Monday, December 27, 2010

well, i don't know about yours, but our christmas was... wow.

back in early november, i received an email from a dear, dear friend:

Dear Heather
The Christmas season is fast approaching and while the season is one of love, joy, peace and hope, it can also be a season of stress when you have children and want to give them that magical Christmas morning experience.
It was going to be more of a surprise (initially) but after a few conversations with your mom, we decided that perhaps we should share our plans with you in order to alleviate some of the holiday stresses you are feeling.   So here it is:   This year Christmas is on us.   My family, including my parents,  would like to give you guys Christmas.   The plan right now is new pajamas for each child, a new outfit for each child, warm hats and mittens for each, and some new toys for each child.   Plus a bin of dry goods for your cupboards, a gift card for the grocery store (and a few things for you but those can be kept secret!).   Your mom has given me some great ideas for each kiddo (she was my spy on the weekend lol), but if you know something special they are "asking Santa for" or a specific request please let me know.   We were planning to drop the gifts off at your moms (either wrapped or unwrapped depending on if you wanted to see them first or not) and then you can give them to the kids from you.   My children know they are helping shop for some fabulous kids to help them have a great Christmas, but they don't know it's your kids (because they do play once in a while and I didn't want my kids to mention something, albeit innocently and make yours uncomfortable).
Let me know if I'm on the right track.   I'm sorry to blow the secret, and I was planning to just be "santa's elf" but after talking to your mom I didn't want you to be stressed out leading up to Christmas.   I hope that this helps!   I can't think of a family who deserves a little love more than you guys.   You are an amazing mom and you've raised three wonderful, loving, happy children.   And I couldn't be more proud to be your friend.
Merry Christmas! xo

can you believe that?!?! when i read that email, i bawled. an amazing gift from a wonderful friend for my incredible children.

i didn't have to worry about a single gift for the kids. (mind you, i went along thinking for over a month that i didn't have to buy anything, la dee dah, i have no shopping to do so yes, i'm ready for christmas, are you?, and then it occurred to me a couple weeks ago that i needed to buy stuff for my parents, brother, his girlfriend, my grandmother... yeah. insert mad dash to the mall in london and voila! most of that shopping done under budget and in a couple hours. yes, i'm just. that. good. HAHA!!)

christmas morning was, well, unbelievable. the kids got everything on their wishlists. blithe got all things justin bieber, bram got all things lego, and asher got all things elmo. blithe also got an easy bake oven and a lalaloopsy doll, and the boys got some transformers, too.

and the thing is... they were so grateful!! that afternoon, bram was playing with his lego while i wrote a note to my aunt, and he looked up at me and said,

"mommy, i'm really thankful for everything i have."

have you ever heard something so wonderful???

well, i have. that night, as blithe was saying her prayers, she thanked God for all the gifts we got, "because I know they came from you. how did you know i wanted a singing justin bieber doll and an easy bake oven?? well, i suppose you know everything, so of course you would know that, right?"

yesterday, we were driving home from church, and blithe said to me,

"mommy, i'm really thankful for everything you and nana and bampa bought us."

i said, "sweetie, i only gave you a couple things. nana and bampa only gave you a few things. most of those gifts you received yesterday weren't from me or nana and bampa."

and her jaw dropped.

she's been a bit unsure about santa this year, not sure if she still believes or not. but yeah. i'm pretty sure she believes now.

(in case you haven't realized, the kids don't know about this gift to us. i had told blithe that santa is the spirit of giving at christmas, and that's what i'm sticking with. all this stuff... yeah. it's from santa.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

surprise, surprise, i've taken up a new hobby

so, yesterday, asher and i went a-shopping. we were in search of a scarf for him, because, well, it's cold out now, and well, he doesn't have a scarf.

seems logical enough.

did you know that wal-mart doesn't have scarves for wee lads???

or at least none that i could find.

but what i did find...

was yarn!!

and knitting needles!!!

now, i used to knit a little bit, way back when blithe was a baby. and i've been wanting to get back to it lately, because, you know... i don't have enough on my plate lately. haha

anyway, asher loved the idea of a handmade scarf, so he helped me to pick out some yarn for himself and for bram (blithe already has a scarf), and i grabbed some needles, and off we went.

when i came home, i looked up knitting instructions on youtube. so now i've learned to tie a slip know (haha, yes, i needed to start there, apparently), cast on, and do the basic knit stitch. awesome!!!

so far, i am 5 or 6 rows into the scarf, and i'm loving every second of it!! it's very soothing and calming, since it's so repetitive and quiet. i'd forgotten how much i love knitting!!

when i'm done the scarf, i'll post a picture of it so you can marvel at my knitty genius. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

snow day = kitchen day!!

the menu for today:

breakfast: oatmeal chocolate chip muffins. yes, from a mix, but they were yummy!

lunch: split pea soup. (see recipe below)

snack: peanut butter nuggets. (see recipe below)

supper: probably potato pancakes. le yum!

i made the muffins myself, and added a bit of cinnamon, as i mentioned in my previous post. they were good!! i also made the soup on my own, but it would have been very easy for blithe to help with it. probably not the boys, but definitely blithe. the PB nuggets will be made by the kids and me, though mostly them. the potato pancakes, i will likely make those myself. here are the recipes:

Split Pea Soup with veggies
split peas. i don't know how much. just throw them into the pot.
chicken broth. i just poured until it covered the peas.
water. added just a little bit, not much. enough to make it about an inch higher than the peas
some chopped carrots.
half a small onion, chopped.
garlic, salt

seriously, toss it all into a pot, turn on the stove, and walk away. easy peasy. once it's done cooking, use a hand blender to... um... blend it. and then enjoy. it will be nice and thick (but not too thick). it's good with crackers, though i suspect croutons would be even better.

Peanut Butter Nuggets (from
2/3 cup crushed cornflakes (or rice krispies... because that's what i have on hand)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey

1. mix 1/2 cup corn flakes, coconut, peanut butter and honey together.
2. shape into small balls and roll them in remaining cornflakes.

*these cookies can be put in the fridge to firm up.
**these cookies freeze well.
***yield: 2 dozen

UPDATE: the kids loved making these, and we all loved eating them!! we rolled them in icing sugar instead of rice krispies, and they were wonderful!!

Old-Fashioned Potato Pancakes (from
3 cups shredded peeled potatoes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cups grated onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp minced fresh parsley. (obviously, you would need more if you're using dried... which is what i have)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Rinse potatoes in cold water; drain thoroughly. in a bowl, mix potatoes, eggs, onion, flour, parsley, salt and pepper. pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle. fry 5-6 minutes on each side or until potatoes are tender and pancakes are golden brown.
*yield 2 servings
**i usually shred 3 to 4 potatoes and then just eyeball the quantities from there. always turns out deliciously! :)
***mmm... potato pancakes with syrup... le drool!!!

SNOW DAY!!!!!!

that's right, folks, winter has officially arrived in our area. we have gotten so much snow that school is cancelled today!!! so here's the plan for the day:

the kids and i are going to do some papercrafting, and we'll read a bit. i'm about to make some muffins. the kids will probably go outside to play for a little while, and when they come in, we'll have hot chocolate. and i might make some soup today. i'm thinking... carrot? or maybe skip the soup and make stew? dunno yet. i'll let you know what i decide.

i'm going to keep updating this post as the day goes on, to keep you abreast of the minutiae of the day here. because, if you're honest with yourself, you know you're dying to know. haha

UPDATE #1: the muffins were yummy. oatmeal chocolate chip. sure, i used a mix and didn't make them from scratch, but they're still yummy. and i added cinnamon, which adds a little something extra. delightful! :) as for the soup... blithe has specifically requested split pea soup, which she is going to help make. can't wait!

UPDATE #2: the soup is cooking, and it smells wonderful. {blissed out smile} but you know i'm all about handy household hints, so here's one for you: if you decide to make split pea soup, and you decide to turn the container with the peas upside down, make sure the container is shut tight first... or just don't turn it over. that would work, too... i guess. but anyhoozle... the kids have played outside. bram is the proud creator of not one, not two, but three snow angels. they all came in, bright-eyed and rosy cheeked. oh! and runny-nosed. can't forget that one! haha

at some point this afternoon, i plan to brave the out-of-doors and shovel the driveway. but i have discovered the advantage to living across from a field: blowing snow. which, contrary to what you might be thinking, is actually rather handy on days like today. you see, even though the snow is whipping around and getting dumped on us today... it just blows right past my driveway!!! so i will only need to shovel a few inches, instead of a couple ashers-worth of snow (snow piled as high as two ashers). so that's pretty handy, if you ask me. {wink}

on a side note, i must remember to either find or purchase a snow brush for the truck. because i can't find it. the truck, i mean. asher looked out the window this morning and said, "we have a white car now!" and bram changed her name to "whiter." yup. lots of snow today.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

ok, maybe winter isn't so bad. (wait! who wrote that???)

before i continue on to this post, i want you to check out our weather forecast for the next couple days. (click on "our weather forecast." it takes you to the weather channel's page for our town.) notice all the snow. it started last night, just lightly. but today... yup. lots of snow. the roads aren't pretty (and coincidentally, my truck's front end isn't pretty anymore, either. stupid guardrails). they're very slippery and messy and all-around nasty. if you live in this area and don't absolutely need to go out, don't.

which leads to the point of this post:

those things about winter that are wonderful and remind me of the little blessings in my life:
  • warm coffee in my favourite christmas mug. it's a giant mug covered with candy canes, etc. it is also ideal for hot chocolate.
  • hot chocolate with the kidley-winks. a rare treat, but a fun one. 
  • de-icing windshield washer fluid. which reminds me: i need to put de-icing windshield washer fluid in the truck.
  • staying inside, snuggled on the couch, and enjoying the sounds of the kidley-winks playing.
  • the smells of soups, chilis, casseroles and breads emanating from the kitchen
  • the look of the snow in the backyard
  • the sights and sounds of the kidley-winks playing in the snow
  • christmas parties. 'nuff said. 
  • hot apple cider. preferable mulled with all those lovely things like cinnamon, cloves, orange slices... mmm....
  • comfy cozy slippers. espcially leopard-print comfy cozy slippers.
  • yoga pants and my pink, over-sized coconut joe sweatshirt. (quite a picture i paint, no?)
and one other thing. this afternoon, i went out to the shed to get the shovels. as it happens, they were buried under 50 lbs or so of carpet and underpad. and it was wedged between all of that and a pile of boxes. nice. anyhoo, as i was swearing grunting and pulling and trying desperately to not pull all that carpeting on top of myself, my neighbour came outside and asked if i'd like him to shovel the driveway for me. he's out there right now, not so much "shoveling" as "blowing" the snow.

so, ok. i'll admit. there are some wonderful things about winter.

and cherish this post. come february, i won't be so keen on finding blessings. by then, i'll be cursing the snow and the cold and the ice and the lack of sunshine and being stuck inside all day... ugh. but for now, i'm choosing the focus on the good things.

now, please pass the vitamin D supplements. 

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i like this blog. this is where i write about homelife. my kids, my pets, recipes, natural cleaning products, gardening, cool finds... that's what i write about here. this is the hands-on part of my personal journey. i'm reclaiming myself, a self i lost in a hospital somewhere, among all the meds, plastic, waste and complexity that comes with Special Needs parenting. i crave simplicity, and this is my journey to create it for my family and me.

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