Various Matters

February 4, 2010

*I have discovered how to ensure that none of my children will ask for a bite of my sandwich: add pickles.  In fact, by adding enough, they will hold their noses and run away.  (Perhaps if I just carried an open jar of pickles around, I could buy myself some alone-time; wish I’d discovered this one years ago…)

*Still haven’t found the missing Valentines.  Going out and buying another box will guarantee that they are found, but negates the great buy of purchasing them for a dollar weeks ago.

*I fed my family salmon burgers on home-made whole-wheat buns for supper last night.  Olivia took one look and put herself to bed, sleeping until 7:30 this morning.  Must remember that recipe for future cranky days…

*I had a wonderful, fun visit getting caught up with my childhood friend, Carla yesterday.  She was visiting from Ontario with her husband Mark & son Jack.  Neither Carla nor I could remember the last time we’d seen each other (she moved away in Grade nine) but we were as comfortable as if we’d seen each other last week.  It was fun to have an eight-month-old in the house too!  Unfortunately, we didn’t take any photos, but she’s hoping to be here this summer for the Reunion.

*My daughters do a great imitation of Jack Sprat and his wife.  When eating leftover supper for lunch, Olivia had a plate-full of only spare ribs & rice while Sarah would eat only squash & broccoli.

*Still looking for the missing library books…  Sarah asked this morning, “Is there anywhere we haven’t looked yet?”  I don’t think so, but there must be since they have to be in the house somewhere.   I guess we’ll have to renew them to buy ourselves some more time.  When my brother was about this age, one of his library books went missing.  My mother searched and searched all over their house.  (Sound familiar?)  Eventually, it turned up under the crisper in the fridge where he had hidden it; he loved the book so much he didn’t want to return it! (Yes, I’ve checked there too!)

*I’m currently selling cheese (band), blueberries (school) and hanging baskets (choir).  The cheese really sells well, hanging baskets in Nova Scotia in February – not so much!  (They won’t actually be delivered until May.)  Of course there are 588 kids around town selling blueberries, so who’s left to sell them to?!  If you are interested in any of the above, just leave me a comment!

*I kept track of all our grocery receipts last month since we’re trying to be more frugal.  There are some things we’d like to do to the house this year on top of the maintenance we have to do and the money has to come from somewhere!  We spent $1277.63 on groceries, 11.63 eating out (I treated Olivia & Alex to a trip through the McDonald’s drive thru after their appointments at the IWK) and zero on alcohol.  D’Arcy freaked out a bit when I told him that number, but if you work it out, it equates to $6.87 per person per day.  We’ll see how we do this month…

*When we registered Sarah for school last week, we expressed an interest in French Immersion.  Yesterday, we had a call that enrollment for that program was lower than expected, so they have extended the deadline until March 10th.  Back when the boys first went to school, there was a lottery to get your child into a French Immersion class!  How things can change in only a few years!

*The other night, our seats at the supper table all got switched around.  Sarah was sitting in her father’s seat and he was sitting in Alex’s seat.  As a result, he was pretending to be one of the kids and started playing with his carrots, becoming a walrus, unicorn, etc.  The rest of the children joined in, brining much laughter while their mother told them not to play with their food.  Now they ‘re asking to have carrots every night…

*From the sounds of things, D’Arcy’s Thesis will not be defended in time to walk across the stage in May. Bummer. He’s still going to try to have it finished ASAP so that it is no longer hanging over his head. December graduation, here we come…

*We went curling at a fun-spiel on the weekends with our friends. We drew tiles to be assigned teams and I happened to be put on a team with a man who didn’t seem to realize that it was “fun night”. He got after me in the first game because I had my broom in the wrong place when he was delivering the shot. One of the other men on my team told me that no one ever wants to curl with this man because he’s an a**. Later, I was spoken to again, for talking to our friend Janice, who was on the opposing team in that game, as he was delivering his shot. We ended up winning both of our games and at the end of the evening, as he was leaving, this cranky man said to me, “You were pretty good – for someone who doesn’t curl!” Gee thanks! Can we curl together again sometime?? All in all the evening was really fun and it was great to get out on a “date”. I’m hoping that Evan, Alex, D’Arcy & I will be able to make up a team in the family curling event this year!

Back to regularly scheduled life…

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Alex asked if he could make pancakes for breakfast this morning, and Sarah decided to help him.  I let them do it on their own as much as possible.  (I did have to step in at one point when Alex was making egg-replacer using cups of water and oil rather than tablespoons…)  There was surprisingly little mess, and Evan said they were so tasty, he ate five.

Maybe I’ll be able to start sleeping in and letting them look after breakfast…

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Our Ballerina

June 1, 2009

I often feel relief on Mondays when the business of the weekend is over.  Today is no exception.  We had appointments, a dance rehearsal, guests, a birthday party, a family gathering & our nephew’s First Communion, preparing for a dinner here, and the highlight –  Sarah’s first Dance Recital.

She (and we!) were so excited!

Sarah has wanted to be a ballerina for as long as she’s known what a ballerina is.  My mother stood in line last summer while we were in PEI on vacation to register her in creative movement for us and  starting in September, Tuesdays became their special day.  Ginna would pick Sarah up from preschool, take her to their house for lunch (a “girl” cheese sandwich each week), spend time together in the afternoon, and then go to Sarah’s dance class before bringing her home in time for supper.

Sarah went to my parents’ house on Thursday, since I was away at the TIANS Conference, and my mother kept her until yesterday.  They went to Sarah’s dress rehearsal together on Saturday morning, and before her performance yesterday, my mother got Sarah’s hair into her ballerina bun & dressed in her costume before bringing her home to get her make-up applied.    Sarah was so excited and insisted on putting on her lipstick herself!  The child has such long eyelashes – you can really tell with mascara on!

Make-up & hair done, ready to go to her recital.  Our azelia is beautiful right now!

Make-up & hair done, ready to go to her recital. Our azelia is beautiful right now!

We weren’t allowed to take photos during the show, but we will be buying the DVD.  The three creative movement classes danced to “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King”.  They were adorable and I cried proud tears through the entire thing!  (I had the foresight to wear water-proof mascara!) After they performed, the parents went to the stage to pick them up, and when we got back to our seats Alex presented Sarah with three peach roses, one from each sibling.

Our ballerina on the stage at intermission

Our ballerina on the stage at intermission

After I took this picture, Olivia wanted to get on the stage too and threw a full-blown two-year-old tantrum (complete with throwing herself down on the floor & flailing around), saying “MY TURN!  MY TURN DANCE!”  D’Arcy ended up taking her out of the auditorium for most of the second act.

Sarah & Chloe who had danced to "My Favourite Things" from "The Sound of Music"

Sarah & Chloe who had danced to "My Favourite Things" from "The Sound of Music"

We had invited my parents & my Auntie Ruth back to our house afterwards for supper.  It was a beautiful afternoon and we took advantage to sit on the back deck for the first time this season!

A rare moment of relaxation

A rare moment of relaxation

We had great fun outside.  Evan had received some Mentos in his treat bag from the birthday party he went to on Saturday night, so convinced his father to buy a bottle of diet coke so that they could do the mentos in the pop Science experiment.

My father enlisted his ballerina’s help to plant the onions in our garden.  There is still a chance of frost at night for the next week or so, so we’ve just started planting some of the heartier veggies.   The other kids were interested, but Sarah was the one who wanted to help!

Gardening with Beanah

Gardening with Beanah

I love how she has her hand on his knee!

I love how she has her hand on his knee!

Evan, climbing on the deck

Evan, climbing on the deck

Alex found an inchworm and was pointing it out to Olivia

Alex found an inchworm and was pointing it out to Olivia

D’Arcy & I had cooked Saturday night so that I wouldn’t need to spend all my time in the kitchen when we got back.  The menu was planned around Sarah’s requests:  Ham (with a Bourbon glaze), German potato salad, broccoli with a citrus crumb topping, honeyed carrots with raisins, a corn & tomato salad with feta, and rolls I had made before the recital.  I decorated the table with a ballet theme and used the rest of the roses from her bouquet and forget-me-nots (my favourite weed flower) as centerpieces.

The centerpiece

The centerpiece

The table

The table

We had a delightful dinner.  For dessert, Evan had made lemon pudding, which we added sorbet to (Olivia just had sorbet) and D’Arcy and I had made ballerina cookies.

Dessert

Dessert

Sarah's expression as she realized what the cookies were!

Sarah's expression as she realized what the cookies were!

Sarah & Ginna

Sarah & Ginna

Olivia couldn't fight sleep any longer...

Olivia couldn't fight sleep any longer...

What a wonderful day!

There is something so special about watching your children do something they love!  I’m hopeful that this was just the first of many ballet recitals – I’ve kept the pink tulle for next year, just in case!

Olivia & I headed out first thing this morning to the IWK for her appointment with the dietitian.  We had recorded everything she ate since we got the appointment last Wednesday so that her diet could be analyzed again.  It was last done in October, just before we took her off her Alimentum.  The first thing we did was weigh her and she was still 13.8 kg, the same as she was at her allergist appointment two weeks ago.  It was good she hadn’t lost anything, but she hadn’t gained either.  More of her bloodwork was back, including the dreaded Celiac Disease Test – NEGATIVE!!  I had been preparing myself during the drive; if we lost gluten, I know we would deal with it, but I think I’d have gone over the edge for a bit.  The results of her CAP allergy tests are still pending…

Basically, the reason her doctor was worried is because a child’s growth pattern should be set by age two, and Olivia’s weight has always been either in the 95th percentile or off the chart (meaning she was heavier than 95% or more of the other kids her age) and the 75th percentile for height.  She continues to be in the 75th percentile for height, but has fallen to just over the 50th percentile for weight in just a few months.  Children grow and thin out, but shouldn’t lose weight like that.  She just doesn’t have the fat in her diet that she needs anymore without the formula.

The plan is to change her diet & eating habits.  Starting tomorrow, she will be allowed no more than 16 oz. (2 cups) of rice milk per day.  That’s going to be tough because she loves it so much.  Also, she is now to have three meals and three snacks per day, with two hours between each and nothing in between those times but water.  If it takes her more than 20 minutes to eat, we take her food away.  Apparently, this has been proven to be more beneficial when trying to gain weight, as opposed to grazing.

We also have to do things like whisk a teaspoon of olive oil into her soups, spread oil on her pizza crust before we put the sauce on it, add sugar to her cereal, put (her special dairy/soy-free) butter on crackers, molasses in her cream of wheat, start feeding her more bacon, etc.  The kids all had pancakes with butter & maple syrup and bacon for supper – they thought they were in heaven!  The rest of us are going to be putting on a few pounds too.  Apparently, she should be able to safely eat french fries from McDonalds and she can have a hamburger patty with ketchup too (no bun because they contain soy & traces of egg) so we just may have to go have a happy meal sometime soon. 

I did have a smug moment giggle when the dietitian told me while analyzing her diet that despite her allergies, Olivia currently eats a better balanced and well-rounded diet than most adults do! 

She’ll go back in a month to be weighed and the dietician wants to see her at 14.5 kgs.  If she hasn’t reached that, she’ll have to start drinking a nutritional suppliment again.  The new one she would be given is very expensive – so much so the hospital actually has a program to cover the cost!  I’m hoping that we can keep her from losing anymore weight just by changing her diet.

That being said, by adding all this extra oil, sugar & bacon to her diet, I have a feeling she’s not going to be the only one gaining weight around here…

Fun-a-riffic!

March 16, 2009

The first weekend of March Break, according to Sarah, has been “fun-a-riffic”!

Alex had an eye appointment at the IWK on Friday, so March Break started a little bit early for us.  Alex did go to school for the morning because his class was going swimming, but Evan took the day off to come with us.  We left Olivia with my parents and the three older kids & I set off.  Alex’s appointment was awesome and his vision hasn’t decreased at all.  He got his correction back for his good eye, so his eyes should start to stay straight now.  He’s on a four week schedule one last time, and as long as his vision doesn’t change, he’ll then go to eight weeks between check-ups, then four months, then six months, then a year, and then we’re finished with the IWK!!  At that time, he’ll start seeing a regular eye doctor instead of a specialist!

We had lunch at Subway (Evan has ‘graduated’ to a 6″ sub instead of a kids’ sandwich) and then a Costco run.  We arrived in town, picked up Olivia, and were home by about six.

Olivia outgrew her toddler bed a couple of months ago;  every time she rolls over now, she falls out.  As a result, she has either been sleeping in our bed, or on the futon in our bedroom.  We promised the kids we would change their beds over during March Break so they took that to mean Friday night!  

Our guests went out to supper shortly after seven, so we got to work as quickly as possible.  The boys’ beds were moved downstairs to the girls’ room and set up into bunk beds.  Sarah’s bed went upstairs for Evan & the bed frame for Alex came out of the attic.  The toddler bed got put away.  D’Arcy went to get the box-spring & mattress out of the basement, but it was musty, so Olivia’s toddler mattress is on her bed and Alex’s mattress is on the floor inside his bed frame.  We’ve promised to buy a new set this week for them…  They’re all happy with their new sleeping arrangements regardless!

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On Saturday, we had invited the MacNeills, the Faulkners & Auntie Kay & Uncle Hug (along with all the kids) over for a St. Paddy’s Day celebration.  Evan is trying to earn the Blue Star for Cubs which included helping to plan a party, so he was a huge help!  He made place cards and helped to set the table:

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Suzana came over on Thursday and helped me cook and every course had Guinness in it.  Janice brought home made appetizer-sized fish & chips & crab cakes.  I could have filled up on those!!  Then we sat down at the table and started with ‘Irish’ Onion Soup.  I mixed a couple of different recipes and it ended up being delicious!!  Our next course was a spinach salad with sliced strawberries, mandarin oranges, sunflower seeds, green onion and Guinness Dressing.  Next was Beef & Guinness Pie.  Oh. My. Goodness.  The only way I changed the recipe was by adding mushrooms that had been sauteed in olive oil & garlic and then drowned in the remainder of the can of Guinness from the salad dressing until all the liquid was absorbed.  Auntie Kay made bread using just self-rising flour and a can of beer.  It was surprisingly light & fluffy!  Suzana made an absolutely delicious stout cake for dessert, served with vanilla ice cream, shots of Bailey’s and then topped off with Irish Coffee.

 

Auntie Kay with Luke & Sarah

Auntie Kay with Luke & Sarah

 

We set the kids up with DDR & HSM3 so we could eat in peace!

We set the kids up with DDR & HSM3 so we could eat in peace!

The gang & Fernando

The gang & Fernando

 

Sarah gave up while the night was still (fairly) young

Sarah gave up while the night was still (fairly) young

Janice enjoyed her seating arrangement between Fernando & Colin

Janice enjoyed her seating arrangement between Fernando & Colin

 

The girls having fun.  (Who's the biggest kid of all?)

The girls having fun. (Who's the biggest kid of all?)

Suzana & Blair

Suzana & Blair

 

The advert on the mirror.  (Ev & I had added the name of the B&B at the bottom and changed the date!)

The advert on the mirror. (Ev & I had added the name of the B&B at the bottom and changed the date!)

 Yesterday, we were moving pretty slowly and Evan actually slept until noon!  It was a gorgeous day, so after we got cleaned up, we went for a walk in the park.

 

The boys exploring the first falls

The boys exploring the first falls

Evan & the icicles

Evan & the icicles

 

Alex & the icicles

Alex & the icicles

Olivia & Daddy watching the water in the brook

Olivia & Daddy watching the water in the brook

Sarah, fascinated

Sarah, fascinated

Mommy & Sarah watching...

Mommy & Sarah watching...

...for the boys at the top of Jacob's Ladder (178 steps!)

...for the boys at the top of Jacob's Ladder (178 steps!)

When it got too icy to go any further, we took a family photo!

When it got too icy to go any further, we took a family photo!

Fun-a-riffic indeed!

A little too much fun

February 16, 2009

We went to our friends’, Janice & Blair, for supper on Valentine’s Day with Colin & Suzana and Karen & Kevin.  There was way too much food and drink and conversation and laughter.  Well, I’m not sure there is such a thing as too much conversation & laughter, but we definitely overindulged in the food & drink category.

D’Arcy & I had made pomegranate martinis, and took along vegetable samosas and Chicken-pine nut dumplings with Chili-Chili Dipping Sauce.  Colin & Suzana had brought along a caramelized onion tart and three kinds of sushi, and Janice (being the great hostess) had made smoked salmon pinwheels.  (Really, did we need supper after that…)  We sat at the table and had a gingered carrot soup that Karen & Kevin brought, then Janice had made chicken breasts stuffed with mushrooms, provolone, ricotta & Parmesan cheese, cous cous, beets & asparagus.  The meal was topped off with a three layer chocolate cake & fresh fruit and we got up from the table around 12:30 am!  Getting up to serve breakfast for me yesterday morning was not much fun, but D’Arcy stuck to his resolve not to drink, so he was in good shape.

We had a pretty lazy day, considering all the things we should have been doing.  I spent most of the afternoon reading a book (Firefly Lane), The boys did some skating on the rink with Maddie & Tanner, and we had a surprise visit from D’Arcy’s oldest brother Brian and his wife, Morag.

For supper, we had all been invited to my aunt & uncle’s house.  We normally go on New Year’s Day, but this year, between the weather & my grandmother’s death at Christmas, it didn’t happen.  It was a real treat to go at this time of year instead!  Aunt Jill had checked with me about feeding Olivia, so we had roast pork, squash, mashed potato, broccoli & bean salad.  She kept out Olivia’s portions before doctoring up the rest, so the only thing Olivia didn’t get to eat was the broccoli salad and the biscuits.  I had taken a couple of safe valentine cookies for dessert for her and the rest of us had strawberry shortcake.  Life is getting so much easier now that I’ve made the leap of faith to let other people feed her and keep her safe.  

We got home and put the kids into bed then watched The Amazing Race while folding laundry.  Today, my job is to get the house cleaned up and organized before this guest arrives for the next month, and get caught up on some of my work for the Bed & Breakfast Association.  My parents are coming for supper tonight so that we can exchange Valentines with the kids.  They worked very hard on theirs, but we haven’t had a chance to sit down and exchange them yet.

The fun next weekend will be of a different kind when the six of us head to Halifax for the Doodlebops Concert!

The Cost of Living

February 2, 2009

One of my goals for 2009 is to get organized again and go back to living on a budget, keeping track of what we spend on things.  When we found out about Olivia’s allergies & she started drinking Alimentum formula ($1.75/serving), I stopped keeping track because I figured we had to buy food that suited her diet, so why stress myself out about how much it was costing?!  It’s hard for us to set a budget for food and stick to it, because obviously we spend more when there are guests in the house.

I set up a spread sheet and kept track of everything we spent in the grocery store or in restaurants for the month and was astounded to discover when I totaled it all up, that we spent $1334.72 to feed our family this month!  Of that, $113.50 was eating out and $175.94 was on milk!  (Just cartons of rice milk, soy milk & cow milk – not including yogurt, cheese, coffee cream, etc.)  13% of our grocery bill is milk!  Crazy.

As it is, I don’t feel we go crazy on food, but we do try to eat as well-balanced a diet as possible, with lots of fruits & vegetables.  I don’t buy many snack foods or processed food.  I plan our supper menus for the month and write it on the calendar to help me plan and also so that I don’t get lazy, and instead of coming up with something to make, just order out!  Each week we make homemade bread & chicken stock.  We eat vegetarian at least once a week, and I pack lunches for D’Arcy & the boys. 

We do buy the boys lunch at school once per month (lunch is $3.00/day/kid) and they have made a deal with their grandparents that they can earn lunch money sometimes for being helpful to them.  It astounds me that parents think they can’t pack a lunch for less than $3.00.  If we bought both boys lunch every day in February it would cost $120.  That’s a lot of juice boxes!  

I’m not quite sure how we’ll cut back this month.  Fresh produce are very expensive here at this time of year.  Maybe more soup & casseroles?  I’ll let you know how it goes next month…

(On a similar note, we recently got our power bill and after installing the new CFL’s all over our house, we are using 13 less kilowatt hours of electricity per day than at this time last year!)