Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Cowgirl Shindig

 Miss A loves horses. Since it was her 7th birthday this past week, I thought I'd try to have a Cowgirl party for her. I called a couple of stables, but none were willing to accommodate pony rides for 7 year old kids, so I put it out there to my friends on Facebook. Sure enough, a friend of mine asked her parents if they would let us come out to their home for pony rides and they were willing. These wonderful people, who hardly know us, made my little girls day extra special. Thank you, thank you!
 This was her invitation.
YeeHaw! After school, we went to their acreage and the girls each got a little pony ride through the yard.

Miss A wore the vest and chaps her daddy wore as a kid, and the hat she got at the Canada Day celebration this year. What an adorable cowgirl.
Her cake was a ruffle cake with a dollar store plastic horse perched on top. It was yum. The cake, not the horse.
 Love her toothless grin.
Singing to the birthday girl.
We are so lucky to have this little sweetheart in our family. She is a joy to me and I love her. Happy Birthday Miss A.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Grin and Bear It

Minutes before the bus came this morning, Miss A pulled out a tooth. She has been living with 3 of her top front teeth missing for months now, and she just pulled out the fourth. There will be no carrots for that girl for a while.
After school, I was sitting with Miss C. and Mr. Q. at the kitchen table when I heard approaching sobbing. Miss A came in, I pulled her on my lap and asked her what was the matter. She could barely get the words out between sobs, "I accidentally dropped my tooth down the sink when I was washing the blood off for the tooth fairy." I told her that the tooth fairy will be able to find it and not to worry.
This is what she will awake to:

I'm so excited to see her reaction. :)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Little Miss Speedy

My littlest princess turned 5 last week while we were on vacation in Utah. We spent her birthday at This is the Place Heritage Park with some friends and cousins.
She had fun on pony rides.
She milked a plastic cow. lol
She pet a goat. 
She watched her sister get an old fashioned 'shave'. She also panned for gold & went on train rides. It wasn't too hot, thankfully. It was the perfect way to spend her first day being 5. 

This afternoon, I took the training wheels off her bike. For 2 minutes, I ran behind with 1 hand on the back of her seat, pulling my hands away & showing her she was doing it on her own. Within five minutes of the wheels coming off, she was cruising on her own, showing me how fast she could go. She was so excited to show daddy her new skills when he got home from work.
I am so happy to have this spunky sweet girl in our family. She makes me laugh when I'm not in a laughing mood. She has the cutest little voice. She gives the biggest hugs ever and has been known to knock people over from time to time. She loves watering the plants and helping me in the kitchen, especially with chocolate chip cookies. She is so excited to start kindergarten in a few weeks and especially to ride the bus with her big sister. She notices the good things in her life and has a natural gift of gratitude. We love you, Miss C. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Miss C's Beauty Shop

Miss C has been doing my hair for the last half hour. I love the look of intense concentration on her face. Both her & Mr Q stick out their tongues when they focus their attention on something. 

Looks great sweetie. You'll be a pro in no time. :)
Here's the finished 'do. :)

Friday, 19 July 2013

Mother of Invention

We love to camp. Not the 'roughing it, sleep in a tent with rocks & tree roots digging into our backs' type of camping, but the 'sit around a campfire, enjoy nature & the lake being together as a family' kind of camping. 
This is the cabin Grandma & Papa just built for us on their lot at the lake. They put some Murphy beds inside so we can have a spot to sleep when we come camping & they can keep their outdoor stuff inside when we aren't here. 
There is a double & 3 single beds inside. It might be a bit hillbilly, but I'd take it over a tent ANY day. My parents are awesome. 
The kids and I spent the last week camping with Grandma at Meeting Lake while Matt has been working so hard at home & Papa is making hay back at the farm.
 We love spending time with Grandma. She always makes us feel special and loved. 
The kids have been looking forward to this camping trip for a while. The park offers swimming lessons in the lake, so we signed the girls up. The lake has been pretty cold, so they have both been really excited for lessons & dreading them. Monday it was only 15*C & they had 2 hours of lessons between them. Brrr. It was cold & windy for me waiting on the beach, so you can imagine the little Popsicle girls who emerged from the lake when they were done.  Today is the last day of lessons. I'm so proud of my little swimmers. Good job girls!
There is a little mini golf course at this campground. Grandma took us for a round yesterday. I'm glad there wasn't any other players because the kids were all over the place. No injuries with the putters this time, thank goodness. 
Our favorite camping treat is s'mores. The messiest treat is often the best one. Yum.
Have fun camping everyone!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Singing in the Rain

"Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” - Gordon B Hinckley

It was a gorgeous day today. It was 25* C and felt perfect. We spent the morning at the park, playing with a bunch of friends. This afternoon, the girls & I made Rice Krispie squares while Mr. Q took a nap. 
Matt got home earlier than he has been lately & we ate supper together on the deck. The gils were so excited about corn on the cob. 
Miss A did pretty well since she's missing her 3 front top teeth & told us at supper that 3 more are loose...
I think corn will be out of the question if those fall out before any grow in.
After supper the kids started playing their made up Umbrella Game in the yard. One child has the sprayer & the other two have umbrellas. 
The point of the game is for the Sprayer to get the other two wet. The other two try to protect themselves. Every once in a while they trade positions. 
Thank goodness for Dollarama umbrellas because they were completely bent and wrecked by the end of the game.

I loved hearing the giggling voices, and seeing the smiles that were plastered on their faces. Today, we were riding along the top of the most beautiful vista, and I am, indeed, THANKFUL for the ride.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Water Bombing

I woke up with a migraine. The kids were being super noisy, so I thought I'd send them out to play.
I filled a bunch of balloons I had bought at the Dollarama a while back & sent them out to play. 
It lasted all of 5 minutes. 
At least they had some fun.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Jar

Our kids are like most kids. They are quick & happy to comply with instructions when we ask them things like, "Miss A, could you get the tub of ice-cream from the freezer, so I can make you an ice-cream cone?" Or, "Mr. Q would you please pull the sprinkler into the middle of the yard so you can go running through it with your sisters?"
Those type of requests bring swift obedience and acknowledgement. When asking them to put their toys away or to turn off the TV or get their PJ's on, we are often met with deaf ears. We were getting to the point where this selective hearing was driving Matt & I crazy.
My sister attended a parenting class where they suggested catching your kids doing good things, then acknowledge them for it. This is where THE JAR comes in. 
We started off with a family meeting, where we discussed different ways of reacting when we are asked to complete a task. We talked about doing the job thoroughly & quickly, doing it while grumbling and dragging our feet, putting it off for a later time, and ignoring the request completely.
The behavior that I expect from my children is:
1st To vocally acknowledge that I've requested them to do something
2nd To either get the job done or explain why they aren't able to
3rd To keep a happy voice, rather than whining 

We explained that Matt & I would be watching for their reactions over the coming days & weeks. If they are quick to obey, we take a teaspoon of dry rice and pour it into THE JAR. We drew lines on the jar & told them that when the jar was full to each line, they would earn a prize. We let them choose their rewards. They came up with:
1. Ice-Cream Sandwiches
2. McDonalds Playplace & Happy Meals
3. Movie at the theatre & popcorn
I, for one, was glad they didn't pick something outragrous like Disneyland. :) 

They reached the first line and ate the Ice-Cream sandwiches after about 4-5 days. It's so nice hearing the kiddos say, 'Yes, mom. ' when I ask them to do something rather than having to repeat things 13 times. 
They got to go to McD's after another week had passed. This was almost 2 weeks in to our Jar experiment, and at this point I really think their behavior had greatly improved!!
Today, they finally reached the last line on the jar. Yippee!
We saw Dispicable Me 2 this evening. It is such a cute show. They loved their popcorn, and getting to watch the "huge TV" as Miss C said. 
Tomorrow, we dump out the jar & let the kids pick new prizes to receive at each level. Although they are far from perfect, they do listen much better than they did a few months ago. THE JAR works!!!

Do you have any suggestions or experience in improving behavior?

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Renovation Hell & Mexico Heaven

Disclaimer: This is a long post. Really long. It has taken me a month to go through pictures and get it written. I apologize in advance. lol

Renos are tough. We've been pretty focused on them since the middle of January, in an attempt to get our house ready to put up for sale & take advantage of the spring market. It's so hard to get done all the stuff we usually do, in addition to what ended up being a full time renovation job on top of it all. Since January, our home has felt like a place of constant dust & mess, our kitchen has become a tool storage area, because I was so busy, I stopped preparing my usual healthy meals, our kids spent a lot of time in front of the tube. Mr. Q now knows the theme song from Jake and the Neverland Pirates by heart.

The TV was the babysitter for 6 weeks of their short little lives. Sad, I know. The chaos was really affecting my mental health. You know that feeling when you've been going too hard for too long and the light at the end of the tunnel seems much too far away? That's how I felt. Then, a little seed of happiness popped into our lives. My parents told us that they wanted to take us all to Mexico for a week in mid April. At that point, it was a month away. We were all so excited! I desperately wanted to finish the renos before we left so we could get it up for sale & I could just relax and not worry about my to-do list anymore. It's only me with this problem, Matt wouldn't be worried while we were gone. I started working overtime on the house, dragging my poor husband along for my crazy ride. We stayed up 'till midnight or later night after night, followed by a hot shower & finally collapsing in bed exhausted (with sopping wet hair). I had this countdown to our week of relaxing in the back of my brain, but I couldn't have a moment of peace before then, not unless the renos were finished. The week came for us to go on our vacation, I had worked myself non-stop but was unable to get it all pulled together in time. I felt like I had failed to accomplish my self-imposed (unrealistic) goals, and instead of being proud of all the things we had accomplished, I was disappointed in being unable to get more done. This is a real big personality flaw of mine. I recognize it, and it drives me bonkers. I worked on the house until noon on Friday and then started packing (for 5 people...) for our flight that we had to be up at 2am Saturday morning to catch. Crazy, I know. We went shopping for t-shirts and shorts in the early evening and were at the mall until it closed. We finally had the suitcases packed and waiting by the door at 1am. No point in sleeping at that point, right?
The flight there was pretty uneventful. The girls like to colour and Mr. Q slept most of the way. I was exhausted and slept on and off between trips to the teeny tiny bathroom that is not designed for a mom to bring her little children into. The super sonic toilet flush is pretty terrifying to a 3 year old. Our kids, I must admit, were angels on the plane. We received many compliments from other passengers on their good behavior. Makes a mama proud.
We stepped off the plane at PVR and the heat & humidity was almost shocking (in a really good way!). We went from a weather forcast with a snowfall warning, to beautiful, tropical sunshine. It was wonderful.
We stayed at the Friendly Vallarta resort. We went up to our room and stepped out on the balcony to see the most gorgeous view.
Stunning, no? We spent a week as a family, enjoying each other, the weather, the water, the break. It was perfect. My parents, my sister &  her family, my brother & his wife, and another brother all went together. There were 16 of us total. Another brother and his wife were not able to come as they are expecting twin baby girls soon and couldn't travel. Often, someone mentioned that they wished they were with us. Hopefully next time there will be 20 (or more??) of us.
When we arrived, we almost immediately got changed into our swimsuits, slathered on the SPF 3000 and sunhats and went swimming right away. The pool had a little kids area that was only about 18" deep or so and there was a ledge around most of the pool that the kids were comfortable walking on.
There were many trips to the little cabana that had the slushy drinks. The food/drink servers were outstanding. You never went too long without someone bringing you something yummy. All-Inclusive is definitely the way to go. It was SO nice not having to prepare meals or clean up. I kept reflecting on that several times each day. It makes for a true vacation. As we are teetotalers, the non-stop alcohol wasn't an enticement, but once we told the waiters we don't drink, they remembered who we were and said, "No-alcohol, right?" whenever we'd order a drink. That's great service.
Before church on Sunday, we went for a walk along the beach together. The girls wanted to stick their toes in. Miss C. got pretty wet. I was randomly asked to play piano at church. It was interesting to play these Spanish hymns, because even though the tunes were mostly the same, the notes were slightly off from what I'm used to because the translation of the hymns didn't necessarily allow for the same number of notes in each measure. I don't know if the musical terms are correct, but it was just a bit off.
We had a quiet afternoon. Mr. Q had fun building sand castles with his cousins. He always sticks out his tongue when he is concentrating on something.
Quick break from playing to have a cuddle with Grandma.
Tuesday, we went on a fun excursion with the whole gang. It was a day long Pirate ship voyage & was really different and fun. Grandma and Papa had been before and wanted to take the grandkids. This was taken during breakfast in the ships galley.
We sailed across the bay to this beautiful beach with gorgeous clear water where we took an hour or two to play on the beach. The water was so nice. Little Miss C loves the waves pushing her back to shore.
Awe. I love that guy.
On the beach, the pirates had a treasure hunt lined up for the kids. They had to follow clues on a map & eventually unearthed the buried treasure. That was one of the highlights of the trip for the kids. They are still talking about it regularly a month later.
Thanks, dude in the green shirt, for joining our family picture... lol

Miss A was wiped out from all the sun the day before. I think she had a dose of heat exhaustion. We mostly just kept her out of the sun and drinking a lot of water. The only thing she really wanted to participate in was the treasure hunt. Poor sweetie. Thank goodness she was fine the next day.
We spent Wednesday at the Puerto Vallarta Zoo. The entire place is almost like a huge petting & feeding zoo. You can get really close to the animals (my brother-in-law was licked by a giraffe...) but I'd have to say that I found the conditions deplorable. The alligators were in these tiny puddles of water, the hippos had a hot tub worth of dirty water to sit in, the pens had next to no vegetation, just concrete. I'm not an activist, but to me, it was sad. To my kids, however, it was the coolest thing ever. They loved feeding the animals & didn't notice the conditions at all. I wouldn't go back.
We spent the next day hanging out at the pool for the most part. The kids had so much fun playing with their cousins. We made sure they kept their hats and reapplied sunscreen several times. I didn't want to deal with kids complaining about sunburn pain.  I laid in the shade of a big umbrella, reading the Septimus Heap series listening to the kids laugh and splash and play for most of the day. It was so perfect.
Later that night, my parents were so kind to watch the kids while Matt & I went to the Rythms of the Night, along with my brother and sister-in-law. It was probably the highlight of the trip for me. It starts off with an hour long catamaran ride to Las Caletas, where you eat a really nice meal on the most stunning beach. After supper, we had a while to walk on the beach & enjoy the stunning scenery. Then, there was the open air show of music, dance and pyrotechnics. I'd describe it as Mayan history meets Cirque du Soleil, in the middle of a gorgeous beach and jungle. After the show, you follow the candle/torch lit paths back to the boat where you travel back to Puerto Vallarta. It was well worth the price & I'd do it again in a flash if given the chance. :)

While in the cab, traveling home from the zoo, my dad asked Miss A what her favorite animal was, expecting her to say hippo or giraffe or some other animal that she had just seen. Without hesitation she replied, "Dolphins!!" I had been toying with the idea of taking her to swim with the dolphins, but her reply pretty much cemented in my mind that I was actually going to take her. Friday, Miss A & I were able to have a most memorable mommy daughter date. The dolphins name was Angel. He is 8 years old. His skin is super smooth and not at all slimy. Angel was very well trained, and Miss A seemed to be comfortable with him, but she wouldn't let him kiss her.  Before bed tonight, Miss A was looking at a picture of her and Angel pinned up on her magnet board in her room and she said, "I miss Angel."  It was awesome to see Miss A so super excited and grinning. I'm so glad we went. :)

The next day was the day we traveled home. Our kids were again really great on the plane. When we arrived at the airport here, it was snowing... on April 20th. I wasn't impressed, but I could deal with it.

This trip was a wonderful break from all the renos we have been working on. I really, really needed to relax, and this vacation was like hitting a reset switch. I am truly grateful to my parents for their generosity and kindness. We have such fun lasting memories our family can share, and it's because of this trip. To be honest, Mexico was never a destination that I really wanted to go to. It seemed like such a typical place that everyone and their dog goes to. I thought I would prefer somewhere more exotic, like Hawaii or Tahiti, but I have to say it was the most awesome vacation ever! I guess I don't have anything to compare it to, but it doesn't matter. It was fun. It was relaxing. It was a week of heaven with people I love. Thanks mom and dad. We love you!

We had our house up for sale 8 days after we got home from Mexico.
We got an offer after 5 days and after we negotiated a bit it sold the next day. They did the property inspection and all conditions were removed on Mother's Day. What a huge weight lifted!
It's been a whirlwind of change.
We packed up one of our best friends, Leah, on Saturday for her new life across the country, and we are moving as well this coming Saturday. As my mother and father-in-law are serving a mission in the Ukraine, they had an empty house we are taking over for a while. We are truly grateful to them for providing us a home.

Life is busy, but good. I'm living a wonderful life. I try to see the good and count my blessings everyday... kick me if you hear me complain. :)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

FACIAL recognition

I'm not one of those 1 in 3 women who won't leave the house without make-up. I do wear makeup most days, and like playing with eye makeup when I go out, but if I don't wear any, it's no big deal. The one thing I do every day is curl my eyelashes. My eyes look weird to me if I don't, like they are only part way open. I feel like using one makes it a touch less obvious that I've had no sleep and in my humble opinion, it's the easiest way, besides a smile, to brighten up a face!

Friday, I had a friend come over and give me a Mary Kay facial. She came while Mr. Q was having a snooze and the girls were at school. It was really nice to have a visit with another adult and get pampered a little.
Anyway, after the girls got home from school, I did little makeovers for them with the blush & lipstick/gloss samples she left. They LOVED it. It was great to have a little girly fun together to start off the weekend. What cuties!
I love their kissy faces!

The Mary Kay products were very nice and I think my favorite is the Satin Hands. I'm embarrassed by my dry cracking hands, and the Satin Hands actually made them almost soft, at least temporarily. Is there some magical way of having smooth, soft hands when you wash them at least 25 times each day (meal prep, dishes, potty training...)  Please, don't tell me lotion. Lotion gets washed off when I wash my hands so often & I go through it like water. I do keep it in my car, in my purse, beside my sinks, etc. but I just can't reapply it often enough. I've tried super thick creams and lotions before bed, and then put gloves on to sleep. I'm far more embarrassed by my dry cracking hands than I am by going out sans makeup. Maybe the Satin Hands will work over time...
Ladies, will you leave the house without makeup? Any cures for my poor tired hands?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Captain America to the Rescue!

This past week was Mr. Q's 3rd birthday. He is such a fun little guy to have around. I love his cuddles, when he stops long enough to sit. I love his laugh, it is so infectious. He loves cars, trucks (especially Mater), tractors, trains, dirtbikes, transformers, boats & pretty much anything that goes. He also likes superheroes, with the exception of the Hulk. He's pretty much terrified of him for some reason. He loves wearing his superman costume around the house pretty much everyday.

When Mr. Q asked for a Captain America birthday, I thought it sounded like a great idea.

 Not only is he an admirable superhero, who fought the Nazi's and stuff, he has a shield which made an incredibly easy birthday cake. Hahaha! The DVD case above is what Matt got out to by the inspiration for his birthday cake. I usually go all out and try to do everything on theme, but.... it had been a busy week. He got a cake, cousins, and a little party. I hope he still felt special.

The fondant was actually really easy. I followed this recipe to make the fondant. A great tip I got from my friend Sherry was to use a bit of Crisco on the counter & rolling pin to help with the stickyness when rolling it out. That helped tremendously.
 The cake is my Grandma Neta's recipe. It is so moist & yummy. I'm gonna share the recipe, since I get asked for it all the time.

Grandma Neta's Chocolate Cake

1/2 c. butter or margarine (I always use butter)
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 c. buttermilk (I always use 2tsp. white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 c.)
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 9X13 pan (or equivalent... I often use 2- 8" round pans or make cupcakes) with a mixture of 1/2 tsp. shortening, 1/2 tsp. oil and 1 tsp. flour. This will help it to release easily from pan. I often use parchment paper on the bottom as well.
In big bowl, cream butter and sugar, then blend in eggs & vanilla. Stir in cocoa powder. Add buttermilk and blend it all together. Add all dry ingredients and stir. The mixture will be really thick. At this point, you pour in the boiling water and carefully stir till it is smooth and well combined. Pour in pan. Bake for about 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. If you're making 2 separate pans or cupcakes, it will take much less time.
After about 20 minutes, your house will start smelling amazing. Mmmmm....

Mr. Q was somewhere between really interested & kinda scared when it came to the sparklers. These were the only 2 pics I was able to take because, of course, my memory card was full.

Happy Birthday, sweet boy. We love you!