Friday, December 14, 2012

advent calendar - day 1

following in last year's footsteps, we planned on the advent calendar countdown of Christmas activities.  this year, i am obviously not as dedicated to the daily posting on the blog, however.  it's day 14 and i've made no mention of our december so far!  yes, the blog has been somewhat ignored.  let's just say that a LOT of photos have been PRINTED and slid into clear pocket protectors in project life though!

this year, i didn't make a list ahead of time of our activities.  that was not a good idea.  most mornings, i forget about the advent calendar and make ben wait until after breakfast to open it so that i have time to think of something and get it in there!  we have a new calendar this year - i made it at a class but when i signed up, i didn't realize that all those little boxes were made of just cardstock.  they're really not kid-friendly so i've been keeping it up out of reach.  we'll see what what happens next year.


december 1st - go get our christmas tree and decorate it!  this was our first time getting a real tree!



these photos are all nice and beautiful.  the actual day started with an argument between tim and i about whether to go to christmas tree farm to cut down a tree or to go to a tree lot.  i hadn't realized that he wanted to cut one down and i thought that was a crazy idea with little kids standing around waiting for dad to hack through a tree.  we ended up at a great tree lot and got a beautiful tree - probably the most beautiful and most perfect tree i have ever had...we paid the big bucks for the noble fir vs. the douglas fir.  what we did not realize is how much bigger our tree would look in our living room.

on our way home, we stopped at Canadian Tire and bought an extra string of lights to match our others at home.  at home, we pulled out the box of decorations and pulled out our two strings of lights.  i start stringing them which takes forever.  ben is impatiently waiting to begin decorating when one of the strings of lights goes out.  oh brother.  okay, pull that string off.  begin restringing.  go to plug in the new string of lights and the two plugs don't work together!!!  so we only have one string of lights for the biggest tree that we've ever had.  off i go back to canadian tire.  i never even liked the lights we had on our tree so i bought tinier lights.  there's warm, pure, and cool.  i knew we didn't want cool but i thought the warm was a little too yellow so i went with pure.

i get home and we plug in the new lights.  they're not pure.  they're bluer than i thought they'd be.  tim doesn't like them but i'm like, "oh well, we can't delay the decorating any longer - ben has been waiting forever to begin!"  i start stringing the new lights.  halfway down the tree, we realize that we cannot handle the blue light.  much to ben's disappointment, we pull all the lights off, put them back in the boxes, and tim heads back to C-Tire.

meanwhile, i'd planned to unpack and set up our nativity sets on the 3rd as another calendar activity but ben discovered his fisher price set in a box.  augh!  so i brought it out one piece at a time as i told him the nativity story.  he seemed very interested.  after all the pieces were out and the story was done, he asked me to tell it again!  haha.  so that was a sweet moment of the day.

tim came home with 2 boxes of warm lights.  we knew it would be a little sparse on the lights for this big tree but the lights are just so expensive.  i start putting the lights on again, trying to spread them out, only to get to the bottom third of the tree and be out of lights.  tim and i look at each other - another trip?  NO!  tim suggests putting that one old string of lights on even though it's not the same type of lights (we could plug it in the one way but not the other so it could be added to the end but not connected in the middle).   good idea.  i add it to the end and it doesn't look so bad.  the DECORATING can BEGIN!

part way through decorating, half of that last string of lights burnt out.  sigh.

Monday, November 26, 2012

out in the sunshine

we headed off to the park this afternoon to make the most of the sunshine.  i forgot avery's coat so i took ben's long-sleeved shirt off him, put him in his hoodie and put his shirt over avery's onesie and sweater.  at least they were both in heavy duty fleece pants.  :)  but the sunshine was gorgeous today!  we walked around mill lake and stopped to play at all 3 playgrounds.  

did i mention that avery is finally walking!?!  she's choosing to walk more and more which is so fun!  


 but she was not happy to fall on the cold, wet bark mulch...

ben spent most of his time "fixing the train" at the park.  the helmet was legit - he rode his bike around the lake...it was just helping to keep him warm while he played!  haha.

Monday, November 19, 2012

back on pointe?

i discovered this site the other day: back on pointe.  the author gives a new workout calendar every month with two types of exercise for each day (like arms, legs, cardio, etc).  then she gives a list of workouts for each.  Each day, you look at the calendar, choose a workout that corresponds and work out.  each workout is simply a list of exercises.  if you don't know what a certain exercise is, you youtube search it and find a video to show you.  a list of exercises?  i can do this while i watch tv!  it seems like a good discovery for a girl wanting to get back into the routine of working out but is very, very lazy at the end of the day to go to the gym.  so far, i've done it for two days.  i chose workouts that had the word "beginner" in them but they were pretty short so i think i will begin running through each list twice at least.  it's something, right?  :) now...to start counting points again...?  we'll see...

today's quote

avery's been waking up too early and i put her in our bed with us.  she lays very still and seems to be trying to fall asleep (though it's rare that she does) which is so different than ben from when he was a baby.  this morning, when ben came and climbed in, he tried to wiggle in between avery and i.  once he got in, he put his arms around avery and she started to laugh.  ben replied, "i'm just hugging you.  you don't have to laugh at me."  good mornings.

Monday, November 12, 2012

sweet bunny

a few months ago, i noticed that avery would hug her blanket when she went to sleep.  i went into ben's giant tub of stuffed animals and found my personal fav - this soft, long eared bunny and gave it to her.  after a very short time, this bunny has become avery's favourite thing ever.  

when she stands up in her crib, waiting for someone to come get her, she's holds it by it's ear and doesn't leave the crib without it.  when she spots it laying on the floor around the house, she throws herself on it and lays there for a few seconds.  she's a champion crawler while holding bunny.  it's always the pillow between my shoulder and her head when she's sad or tired.  




the other day in the mall, someone asked what the bunny's name is.  my childhood inability to name stuffed animals has followed me to adulthood and we just call it Bunny.  

oops...

hey ben - don't leave your "mostly empty but still a little left" pudding cups around at baby height...

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

helloooo composting!

back in 2008, we were on the east coast and i was blown away at how GREEN those provinces were.  every garbage pail - on the street, in mcdonalds, anywhere - had a "compost" section.  i thought, "why wouldn't we have this already in the lower mainland?  i thought WE were green!"  a couple years later, i saw my aunt and uncle in toronto composting for their curbside compost pick up.  i thought, "why aren't we doing THAT?"  

i've had the best of intentions to start a compost of my own...it was one of my new year resolutions for 2010 though nothing really became of that.  classic resolution.

THEN, i heard that South Surrey was starting curbside compost pick up.  my parents were getting the new giant bins and their garbage pick up was going down to only every other week.  jealous! 

can you tell that i love the idea of composting?  i'm sure you've figured out what's coming here... i like to foreshadow.  ha.

i arrived home a couple days ago to a little compost can on my doorstep with a sticker for my garbage pail and a magnet for my fridge.  FINALLY!  we have started!  and in a nice, non-life changing way.  put this sticker on my own garbage can and here's a tiny bucket for under the sink?  sounds great to me!  


now...will i still like composting when i have to empty this little can?  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

one of these days...

it's hard not wishing for the next stage to hurry up and get here.  i know we're supposed to be enjoying each stage for what they are.  but...we've been wishing and waiting for avery to get walking for what seems like forever.  when you say this to people, "oh, you'll wish that you she wasn't walking when she finally does!"  but really, she's into everything as a crawler.  she's ridiculously fast.  and she's angry to be tied down to a stroller/shopping cart/carseat.  i think walking will be an improvement.

i used to go and wander the mall (or winners) daily with ben during the winter or on rainy days.  we had no where to be so i would just hold his hand and we'd walk slowly around the mall.  with avery, there's very few mall days and no winners shopping because she just wants to get out.  you can let a one year old child get out of their stroller and walk around with nothing but smiles and coos from strangers.  it's a different story when you let your one year old get out of the stroller and crawl.  on the rare occasion that i've gone to the mall as a reprieve from our house, i go to the far end of the mall near sears where it's the least busy to let avery have a crawl around.  people look at me like "i can't believe you're letting her do this."  grandmas say "she's going to be filthy!"  yes.  she will be.  but i can wash the clothes and the hands - i can't keep this girlie in her stroller!  it doesn't help that my 3 year old feels the need to crawl everywhere with her.  they're a bit of a sight.  needless to say, we RARELY go to the mall these days.  i'm sure tim appreciates this...  ;)  but the retailers miss me - i know it!



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

teething fever

avery has only had two teeth since she was about 8 months.  her first birthday came and went with no new teeth.

a few weeks ago, i was in zeller's (they had big sales because they're closing down) and the cashier took one look at avery's smile and said, "it looks like she'll be getting her top teeth in 15 - 20 days."  i kind of laughed and asked, "is that your prediction?"  she replied, "it's not a prediction - it's the truth.  i am a dental hygenist."  i was a little stunned so i didn't ask anymore questions though now, i'm wondering why was she working at zellers!?

well, sure enough, about 3 weeks later, avery is teething like crazy.  she's been up in the night 3 - 4 times (for over a week now), moaning with her finger in her mouth.  the last two days, she's had a fever - her whole body has been a little furnace.  last night, at midnight, i was feeling like, "is this bad that i'm letting this fever go and not taking her to the doctor?" but at 5am, i went in and she was soaked with sweat but no longer feverish.  so hopefully, that's all we see of the fever.  her top two teeth seem to have poked through but i think the teeth on either side are on their way in.

it's tough being a baby.  ;)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

movies

kids seem to love buzz&woody and lightening mcqueen.  these two movies are EVERYWHERE.  i don't know how kids can watch those long movies at 2 years old but ben was never the kind of kid to watch anything longer than a curious george.  (which is great, really.)  but let's be honest, i've been looking forward to having a reason to watch kids movies.  

on the last weekend of august, we had our first movie night with ben and avery.  ben had never watched a full length movie before.  we laid out a blanket on the living room floor for an indoor picnic while we watched our movie.  i didn't plan it in too much advance so when i turned on netflix and realized (duh) there was no disney, the next logical choice was Rio.  
i was disappointed that our first movie wasn't Cars or Toy Story (although the mean kid is a little too scary) but as the movie started, there was lots of music (which avery loved) and the "bad guys" weren't scary - bonus.  ben asked questions during most of the movie - i did a lot of narrating.  i remember my dad describing what was happening in movies for me and i always liked it...hopefully, my kids feel the same way.  anyways, it wasn't too long and ben seemed to like it - at least, he was interested until the end.  

i didn't take any photos but found this little video clip with the kids watching the opening scene: 

video

so this past weekend, tim saw that Cars was playing on tv so he recorded it.  i was excited to for ben to see the movie that his friends love and sport on their clothes/underwear/pull-ups/toothbrushes/beach towels etc.  we got it started at dinner and tim and i were pretty into it but ben lost interest after the first race.  he was off playing and i kept pausing the movie, saying, "are you still watching this or should i turn it off?"  usually, by the time i ask this question about curious george in the morning, the answer is "turn it off" but he continued to say, "i'm still watching" so i guess he liked it well enough.  but really, are any 3 year olds watching full length movies?  or do they just like the characters?  the experience definitely encouraged me not to bother with a movie theatre for at least a few more years.  :) 


Saturday, September 29, 2012

"hi" - avery

avery's favourite (and only) word to say is "hi".  she says it to us all day long.  sometimes, we even get a crazy wave with the hi.

the other day, we were in the grocery store and avery was sitting in the cart.  she did not want to be in the cart so she was yelling, whining, and holding her arms out so that i'd take her out.  i can't carry her and push the cart so i had to leave her in there.

she'd be yelling and half crying until we passed a person in the aisle.  she would stop, smile at them, and say, "hi". when the person had passed, she'd resume whining for me to take her out.  stop, smile, "hi"...whine, whine, whine.

it was pretty funny.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

the debit card that is a visa

i lost my debit card the other day - probably at a grocery store somewhere.  i went to the bank and they gave me my new card.  the teller explained that it's a debit card but can function like a visa.  if i go to the states, i can use it anywhere but the money comes straight from our chequing account.  i can use it to buy things online but there's no visa bill to pay afterwards.

WHAT?

this is the greatest.  i'm SO pumped!  no more surprise credit card bills on which i had forgotten that i'd charged something!  it's all coming out of the bank account!  love. it.  if you bank TD, go get yours too!

no.  no one paid me to write this commercial.  i'm just THAT excited. haha.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

one year later

a year ago, avery was born.  oh, how that girl has changed over this last year.  it took us a couple months to figure out that her need to sleep was greater than her need to eat.  she was slow to smile and even slower to laugh but by five or six months, she was one content little girlie.  i remember saying to people, "if i could keep her this age forever, i would - she's so perfect!" avery was so content that she just sat for months, watching ben or playing with whatever we set in front of her.  she didn't begin crawling until she was into her 9th month.  we joke that she has a turbo boost - she puts her head down and crawls double speed.  she's so fast, i don't know why she'd bother learning to walk but she does love when anyone holds her hands and helps her walk.

if we had her in bed at naps and bedtime, she was a happy girl and even the rare days that we let her stay up late, she managed like a trooper.  despite needing a lot of sleep, avery's never been one to sleep much in her carseat and she's hit or miss on the playpen sleep, however, the couple trips that we've taken (to the island and to whistler), she's slept great in her playpen.  in her crib at home, she sleeps with her soother, hugging her bunny or blanket.

avery took forever to begin feeding herself finger foods but now she's eating almost whole meals of finger food.  she has started refusing anything green and when she does try a new food, if she doesn't like it, she just opens her mouth and lets it fall out.  her favourite foods are bread, cheese, potatoes, applesauce, yogurt, and any kind of dessert that you're willing to share.  if she sees you eating ice cream, she stands next to you screaming and shouting until you give her a taste.

i switched avery from formula to milk right on the day she turned one.  she never blinked - no big deal.  she's always been difficult to feed a bottle to, squirmy and wiggly.  i remember one night thinking that i should film myself feeding her because she was steadily drinking but both legs were kicking and arms were waving around.  i figured it would be fairly easy to ween her off her 4 bottle feeds and already we're down to about 2 bottles a day.

when avery was content and still all the time, i worried just a little that she wasn't going to have much personality but oh, was i wrong to be worried.  this little girl has a mind of her own.  she loves her brother and her grandparents.  when we laugh at something she does, she tries to do more things that will make us laugh.  she loves bracelets and can put them on herself - she's often seen crawling around with those stacking rings around her wrists.  when you put shoes or a hat on her at the store then take them off her, she screams because she wants to keep them on.  she loves it when i pretend to drop her but she doesn't like being thrown up in the air.  she loves to go down the slide and does it on her own.  she tries to get any adult to pick her up - even strangers - but she doesn't love it when big kids get too close to her face.  she doesn't mind being dirty and is desperate to follow ben outside even though she's not a big fan of crawling on the grass.



Sleeping in her new big girl car seat on the way to Whistler


we haven't quite figured out the hair yet - with a barrette, it stays in place better!  :)
Not afraid to get dirty!
we cannot imagine our family without this hilarious little girl.  her smile is contagious and she's an easy laugh when you tickle her.  ben says to her at least once a day, "i really love you, avery."  and so do we - we really love you, avery and we can't wait to see what the next year has in store for you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

so i have this job...

my facebook friends (and i guess real friends and family) know that i got this new job back in april but i was looking back through the blog and i don't think i posted about it.  this will be one of those posts that most people don't care to have this much information but i feel like my aunt laurie will be interested to know what i'm doing.  ;)  i have literally been on the computer all day and evening for weeks and have barely fb-ed, blogged, or pinterest-ed(?).  however, today i have shipped one kiddo off with grams and the other is napping so i'll take this prime work opportunity to procrastinate/blog about this job and what i actually DO.

i work at a school that homeschooling families register with so that they can have a teacher work with them at monitoring their curriculum and do assessments (aka. report cards).  this way, when their child graduates from grade 12, they'll be issued a BC Dogwood diploma whereas if you are a traditional homeschooler (no teacher), i don't think you get a diploma.  you also have access to a grant from the government which they use for paying for curriculum but also they can use it to pay for gymnastics lessons or art classes - whatever relates to their learning. 

i've watched my friend, kara, do this job for 3 years and another friend, heidi, do it for a couple years also.  yes, two of my close friends work for this school.  it seemed ideal.  almost all from home except for 3 - 4 meetings a year for planning and assessment.  when kara and her family decided to move to northern bc, she put in a good word for me and i was hired to take over her job.  the school happened to be looking for abbotsford/chilliwack teachers in order to expand more into this area.  i was SO pumped to get this job.  

so what has made me so busy over the last few weeks?  i'd had many of my family meetings back in july and talked with moms about the curriculum that they were going to use - i was ready to write their Student Learning Plans (SLP).  but they weren't due until the end of september, so i let them hang over my head all summer and didn't do anything.  this was one of the reasons i thought that i might not be the greatest at this job.  i procrastinate.  but i procrastinate mostly when i don't know what to do. at the end of august, i bit the bullet and wrote my first SLP.  basically, i break down the resources into their course categories and figure out how i will assess them (scan two samples per week, present at home visit, etc).  it sounds simple but not every parent wants to use a textbook for every course....of course!  that would kind of go against the point of homeschooling.  SO figuring out how they're going to teach each thing can be daunting.  once i finished one SLP, it was like, "ahh...this is how it works!"  i worked non-stop all of labour day weekend and managed to have all 17 students' SLPs finished in rough copy and sent to parents.  

at the same time as working on SLPs, emailing back and forth with parents and my vice principal, i was coming up with ideas for other things i could write.  one parent asked about an author of the month study - i said, "i can write one for you every month!"  another parent didn't have any ideas for Health and Career Education so i said, "i'll create some assignments for you!"  my VP said, "this student doesn't have much in the SLP that relates to his passions and interests - come up with something related to cars."  "sure, i can do that!"  and these extras seem never ending.  families new to homeschooling like lots of input.  families who have been homeschooling forever generally like working on their own. each student takes a different amount of time.  it was estimated that each student takes about 45 minutes per week.  i just got three new students last week so now i'm sitting at 20 students.  that's (at a minimum) almost 20 hours a week!  no wonder i'm feeling like i'm glued to the computer. 

throughout the year, (ideally) parents email me weekly logs that let me know what their child(ren) have been doing the past week.  i keep track of that info so that i'm prepared for the assessment meeting in november (and then again in march, and again in june) which helps me write report cards. 

also, each term, i'll be teaching a 4 - 6week once-a-week class for grade 4-7.  this term, i'm teaching electricity.  i'm also signed up to teach a book club but few kids have signed up so far so it might not fly.  

the nice thing about this job is that it's turning out to be great  i got over the difficult start with the planning and i'm running with it now.  the relationship with parents is very different than when you're a classroom teacher so i've enjoyed meeting all these families and am enjoying working with the moms who are excited about teaching their children.  i am remembering how much i liked coming up with ideas for teaching and writing units - i get to search online for ideas and gather them together but don't have to teach them.  ;)  if i can get through september, i'm hoping it will be less daily work until report card season.  

my view from the office : ben painting at the little table over there - see him?
i have been feeling badly that i'm spending so much time on the computer while ben plays on his own or with avery and i was saying this to my mom the other day.  her response was, "you have a job but you're home with them.  you're still there to make lunch, to give avery her bottle before her nap, and to hug and kiss them when they get hurt."  this has given me some perspective this last week and encouraged me that this has been a good decision for us.  i'm still involved in what i love to do - both for work and with my kids.  i'm feeling very, very blessed for all that i have.  

Saturday, September 01, 2012

allergies

it took me a few weeks to figure out that it was eggs making me feel sick.  eggs in baking, eggs in salad dressing, eggs in pancakes, etc.  as it turns out, it hasn't been too hard to cut out - overall, i just eat less dessert.  and i've had lovely friends and family who have searched out eggless caesar dressing, baked me things with flaxseed substitute, or found me recipes with no eggs at all so really, i've had just as much dessert as usual probably.  so when i went to the doctor in march and he booked the first available appointment with an allergist...at the end of august...it didn't seem SO bad as i figured out how to avoid eggs.  every so often, i would think to myself, i'm not allergic to eggs - this is stupid, eat something with eggs, and be curled up on my bed with terrible stomach pain for the next 4 - 5hours.  it seemed pretty clear that eggs were my allergy.

this past week, i finally had my appointment with the allergist.  the nurse came in to ask me questions and i talked about my eggs allergy.
her - "any other allergies?"
me - "nope."
her - "what about your parents?"
me - "my dad's allergic to nuts.  and cats.  and probably some kind of pollen... oh wait, actually, i'm really stuffed up and sneezy in the spring.  and actually, my eyes get all watery when i'm around cats..." her - "okay, so more than just an egg allergy."
me - "uh, yeah, i guess so."
i had to blow into this apparatus that tested my lung capacity, i guess.  i seemed to be really bad at it.  but i never did feel like i was doing it correctly.

next, the allergist came in.
him - "how's your nose today?
me - "good."
he looks up my nose with a light.
him - "so one nostril completely blocked and the other partially blocked is good?"
me - "umm...i guess so."
him - "two clear nostrils would be a miracle?"
me - "yeah, i guess...."
him - "you are obviously so used to being stuffed up that you are living with no good and terrible and have no idea what clear breathing would feel like."
he must have thought i was so brain-dead but this was like, total epiphany.  i'd never thought to much about being stuffed up all the time, especially in the mornings when i woke up.

so, my arms had 40 pin-pricks and 40 drops of stuff i might be allergic to based on my description of my allergy symptoms.  then i sat while the my arms got itchier and itchier.  when they wiped off the drops, i had huge welts on my arm that had "environmental allergens" and nothing on my "food allergens" arm.  my environmental arm was SO itchy.  they rate the allergies on a +1 to +4 scale with 1 being minorly allergic to 4 being severly allergic.

here were my results:
+1:
corn
banana
celery
yeast
EGGS
house dust mites
+2
wheat
sesame seed
house dust
old world mites (what?)
dogs
wet molds
+3
grasses
+4
alder
birch
cats

WHAT?  I tried to ask questions about the egg thing but i really didn't get any real answers.  he said that probably increased the allergy by eating so many eggs (i was eating a lot every morning when i was doing weight watchers) and if i cut them out completely for a couple years (!), i might be able to eat them again in small doses.  corn, wheat, bananas, etc sounds ridiculous that i'm allergic to them.  especially that they're the same or higher than eggs.  i still don't get it.  but i guess women are most susceptible to developing more severe allergies 2 - 4 years after their second pregnancy.  so he encouraged me to avoid these foods because of that but give me a break.  that's not even possible for me to avoid things like wheat and corn.  augh.  THEN, with all these pollens and grasses and dust and mold allergies...well of course!  isn't mold and dust bad for EVERYONE?  seriously - is there anyone reading my blog who has had an allergy test before?  if you have, were you allergic to dust?  augh.
he also told me that my lung capacity should be 140 (something...i can't remember the unit) and i'm breathing at 96.  exercise could help this, he explained, if i started exercising 3 times a week for 30 minutes a day.  yep...that could pretty much help EVERYTHING.

i was so frustrated on the drive home from this test.  i felt like i really didn't get any answers.  since then, however, i have been more aware of my breathing.  now, i'm just super annoyed that i'm so stuffed up instead of just being content with terrible.  so i'm suppsed to get rid of my feather duvet, put my pillow, duvet, mattress in allergen-proof encasings, wipe the blinds in my room once a week, remove carpets (but we don't have any in our room anyways), and get an air filter.  when the nurse was telling me this, i felt like saying, "maybe i should just start sweeping under my bed more often..."  haha.  and wash my curtains every month?  i'm pretty sure they've only been washed once since we moved in.  w're just going to remove those altogether.  haha.  AUGH.  also, i should stay inside and close all the windows when the grass is cut.  haha...yeah, right.

SO, i think i'll start trying to keep things less dusty in our room and i'll probably invest in some allergen-proof cases for my feather duvet (because i refuse to give it up! haha) and pillows.  my brother in law says that his ionic hepa filter is amazing and worth getting so maybe i'll look into that.  but what about EGGS?  that's what started all of this?  maybe i'll try eating something eggy this week...but there's never a good time to feel sick.  so who knows?

"so that's what happened." - allan macdonald

Thursday, August 09, 2012

printers...yuck.

if you are my facebook friend, you know that i was looking for suggestions for what printer i should buy.  as it turns out, there are many an opinion out there AND many a printer.  we have not had a printer in this house ever...that's 7 years of printing stuff at work.  and really, there's was never TOO much frustration with not having a printer - every once in awhile, it was a pain but it was so rare.  

at christmas, when i knew i was going to be starting project life, i asked for a printer.  i thought it would be great to print my photos at home yada yada.  and i GOT a printer for christmas!  we got it out of the box and were a little surprised at how huge it was.  then we started reading the directions, trying to install the ink, and it was frustrating.  the ink wasn't callibrating (is that the word?) and we couldn't get it working.  right away, i was like, "augh!  i'll print the photos at walmart!"  we wrapped up the printer back in the box and returned it to the store then i used the money towards my new camera.

enter the new job.  after a week of emailing documents to tim to print off for me so that i could take them with me to meetings AND him sometimes forgetting to do it...you know, because he's WORKING, we realized that we were long overdue for a printer.  two months later (this past weekend), we happened to be at a little fair in the pricemart parking lot which is next door to london drugs.  tim said, "let's buy a printer."  i went in, picked the epson workforce series 322/325 which was normally $99 and on sale for $59 and we walked out with it.

the great thing was that this particular printer had just been put on the floor because it was their last one and they'd put the ink in already but not even printed anything yet.  we got it home and didn't have to fool around with ink (which is the part i hate about printers).  i set it up on our wireless network and am now printing things from my laptop upstairs to the printer downstairs.  it may be huge (they all seem to be) but it can be out of the way since it's wireless.  plus, the day after we got it set up, my principal sent me a document to sign, scan, and email back to her and I DID IT!  normally, that would not have been an option.

so yes, we have entered the 21st century finally!  i've been happily printing away all week!  it's about time!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

the water table is still in use

the water table was a well-loved toy on the deck, summer of ben being 12 - 14months.  last summer, it came out but mostly had sand poured into it everyday from the sand box which drove me crazy.  this summer, however, i have another little one to play in it.  it has mostly stayed on the deck (far away from the sand box!) and avery has learned to pull herself up so that she can stand there and splash.  she loves it more when ben will stand there and play with her.  imagine her delight when we had two more kids playing in it the other night!





5 nights - 5 new recipes

so i failed at returning on tuesday to describe monday night's dinner BUT now that it's saturday morning, i have many new recipes to share.

monday night: the crockpot lasagna was great - not much different than regular lasagna actually which is a good thing in my opinion.  the great thing about regular lasagna is that you CAN make it early and keep in the fridge until you put it in the oven at dinner time so it doesn't really NEED to be a crockpot dinner.  so while this recipe was good, it only fed 4 adults and a couple of kids who barely ate anything so i think next time, i'll just make a larger lasagna in the oven.

tuesday night: i made honey sesame chicken in the crockpot.  i used chicken thighs which i don't normally use which are always yummy but because i'd originally planned to make honey garlic chicken, i had it in my mind that this was a low 6-8 hour crockpot meal.  umm...it's actually a low 3 hour meal - that's a big time difference.  i noticed that it was smelling a burnt around the 5 hour mark so i opened the crockpot, thought, "what the heck is wrong with this crockpot?" and then checked the recipe again.  augh!  i scraped the burnt parts out, added the cornstarch, re-added the chicken and turned it down to warm since there was still 3 hours til dinner.  i added rice at dinner and it tasted good despite the overcooking - i liked it a lot better than the other saucy chicken that i make in the crockpot but this DOES call for a lot of honey - 1 cup.  i used 2/3cup and that tasted great.  am definitely adding this meal to my meal list.

wednesday night: we had friends over for dinner so i'd bought 8 little boneless porkchops (they came in packs of 4) and made a recipe from my friend, laura.  a can of cranberry sauce mixed with a packet of onion soup mix, poured over the porkchops and baked for 40 min.  i served it with rice which worked well because there was a lot of sauce (though it was very liquidy - i was thinking that i should have added cornstarch to thicken it up but it tasted great so probably no need).  i don't know if it's just the cheap pork that i buy or if i over cooked them but i always think that pork chops are so tough and chewy.  does anyone know the answer to this?  anyways, it was a great and very easy recipe but i don't think i'm a big fan of the pork.  i might try it next time with chicken.

so proud of my fresh basil!
thursday night: we have a basil plant in our garden that my mother-in-law planted for us but i never make anything with fresh herbs.  i gave some leaves to laura but she was insistent that i start cooking with basil!  i found a basil pesto recipe that didn't need pine nuts (which was perfect because i didn't have any AND they're expensive) but i found that this recipe didn't make that much pesto.  in the past, i've made pesto in my tupperware chop n prep and it was great but this time, it seems so grainy...but last time there were pine nuts and more oil so maybe that was the problem.  i didn't use fresh parmesan so i bet it could have tasted a lot better if i'd done that.  i ended up pouring what i'd made in the chop n prep into my magic bullet and blending it in there which was better.  i mixed most of it in with my chicken while it browned and i was wishing for more of the pesto to mix in with my pasta.  at the last second, i added cherry tomatoes which was great.  this was a good meal but i think i'll look for a different pesto recipe next time.  or use the recipe that laura gave me which just calls for chopped basil, cherry tomatoes, and olive oil.
okay - not the BEST looking...needed more pesto.
friday night: while i tried to convince tim that we should go out for dinner, i eventually caved and went with what i had planned - vegetarian black bean enchiladas.  this is such a easy meal - i LOVE not having to deal with raw meat (like chopping chicken or browning hamburger) - throw black beans, bag of thawed chopped peppers (which is only a few bucks and worth it in the time you save), rice, salsa, and taco seasoning into a bowl.  mix and divide into tortillas.  buy the pre-shredded cheese and it's simple!  and i love simple.  it made 8 tortillas for us so i froze 2 and cooked 6.  i only needed one and i was full.  tim ate one and a half and ben left half on his plate until it was bedtime and he decided he was hungry enough to eat it.  yeah, it's not the prettiest looking meal to a 3 year old.  so now we have leftovers for lunch today and some for tim's lunch come work week.  LOVED this and tim said it tasted better than the beef ones that i make sometimes which is a lot more work so this will be a regular menu item for sure.  his exact words, "i'd order this at a restaurant".  haha.

so there you have it - probably the first time in my entire life that i made 5 new meals IN A ROW.  i was more willing to make them because i didn't know what they were going to taste like instead of thinking, "ahh, i don't want that for dinner".  also, by having all the ingredients at the beginning of the week, it was less daunting to come up with what to make.  AND i didn't have the weight of "what am i going to make for dinner?" on my shoulders all day...which sounds ridiculous but honestly, is how it feels to me sometimes as a girl who doesn't like to cook.

now, other meats that i bought on monday that i now have to use this week are 3 lbs of ground turkey and some more chicken thighs.  we'll see what i can find for next week.  and no, don't worry - i won't post in this much detail every week.  haha.

Monday, July 30, 2012

money counseling and meal planning

we met with a financial planner a couple months back and it was a very good experience.  much needed money therapy.  one of the things that came to light was that i have no idea how much i spend on groceries per month.  the guy said to me, "you must have a ballpark number?"  nope.  now, i know that this is budgeting 101 but i'm not a big fan of budgeting...umm...or of being responsible with money.  haha.  so when i figured out how much i'd been spending a month - the figure was much, much more than i'd imagined.

i typed "meal planning" into the search engine on my blog to see if i've ever talked about this before and i found this post, which makes me laugh because apparently one year ago, i was rocking the meal planning/budgeting...according to that post.  i'm pretty sure that only lasted one week because i can't even remember it.  but, like i apparently knew one year ago, i figured meal planning would be my ticket to a lower grocery budget.  so a couple weeks ago, i tried it out.  made the plan for the week.  didn't follow it.  augh.  it's like, i get to the day that says, "baked spaghetti" for example, and think, "yuck.  i don't want to eat that for dinner." so i choose something else from the week.  unfortunately, i don't think i like a lot of my go to recipes.

since it occurred to me that i don't like my recipes, i'm going to try some new ones.  crock pot ones as often as possible because i like the idea of making dinner when i have time during the day and not have to worry about it at dinnertime.  so tonight, i'm trying a crockpot lasagna.  i always like lasagna though i DID forget the mozzarella cheese when i bought groceries today so hopefully the cheese that i substituted won't taste too strange.  haha.  here's the recipe.  check in tomorrow for results and see my next recipe.

Friday, July 27, 2012

first family "hike"

while we were in duncan, we went for a hike (and i can't remember the name of the park).  it was not a long hike and it was easy enough that i could wear flipflops (though it was a mistake to have worn them...) but it was a beautiful, beautiful walk through the forest and the first one we've done since having avery.  
not too sure about this backpack...





you can't quite tell but ben and sophia were holding hands - too cute.
ben complained quite a bit at the end of the hike about having to walk  which was totally frustrating but he has a pretty nice daddy who carried him for a little ways.  
the tinsley fam
the shulba fam

oh camera, my camera...

when i was in oregon, there were some fantastic sand dunes that led down to the beach from our house.  on a walk to the beach one evening, my camera was in my pocket and fell out.  i didn't notice until we were at the bottom of the sand hill so i ran back up it and found my poor, poor camera half buried in the sand.  yay for finding it - boo for having dropped it.  everything still worked but sounded crunchy.  ack.

so, like i mentioned in my re-cap post, now it won't open.  it stopped working while we were in duncan.  i took it to a camera store and they said i'd have to send it to canon.  canon's flat fee for fixing a camera is $178 but if there's moisture, sand, etc. inside, the cost goes up.  well, we know there's sand in there.  i paid $340 for my camera (on amazon - it's about $400 in canada) and the $178+ doesn't seem worth it.

now what?  buy a cheap camera for less than $178?  that seems lame since the reason i bought that camera was because i was tired of my cheap camera - especially since i'm taking photos daily for project life.  what i'd like to do is upgrade!  haha.  the next step up is the Canon S100...i have to wait to discuss with tim (since he's been gone since monday) but don't you think that's the better option?  ;) sure, i can drop another $350 right now...

Canon PowerShot S100 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 5x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom

Saturday, July 21, 2012

cones have changed my life

ice cream cones...that is.  who ever buys ice cream cones from the store?  i know my mom had some for ben at her place but it never occurred to buy them for ourselves.  then we had them at our friends' place on the island and really, cones are awesome.  they make the ice cream seem like so much more.  so this past week when i went to the store, i picked up a box of cones and checked out the nutritional values.  they are 15 calories.  15!!!  no significant source of sugar and no fat.  they're 0 WW points!  are you kidding me?  now, i can put my sad 1/4 of vanilla frozen yogurt in a 15 calorie cone and that 1/4 cup seems like so much more!  yet the whole dessert is just 1 point.  see?  life changing.  ;)


Friday, July 20, 2012

catching up


i want you to know that i have 5 drafts of blog posts sitting in my list of posts, waiting to be finished and published...i haven't forgotten the blog.  however, i have felt stuck at june 16th, feeling the pressure to blog about ben's birthday yet not been able to muster the effort to do so.  having had my first report cards with my new job due at the exact same time as i was planning ben's party AND then going off to oregon for a 30th birthday girls getaway the following weekend - blogging felt like too much work.  and everytime i sat down to blog, i thought of my poor project life that is slowly getting left behind in the dust that is life!

so june was a great but busy month and july has been too full of sunshine to sit down at the computer!  gotta love that.  so instead of trying to back track blog, let's just move forward from this slump and think about the highlights of the last month:

>ben is 3!
> avery is crawling!  around 9.5mo, she started moving very slowly and as of today (having just turned 10mo), she's is a speedy girl when she knows where she wants to go!
> oregon was amazing - i had a lot of laughs, tears, food, and walks with my favourite girls.  i loved oregon and am most definitely going to go back next time with tim and the kids.
> age 3 has brought on more tantrums than we've had in total in the last 2 years so that's been an interesting development.  i'm learning how to spot one coming and how to sometimes avoid them.
> avery's dropped one of her three naps so having her on two naps a day has had it's pros and cons but overall, she's a very happy little girl.
> tim got to go on a fishing trip with a buddy (the weekend after i was in oregon) which was the first in years!
> attended the abby canada day parade and festivities with the kids by myself!  a feat of strength but we had fun.
> a trip to duncan on vancouver island to visit our camping friends - this time we skipped the camping and just stayed at their place doing day trips.  ben all loved playing with each of their three kids and there was always someone to hold avery.
>construction on the shulba's new addition started which meant that ben got to try out the digger AND see a cement truck pouring cement in the backyard.  very exciting!
>managed to break my camera while on the island...though i think it was a result of having dropped it in the sand in oregon.  "lens error"...i'm hoping to take it into a camera place and see if they can clean it and hopefully that fixes it.
> have i missed anything?  probably.
the state of my dining room table - trying to catch up on project life. augh!

oh yes - and ben went fishing with Pop and caught two!
the typical scene in our backyard in the sunshine