Sunday, November 29, 2015

It's time to talk about our day

What I feel like sharing with you all is much too much for a facebook post.  So, I decided to dust off this ol' blog and place my thoughts here.

Tonight, I had a very interesting conversation with my 5 almost 6 year old son.  This conversation took place during our nightly "talk about our day" time, which occurs when I tuck him into bed.  I cannot recall exactly how or when this little ritual started, but it probably stemmed from me seeing the following quote inscribed onto a pretty picture on the internet:

Listen earnestly to anything
your children want to tell you,
no matter what.
If you don't listen eagerly
to the little stuff when they are little,
they won't tell you the big stuff
when they are big,
because to them
all of it
has always been
big stuff.

- Catherine M. Wallace

While I do more than my fair share of brushing off the little stuff, this is what I try to remember every night whilst I listen to repetitive tales of Lego ships.  Some nights I rush him (especially when he is clearly employing the bedtime stalling tactics that are all too familiar to most parents) and ask him to quickly regale me with only his favourite parts of the day.  Other nights, I let myself get lost in the conversation.
The funny thing is, he seems to prefer listening to me talk about random things; everything from numbers (he finds the concept of infinity especially intriguing) to the stories of every scar that I have.  Tonight, the topic turned to where we go when we die and whether or not Hell exists.  We attend church regularly and questions such as these have come up before, so I wasn't overly surprised.  I've never sugarcoated the reality of death with him and when asked if he or I will live forever, my regular response is "everyone dies" like it's not a big deal.
Our discussion covered many things and diverged into several tangents, so it is impossible for me to type every detail here in a way that would actually be enjoyable to read.  I would like to share the gist of it with you because I find it interesting, especially in our current climate of intolerance.  Also, I'd like to remember it and don't always have the best memory.
While I am no religious scholar, we discussed that people believe different things and that no one really knows for sure what happens to us after we die.  Some people believe that good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell, which is not a nice place to be with lots of fire.  Some people have differing theories on what Heaven is and what it means to them.  Some people believe that our souls come back reincarnated as another living creature and do so until we've learned all the lessons that we're meant to learn.  He thought that was pretty cool and would like to live his next life as a cheetah (we looked at the difference between cheetah and leopard spots during our "talk about our day" time the other night, determining that his slinky is indeed patterned with leopard spots).  Some people believe that there is nothing after death; we just die and that's it.  Some people believe that there is something after death, but are not quite sure what.
I told him that it doesn't really matter which one we believe.  Whether we believe there is nothing or we believe there is something, it doesn't change how we should live our lives.  Either way, we need to cherish the time that we have with our family and friends and show kindness towards others.  In the end, it's all about love and kindness.
When I looked at the clock, I realized that half an hour had flown by.  Way past bedtime!  He asked if he could give me 5 "jump hugs" which is where I stand up and he takes flying leaps off the bed at me.  The "no hands" version where I am required to keep my arms at my sides are a particular favourite of his.  The whole thing usually dissolves into lots of giggles, kisses, snuggles, and hugs.  I realize that as he grows older, if these talks continue (and I certainly hope that they do), the giggles and snuggles part will become fond memories.  But for now, for me, in this moment they are Heaven.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, September 8, 2014

First Day of School

Today was a big day for our little family.  Oliver excitedly went off to school for his first full day!  Ever since his hour long "mini-day" on Friday, he's been itching to go back.  He wore his backpack around several times this weekend and even wanted me to serve breakfast in his lunch box (which is so super cool that I just might have to do a full post on it).

What makes the school experience even more thrilling for Oliver is that he gets to take the bus.  All four of us went outside to wait at the bus stop across the street from our house.  Our lovely neighbours came out to take pictures and wish him good luck too!

Waiting at the bus stop

He didn't even hesitate getting on that bus.  

  I thought that I would've been the one in tears, but as it turns out, Millie cried more than I did!

Missing her big brother

Have fun my sweet boy!  I know you will do great things this year!  We love you!

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Summer Winds Down

Floating down the Saugeen River
Photo by Chris

Hi there,

I hope everyone had a fantastic summer!  We certainly did.  Trips to the park, splash pads, zoo, farm markets, cottage, and water park were enjoyed by all.

At the Peterborough Zoo

Oliver played on a T-ball team for the first time this summer.  It was... interesting.  He was very nervous about it all, especially in the beginning.  With a ton of encouragement and some bribery, he made great improvements.  Despite being quite impressed by the medal that he received at the end of the season, he does not want to play again next summer.  When Grandma Robin was visiting at our house and helping out with the laundry, he told her to just throw the T-ball shirt that she was folding in the garbage.  He no longer needed it since he wasn't going to play ever again!  We'll see if things change with a year of school under his belt.

The reward for running from 3rd Base to Home without Mom!

Speaking of school, Oliver starts Kindergarten on Monday!  This week we've been getting his backpack ready, practising with his lunch box, and today we had a meeting with his teacher.  Tomorrow, Oliver will go to an hour long "mini-day", which is like a little taste of what school will be like.  His teachers seem to be out-of-this-world amazing and are very up to date with all of the current technology (and beyond).  I am so excited for him to embark on his educational journey and at the same time it makes me a bit sad to see him go.  I try not to think about that though.  I'm focusing on the one on one time that I'll get with Amelia... who still naps!  Woo-hoo!

Riding the train at the Peterborough Zoo

Also during this last week, we've been enjoying several family picnics and hiking outings, making the most of the carefree time we have left.  We even found a spot to have a picnic in the rain!  Great times were had walking, running and exploring some of the nature trails in our area.  We are very lucky to live so close to such beauty and I can't wait to get out there and explore some more!  After our last hike, we asked Oliver if he had fun and he immediately replied with a "Yes!" (He usually says "No" even when we know he did).

Roxy loves hiking too!

We've been enjoying some tasty things from our backyard garden despite all of the neglect it's been through!  After the initial planting, I've pretty much let nature do its own thing and that has seemed to work well this year.  Our tomatoes are just starting to hit their stride now and are absolutely delicious!  Nothing else can compare to truly fresh veggies!

Eating a green pepper straight from the garden

As Fall quickly approaches, I can feel the excitement of all the new adventures on the horizon.  We have so much to look forward to.  At the same time, I look back fondly upon all of the memories that were created as this summer winds down.

At the cottage

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hello Thirty

For the past few months, I've tried not to think about it at all.  When I did, I thought it would be kind of scary; I thought it would cause a bit of anxiety; I thought there'd be a chance that I'd even cry a little.  Yet, last night, as the clock ticked down on the final moments of my twenties, I couldn't sleep because of an entirely unexpected emotion.  I was excited!  It was strange, but I was actually looking forward to being thirty!  I am lucky to greet thirty feeling fit and happy.  There definitely have been many ups and downs getting to this point, but overall life is lovely and I am so grateful for everything and everyone in it.  And today, thirty wasn't scary.  It didn't cause anxiety or tears.  It was a beautiful day that I was able to greet with a sincere smile and say, "hello thirty."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love Painting

Happy Valentine's Day!  Today, I'd like to share a little painting that the kids and I created a couple weeks ago.  It was one of the lovely craft projects organized by our local Ontario Early Years Centre.   If you are lucky enough to live near one, I urge you to go check it out!  It's a great place to meet other parents of young children and is a nice little outing for the kids.  They have all kinds of activities and programs - and it's all free!  This particular project is a simple one.  We used Oliver's hand print and Amelia's foot prints.  All you need to create your own is a blank canvas, red water based ink or paint, a red permanent marker... and a little bit of love.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tip #2 :: Defeating The Sock Monster

Do you have a sock monster living in your house?  One that eats socks, but only single socks, so that when you take your laundry from the dryer to fold it, you're left with several lonely socks that have lost their mate?  I used to just toss those socks into each family member's sock drawer and they'd soon be pushed to the back and long forgotten.

Awhile ago, I decided to start collecting all the lonely single socks in one place: a big drawstring bag tied to the back of my closet door.  That's where I've been putting everyone's lonely socks when I put away the clean laundry.  There, they can all mingle and not be so lonely.  Now, every few months or so, I dump out the bag to see how those guys are doing and low and behold, I find a giant pile of socks with pairs that match!

So, here's my quick tip - collect all single socks in one spot.  I'm starting to think that there never really was a sock monster living here.  Unless you take into account an almost 4 year old little boy.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Raw Kale Salad with Beans and Veggies

This simple recipe of mine has become one of my favourite lunches.  I like to wash up an entire bunch of kale or two, rip the leaves into pieces, and store them in a Ziploc Fresh Produce bag.  Then, it's ready to make salads with and can be thrown into all kinds of other recipes for the whole week.  When I also have a batch of this bean and veggie mixture made up in a large container, my lunches are set for a few days.  Switching up the type of beans and vegetables, offers an endless array of combinations and flavours.

Makes approx. 4 servings

1 can of navy beans (black beans or black eyed peas are great options too)
1 tomato or 1/2 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
1 cup frozen corn, cooked according to pkg.
1 red pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1- 2 avocado, chopped
juice and pulp of 1 orange
kale, de-stemmed and torn into pieces
sesame seeds

Combine beans, tomato, corn, peppers, cucumber, green onion, avocado.  Cover with orange juice.  Mix well, making sure avocado is well coated.  Serve over kale.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt and pepper.

This salad is simple, healthy, and goes great with a glass of carrot juice!  Sometimes, on the second or third day, I'll add in an extra avocado to freshen it up a bit.  Other times, I'll toss in a handful of cashews if it feels like I need the extra fat and protein.  Mix it up and make it your own by trying out different combinations of beans, veggies, nuts, and seeds.

I am sharing this at...
Moonlight and Mason Jars Link Party :: Tasty Tuesday at I'm Not a Trophy Wife

Sunday, February 2, 2014

It's Lung Leavin' Day!

As I held my baby girl in my arms and nursed her, my mind raced.  Why did the receptionist bring me to this room?  Was there a specific reason that she brought me into this room instead of the normal examination room?  I looked at the large round conference table and plush upholstered chairs and felt sick to my stomach.   Maybe this room, with it's comfortable seating, is where they lay it it all out on that table for a serious conversation.  The conversation that no one wants to be the subject of; the conversation about cancer.

Before becoming pregnant with my daughter, I underwent several procedures at the colposcopy clinic at the hospital.  That is where I had a biopsy (tissue sample) taken of my cervix after having an abnormal PAP.  It is also where I had the simple day surgery to remove the high-grade abnormality that they had found.  More tests after that procedure were still showing abnormal cells.  And then I became pregnant.  We couldn't really do anything more until after the baby was born.

So, here I was sitting in this strange room, nursing my little girl, and waiting to hear the results of the latest test.  My husband was in the waiting room, keeping our little boy occupied with toys and snacks.  What if the news was bad?  If it was, how would I tell my family?  What sort of treatment options would I have to consider?  So many questions swirled around in my head, it seemed the room was spinning.  Through it all, I thought of my young children and how I wanted to be there for them as they grew up; as I sat there, I prayed that I would.

When the doctor finally came into that room and told me that my test results were normal I felt relieved.  I also felt a little bit silly for working myself up into such a panic over nothing.  All because I was waiting in a different room.  However, many other people aren't so lucky.  Many other people have their whole world turned completely upside down in rooms just like that one.  People like:

My amazing friend Doris!  Who writes about her journey on her blog Cure Me - Pure Me

My Mom's late husband, who my children know as "Grandpa Sam".

And Heather Von St. James, whose story inspired this post...

Eight years ago, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare cancer that kills most people within 2 years of diagnosis.  She had just given birth to her daughter Lily, and was only given 15 months to live.  After surgery that included the removal of her left lung, Heather and her family created Lung Leavin’ Day. 
The purpose of LungLeavin’ Day is to encourage others to face their fears.  Each year, the Von St. James family and friends gather around a backyard fire.  They write their biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire.  This will be the 8th year that they celebrate!
This year, Heather and her husband Cameron are asking bloggers to participate and spread the word about Lung Leavin’ Day.  I was so honoured to receive an email about their inspiring story and the webpage that they have created.
I highly urge you to check it out and watch the video of Heather's story, which can be found here. It is an incredible story of hope and beating the odds!  One thing that really struck a chord with me was when Heather said, "I've been accused my whole life of wearing rose coloured glasses and seeing life very optimistically... and I have no intention of ever taking them off."  What a beautiful perspective to have on life!
Let's all celebrate Lung Leavin' Day day this year.  It is a celebration in remembrance of those who are no longer with us; it is a celebration for those who continue to fight; it is for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life; and most importantly, it is to celebrate life!

So, what are you afraid of?  What is your biggest fear?  What would you write on your plate?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Little Hearts

When Amelia goes down for her afternoon nap, Oliver and I have been enjoying some quality time together.  Sometimes we do a craft; sometimes we bake healthy cookies (I will post the recipe once it's perfected!); sometimes we read a pile of books in our big white comfy chair.  All of these times are extremely precious to me and I've been trying to soak up every minute.  For in the back of my mind, I am thinking the word "September".  That is when this little boy, whom I have spent most of my waking (and sleeping) hours with over the past 4 years or so, will start going to school.  Seven more months with both of my little hearts at home with me.  Seven more months to make every moment count.

The other day, Oliver and I decided to do a simple craft while Amelia slept.  With Valentine's day coming up in a few weeks, we went with that theme.  Pipe cleaners and beads were all that we needed.

Oliver enjoyed stringing beads onto the pipe cleaners, which I then twisted into heart shapes.  Watching the quiet concentration of this small, yet so astoundingly grown up, boy was a moment that I will cherish.  What I will cherish even more, is what he said to me next...

"Mommy, I love doing crafts with you."

I am sharing this at the Moonlight and Mason Jars Link Party!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ode to Carrot Juice

I have accidentally stumbled upon something incredible.

Last month, I was really sick with a stomach bug.  The kids had it too.  I have never been that sick before.  It was awful.  Caring for and cleaning up after two little ones with tummy troubles while also feeling so ill wasn't fun either.  My husband Chris had to work, so thankfully my Mom travelled up our way and stayed for awhile to take care of us!

Well, while she was here, we picked up a few Bolthouse Farms fruit and veggie drinks.  They're the ones found in the produce section at the grocery store (I am not affiliated with Bolthouse Farms in any way.  You can read my disclaimer here).  We thought that since my stomach couldn't handle solid food, it would be a good way to get some sort of nutrition.

One of those juices was a giant bottle of carrot juice.

I was a bit hesitant to try it and even put it off for awhile.  I thought it would be on par with tomato juice which I DO NOT LIKE.  I am reminded of the time when my friends were drinking Caesars (similar to a Bloody Mary, for all of the American readers) and I thought that I should too.  It was not pretty.  And it wasn't because of the vodka.

I didn't try the carrot juice until well after the illness left our household and my Mom returned to her home.  When I finally tasted it, I was shocked.  It was fantastic!  It's a little bit sweet and absolutely delicious served ice cold.  This Bolthouse version contains a whopping 380% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A and is only 70 calories per 1 cup serving.

According to my research...
(if you watch The Magic School Bus as much as we do, that phrase may make you smile)

Each cup contains a whole lot of vitamins and minerals too.  These include the aforementioned vitamin A, vitamins C, E, & K,  various B vitamins, potassium, folate, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc.  While the old adage that carrots improve eyesight holds true (did I detect a slight improvement in my horrible night vision while driving the other night?), particularly if you have a vitamin A deficiency, there are also a number of other health benefits that this super food provides.  Everything from helping dry skin to preventing cancer seem to be on the list of amazing things that carrots can do.  "The antioxidants and phytochemicals in carrots may also help with blood sugar regulation, delay the effects of aging, and improve immune function." (Nordqvist, J. (2013, December 16). "What are the health benefits of carrots?." Medical News Today. Retrieved from

How often does something so good for you also taste so amazing?

It sounds silly, but carrot juice makes me feel like skipping and twirling around like a little girl.  Maybe it's all of the antioxidants.  Maybe it's all of the vitamin A.  Whatever it is, I love this stuff and drink at least one glass a day (remember to check with your doctor before changing your diet, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions).  I've also read that drinking 3 cups or more a day can turn skin orange!  So I try not to overdo it.  Like that episode of The Magic School Bus where Arnold turns orange after eating too many Seaweedies.

Well, I couldn't title this post "Ode to Carrot Juice" without including one.  So here it is...

Ode to Carrot Juice

Oh carrot juice!
Sweet orange nectar
As a seed you start
So small.
Within Earth's embrace,
You grow.
Nourished by soil, sun,
A hidden wonder lies
Your destiny we shall not
For, your great goodness, now
I know.
Nature's nourishment is the gift you impart
To all.