31 December, 2009

Thoughts on the Eve of Newness

It's been since November 5th and even for me, this is one truly abysmal blogging absence. I won't fool myself and promise greater things for the new year, though I'd surely like to.

It's been a VERY busy couple of months around here. Halloween, visits with my parents, lots of get-togethers with friends and our small group from church, and lots of potty training and baby-feeding. Two good friends are expecting babies, um, tomorrow; other friends just had a little boy yesterday so we are happily ringing in the new year celebrating new life! All of this excitement is good, of course, but tiring. We're looking forward to the New Year particularly for the chance that January affords to take a deep breath after this busy end of 2009.

Naturally, I've had all these great posts rolling around in my head at odd hours of the morning but by the time I come to a fully alert state at, say, noon, I've got no time left to write and I can't remember all those deep thoughts anyway.

To compensate, I will leave you with our best wishes to you and yours for a spectacular 2010, and a picture or two of the Little Goat and the Squawk Box (who is squawking at this very moment) both of whom I'm sure you will note have grown enormously since I last posted. Know that we are thinking of you and I miss you guys even if I haven't had a chance to really read blogs for a while now.


Looking cute, as usual.

Racing cars with George.

First time bowling.

First time meeting Santa (not a fan).

First snow.

First snow guy (my skillz are a little rusty).

Followed by first hot chocolate.

First gingerbread house (last year we had a g-bread tree) made with Grama.

First Christmas concert (Cutest. Angel. Ever.).

Getting ready for her first Christmas!


First Christmas present (the date on the picture is off by one).

How we feel now that the holidays are over.

Ditto.

05 November, 2009

Sad.

If any of you are of the praying persuasion, please pray for my old college friend J and are husband D. Their little boy arrived very early and very prematurely on Tuesday. He was just 10 inches long and weighed only 14.3 ounces and lived for just four hours. Please pray for God's peace "that passes all understanding."

29 October, 2009

How Does She Do That!?

This afternoon, it took the Little Goat forever to settle in for a nap, which actually never ended up happening because she needed a diaper change. At least she 'woke up' in a good mood. Points for her.

The Squawk Box took her time falling asleep too. In her defense, she's been sounding rather congested at night so maybe it's affecting her nap too.

Then, about five minutes ago, I'm just finishing up enjoying my afternoon game(s) of Mahjong.

It goes just like this:

Me: Well, LG, I'm going to the kitchen to start cooking.
The Squawk Box: WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

27 October, 2009

And also...

...last night I put the Squawk Box in clean pajamas.


They are size 9 months.


They fit. Perfectly.

This is What the Internet Was Made For

So Sunday night, the stars aligned and the interwebs came together for two brief hours of perfection.

We had been talking to a friend in Edmonton earlier in the afternoon about the possibility of a U2 show there next summer and the chance of us driving out for it. So we went on the official U2 website to see what we could find out. It was then we discovered that later that evening, they were broadcasting the concert from Los Angeles LIVE on YouTube. LIVE! Possibly the biggest concert ever with a mere 90,000 people in attendance.

Needless to say, it only started at 9PST so we were up LATE and, in fact, didn't even watch to the very end, resulting in my missing not just one, but two of my favourite songs ever. We did, however see a little over half the show.

Yes, there we were, enjoying U2 live, serenading us from our laptop, while we sat in the dark, on our bed, in our jammies, I nursing a baby. If that wasn't a moment the internet was made for - I can't think of a better one.

Conversations

Our neighbour has been out in his backyard the last few days working on fixing up a trailer to pull behind his truck.
Yesterday when I was finishing up getting dressed after my shower, the Little Goat walked in:

LG: That MA-AN was DOING something!
Me: Oh? What was he doing?
LG: Man doing SOMETHING!
Me: What was he doing? He wasn't doing anything bad, was he?
LG: Man building bad boat.
Me: What? I don't think he's building a boat....
LG: It ice cream boat!

Uh huh.

23 October, 2009

No Prompting Required

The other morning, after saying grace before breakfast, I asked the Little Goat "LG, what are you thankful for?"

I expected her to say 'cereal' or 'pancakes' or 'trees', but instead she said:

"Thankful for Mama and Dad."

16 October, 2009

Group Growth

In a previous post I was telling you a little about our small group and all the kids. Well, it turns out kids aren't invited so now we're trying to figure out what to do, and convince ourselves it's worth it to actually PAY a babysitter (everybody else has parents in town) two evenings a month when we're not even going out on a date. Hm....

Also, did I sat 11 kids? Yeah, I meant 12. The baby that was due in September is here (another girl!) and another couple joined our group and she's due January 1st (just like Erin K.!). So, yeah, make that 12 kids, five newborns among them. Jody and I are hoping the next two will be baby girls too because won't that be fun? Five little girls, all born within nine months of each other!

And that is all.

Supper is Late

Yesterday the girls and I all had our first doctor's appointments with our new doctor. LJ picked her out for us (out of the 26 that work at the clinic) and she is perfect! I didn't have to be weighed or measured; she checked my blood pressure ("low-side of normal") and that was that. The girls, of course, screamed bloody murder when she tried to use the stethoscope and look in their ears, but Dr. H was great. This was not to mention the LG's clearly horrifying experience with the scale in the lab when it was her turn for weight/height.* There are definitely some advantages to being married to a medical professional who has an office right around the corner. Dad to the rescue!

Anyway, before we left, I was trying to remember how to program our oven so it would turn on at 5:30 and bake for 30 minutes at 350 so the lasagna would be nice and hot (thanks for bringing it over, Mom!) and ready to eat when we got home.

Well after all that hoopla with the timer, when we got home and walked in the door, I did NOT smell lasagna. In fact, while the smell was pleasant, I didn't smell any food cooking at all! Why, you ask? WHY? Because there was a freaking POWER OUTAGE while we were out! ARGH!

On top of that, today I find out the broiler no longer functions. Boo!

*For anyone keeping track, the latest measurements are:
Little Goat: (weight) 30 lbs, 7 oz; (height) 2' 11" (75th percentile for both)
Squawk Box: (weight) 16 lbs, 8 oz; (height) 2' 2" (95th percentile for both - yikes!)

That's My Girl!

The other day, the Little Goat was playing in the kitchen. Exploring, really, while I made chicken pot pie for supper. While I was washing dishes, she was standing beside me playing with the mixer attachments.

"This fits on like this!" she said as she put an attachment on the Kitchen Aid!

Oh I love that girl - twenty-eight months and she's already mastering the mixer!

09 October, 2009

And....We've Been Back for a While Now

So the auction was great! My Dad picked out a few things for the LG at the kids table, I got a sweet set of truck books (used, of course, but in nearly perfect condition) for the LG's little cousin's birthday coming up in November. We also got some homemade noodles, some honey, and a white 3-drawer dresser for the Squawk Box for only thirty dollars! Of course, that was two weeks ago and there's still nothing IN said dresser, but it's in the girls' room. That's a good start for around here. I also got a few things for other birthdays coming up and for Christmas. My mom got a great box full of veggies for eight bucks - cabbage, peppers, carrots, onions, tomatoes, parsley, and potatoes. And the food! Oh, the food! They sold something like 1400 perogies and 836 pieces of pie!

There were lots of donated pies left over and of course, my dad bought two. And then, of course, I didn't balance the box very well on the stool in my parent's kitchen and the lemon pie hit the deck rather unceremoniously. So much for that. The crust was soggy anyway (yes, even too soggy for me!).

Let's see. Oh here's a funny story for you. The week before we left, on the Tuesday, I went to this ladies function at church. I had no idea it was such a big deal and left the house woefully underdressed. Comparatively speaking. (But LJ had gotten home late and I didn't really have time to change anyway, nevermind feed the SB before we walked out the door!) I wanted to melt into the wall. And then it came time for the doorprize and I was thinking I just shouldn't have entered in the first place. There were three prizes and never in my life have I sat there wishing more 'oh, please don't call my name, please don't call my name.'

So the first name was called.

Phew.

The second name was a lady at our table.

Phew.

('Please don't call my name, please don't call my name.')

"Bren J.!"

Oh. Great.

So I sheepishly skulked up to the front, got my candle and sat down. And let me tell you - as soon as things were winding down, I bolted! Never again! Aside from that, I didn't enjoy it much anyway. No matter if I'd been a little more dressed up. For a church function, it was just too....fluffy. There are other women's studies/activities to be involved in though and I'm grateful for that.

*******
And now, two hours later, I am back to write some more. This is my life. Getting bits and pieces done between changing diapers, feeding the kids, and other distractions - like the SNOW that is bravely attempting to fall. I wish you guys could hear inside my head at 3am (or 12:30, or 5, or hey, even 7). I do some of my best blog writing when I'm sitting up in the middle of the night. My writing talents could astound you if only such a Thing existed (and was affordable) that could type while I dictate silently in the wee hours.

Goodness, this post is generally abyssmal. Better luck next time!

22 September, 2009

Behind

Here I am falling behind on blogging and everything else again. We're busy doing laundry today and getting ready to be away for a week. The girls and I are going to my parent's place and LJ is headed to MN for a conference. He is really excited and for good reason. I'm hoping I can maybe go next year too. We'll see.

I'll have my own fun this week though. My best friend is finishing up a distance-ed course and I promised her a chocolate truffle and coffee at one of our favourite high school haunts if she finishes by Friday (a few days earlier than the deadline).

On Saturday, we're going to a HUGE MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) Auction. If you're not familiar with MCC, Google it. Among other things, MCCers give humanitarian aid all over the world. Because us Mennonites, we're everywhere you know. You probably have some of us hiding out in your town just waiting to help. Okay, maybe not. But we are quite a ubiquitous people.

Earlier this summer, LJ and I participated in the School Kit project. It was super easy. We picked up a few pre-made tote bags and filled them with notebooks, pencils, an eraser, a ruler, and some pencil crayons. They get collected at various points and sent all around the world for kids in developing countries that can't afford school supplies on their own.

so this auction is big and lots of people sell lots of things, specifically, Menno FOOD which will make me (but not so much my butt) very happy. After Saturday, I'll tell you all about it.

Thought I better post a few pics of the girls because you know, a little cuteness never ruined anyone's day....

I should clarify that this smiling-while-on-the-toilet business is rare.
LJ must've done something very funny...

05 September, 2009

Thrice

The third time's a charm. Right? RIGHT? Please tell us it's true!

This morning we began Potty Training Attempt #3. If you've been following the blog for a while you know that the Little Goat was actually potty trained already in Spring, but then we moved back to Manitoba and eight days in a U-Haul didn't do much for any of us, but particularly the LG. By the time we got here she was no longer potty trained.

My Mom made a valiant second effort a few weeks after the Squawk Box was born but to no avail. It was AWFUL. We gave up after just a couple of days.

This time we have to get it right. It's Saturday and we gave up going to Airport City for some shopping to muddle through this drudgery. I'm not even sure the LG's being potty trained is going to be a whole lot of convenience for us but we must soldier on, no?

We had success right off the bat this morning but it soon dissolved into a pool of tantrum-endowed tears, weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then we had breakfast. We've already gone through three pairs of training pants in three hours and maybe we should've just let her run around naked in the yard all day. I don't know.

Anyway, think of us today when you're changing a diaper or taking your talented child to the bathroom. We'll be here, exhausted and hopefully not too exasperated, and maybe, just maybe, at the end of it all, potty trained.

04 September, 2009

Productivity

It's the middle of the afternoon. I've just finally had a shower and let me divulge to you the new depths of my lameness: I changed from one pair of grey sweats into another pair of grey sweats (only slightly shorter and a slightly lighter shade) and from one green tank top to another green tank top (slightly longer, slightly darker shade of green). It's really sad, I know. But it shook things up from the rest of the week - I was wearing black sweat pants most of the time! Har!

This week has been relatively productive on the homefront and I finally feel like we're settling into some real routine and it's been great!

Yesterday morning I swept, vacuumed, and mopped all but one room on the main floor before 9am. I've been sticking pretty close to our menu plan for the week - adapting as needed - with a great degree of success. The girls have settled into a sort of regular naptime (for now, right?) and the Little Goat is getting to bed more consistently around 8:30. I haven't gotten all the things accomplished that I've wanted to this week and come Saturday night at midnight, I'll still have half my to-do list sitting there impatiently, but this week has had such a pleasant rhythm about it.

I don't remember anything particular about Monday, but Tuesday morning we went to playgroup. Tuesday night we went to a small group meeting (through our church) during which the group amicably divided into two smaller groups to facilitate better future growth - both relationally and physically. We're excited about our group as we ended up with people we already knew even before we moved back here. But - yikes! - there will be (after mid-February) 11 kids* and eight adults! LJ and I have agreed to host once/month but we have no idea how to figure things logistically so the kids can play with minimal supervision and the adults can have some meaningful discussion. (Any suggestions?)

Wednesday morning, the LG, the Squawk Box and I went for a walk with Mrs. Knight ("Brs. Tight" as the LG calls her). We met at church a few weeks ago but it feels like we've known each other much longer already! We've been walking every Wednesday morning and hope to keep that up "until life changes," she says.

Yes, or until it's -40C outside.

Yesterday we met up with the illustrious Erin K. & her Monkey at the library ("abby" - LG). Then they came over for a nice lunch; bread, cheese, jam, fruit salad, and tea.

Today has been rather uneventful as far as going out is concerned. We read some of the books we got at the library yesterday. I finished the vacuuming, did a load of wash (there's still a pile of laundry sitting here beside me waiting to be folded), Facebooked for a bit while the LG played with her truck and "dad's rock." Then after naptime started, I had the aforementioned shower, made a pasta salad for supper tonight, a lemon meringue pie, and two types of no-bake squares to stash in the freezer for LJ's lunches or an emergency (we seem to be doing rather more entertaining here than when we lived in Maine).

So basically, this week has been exactly the way I hoped life would be living here.

Tomorrow we might go into Airport City to do some shopping ('breastfeeding melts away the pounds'? My foot, it does! MY FOOT!) and then we'll settle in to enjoy the long weekend and the beautiful weather we've been having. Here's hoping you and yours have a super weekend. Anybody have any big plans?

* Yes, eleven kids to eight adults.
Let me break that down for you:
5 year old: 1
3 year olds: 2
2 year olds: 4
Babies: 4: The SB, born in June; another little girl, born two weeks before the SB; and two more babies on the way - one in 2-3 weeks and one in February, both gender unknown.

24 August, 2009

Whip it Up, Week Eight - The Finale

Okay, so for my last WIU recipe, I was going to make a recipe for glazed meatballs that I found, allspice being the star ingredient.

Well, I started making the recipe and realized I didn't have a lot of the ingredients so I modified a bunch of things. So much so that LJ said it wasn't really fair for me to say I even 'followed' the recipe. Even in the loosest sense of the word. Which means, lucky you guys, that I'm posting a recipe for Some Sort of Meatballs in a Rather Barbecuish Sauce. How's that for a title? Do you like it?

For the meatballs:
Thoroughly combine:
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
3/4 c. quick oats
1 egg
(If it's not sticking together quite enough, add a tablespoon of milk at a time until you can roll a nice meatball.) Roll into balls and place in a 9x13 pan in a single layer. Broil for about 20 minutes or until no longer pink, flipping them over halfway through.

For the sauce:
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. random bbq sauce (i.e. whatever you have around)
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
Whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a saucepot or large skillet. Bring to a boil, add meatballs, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until sauce is quite reduced and meatballs are heated through. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes or whatever strikes your fancy.

The Big Three:
Was the recipe easy to follow? It would have been more-so if I hadn't been making it up as I went.
Did it taste good? Maybe a little on the salty side so you could cut back on the soy sauce.
Would you make it again? Yes! We agreed it might be nice over chicken and veggies too so maybe we'll try it that way sometime.

Whip it Up, Week Seven

We've had a busy couple of weeks around here so I'm rather behind in posting my Whip it Up recipes.

For Week Seven, I made butter tart squares. My Mom and I have been trying to find just the right recipe for years but can't seem to get it right. Just for WIU, my quest began anew. I made this recipe.

Now I followed the recipe exactly so I don't know what I did wrong, but they were TERRIBLE. Not at all like a butter tart square should be. (Hm. Wait. Do you even know what a butter tart is? Thank goodness for the "wonder" that is Wikipedia.) They should be more gooey and less cakey.

We ended up chucking most of the pan because they were just that disappointing. Then I started looking through old cookbooks to see if I could find something better. Behold! I stumbled upon an almost-winner! After making them (they were a hit with LJ and the LG and my parents too!), I decided to post a modified version of the recipe because the crust on the dud recipe was better than on the second one. Sorry again for no pictures but when things taste yummy and we have company, they don't last long around here.

Butter Tart Squares:
Base:
1/2 c. butter
3 T. sugar
1 c. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
Cream butter and sugar. Cut in flour and salt until you have wee crumbs. Press in 8x8 pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until very lightly browned. Watch out for cracks because you don't want them!

Filling:
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 c. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. raisins or currants (optional)
Beat eggs until light in colour. Add brown sugar and beat well. Add lemon juice, butter and vanilla. Sprinkle raisins (if using) on base. Pour egg mixture over raisins. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until set.

The Big Three:
Was it easy to follow? Yes, now that I know what I'm doing.
Did it taste good? Um, yeah!
Would I make it again? Will do!

19 August, 2009

In Which I am Hot and Sweaty

We've had a reasonably busy week here at Casa J. (or perhaps as a nod to the German-ness that is Southern Manitoba, I should say "J-er Haus"?)

On Monday night, our new church had a baby shower for the Squawk Box and me. That was fun. It was half women I had already met and half women I had not met - or at least not officially, and my mom made a special trip out for the shower too. We got a bunch of really cute outfits, some books, the cutest little pair of boots, and even a bouquet of roses. Mmm...

Yesterday morning, we went to playgroup (there are a TON of moms at our church here and we meet every Tuesday morning so the kids can play). I said to LJ last night: "LJ! Those women! I don't think they eat!" Yes, it's a little intimidating. Out of 20 or so women, the only one near my size is due September 21st. (I suppose this is really where the ability to bake just about anything successfully is both a good and bad gift, right?)

Anyway, after lunch and naptime, I put the SB in her bouncy seat and the LG and I put our feet in her turtle pool (she actually sat on the edge!). Then we picked up all the apples on the ground under the apple tree (Stupid tree! There are more apples on the ground than on the tree!). Then I noticed there are MORE on the ground this morning! By the time they're ripe enough to eat, we'll have like 6 apples left! Argh! BUT, the tree in the backyard that LJ thought was some sort of green plum really IS an apricot tree. I noticed they are finally starting to turn orange. So if they ever get ripe and are good enough to eat, we might just have apricots coming out our ears. Naturally, the only way I like them is in jam. Perhaps I'll have to try baking something with apricots or borrowing a dehydrator from somebody.

And now, in point form:
- I bought new laundry detergent the other day: Purex Natural Elements apple and melon. It smells delightful. Plus it's cheaperish and all "good for the environment." Wow, I am SUCH a Good Citizen of Planet Earth. *eye roll* Really though: it smells lovely.

- My left thumbnail has been split and splitting for about the past two months and it finally drove me crazy enough to use some of my mom's nail hardener which I swear I almost got high on when I used it Monday morning. Now my nails feel like they're suffocating.

- The Girls and I went over to this lady's house from church this morning. She and her husband live just up and around the corner. Her name's Linda and she's really nice. We ended up going for a long walk which was great, but I wasn't dressed for it and holy sweat, batman! I was just drenched and sticky and disgusting by the time we got back. Instead of going inside to visit, we came straight home, I changed the LG in quite a hurry and took off some of the SB's clothes so she'd cool down and then hopped in the shower. Oh and I put the a/c on first. Oh.So.Gross. I'm feeling better now and turned the a/c off cause it's kind of clouding over again and it's really not that hot out, just humid and we were walking in direct sun and oh I am so old, etc.

- Speaking of hot and humid, LJ just called me from work a little bit ago to let me know there's a tornado watch in effect for our area. Very weak tornadoes, mind you, BUT. STILL. TORNADOES. Eek! And Linda just called me too and we had a laugh since a portion of our conversation this morning revolved around tornadoes (pun intended).

- LJ and I are starting our own 'church' tonight. We decided that since the sermons at church don't go quite as in-depth as we're used to/what we were hoping for, we're going to do our own thing on Wednesdays nights, henceforth. Have you heard of Mars Hill church in Seattle? Their pastor, Mark Driscoll, is really great and they put all their sermons online (audio or video) and we decided we'll download one every week and work our way through a few series, then maybe try a different pastor, etc. I'm excited about it and we're starting Titus tonight which will be four weeks long. Then I think we're going to do the Peasant Princess series (on Song of Solomon). It should be good.

- I'm trying a new recipe tonight for some glazed meatballs but already I'm altering it because they look yummy. But really? a 1/2 cup of CHILI sauce? Um...I'm not feeling THAT adventurous. I think we'll use some smokey bbq sauce instead.

And now, I am torn because the girls are both napping and should I make the meatballs? have a nap? or download a movie?

13 August, 2009

Namesakes

What? You demand more pictures? You demand more update?

Fine!

The weekend after LJ's parents left we headed out to my hometown for the wedding of an old friend of mine. We haven't seen each other in person since the LJ and I got married seven years ago. Good times! The wedding was fun and it was so great to reconnect with her even if we didn't get to visit that much. She didn't even mind that I inadvertently wore a sweater pretty much the exact shade of the bridesmaids dresses. Oops!

This past Friday, LJ and I went on a DATE. That's right, Friends, an actual DATE. To be fair, the Squawk Box had to accompany us, but she was pretty quiet most of the time. We put the Little Goat to bed at around nine and my cousin Shelley came over at 9:30 and LJ and I headed to the drive-in to see Up! If you haven't seen this movie yet, get ye to the theater! It's wondeful! Of course, I'm breastfeeding and hormonal so I cried a couple times, but the story was really sweet and quite funny. Very family-friendly.

On Saturday we got one of the best treats of all! Our very dear friends from WA, Forrest and Carole came out for an overnight visit. Shortly after the LJ and I got married, my parents met Forrest and Carole and they all hit it off and became fast friends. My Dad gave Forrest the special assignment of looking out for me and making sure LJ and I were doing all right. Well they've since become very dear friends of ours and like parents to me. We even lived in their basement for six weeks before we moved out to Maine; during which time my parents came to visit for two weeks and stayed with them too and it was like one nearly perfect party! Anyway, they've also become good friends with my parents and so spent three nights with them in my hometown too.

One of the Squawk Box's middle names is in honour of Carole and it was so sweet for them to meet. Fun was had, pictures were taken, and we can hardly wait until we get to see them again!

My friend Mel and me.
Check out the double-chin on this kid!

Not-so-double-chinned (and sitting with Grampa, by the way).

The Little Goat with, uh, a little goat.

Showing Grandpa Forrest & Grandma Carole what's in her purse.

Our girls with our friends. *sigh*

See that? Do you see it? It's a SMILE!

See THAT? It's laughing!

Some of This and Some of That

A little over eight weeks ago, the Squawk Box was born. (Yes, that's right, "Squawk Box," so named by her father.) A little over eight weeks ago, the Little Goat turned two and has since, evidently, embarked on the toddler version of the Amish tradition of rumspringer. Blimey! It's like she's gone mad! The dancing! The tricks! The stall-tactics! The tantrums! If this is a taste of her teenage years to come then Lord, come quickly! indeed! This kid is KWAZY!

So I'll admit, the first few weeks of having two at home pretty much kicked my butt. I don't think I necessarily had the baby blues or anything more severe, but good grief! The wailing! In stereo! MAKE. IT. STOP. Things are getting better now as we're finally settling into a bit of a routine and it seems the LG is becoming more helpful and less jealous.

The Squawk Box is getting cuter every day too and sometime last week, I think we finally bonded. It's been helpful that she started smiling about three weeks ago (earlier than the LG) and laughing when you tickle her chin. Don't be deceived by her cuteness though, this kid is made of sturdy stuff! (That'll be her astute Mennonite heritage, no doubt.) She is so STRONG. She was trying to hold her head up already the morning we brought her home from the hospital and is getting better at it all the time. She's got a pretty sweet pair of lungs as is evidenced nightly between the hours of approximately 5-9pm, and an iron grip! I've caught her screaming a couple of times only because she grabbed some of her own hair in her hand and couldn't release her grip.

Let's see. What else has happened since I gave you a decent update last? LJ's parents came for two weeks in July. LJ had to work most of the time, but we did take an overnight trip to The City (where I also enjoyed perhaps the most comfortable hotel bed EVER) and he took the LG swimming in the hotel pool . We also went to the zoo and saw lots of zoo babies. Two highlights of the visit were strawberry picking (not sure if I have pictures) and going to Costco. Oh, dearest Costco, how we've missed you.

And now I should post pictures, I'm sure. Let's see if I can find some.

99.99999, etc. % pure gold. Mmmm.....

The LG with her face on a quarter!

Helping out the Squawk Box.

Out for ice cream with Mama & Dad and Nana & Papa - oh, and the Squawk Box.

06 August, 2009

Whip it Up, Week Six

Who doesn't love a good cheese? When we lived in Washington, we would periodically visit this theme town called Leavenworth. It's built up in the Bavarian style and has some pretty nifty year-round activities. It also has some pretty nifty shops, but the Cheesemonger's Shop is a particular favourite of ours. English Cotswald, Garlic Herb Whirl, Applewood smoked cheddar and Dill Havarti are a few of my favourite cheeses; LJ favours anything smoked but is particularly fond of Cahills Irish Porter.

Another of my favourite cheeses is Boursin. If you've never tasted it, I can understand why. Over five dollars for a tiny little round is a bit pricey. Living in Washington, though, we were usually able to find it for 99 cents at the Grocery Outlet (yet another favourite store). It's got quite a soft creamy texture and a fine herby flavour. It's really nice with water crackers.

One day I was bumming around on Allrecipes.com and came across a blog wherein some very ingenius man posted his recipe for a homemade version of Boursin. What?! Homemade Boursin!? I'm IN!

So I looked around and compared a few recipes and finally settled on this one. I didn't have any marjoram (and still don't) so I have no clue how much it affects the taste, but the outcome is quite nice. Here follows my quartering of the recipe.

Fakie Boursin Cheese:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/16 tsp. (pinch) each of: basil, dill, marjoram, thyme, pepper

Blend together the cream cheese and butter either using a mixer or by hand. Stir in spices until well-mixed. Store in the fridge. Makes about 1 cup.

The Big Three:
Was the recipe easy to follow? Indeed, after I nearly fried my brain quartering it. That is way too much math for a mama with a 7 week old (new pictures coming soon, I promise!).
Did it taste good? Yes! I was a bit skeptical, but it turned out to be just about right. The texture is a little different - it's creamier - but the taste is really nice. You just need to make sure you let it soften a little before eating it.
Would you make it again? Probably not all that often because cream cheese costs a small fortune here (yes, my American friends...you complain about your grocery prices, but until you've paid $4 for a bar of cream cheese or $8 for a box of cereal, you just keep silent), as does butter (anywhere from $4-6/lb). And we've always considered it more of a treat anyway. So far we've just eaten it with crackers and pretzels but we're thinking it would be nice in a butterflied chicken breast wrapped in bacon. Mmm....

31 July, 2009

Whip it Up, Week Five

Bulk foods are a beautiful thing, my friends, and Canada has this wonderful little store called The Bulk Barn. It has everything from ground chipotle pepper to gummy bears, cherry pie filling (yes, in a huge vat) to organic coconut flour. Which brings me to the second new recipe I tried this past week: Cinnamon Sugar Cookies. If my understanding is correct, they're gluten-free; maybe somebody out there who's more familiar with these ingredients can confirm that for me.

When we were last at The Bulk Barn, I was hunting for soy flour and came across the coconut flour and handily enough, there was a recipe card attached to the bin. Here's the recipe!

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies
4 eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, melted
3/4 c. coconut flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine eggs, sugar (reserve 1 tbsp.), vanilla and butter. Mix well. Stir in coconut flour. Let mixture rest for five minutes (try 10) to allow it to thicken (really, it looks like pancake batter before it thickens). Combine cinnamon with 1 Tbsp sugar in a separate bowl. Form dough into 1-1/2" balls and roll in cinnamon mixture, coating thoroughly. Place on cookie sheet 1" apart. Flatten ball to a diameter of 2" (I used the bottom of a juice glass). Bake at 375F for 15 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

The Big Three:
Was the recipe easy to follow? Yes but with some revisions. I ended up adding at least an extra 1/2 cup of coconut flour because it just wasn't getting thick. I also had to let it sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes before it was solid enough to form into a ball without making a complete mess, and I only baked them for about 10 minutes.
Was it tasty? My four guinea pigs (LJ and his parents and the Little Goat) all agreed they were great (particularly noted for flavour and texture). On the other hand, the LG isn't exactly picky when it comes to cookies. She just loves that she's actually getting a cookie! I thought the taste was good but could have been more coconutty; maybe using some extract would help. They also didn't hold up well with time. Eaten fresh they were fine, but a day or two later I felt they were overly crumbly.
Would you make it again? I'm undecided on this one. I thought these were just okay. If I knew we were having company where gluten was an issue, these would definitely be quick and easy to make and I wouldn't be at all ashamed to serve them. I don't know if I'd make them again just for us to eat though.

I did do a little extra research and found lots of other recipes using coconut flour so I might buy a little more and try something else - maybe these coconut brownies.

Whip it Up, Week Four

My inlaws left this morning so now I'm playing catch-up posting recipes for you.

Pie is not new to me and I love making it but I've never actually attempted a Strawberry-Rhubarb pie (sorry, no pictures - both pies are long gone!).

The pie crust recipe I used is my Mom's and is as follows:

1 lb. lard (yes, people, lard. I'm a recent convert - thanks, Mom! - and it really does make a difference. So just use it, okay? Okay.)
6 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
water

Using either two forks, a pastry blender, or a mixer (like a Kitchen Aid), mix the lard, flour and salt until it resembles pea-sized bits. Crack the egg in a coffee mug (roughly 6-8 oz.), beat it lightly with a fork, stir in the vinegar and fill the cup the rest of the way with cold water. Pour that in the lard/flour mixture and continue mixing until you get a soft-ish dough and I'm sure you can figure out the rest from there. The yield for this recipe is roughly two 9-inch pies (bottom and top crust).

Now for the filling. Go to the store and buy a small box of Kraft Minute Tapioca. Use the recipe on the back of the box for Strawberry-Rhubarb pie - or this one from the Kraft website. You'll only need pie crust for one pie unless you double the filling recipe to use up all the crust and either bake two pies right away, or assemble them both, bake one and freeze the other (unbaked) for another time....like two days later when the first one is gone.

The Big Three:
Was the recipe easy to follow? Reasonably. Pie takes time and I never really know how long to bake it and this one wasn't any different. Thankfully, my mom was here when we made the first one. She didn't scold me too terribly when it ran over in the oven and the smell of burnt filling lingered in the house. She did determine that it needed an extra 20 minutes beyond what the box said. Then it was just a matter of letting it stand long enough so it would thicken up when it was cut. I'll say it might've taken about a half hour to 'set up'.
Did it taste good? Of course! It's pie! It was great!
Would you make it again? I'm not sure about strawberry-rhubarb exactly. It was good, but not my favourite flavour. I prefer just plain old rhubarb but LJ, the husband, loves strawberry-rhubarb, so I might make it again sometime - just because I'm that awesome a wife!

17 July, 2009

Whip it Up, Week Three

I'm not even going to wait to post pictures because my in-laws are coming tonight and if I don't post this now, it might not happen until after the deadline.

This week, we attempted this delectable dessert and when Joy said, "This changes everything," she wasn't kidding! This Dark Chocolate Sorbet is amazing and if you have an ice cream maker or access to one, you better try it, quick! The best part? It tastes creamy and looks creamy, but it's completely dairy-free!

The Big Three:
Was the recipe easy to follow? Yup, it only took us maybe 20 minutes from the time we started chopping chocolate (we used dark Callebaut - 51% cocoa) until the time we put the mix in the fridge to chill overnight before churning. Churning took 25 minutes and after resting in the freezer all afternoon, it's perfectly ready to eat! Yay!*
Was it tasty? It's dark. It's chocolate. What's not to love?
Would we make it again? We better, because this batch won't last long...

*As a note, we used 1/2 'regular' cocoa and 1/2 Hershey's Special Dark.

Finally!

It only took:
2 years
1 month
23 hours
and 50 minutes:

"Mom!"

*grin*

08 July, 2009

Whip it Up, Week Two

I'm not a huge fan of cooking. Baking, I love. LOVE. There's a comfortable rhythm to the science of combining flour, sugar and butter in just the right way. There's less of an urgency to baking and conveniently, the heat is restricted to the confines of the oven as opposed to radiating throughout the kitchen via an element on the stove.

That said, I'm also a fan of eating tasty meals that require no cooking OR baking. Give me a sandwich or hummus and veggies or a big dinner salad and I'm there, particularly on a hot summer evening.

This weeks recipe is that - a salad and dressing. Officially, my Whip it Up Week Two submission is this balsamic vinaigrette dressing, but I'm also going to tell you how we used it just in case you need a little extra inspiration. Important Note: We used regular balsamic vinegar instead of white because we haven't bought a new bottle since we moved.

First, we tore up a whole head of romaine lettuce. If you have some baby spinach to add, that would be lovely too. Then I botched a half-cup batch of honey-roasted pecans and they mostly stuck together in clumps. They still tasted just fine though and had just enough stick and crunch to work in the salad. We also threw in about a half-cup of dried cranberries and oh, let's say, six ounces of crumbled feta cheese. Toss all that with a half recipe of the balsamic vinaigrette dressing and you have yourself quite a lovely meal for a summertime weeknight.

The Big Three:
Was the recipe easy to follow? Yup!
Was the recipe tasty? Yes. I wouldn't change a thing. Uh, other than the substitution we made in the first place.
Would you make it again? Yes. It was easy enough and I'd sooner have a homemade dressing than storebought any day: It's fresh, I know exactly what's in it, and there's not usually enough of it to get sick of before it runs out!

As usual, click on the W.I.U. 2009 button over on the right for weekly wrap-ups and more recipes.

02 July, 2009

It's Back!

I haven't even posted to let you know that I signed up to do Whip it Up again this summer! Because yes, it's not like there isn't enough to do already; a newborn is sitting beside me (sleeping, thankfully) and a newly minted two-year-old is flipping over chairs across the room as I type this.

Here's a refresher on the rules of the challenge: Try one new recipe per week for eight weeks. Post about the recipe (including a pic if you have one) and answer the three questions as seen below.

Incidentally, since the challenge started last Sunday, we've already tried three new recipes. Okay, well, one was on Saturday night.

My official entry for this week is this Hot Fudge Sauce.
Was it easy to follow? Incredibly.
Was it tasty? Quite, though I added a good heaping tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa.
Would I make it again? I have another recipe I usually use for a mocha fudge sauce and it's delectable. It takes quite a bit longer to make though. With this recipe, I put everything in a two cup glass measuring cup and microwaved it for two minutes and voila! Hot fudge sauce! The mocha fudge sauce is still my favourite, but this is great to fancify a last-minute dessert or when you really need to satisfy a craving, like, NOW.


We also made this Greek dressing (scaled down to six servings) and aside from being easy, it was delicious on our - wait for it - GREEK salad! *gasp*

For more stupendous recipes, click on the logo over there on the right. Weekly wrap-ups, listing new recipes from each participant, are posted on Sundays.

29 June, 2009

In Lieu of a Nap

I guess I could tell you the whole birth story in great detail, but since it wasn't really that exciting, I'm going to see if I can give you the condensed-ish version.

Contractions started at around 4am on Tuesday morning. The kind of contractions that made me tell LJ when he woke up at 6:30 that he should consider staying home from work. He was happy to oblige.

At around 9am, we called our midwife, Joelle, just to let her know what was happening. She came over to check me and of course, I was really no further than I was at my previous appointment. The contractions were all over the place as far as timing was concerned so she said she'd call in a couple hours. Two hours later, nothing had really changed and we were just going about our day as usual (eat, nap, laundry, walk) so she said she'd check in before she left work at 4:30.

Enter the Wii Fit. A friend of mine had told me she was doing the hula-hooping the night before she went into labour, so I thought I'd give it a try. She and I are both now convinced that it worked for me too! I unlocked some sort of super hula-hooping and set two new records, plus set new records for step aerobics and unlocked a new level of that too - and I could feel it working.

Joelle came over after work and checked me again and I was only one centimeter further along so she said she'd check again in the morning. Well, that's not quite how it happened, is it? We called her back just before 7 to let her know we were going to head to the hospital. Of course, this was also shortly after we had touched base with Erin K. & Co. who were on their way over to a friend's house for supper, but Erin met us in the parking lot at the hospital and whisked away the Little Goat for a way funner evening than I had, that's for sure.

LJ and I walked very slowly into the ER and can I just say, pre-registration really is the way to go! The triage nurse recognized that I was in labour right away, asked my name and about two minutes later, I had a wheelchair and my paperwork to bring upstairs. When we got upstairs, they asked my name and said, "Oh! We have a room right here for you - #35." (I'm guessing Joelle called the hospital on her way there.)

So from there, it's not ALL blurry.....I laboured in the shower on the birthing ball for a while which was nice but funny because the ball kept rolling over the drain and the shower was filling up with water pretty quickly. Then I tried a few positions on the bed and/or floor, none of which felt really great because, uh, hello! I was in labour....not much feels 'great.'

There was a big kerfuffle with getting something for the pain because they couldn't find a stinking scale which they needed to determine what dose they could give me of whatever it was. Then I only got one tiny dose because it was too close to delivery and the meds can make the baby sluggish. (I suppose I should've learned from last time that the meds wouldn't do anything anyway. Any. Thing.)

Sometime or other, my water broke and in about 25 minutes, I went from 5cm to ready to push. Gack! My back has never felt that much pain! It was way worse than when the LG was born! So I pushed for not quite 45 minutes and then Sibling XX was born!

I ended up delivering in a very awkward position sort of side-lying, but she came out and that was what I wanted most - from about oh, May 1st onward.

LJ did great as my "Support Person." Joelle and Marla (our midwives) were great too. I only had a tiny first degree tear (but then, is ANY tear NOT painful?). I learned that laughing gas does not make me laugh, but it sure does make me sleepy. I also learned that almost falling asleep and then 'waking up' to push is no fun.

Total labour and delivery time was somewhere between 4 1/2 and 5 hours. L&D with the LG was 4 1/2 hours. So this wasn't shorter, it was more painful, they tried to hand me a slimy baby (thanks to LJ for jumping on that one), the LG did great at Erin's and we're all still alive. Score!

Our pastor and his wife (from Maine) have four kids and this running joke/saying: "Four and No More."

I think ours might be "Two and We're Through." At least that's what I'm thinking right now.....don't hold us to that though, okay?

19 June, 2009

Birth-Day(s), For Sure and For Sure.

Well. She's here. I owe you a birth story, but that will have to wait at least until next week. The Little.....we haven't got a bloggy nickname for her yet....is FINALLY napping in her bassinet and my midwife is due here any minute for my three-day postpartum checkup.

I'd love to tell you the name we finally (!) decided on (about an hour after she was born, though at that point it was at least down to two finalists), but you know, privacy and all. If you can hunt us down on the ol' FB, you can see more pictures there. Her first name we chose because we both really like it; now we're trying to teach the LG how to say it. Like the LG, the Newbie has two middle names; the first one is a variation on the name of a very dear friend and 'Mom' of ours from Washington, the second is a shortened form of the feminine version of a biblical masculine name that means "God is my strength."

The second middle name seems particularly fitting after the roller coaster ride we've been on since the beginning of December and we are still and will continue to be so grateful for God's grace in bringing us back to Manitoba and to a place that we are loving. We're excited to put down roots here and raise these girls around so many of our friends and their kids and cousins the same age.

Anyway, we are home and still exhausted. My parents are coming on Sunday to visit and help out for several days. In the meantime, we're trying to keep both these girls happy, trying to heal up (easier said than done, of course) and trying to get any amount of sleep we can (including me falling asleep at the supper table last night).

Without further adieu, here are her stats:
A. C. B. J.
June 16
11:22pm
7 lbs., 14 oz.
20 1/2 inches

Hair: copious
Eyes: leaning toward blue already (yippee!)
Lungs: fully functional



16 June, 2009

Birth-Day(s), For Sure and Maybe.

If I didn't procrastinate so much, I would've written this lovely sentimental post about how much we love our LG and how much we're enjoying her at this age. She's a little smarty-pants and her vocabulary has really taken off since we moved here. Clearly, this means the Canadian air is doing something for her and she fancies Manitoba enough to talk about it. Brilliant!

But here we are and it's her second birthday today and I'm doing nothing but having contractions and LJ stayed home from work today and the midwife has already been here once this morning and should be calling back in less than an hour.....so either the LG will end up thinking this is the best or the worst birthday present EVER. That is, if I can get past three centimeters sometime today. Argh!

Anyway, here are some pictures from her birthday party on Saturday and from after church on Sunday, modeling the cute, cute, CUTE outfit my Mom made for her. Seriously, try not to drool over her cuteness, okay?


When we bought the duck, she was kissing it in the shopping cart. Here,
her poor cousin can't figure out why she's screaming - HE loves the duck!

And of course, since she doesn't like the duck squirting water and doesn't want to
swim in her new turtle pool, why should she enjoy wearing her swimsuit either?

My attempt at a 'clock' cake. She knew what it was and it was darn tasty!

Eating the cake.

Checking out her new watch - a present from Sibling XX.

Excited about her doll house toy from Dad & Mama.
(We're so glad she got this right before the baby gets here because she loves it!)*

In her new outfit that Grama made. There are matching bloomers and a little knit jacket
with blue flowers on it too. How ridiculously cute is she?!


*And yes, that would be my near-to-bursting belly in the background.
That's the best shot you're gonna get so enjoy it.

15 June, 2009

On Notice

So I'm putting you all on notice this morning because I'm having irregular contractions or something. I am SO not good at timing these things and this is the first step in the online instructions I found:

What you will need to time contractions:

  • A watch or clock with a second hand
  • A pregnant woman having contractions

Yes, helpful, indeed. I can still talk through them. I'm just sitting here emailing and facebook-ing.....This is annoying, no? The waiting?

12 June, 2009

It's June. And Yes, it Has Been for a Couple Weeks Now.

So I'm not ignoring you guys. In fact, I miss you all quite a bit. I'm still trying to catch up on blogs from the beginning of May (wow, have I missed A LOT!).

No baby to report yet, just ridiculous amounts of itchiness that is like a form of madness. I had an oatmeal bath last night and was still scratching the entire time I was in there. Today I'm trying to ignore it (not working) and have a series of anti-itch lotions lined up on the bathroom counter.

I'm thinking today would be a great day for a baby. It's Friday and as you know, "Friday's child is loving and giving...." PLUS it's the 12th and that's a nice even-numbered day. I'm not superstitious about numbers, I just have always had some sort of inexplicable beef with odd numbers. Not only that, but my parents will be here by suppertime (the Little Goat's birthday isn't until Tuesday, but we're celebrating tomorrow) so you see? Perfect birth-day!

Anyway, there isn't much else to tell you right now. We went to the fair in my hometown last weekend and it was COLD. The LG enjoyed the (thankfully, indoor!) petting zoo though and while we would've thought the little ducks would be the highlight of her day. However, her favourite animal turned out to be, of all things, the TURKEY! Such a hideous looking thing. Really, who looked at that and decided "Hey look! Dinner!"? <- That is one awful mess of punctuation, isn't it?

Anyway, here's a picture from the Friday evening we arrived there and tried to take the LG on the play structure in the park behind my parents' house. She was NOT impressed with the sand. *sigh*

Much like her mother, she is not amused by the idea of spreading dandelion seeds all over the place.

28 May, 2009

I Guess They're Not All Bad

When I turned 18, a very well-meaning acquaintance planned a surprise party for me. Firstly, I don't like surprises at the best of times. Secondly, my brother and his girlfriend-at-the-time had promised to take me out for fancy supper the same night and my Mom had just made me a new skirt and I was excited. Well we were getting ready to walk out the door and two of my school friends showed up. I tried to explain that I couldn't leave with them because I had supper plans. Alas, that was when the Restaurant Ruse fell apart. I changed my skirt and in their cruelty, my friends blindfolded me for the ride to the park where the party was happening.

The good news about the party was that I got a lot of nice presents and after the barbecue part was over, I went with a few of my closest school friends over to one of their houses to watch videos and hang out. The bad news is that said well-meaning acquaintance jumped on planning the party before my best friend got a chance to and ended up inviting a rather large number of people that I wasn't even really friends with, including some I hardly talked to at all. Also, a couple of friends had traveled from out of town to be there and I hardly got a chance to talk to them. Eventually, they felt so ignored by the party-planner and a few other people who were supposed to be their friends that they left...and I wished I could've gone with them.

Well, this time, my sneaky Mom fabricated a pretty fool-proof plan right under my nose! The weekend after we got here, we went out to my parents' place for five days (long weekend in Canada plus LJ's certification exam). My best friend, Chandra, and I had planned to go out for a coffee date on Saturday morning (to Starbucks! Sans toddler!). I had seen Mom peeling potatoes before I left but just assumed she was planning either to have company or that the five of us were going to eat some mass quantity of potato salad for lunch on Sunday. Apparently, as soon as I left, Mom put LJ to work peeling, slicing, and chopping up stuff for salads for Sunday evening.

On Sunday afternoon, Chandra invited me over basically to do nothing which sounded just fine with me. I got going late because I didn't hear my alarm go off after naptime and most of the time I was over at her place I was in a groggy nap-induced stupor. We DID go out for ice cream though and one very tasty, albeit regrettably large, milkshake.

I didn't end up putting two-and-two together very well until we both left Chandra's place (she was “supposedly” going over to her parents' for supper). Her parents live in the same end of town as mine but we both took a different way to get there. I was baffled when I saw her take a route that really didn't go anywhere near the right street and thought she must've been taking some weird scenic route. Then I got to my parents' street and there were cars everywhere. So on top of being late for supper, I had to park in the driveway. Argh! As I was getting out of the car, Chandra walks up the driveway asking for the jacket she forgot in the car the day before. The following conversation ensued:

B: Uh, I hung your jacket up in your front closet. You watched me hang it there and you even commented....
C: Oh, yeah, uh, duh. I just spazzed for a minute there. Oh hey, let's go in your front door.
B: (baffled because wasn't she supposed to be going somewhere for supper?) Uh, we never use our front door.
C: So? It's been ages since I've gone in that way.
B: Okay......so, why is your parent's car parked in front of my house?
C: What? Is that my parent's car? (squinting) I can't read the license plate. (As if you have it memorized, Chandra Anne.)
B: Hey, wait a minute....

And then it all started to make sense and sure enough, I walked in and heard that dread word: “SURPRISE!”

This time, though....good surprise! A few of my parent's friends were there (people that I know too) and my friend Kristin was out from Airport City (the Manitoba-version). Well all us 'girls' sat at the same table and ate all my Mom's tasty food (even though I was still horridly full from the milkshake) and I haven't laughed that much since Chandra's party in February. When she and Kristin get together, hilarity ensues.

So, it was a few days late but was just the right mix of people and food – thanks for the party, Mom! You redeemed the whole 'surprise party' ordeal for me.

19 May, 2009

Finally!

We made it here in one piece! The last few days of the trip were infinitely better than the first few - only because we did more fun stuff and slightly less driving each day. We made it across the border, somewhat surprisingly because we accidentally chose the Port of Entry* with the two crankiest customs officers I've met in recent years. They were brutal! It didn't help that it was right over the supper hour and the Little Goat was NOT happy to be waiting on food and then I had to change her on the ground outside because they didn't have a public bathroom....anyway, we're here now and phew!

We got to our new house and my parents and uncle were already there and Erin K. & Co. arrived just a few minutes after we did. Mom brought food so we ate and then started unloading. Two of my old friends from college who live in the same town also came over to help and the truck was unloaded before dark!

The house itself is huge and we are going to be spoiled! Our couches are set up in the living room along with two big end tables that are old but were already there and go rather well with our couches, and we still have this huge area of carpeted (!) empty space! Yes, that's right. Empty. Space. The bedrooms are big too and the girls' room is just the perfect size for sharing. Even the shade of pink doesn't look too bad with all the white furniture.

Our bathroom and backyard are another matter entirely. I've always wanted a purple bathroom for whatever reason and I lucked out in that the toilet, sink, and bathtub are all - PURPLE! Not even a bad shade of purple (even LJ likes them). The thing is, there's carpet in the bathroom. Like nasty green indoor/outdoor carpet. It's at the top of our list of requests to make of the landlord because carpet in a bathroom? Yikes!

The backyard is merely the product of Renter's Neglect. Most of it hasn't been taken care of in well over a year and because it's so big it now looks like a wilderness preserve. The creek which I was imagining to be so picturesque isn't so much picturesque as deadly-looking (there's at least a 6-8 foot DROP down to the bank), but then we found out it's called Dead Horse Creek so I suppose the name makes the view rather fitting. LJ has decided to design some sort of old-fashioned type sign with a horse skeleton on it just to be funny. There IS a garden though and he can hardly wait to plant it. Our landlady (who is great, by the way!) had somebody come in last week to give an estimate so the yard could at least get a good once-over and then we can take it from there. Otherwise, just looking after that could be a year-long project.

We stayed at our new place from Monday until Thursday and came out here to my parents' place on Thursday afternoon. LJ is writing his certification exam as I'm typing this and lots of people are thinking of him and praying all goes well (this really is the last hurdle that we can think of since he needs the certification to work). I'm confident he'll do great though. He's pretty smart, you know.

Our first week back has been an interesting one when it comes to re-orienting myself to living in Canada. Things really are different here and food prices and car insurance prices and truly crappy cell-phone service plans have been a little shocking. On that note, I've decided not to rename the blog just yet because I still do feel like a bit of a stranger here.

Oh, a couple of fun bits of trivia for you:
1) Erin K. & Co. only live about a 10 minute walk from us (though it's been way too cold and I'm too tired to walk anywhere lately) and we are so excited to actually have friends in the same town.
2) Our next -door neighbours to the north of us are an older couple (who we've been assured will "keep a good eye on us" [read: spy]) who used to be good friends with my late grandparents.
3) We weren't even there for 72 hours and a lady from down the street stopped by to bring us (still warm from the oven!) raisin bran muffins (the LG devoured at least four of them) and a card to welcome us to town and told LJ "see you at the clinic!" He's not sure if she works there or if word just travels that fast. I'm pretty sure it just travels that fast.
4) And finally, when we leave my parents' house tomorrow, we're NOT getting on a plane!


*If you're getting to this post via a Google search for Canada Work Permit, let me just tell you that the government website is really incomplete. We learned a lot of things that nobody ever told us and we sure hadn't read anywhere. Email me if you have questions!

10 May, 2009

yikes!

It seems like forever since I've blogged and I'm just popping in to let you know that I won't be around for real for at least another week yet since we don't know when we'll have internet hooked up at our new place.

The trip so far has been exhausting and my ankles and feet end every day in swollen despair. We had a great stopover visiting friends in Iowa though and we've taken two days in Minneapolis to relax a bit. We spent WAY too much time at Ikea yesterday and spent more than we maybe should have but it was fun. Then we came back to the hotel for a breather before heading over to the Mall of America which was pretty much a bust for us because it's impossible to orient yourself fast enough to see everything you want to see. The only store we went into was the mall gift shop to pick up a postcard. Otherwise, we got food and poked around Legoland which was quite a disappointment. Plus, the LG was horridly crabby.

Anyway, LJ is reminding me that we have to finish getting ready to go and check-out is in fifteen minutes. Happy Mother's Day, Moms and I'll see you in a week or two (I haven't checked Google Reader lately and I'm afraid...very afraid....)!

01 May, 2009

Quick Update

Hey, it turns out we don't have to drive down to Airport City for the Uhaul afterall! Hooray! The lady LJ talked to yesterday did some finagling and fixed it all up so it'll be in town tomorrow morning at 8!

Now we just need good truck-packing weather for tomorrow and good driving weather for the next week!

30 April, 2009

Monkey Wrenches and Ice Cream

What's new around here:

1) The house appraisal was yesterday. We still haven't heard anything about that. Pray that it will have gone well. As I mentioned last time, that's really that last thing standing between us and the house sale closing.

2) We found out last night that since we're moving to Canada, the day we get there is the day our home/auto insurance from here expires. Apparently, this is unusual and we have a crappy insurance company. Boo!

3) We found out just this afternoon that the closest Uhaul truck we need is THREE HOURS away so the last day of packing we had planned (tomorrow) is now all going to have to happen tonight so we can drive all the way down to Airport City and back to pick up this stupid truck. The silver lining - if this level of inconvenience can really be called that; they knew more than a week ago that we needed this particular truck and where we're located - is that they're not going to charge us any extra. So we'll get a free day, free mileage and they'll give us some sort of credit for gas. But still - boo! I am NOT up for driving six hours tomorrow and we had several other last-minute errands to run besides that. I guess the other silverish living is that we can have people over to pack the truck as early as we want on Saturday morning. And, uh, as early as they're willing to come over, right?

4) Packing is really coming along (you'd be proud, Shalee!). Upstairs we just have the clothes we're wearing on the trip to pack and a few toiletries and the laundry detergent. Everything else is in boxes and ready for the truck. Down here, we just have the last-minute essentials (like my third baby - my computer) and things in the kitchen to pack which we are planning to take care of tonight. Between fancy pizza we're getting for supper tonight and finger-type foods, we've got enough to tide us over between now and leaving.

5) Last Saturday, we ran errands and then met up with our pastor and his wife for ice cream. All four of their kids were away for the week last week so we were celebrating the last minutes of their 'honeymoon' and just spending time with friends. The LG had her very first ice cream cone. Yup, her first. She'd never had ice cream before (and great, now we can never go for ice cream in peace anymore either) and it was a hit! We weren't sure how it was going to go over since she doesn't have much milk otherwise (the results are, uh, not too pretty), but everything was fine so maybe we can get her back on milk again soon. (Which would be great because buying soy milk is fine when it's only me using it because I don't use much, but when she's having it all the time too, it can get pricey.) Anyway, here are some pictures from that momentous occasion. Oh! And she actually SAT on GRASS. She won't even walk on our lawn; she just doesn't like grass, but she sat on it, ran around on it, and yes, even wore her little sunglasses. (Don't worry, she only wore them for two days; she broke them on Sunday afternoon.) Oh yes, and after she was finished her ice cream, but before we could wipe off her bib and her face, the wind blew the bib up over her head and she got sprayed all down the back with ice cream. Oops.

23 April, 2009

2009 (so far) in Pictures

Being goofy in the hospital back in February.

Being goofy even while sleeping.
(Yes, I will make sure this makes it into any wedding photo-montage - har!)


Helping Dad lick the beaters.

Easter basket!
For your weekly update this week I think I might actually have found the Easter pictures of the LG that I couldn't find last week.

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The house inspection happened this past Tuesday and went quite well except for one thing that we already knew about from our own home inspection that doesn't really have to be fixed right this instant and well, we're not fixing it anyway. They'll get not a penny more out of us! The next step is the appraisal which will happen sometime in the next week. Pray that it will go well because that's really the last hurdle before the house closes on the 11th.

We've managed to sell both an old (though it was practically new in the box) air conditioner we had around but never used here and the lawn mower that we've been using that was in the shed when we got here, and we're really close to selling our entertainment unit which, while we really like it, is just too big and heavy to move one more time. Yesterday, LJ had a dentist appointment and when he came out of the office, there was a couple waiting by the car who offered him about 3/4 of our asking price. The only problem was how he would get home so they exchanged numbers. Sadly, they called back later that night and said they wouldn't be able to buy it after all. We're still hopeful though, that God will take it off our hands in the next week.

We're still planning on leaving on May 3rd. The packing (thanks for your encouragement, Shalee!) is going quite well and we should be finished packing up boxes and collecting them all in one room by the end of this weekend. Then we'll just have last-minute things and furniture to think about. It feels good to be this ready to go.

LJ has been fabulous about all this packing too. My ligament pain was replaced, overnight, by some horrid sciatic nerve and joint pain on my right side which has left me decidedly incapacitated. I have no choice but to waddle just to lessen the pain and moving around is generally excruciating. We were laughing last night about just how I plan to get into the U-Haul when we're on the road. LJ suggested rigging up some sort of hoist. Um, no thanks, Dear. I'll just grimace and bear it.

Oh, he did have one moment of cruelty this week though: when I got home on Tuesday after the inspection, there were four packages waiting for us. Two mundane packages with diapers for Sibling XX and some gifts I ordered for each of our midwives, and two mystery packages. As background, several years ago, a package arrived when I was at work one afternoon (our UPS guy delivered to my job too so he often left packages there for us). It was addressed to LJ but I didn't know of anything 'private' that he had ordered so I opened it right up. It was the latest edition of Pride & Prejudice (BBC) on DVD. Oops! It wasn't for any specific occasion so how was I to know? I shoved it back in the box and taped it back up. I did tell him later that I had actually opened it, after which I got quite the lecture.

So when the packages were sitting there on Tuesday begging me to open them, I resisted. Good thing because they are, evidently, for my birthday (only 11 more days, Brenda - yikes!). There are TWO mystery packages floating around the house for ELEVEN more days! The suspense is NOT amusing.

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Next post, pictures.