because it's been out for a while).  Technically this wasn't Annika's first time seeing a movie in the theatre - I took her to a "stars and strollers" matinee when she was just a baby (a movie time for moms to bring their babies along), but I don't think that really counts.

Digging in to the popcorn, waiting for the movie to start.
I didn't know what to expect of Emmett.  He doesn't even sit and watch TV at home yet, so I had no idea if he'd be able to make it through a 90 minute movie.  But I figured for $2 a ticket, it wouldn't be a huge loss if we had to leave early, and we went with some friends, so I knew I could leave Annika in the theatre and take him out, if needed.  He totally surprised me though, and sat on my lap and watched the whole movie (eating popcorn for almost the entire time!  Whoops, bad mommy).  He couldn't sit on the seat by himself because he wasn't heavy enough to keep it down.  It kept flipping shut on him, and he didn't want to sit on a booster.  I didn't mind an hour and a half of cuddles, though. ;)

Annika wasn't crazy about the movie.  I didn't think it would be really scary (after all, it's Seuss!), but there were some parts that were pretty intense and frightening for a young child, and the unfamiliar theatre atmosphere probably didn't help.  She asked to leave a few times, but I convinced her that we should stay (I had figured Emmett would be the one making us leave early, not her!).  Hopefully I don't regret that later (i.e. nightmares).  We made it to the end of the movie, but she said afterwards that she didn't like it.

Afterwards we went to the food court with our friends for some lunch, which no one was terribly hungry for, since we ate a lot of popcorn during the movie (it was their first movie theatre experience - I had to get them popcorn!).  However, both the kids had room for an ice cream (bad mommy again! Oh well, it's spring break!!).  I wanted Annika to have some pleasant memories of the morning (not just remembering that she didn't like the movie), so we splurged a bit.  All in all, I think it was a good time.  I'm not sure we're in any rush to head back to the theatre, but I'm glad that we went today. :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Knit, knit, knit

Last week Saturday I bought myself some knitting needles and a ball of yarn, opened up my computer and searched "how to knit" and taught myself to knit.  Okay, it wasn't exactly that easy, and I still have TONS to learn, but I'm really enjoying it (despite a few struggles along the way).  I wanted to learn to knit because I wanted to do something that was a little more portable and easier to start up/set up than some of my other hobbies, like sewing or painting little wood peg dolls.  I also like the repetitive nature of it - it's sort of soothing and relaxing to just do something over and over (once you don't have to think about it so much!).  I had learned to crochet years ago (and had also forgotten how to crochet years ago), but I wanted to do something different.  I recently read a book called "The Friday Night Knitting Club", and while the storyline itself didn't particularly grab me, all the talk of knitting did.  So I decided to just do it.

This was my first practice piece - learning the knit and purl stitches.  It's not very pretty, but it found a home in Annika's dollhouse, as an area rug, and she was thrilled about it.

My second practice piece also ended up in Annika's dollhouse, as a blanket.  On this one I practiced the "stockinette" stitch (knit one row, purl one row).  Again, she loved that I was making stuff for her.

My third attempt, and I actually followed a pattern!  Can you see the ribbing?  I found this pattern for a simple dishcloth, and it turned out pretty well (once I figured out how to switch between knit and purl in the same row - thank goodness for YouTube!).  I'm not sure it was really the right yarn for a dishcloth, but I had fun making it anyway.  And I'm sure if I don't use it as a dishcloth, Annika will find some other use for it!

I'm not sure what my next project will be, but I think it's time to buy some different yarn!  I'm getting a little tired of looking at green and purple. :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Skating lessons recap

Annika's skating lessons finished last Friday night, and she passed to the next level (no parent next time)!  I'm so proud of how well she did, because she didn't really have any experience skating beforehand, and she was quite nervous about it before the lessons started.  But she worked really hard and she kept going even when it looked like she might get frustrated or tired.  She's not particularly fast or graceful (although she's a lot better than one kid in the class whose arms were constantly flailing all over the place), but slow and steady, she can do it.  And she even fell a few times and didn't cry about it!  She actually really enjoyed skating and she's sad that it's over, but excited for next year.

Getting ready to leave Carey in her dust!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

One more story from Phoenix

This didn't really fit into my "vacation recap" posts, but it was a funny story that I wanted to share, nonetheless.  Sorry Mom!

One day in Phoenix my mom and I were in Walmart picking up a few things, including some booze ('cuz you can get that at Walmart in the States - classy).  My mom was paying for everything, yet the cashier insisted on seeing my ID (insert confidence boost here - it's been a while since I've been asked that).  It was so weird though - even after my mom said that it was her buying the booze, not me, the cashier still insisted, saying that I was with her.  So, what - if I was underage, my mom wouldn't have been allowed to drink?  Good thing we didn't have Annika or Emmett with us!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Phoenix vacation: part 3

Monday, March 4
Carey and I took the kids to the local YMCA to go swimming (no pool at the house, and the community pool was closed).  It was chilly in the pool (there had been a swim meet there over the weekend, so the water was cooler than normal) so we didn't stay long.  We had a quiet afternoon at home and in the evening Carey, my dad and I went to a Phoenix Coyotes game.  They were playing the Anaheim Ducks, so we got to see Teemu Selanne (a former Jet) play.  Coyotes won in a shoot-out.

Annika had fun swimming, Emmett was a little hesitant about the water.

Emmett and his menagerie.  The little striped thing by his face is an owl, which he got from the Phoenix Children's Museum.  The rest came along from home.

Yup, this is the life.

Annika liked to play "dentist" in the zero-gravity lawn chairs.

This picture was for Emmett - he's obsessed with Zambonis.

Tuesday, March 5
We spent the day at the Phoenix Zoo.  We stopped for ice cream on the way home (of course!).  For supper, we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows in the backyard.

Of course, first thing we had to do was go on the merry-go-round.  This one we only went on twice.


The petting zoo (which consisted of only goats).  Annika didn't want to pet them.  And yes, Emmett is wearing his sunglasses upside down.  He likes them that way.

Playing in the Little People farm playground (notice the blue fabric?  Almost every playground we went to had some kind of overhead shade.  Smart.)

Quite literally, the tortoise and the hare.  Not sure if the bunny was really supposed to be in there.

Watching the giraffes.

The zoo was so large we took a train ride to see some of the parts that were too far for the kids to walk.  Emmett fell asleep on the train.

Roasting hot dogs for supper.

Annika loves roasting marshmallows.  They're usually barely warmed, though, when she says they're done.

C'mon Annika!  Time for bed!!  (The kids shared a room, and it actually worked pretty well).

Wednesday, March 6
Time to go home, boo hoo hoo.   Our flight wasn't until later in the day, so we had plenty of time to pack up and go to the park one last time.  Around 2:00 we headed to the airport.  Our flight from Phoenix to Denver was slightly delayed, so we didn't have much time in Denver - just enough time to go the bathroom and find our next gate.  On the flight home, both kids fell asleep and it was pretty late by the time we got home.

Here comes the train!

One last swing

Thank Mom and Dad for a wonderful vacation!!

Killing time at the Phoenix airport

One tired little traveler

So, that was our vacation!  Click here if you missed part 1 or part 2.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Phoenix vacation: part 2

Click here to see pictures from part 1

Friday, March 1
We started the day with breakfast at Denny's.  Then we did picked up a few things at Walmart and explored another park.  We had a quiet afternoon and then went out for the evening.  We "hiked" up Star Tower, a look-out point near my parents' community and then went to Cracker Barrel for supper.  Going to Cracker Barrel is a tradition for us.  I think we now have 5 years of Annika playing with the peg game!

At Denny's.  I think one of the kids actually took this picture.


Watching the ducks by the lake.

Hiking up to Star Tower

View from the top


Such concentration

Good thing there were 2 games at our table!

Saturday, March 2
We went to the outlet mall in Glendale in the morning and bought a pair of pretend glasses for Annika (she'd been wanting some, ever since we went to get our eyes checked and she didn't need glasses!).   Unfortunately, with the kids' short attention spans, not a lot of other shopping was done.  We went to In-N-Out Burger for lunch and then home for a nap.  By evening Carey and I left the kids and grandparents at home and went out.  We went to P.F. Chang's for supper and then to see the movie "Identity Thief".

Annika and her new "glasses"

With Grandma and Grandpa, at In-N-Out Burger


Me attempting (not very well) to eat with chopsticks

Sunday, March 3
We spent the day at an amusement park called "Castles n' Coasters".  We started off with a round of mini-golf (a first for the kids - we didn't bother keeping score) and then went on the rides.  Annika went on all the kiddie rides, and I think we went on the merry-go-round about 5 times (the only ride that Emmett went on).  Carey was more adventurous and went on the roller coasters a few times and the zip line.  It was a cloudy day, but it was actually nice and comfortable (not too hot!) for being outside all day.

Emmett liked to refer to his putter as his "hockey stick"

The first time I stood next to Annika.  The following 4 times she rode on her own and I got to ride too!  Carey and Emmett are in the background.

The kiddie ferris wheel.  Annika is in the blue car, top left.

Body painting

That would be Carey about to lap me.

Carey on the zip line.

Still more to come!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Phoenix vacation: part 1

We recently got back from a wonderful vacation in Phoenix.  We stayed with my parents, who co-own a house down there.  The weather was gorgeous, the kids traveled well, and it was a really good time to rest, have fun and get away from the cold for a little while.  Here's some of the highlights.

Tuesday, February 26
Our plane was scheduled to leave at 3:00pm, but on our way to the airport we discovered that it was delayed an hour and a half.  We decided to still keep going to the airport and wait there (I believe we sat and waited for about 3 hours after getting through security :P), which was a bit hard on all of us.  We finally flew to Denver, and thankfully had just enough time to catch our connecting flight.  In a bit of a happy accident, my brother and sister-in-law were also in the Denver airport, waiting for their flight home (they had also been to visit my parents), and they met us at our gate and brought us supper (which we wouldn't have had time to pick up otherwise).  We made it onto the plane on time, however, we had to sit and wait in the plane for almost an hour for de-icing before we could take off.  Emmett slept the entire flight.  Finally we made it to Phoenix, but unfortunately our luggage did not.  Thank goodness I always pack the kids' pajamas in the carry-on.

Tim Hortons donuts and the iPad helped to pass the time.  So did running (literally) around the airport.

Way past his bedtime

Weary travelers

Wednesday, February 27
Good thing I had just planned for this to be a "rest" day, because we had to stay home all day (wearing our "winter" clothes!) to wait for our luggage to be delivered (which it finally was at 10:30pm).  We discovered the little playground 2 doors down from my parents' house and ordered in pizza for supper.

Playground fun

Large saguaro cactus on the walking path behind my parents' place

Reading books before bedtime

Thursday, February 28
We spent most of the day at the Phoenix Children's Museum.  The kids had a blast!  We stopped for ice cream on the way home.  This was the day that Emmett's stitches needed to come out, and luckily my parents' neighbour is a nurse practitioner and was willing to come over and take them out for us.  Emmett was perfectly still and didn't make a peep - but even still, I was glad someone else was doing it, and not me!

This climbing structure was 3 stories tall!  You can't even see all of it in this picture.  I wasn't brave enough to climb to the top, but Carey took each of the kids all the way up.

Emmett loved this sand and light table.

Annika spent quite a bit of time making pretend ice cream cones...

... so of course we had to get the real thing on the way home!


More pictures to come!