Saturday, September 28, 2013


Picked up a few good deals at my Y Neighbours sale this morning. Annika got a new dress-up dress, a necklace and a trench coat that I'm totally jealous of (although it won't fit her for a few years), and Emmett got his first pair of real skates.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Waiting at the doctor's office for 25 minutes (past our appointment time) for a 3 minute appointment.  This was the third follow-up appointment from when Annika had an ear infection in April. FINALLY her ear is clear of fluid!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Meal planning and my slow cooker

I've done meal planning off and on for the past several years, and have done it almost every single week for the past 2 years (I plan a week at a time).  I'd like to say that it helps us eat super-healthy and keeps our food budget down, but that's not always the case (although we are eating a lot better than Carey and I used to when we were first married - we were laughing the other day at the things I used to call "dinner").  What meal planning does help with is keeping me sane.  "What's for dinner?" used to stress me out - now I take a little time each week to plan and then don't worry about it.  I don't have a fancy system or a pretty menu board - I just keep track of each week in a simple OneNote document on my computer.  I keep all my past menus, for inspiration when I'm not sure what to put on the list.  Someday I'd like to have a "master list" or "recipe rotation", but this system seems to work okay for now.  I do have a new goal for the winter, though - I want to try one new recipe at least every other week, and I want to use my slow cooker once a week.

I don't have a huge repetoire of slow cooker recipes (yet - I have a feeling a lot of the new recipes will be slow cooker recipes), but here are a few that I've tried and liked (click on the links for the recipes):

Beef and broccoli
Chicken drumsticks
BBQ pulled pork
Chicken tortilla soup

Hopefully by the end of winter this list will be a lot longer.  Let me know if you have any slow cooker recipes that are favorites!

Looks like fall, feels like summer

I meant for this post to go up last night, but I was having problems with uploading the pictures, so here it is now.

Yesterday was beautiful.  I think it got up to about 25C, which is a little unusual for this time of year.  The kids and I went for a long walk yesterday afternoon, and then I convinced them to "pose" for a few pictures in our backyard (and they even happened to be wearing nice coordinating "fall" outfits, which I totally didn't plan!).

Monday, September 23, 2013

"I speak for the trees"

Unfortunately there was no one speaking for this tree today.  We had received notice that it would be "trimmed" so that it wouldn't interfere with the power lines, but I had no idea it would be trimmed this much (although the notice did say they could trim 1m - 4m, so I guess that gives them some leeway :P).  I guess I should've gone out and said something, but I wasn't expecting they would cut so much, and then it was too late. :(

 It started off not that bad...

And he just kept going and going...

...until this was all that was left (he thoughtfully left all the dead branches). 

My poor tree is naked!  

I guess the only plus side is that there will be fewer leaves to rake this fall (and Emmett quite enjoyed watching the whole process).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Teacher, teacher...."

I made my debut this morning as nursery Sunday School teacher (I've never taught Sunday School before). The kids are 2-4 years old, and there are 7 in the class (Emmett is one of them). It was busy, but overall I think it went well. I excelled at play-doh and snack, and I even managed the flannel board (which is trickier than it looks). ;)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Snip snip

This morning while the kids were at school I went for a haircut. I was badly in need of one, since I had just been getting my bangs trimmed during the summer, but letting the rest of my hair grow wild. I like the length and general style I had, but it was time for something a little different (since I had the exact same hairstyle as my 5 year old). I got a few more layers at the edge of my bangs (kind of hard to see in this picture, but more visible when my hair is pulled back), and some long layers all over. It's not a huge change but I really like it. Makes me feel a little more grown up. ;)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Library day

So hard to pick just one or two!  I love that the kids love books so much.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013


Emmett LOVES "helping" me put away the groceries. He drags all the bags to the kitchen and takes everything out and makes a big "line up". Only once he has everything in line does he let me start putting things away.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Emmett's first day of preschool

Today was Emmett's first day of preschool and he did great!  I still cannot believe he's old enough (just barely) for school, but I think it will be good for him.

Of course, he had to wear his favorite orange shirt and his favorite orange sweater!

He's going to the same preschool that Annika went to for the past two years, so it's all very familiar.  The teachers are awesome, so even though I was unsure this morning how he was going to do (he's gotten to be quite a "mama's boy" lately), I knew that he was in very good hands.  They said he did really well, though - he was pretty quiet, but no tears (and no tears for me either).  When we got to the school we had a few minutes to put away his things and wash his hands, and then the door opened.  It's a staggered start, so only half the kids were there this morning.  It looks like it will be a pretty full classroom - I think there will be 20 kids there (morning classes tend to be fuller than afternoon classes - last year Annika only had 14 kids in her class).  I gave Emmett a hug and a kiss in the hallway and he walked into the classroom like a pro.  Some of the other parents were going in with their kids, but I'm a fan of the idea that it's better for the kids to leave the parents, rather than vice versa (if I went into the classroom, then I would be the one walking away from him - this way, he was the one walking away from me - make sense?).  Anyway, I think he made a beeline for the train table, and probably stayed there for most of the morning.  It was the only thing he talked about when I asked him afterwards how was school!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Emmett wanted his hair done this morning. Now if only I could get him to smile for the camera without making the "cheese" face. :P

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Letting go

With Annika starting kindergarten there have been a lot of adjustments and learning curves around here, for both her and for me.  It's amazing all the little things you need to figure out, as the parent.  For instance, how do drop-offs and pick-ups work?  Annika's teacher requires the parents (or whomever is picking up the child) to come to the classroom door to pick up the kid, so that makes it a bit easier for me (I don't have to make any decisions about that).  But what about drop-offs?  The kids aren't allowed into the school until the bell rings at 8:47, so do I stay and wait until Annika goes in, or just drop her off and trust that she gets inside safely?  On days that we walk to school it's not too much of an issue, but when I need to drive her (and I will have to drive her 3 days a week, just to get to our other morning commitments in time), it becomes a little more complicated.  Parents aren't allowed in the school parking lot, and are only allowed to park on the street in front of the school for a few minutes (just to stop and drop).  So if I want to wait with her until the bell rings, I need to park down a side street, and then walk her (and Emmett) into the school yard.  Not too bad now (we did it this morning), but I can see it being a bit of a pain when we get to snowsuits, etc.  And at some point you need to let go, right?

On the first day of school, I walked her right to where her class was lining up by the door and went inside with her (not into her classroom, just to the doorway).  The second day I walked her to the line but didn't go inside.  Yesterday and today I said goodbye at the school yard fence (pretty much where I would drop her off from the car, if I just stopped on the street in front of the school) and said good bye to her there, and let her walk the 20 or so steps to her line by herself (but stayed and watched until she went in).  I asked her today how she felt about it (there are still quite a few parents "hovering" near the line, but there are also many kids there that don't have a parent watching and waiting) and she said she was okay with it, so I think she would manage okay if I just dropped her off at the street.  But would I be okay with it?  Yes, it would be more convenient, but it just doesn't feel quite right to leave my baby unattended.... (there's a crossing guard at the street, but I'm not sure about playground monitors - I haven't seen any around Annika's door).  So, when is the right time to let go?  Am I rushing things, or not?

I'd love to hear some of your experiences with this (specifically sending your first child to kindergarten - I know it will get easier with the second child.  And preferably reasonably current stories - I know things were different "back in the day", but this is the time we're living in now).  Please leave me a comment here, or on Facebook.  Thanks!

Monday, September 9, 2013


I started organizing our pantry today, to put the (healthy and mostly-healthy) snacks where they are easily accessible for the kids. This is as far as I got before I ran out of bins. Not a bad start. In the first box is applesauce, fruit cups and Larabars (all things the kids don't really eat a lot of, but I thought maybe if I put them within their reach, they might change their minds). Next is fruit strips, fruit "squiggles" and individual portions of fruit bites. In the last box is individual portions of mini pretzels, Special K popcorn chips, cheese and crackers, and Bear Paw cookies.  Now I need some more bins!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Annika's Bible

Our church has a tradition of presenting kindergarten students with a Bible, and Annika received hers this morning. I was so proud of her, going up in stage all by herself!  She can't read it on her own yet, but she was completely fascinated with it today - leafing through the pages, looking at the pictures, "studying" the maps.  My goal is to find a good family devotional book, so we can help her put her Bible to good use.

On the flip side, my own Bible has been gathering dust lately. To be honest, I probably haven't brought it to church since before Annika was born. With having so much kid-related stuff to carry around (and the convenience of often having the Scriptures displayed on the overhead screen), it was one thing that got left behind. These days I do a lot of my Bible reading on my phone or the iPad, on our Bible app. It's convenient, but not quite the same. And when I pull out my phone in church to look up a passage, I want to announce to everyone "I'm not checking Facebook - I'm really following along!!  I'm listening!!!"

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Apple streusel muffins

This is one of my favorite muffin recipes - sooo good!  I just wish there was a way to keep that "just baked" texture.  They're just not quite the same the next day - the topping doesn't have the same crispiness to it once you put it in a container.

Apple Streusel Muffins
 - from "Company's Coming: Muffins and More" by Jean Pare

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp butter
1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup shredded apple (peeled or not)

TOPPING: In small bowl, rub together brown sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon until crumbly.  Set aside.

MUFFIN: Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in center.  In another bowl beat egg, milk and oil to blend. Drain off excess moisture from apple (I usually don't bother with this step).  Stir into egg mixture.  Pour into well and stir until just moistened.  Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full.  Sprinkle with topping.  Bake at 400F for 15 to 20 minutes (I do 15 minutes for mini muffins and 20 minutes for regular).  Makes 12 regular size muffins.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Preschool "meet and greet"

Today was Annika's second morning of kindergarten and Emmett's "meet the teacher" morning at preschool. I thought he would be more excited to go (since he was always so gung-ho to see what was going on when Annika was there), but he seemed a little hesitant.  When we were getting out of the car he asked "you stay with me, mommy?"  Once we were inside, it was a bit better.  The teachers are the same ones that Annika had last year, so he already knows them a little and they know him a little.  He found the train table, and I literally I had to drag him away from it to look at the other stuff around the classroom.  I can see him spending most of his time playing there.

He seems so young to be starting preschool (because he is, with his late birthday - he's not even 3 yet, while Annika was almost 3 and a half when she started), but I think this will be good for him.  He seems to be quite lost without Annika around.  This morning he was asking "we go pick Annika up?" already at 10:00.  I asked him if he was missing her and he said yes.  So, with preschool on Wednesday and Friday mornings, and Y Neighbours on Tuesday mornings, that will cut down on his "lonely" time (or maybe once he gets used to not having Annika around, he'll start enjoying it a little more!). 

So far it's been a bit of a hard adjustment for them both, because after school is done Emmett wants so badly to be with Annika, and she's so tired from school that she just wants to be alone.  So that inevitably leads to them fighting and I've actually been putting Emmett down for his nap early the past 2 days, just to get them apart.  I'm glad, though, that kindergarten is in the morning, because it works nicely to have a little down time after lunch (Emmett naps and Annika has TV time and "quiet" time), and then everyone's in better moods by snack time and for the evening.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First day of kindergarten

Today was Annika's first day of kindergarten, and it was great!  She had no fears or hesitations about going, and there were no tears today (for either of us).  Most of you probably saw these pictures on Facebook already, but here they are again.

A note about her "back to school" outfit - the white t-shirt was given to all the kindergarten students at the June meeting and they were all asked to wear it on their first day (I don't have a picture of it, but it has the name of our school division on it, and a star, and says something like "let your star shine bright".  I'll admit, when we got it, I thought, "no way is she going to wear that dorky shirt for her first day of school".  The past few days we went back and forth about wearing it - if she didn't wear it, would she be the only one?  If she did wear it, would she be the only one??  She decided last night to wear it, but sadly, only 2 or 3 other kids in the class wore theirs.  It didn't really seem to phase her though (atta girl).

Getting ready this morning went really smoothly, as both kids were up early, so I didn't have to wake them.  They actually even had time to play a little after breakfast before we had to go (the school is a 5-10 minute walk from our place, depending on whether Emmett is walking or in the wagon!).  School starts at 8:47 - isn't that an odd time?

She had a great day, and the first thing she said when she saw me was "mom, I made a new friend!"  In "Annika-land", that can mean just sitting next to someone (she applies the term "friend" quite broadly), but she she actually knew the girl's name and said they had done a puzzle together.  She was quite tired after school though.  She barely made it through lunch and she wasn't really hungry at all, since she had had a snack at school (I don't usually give the kids a morning snack).  Tonight by the time bedtime came, she was more than ready to sleep.

So, we survived the first day...  now for the next one, and the next one, and so on.  It will take some adjusting to get used to this new routine, but I think we'll manage.  Tomorrow Emmett and I get to go to his preschool (formerly Annika's preschool) for a meet and greet with the teachers (who we already know, but now it's Emmett's turn - no longer will he be stuck out in the hallway!).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Today was the last day of summer vacation (for Annika at least, Emmett still has another week until he starts preschool) and I wanted to do something special with the kids, so I took them to Build-A-Bear in the mall.  We had never been there before, and the kids loved it.

Annika "stuffing" her kitty.  Emmett was a little wary of the stuffing machine, and I had to help him with his bear.

Giving their animals a "bath" and getting them ready to get dressed.

Picking out their outfits was no easy task, with so many options! (You can't see it in this picture, but Annika's kitty has a dress on).  Emmett picked an orange shirt (go figure) for his bear.

All done!

Building bears is hard work, which requires a donut afterwards. ;)

Annika and her kitty, Isabella

Emmett and his bear, Trike (he picked the name himself - I don't judge).

The kids had a blast at the store, but I have to admit, I ended up spending more than what I was planning to (isn't that always the case?).  I wasn't very good at saying "no" to them, although the sales guy didn't help.  I thought he would tell us about the different options (you can have a sound put in the bear, a beating heart, a smell - all for an extra cost) and ask me which we wanted.  Instead, he just starting showing everything to the kids, and saying, "next we do this..." - which made it a lot harder to say no to things!  I said no to the sound (I don't like toys that make noise) and the beating heart, but I let them each get a smell (Annika picked cotton candy and Emmett picked strawberry).  In hindsight, I also should've made them pick one of the cheaper bears (the bears themselves range in price from $12 to about $30 I think), so we could've spent more on the accessories, which are really the fun part.  I also kind of wished I had encouraged Annika to pick a bear instead of the cat, since the clothing options for the cat were more limited (the dress she picked out was actually for a bear, but it happened to fit the kitty as well), but she really, really wanted the kitty (and as we've already established, mommy wasn't saying no to much). ;)  We had fun though, so mission accomplished.  It's not something that we'll do every day, so I think it's okay to splurge every now and then.

Next up... kindergarten starts tomorrow!  Don't even ask me if I'm ready for this.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


If the squirrels are hungry this winter I think I know who's to blame...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Church camp

This past weekend was our annual "church camp" weekend.  The camp we go to is over 3 hours away, so getting there and back is a bit of an.... adventure, but it's fun to be there.  The weather was mostly good, the food was great (love it when I don't have to cook all weekend - I'll gladly do other camp chores to get out of meal prep!), and the company was great too.  I didn't take a lot of pictures, but here are a few.

I attempted the rock climbing wall!  This was my second time doing rock climbing (I tried it last year for the first time).  I didn't get very high, but I tried.

Annika also did some climbing.

Bedtime snuggles

Ice cream stop on the way home.

I didn't get a picture of this at camp, but this "mosaic-by-number" kit I bought was a big hit (even with some of the older kids).  Annika loves it (and Emmett too, but it's a little beyond him.  He likes to peel off the little stickers and pass them to me to stick on the sheet).

Over the course of the past week I've been doing little braids in Annika's hair.  Today we finally finished her whole head (she can only sit still for a few braids at a time).  Unfortunately we had to take them all out this evening, since tomorrow is haircut day.