Friday, December 28, 2012

Potty Training {take 3, or is 4..?}

Silas is turning 3 in a few weeks.  After roaring through his 1's and commanding the world through his 2's I couldn't be more grateful to be on the doorstep of 3.

That is, except for the fact that we arrive at the door standing in a puddle of pee and with a plate full of stale food.

He has gained significant independence with a lot of things including riding his strider bike down hills and over jumps with ease, perfecting cartwheels and putting his own boots on.  In fact, he can say his alphabet, recognize all the letters, and count to 20.  He can recognize his name, says bible verses (to songs) and is determined to do many things on his own.  He says words like "particularly" and says prayers with heart-touching words like "thank you God for our family..."

But he does not want to potty train.  He does not want to eat.  He's determined to have the last word on these subjects and heaven help me, I'm not sure I know how to win these epic 'battles.'

I've tried to be more consistent and firm, supportive and encouraging.  I've even been doing some real work on my own control, anger and rage issues that apparently surface when Silas' whining and brother-pestering push me too far.

But this potty training?  This refusal to eat one last bite of carrot, or 2 last bites of dinner to the point of sitting at the table for 1.5 hours?  Well, there's just little left of me to figure out what to do.

We knew it was time to give potty training a new look and a new attempt because we know that he is more than capable.  Yesterday, our first day at it again (after a few months' rest) he successfully went on the potty all but 1 time [while he was sitting at the dinner table refusing to eat]!  He can tell me he has to go, take down his clothing, and do everything including washing his own hands at the end.  Then today?  Back to "I don't want to, I want to be a baby" and 5 pee puddles later...

Most of his friends and cousins are older.  How in the world do I motivate him?

I am trying not to ask him at all and leave it completely up to him- giving him full independence.  I am trying to not make a big deal about the accidents and let him lead the way. I know he is more than capable- but him saying he doesn't want to because he wants to be a baby?  Well, how can you force a child to grow up, or to even want to?  I dangle words like 'school' and 'big boy' in front of him, but it's no bait for his stubborn refusal.  I encourage and cajole, I applaud and cheer, but internally I am at my wits end.

Oh, and his refusal to eat?  What's with that? We've had ups and downs with this so I know that these things can be a phase, but it's particularly bad right now.  I have heard it said not to make it a battle, but he's sitting there crying at the table because "I'm soooo hungry" but refuses to eat.  I even give him food I know he loves- like bread and he refuses.

Heavens.  This boy.  I mean, will every single stage of his life leave me banging my head against the wall?  

And then there's Toby who went from sweet, dimple cheeked, innocent mr. blue eyes to mr. strong-willed flailer and feet stomper.

{Somehow that still looks 'cute' in comparison with potty training a 3 year old}

On a positive note, I'm eating chocolate right now.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


A few Christmas moment memories:

  • 100 pack of 'ball pit' balls on Christmas eve = 1.5 hours of quiet, brotherly play so we could visit with friends. LOVE.
  • Driving around looking at Christmas lights with hot chocolate. 
  • Apple cider, crepes, wine, and visiting with dear friends on Christmas Eve
  • new rubber boots from hubby
  • building gingerbread houses with Silas
  • handing out cookies to neighbors and Silas getting really into it "I want to do more!"
  • watching Silas and his cousins run around after each other giggling
  • snow on Christmas, for a few minutes
  • Silas opening stockings from Papa and Nana [brought back lots of childhood memories]
  • the 5 cousins dancing and performing an impromptu concert - hilarious (they're all under 5)
  • eating Nanaimo bars, cake, cookies, and buttery treats I've been awaiting to eat for almost a year
  • play-dough ice cream set for Silas- he is going to love playing with it as much as me!
  • scratch and win tickets. Is there a Christmas without them?
  • Silas loving Papa's Christmas lights "they're even on the roof!"
And the merriment continues...
Blessed. Relaxed. Full of Joy. Thankful for a family to belong in.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My First Weeks Back at Work

So it's official:

I'm a working mom.

My first weeks back at work were frought with the many difficulties that besiege most working moms, I'm sure, but were challenging for me to manage:
  • Silas had the flu
  • I had the flu and still had to work (feverish, nauseaus and all)
  • Snow hit Vancouver and I spent over 7 hours commuting in the car over two days of work navigating the closed down bridges, snow and slush, and unbelievably harrowing traffic
  • I cried, more than once
  • Almost ran out of gas while stuck on the highway
  • My phone died and I couldn't reach home
  • Had childcare arrangement miscommuncations
  • Toby had the flu
  • I felt guilty to be away
  • I was overwhelmed
  • I questioned my judgement in going back to work at all
  • Found myself at the bottom of two very steep learning curves- could I do this again?  Re-learn, again?  Feel confident in my job, again?
  • I said "I can't do this."
  • Did I mention I cried?
  • I was hit with a wave of emotion on seeing little legs running to greet me at the door
  • I acted like a crazy driver- weaving, honking, and racing to get home to see the kids [more than once]
  • Feeling the weight of incredible responsibility
  • Fatigue
  • High levels of stress and anxiety keeping me awake
  • My mind constantly whirring with all the needs my attention
Working Moms: can I please apologize?  For not helping you more, supporting you more, encouraging you more.  For judging you or condemning you.  For misunderstanding you.

I never really understood that you don't just 'get to be away,' but you bring your mothering with you.  I carry my kids and all their concerns with me.  I carry my work concerns home.  These worlds are intertwined with me at the intersection.  I never knew how much weight working moms carried- it's a lot.  Guilt when you're away, nagging gaps of knowledge and 'things I should do' hanging over your head when you're home.

I think the biggest surprise I've had over these past chaotic weeks has been realizing how much my home life has been in my tight-fist of control.  Finger by finger I am needing to let go.

It's hard.

I need to trust and entrust others to care for my children. I need to rely on God's strength as I endeavour in new roles.  I need to learn how to rest when I can.  I need to be more present with the kids when I'm at home instead of crazily trying to catch up on endless chores. I need to be organized and plan ahead.  I need to be present to listen to my husband and spend the time to re-connect instead of just passing each other in the halls.  I am needed, but oddly replaceable.

This journey back to work is so different this time.  I'm having a harder time leaving the kids and a harder time entering my job and feeling confident.

I hope two months from now I feel different, but right now I just think it's stinkin' hard.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Cards

I am a firm believer in yearly Christmas cards and letters.  I know, there are some haters out there.  

No one reads them, it hurts the environment, send it by e-mail etc etc.  

I just think at least once a year you should get something thoughtful, hand-written, and personal from those you love.  In. The. Mail. 

I love opening the mailbox in hopeful anticipation and receiving a surprise card with a great photo/update inside.  I love doing the same for others.  It's helped me keep in touch and reconnect with people through the years.

I've sent letters to over 150 people for more than 10 years.  

[Ooops.  I better get on writing a letter this year!  For all those waiting to receive it: IT WILL BE LATE THIS YEAR. I am usually way ahead of myself with new ideas of creative formats like hand-made cards, hand drawn cartoons, and the like.  But, having just started two jobs, getting a letter out at all will be an accomplishment].

However, one element that is complete is our photo.  (Hooray!)  Quite a feat. 

I am the worst at keeping surprises so I have to share at least one of the pics we're choosing from here on my blog.

This one made me laugh out loud.

It was the end of our photo shoot   It was a freezing cold, windy day and it was starting to rain.  The kids were tired and coat-less (for the sake of the photo, right?)  This was all they had left in them:
Humor-less.  Shock. Disbelief: You want us to smile for another photo?!

Can't wait to post some more soon.

[brought to you by the amazing Amanda Gregor]

Monday, December 10, 2012

Heart Strings

There are a lot of things about motherhood that come as a surprise.  

Oh, you read the books, you see your friends doing it, it looks a certain way on the surface.  But there are all these hidden things that you learn along the journey that no one really tells you about.

A recent discovery is the hidden string that is knotted from your heart to the life of your child.  

They get hurt?  Twang.  Your heart is pulled, tugged, grabbed by this invisible line.  They are scared?  Twang.  You realize that they woke up in the night and were sick and you didn't know?  Twang.  You accidentally bang their head against the car door?  Twang.

Then there's this tugging and pulling as your child needs you less or you are away from them.  The line is still there.  You think about them, you want to hold them, you miss them, and your heart is bending towards them.  You are connected in so many ways to your child even when you can't see them.

I've started back at work and I took on a lot more than we originally 'planned.'  Right now it's an extra lot because I'm orientating to two different jobs at the same time.  I went from being home every day with the kids, to be away from them most days.  

It's hard for my heart.  I am done my long 12 hour shift and I'm like a mean, mad, frantic driver racing home to see my babies before they are in bed.  My heart finally relaxes as I enter the door and a little face brightens, and chubby feet and legs race towards me. 

[Twang] I missed them.

I hadn't really fully weaned Toby before going back to work and I realized today that the hardest thing about letting go is the recognition that Toby doesn't really need it, or doesn't really need me in the same way he once did.  He's growing up.

Oh, he's still 1.  But there's this pulling of my heart now in a new way than before.  Toby must be so sad I'm gone all day, he's probably crying and lonely.  He's probably miserable and freaking out because I'm not there to put him to bed, to feed him and hold him.  [I come through the door] Oh.   He was fine.  He didn't need me.  He wasn't crying all day.  He's happy and healthy and glad to see me, but fine.  Oh.  [Twang]

Do any other mothers know what I mean?  You go a bit bonkers sometimes when you're with them all day, every day, but when you are away from them that string is tugging all the same.  You worry, you wonder, you pray.  Your heart bends, it aches, it leans, it pulls, it throbs, and it moves with the swaying of that little life.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

the Big 3-3

Hubby turns 33 tomorrow.  We're celebrating by me going to work.  Arg.  But we celebrated early and had a lovely brunch with family today which included much gluttony:
  • homemade cinnamon buns
  • blueberry topped cheesecake [which I was dying to partake of]
  • fruit salad
  • bacon and sausages
  • homemade quiche
  • marshmallows and hot drink bar

We also had a wonderful rest day together- out for a walk, to the gymnastics drop in centre for some family fun (the kids LOVE this place...and so does Jason).

We spent friday evening with friends sharing Jason's favourite meal: Mexican Lasagna.  
Arg.  I want dairy.

One. More. Feed. To. Wean....

[It's probably better I can't have it because this week we have been flying into holiday festivities and eating ridiculous loads of carbs, goodies, and amazing home-cooked fare.  If I could have eaten all that I wanted to...I'd be huge].  Maybe this will be my diet trick over Christmas?

In other news: hunting for thoughtful, cause-supporting Christmas gifts (suggestions?) and prepared for a stressful, fast-paced, steep learning curve in a new workplace tomorrow.  See if I end my first shift in tears or if I can even make it until the end of shift [ugh.  Back to work post-mat leave is impossibly challenging for me right now].

Friday, December 7, 2012

And then I made Homemade Marshmallows

Why have I ever bought them in a package?

Day 6 Advent activity was making this recipe.  Easy, quick, fluffy and delightful.
I'm thinking I'll make them with some peppermint extract next time.
Nothing like sharing a plate of these gluten free, dairy free yummies:
Since my last post we've put up Christmas lights, made ornaments to give away, and have had a few other adventures in advent [oh, and I went back to work].

More on the work thing later...but for now, while kids are napping, I'm gonna have me another one.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 2 of Advent

It was pouring today.  Simply pouring.  But we were determined to get a Christmas tree as part of our day #2 advent box.  Thanks to some helpful recommendations, we stumbled into Port Kells Nursery.  So beautifully decorated. Enchanting, dry, affordable trees, free hot chocolate and cookies, and dazzling decor for the kids.  What more could you ask for?

There was even a 'wonderland' section with anything you could possibly imagine to keep a child's interest- lights, trees, decorations, trains, like you've never seen.  So fun.

As for the decorating process?

I pictured a quiet scene with music in the air, egg nog in my hand, and a slow paced, lovely time of one by one, unraveling, remembering, and then carefully placing each ornament on the tree.

Instead it went something like this:
"Where's Toby?  Silas, don't play with the plug.  No touch Toby!  Silas- don't pull too hard on the beads, you'll break them.  No no Toby- don't put those hooks in your mouth- where did he get that?  Someone is smelly... That ornament is fragile Silas, don't play with that.  Why is there no baby Jesus with the nativity set? [We found him in a sock, in another sock, with a clippie keeping the sock closed] Silas- leave your brother alone." 


Toby was teething, Silas was over-tired and Toby skipped his afternoon nap but somehow we all managed to not get hurt, have a few laughs, and get a tree decorated.

And tomorrow while the kids most likely tear it apart, I will be at work for the first time in a year!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Beginning of Advent

Now that our advent boxes have been out on display for the last week, Silas has been rather impatient to start opening them.  (I wanted to encourage anticipation right?!)  Each day, "Can we open the boxes now?"  

He's been carefully touching, looking and peaking at the boxes and has been good about not opening them..

Today is the day! Box #1.

I'm so glad that its contents arrived in time via post [yay ebay].  Loving our selection of nativity scenes.  

He's been playing with it for awhile now!
My favourite: he loves hiding baby Jesus in the advent box.  And then he said "but baby Jesus is cold!" and "how do we make sure the animals don't eat him?"  So far I'm not sure baby Jesus has been in the actual manger. I'm excited to see what happens when we 'hide' the wise men far away tonight and each day watch as Silas has to 'find' how far the wise men have moved towards baby Jesus.

 What a great teaching tool for this age!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Sharpie 'Back' Story

For those who saw my facebook photo and wondered about the back it is:

We didn't deserve it.  But we witnessed a miracle today!!  We had become increasingly suspicious of Silas being diabetic over the last number of months.  He was experiencing all the symptoms: constantly thirsty, constantly hungry, fatigued, cranky, hadn't gained a pound in over a year, itchy all over, saying he "wasn't feeling well" often or "I'm so tired..."etc..  

I wasn't sure if I was just being a over-concerned mom or if my nursing instincts were starting to kick in. 

So we took Silas to our doctor last week and she did a random glucose check (finger prick).  As I worried and expected- his sugar level was abnormal.  

I was trying not to panic, but the thought of Silas being diabetic was overwhelming.  Not just because of the uncertainty it would bring but in some ways, the certainty (being a nurse and seeing what this would look like for a 2 year old).

We returned the next day bright and early to the lab to get his fasting blood sugar checked.  They wouldn't do it at the lab.  Jason then left for the weekend to Ontario so we decided to wait until afterwards to get it checked.

Having the extra time this weekend to wait upon God put me in the position to need to pray, believe, trust, have faith, and hope for healing.  

This is not an easy work for Jason nor I. 

I constantly battle anxiety, the 'what ifs' and have to lean heavily on scripture for comfort and hope ex: "God is our merciful Father and the source of ALL comfort."  2 Corinthians 1:3.

Healing is something Jason and I have been wrestling with over the last year: we believe that God does miracles today- and is willing and able to answer when we ask for the 'improbable' the 'impossible' or the 'unlikely' (in this case- Silas' full healing), but we also know that He allows difficulty to shape us.  Which situations do we accept and surrender to and which do we believe healing for?  Is the answer both?

This is a hard issue and I won't even begin to discuss it on this blog.  We've seen miracles before- Jason and I, and we've also been waiting for ones in other areas that have yet to come.  This is not an easy topic.  I've suffered through continuous physical ailments, I know.  This post is more an act of obedience to give thanks to whom it's due.

I haven't been sleeping well while trying to fight off anxious thoughts with scripture and trying to be still in the arms of God.  Hence the 'what if' post.

Another opportunity for faith, for trust, for hope.

TODAY we took Silas to the clinic to get his blood glucose checked.  The normal is 4-6 and if he is indeed diabetic, we would expect to see a high number.  Silas was super brave.  The result was 3.8.

I nearly burst into tears of gratitude.

I believe that God has healed him.  Oh, some may argue that maybe he didn't even ever have diabetes- but I know God has healed him and I'm gonna praise HIM for it.  We're gonna choose to press in and press on believing that God has, is, and will continue to heal Silas.

This has been an overwhelming time for us for sure: needing to trust God each day as I go back to work, as we leave our children in others' care, as I step out in faith to teach for the first time, and with Silas' health. 

But Praise God for His nearness, His comfort, His strength [in the waiting] and for His joy, His peace, and His rest [in the answer to prayer].

And...then I got carried away with the sharpie and decided that I want to visibly have a reminder, in ink, on our dining room table, of God's answer to prayer.  I want to continue in this tradition through the years so that His goodness to us is ever before us, under us, whenever we commune together at the table.

Monday, November 26, 2012


So I'm basically freaking out about the fact that in one week I am back to work.  By freaking out I mean:

trying to do some Christmas advent prep
cleaning the house from top to bottom (hopefully?)
making a meal rotation plan
shopping, stocking up, organizing
studying (or actually, blogging even though I should be studying)


It just dawned on me though, why am I freaking out? Going back to work means I'll be working into the night, be on my feet for 12 hours, get germs all over me, not know what I'm doing, constantly be multi-tasking, at peoples' beck and call...

Wait!  Stop!  That has been my stay-at-home-mom job description for the last year.  Phew.  No need to panic.

Except I'll be paid.  And have a coffee break.  And no one will be watching me when I pee. (Score!)

I'm actually dreading it more than I am letting on.   The very notion of carving out a new normal, weaning my baby boy, and being gone for much of December brings me almost to tears.  But then I breathe and remember that life will go on and that I AM excited about adding teaching to my 'back to work' jobs.  BCIT hear I come!

But besides crying, freaking-out and planning, I've been trying to distract myself from the inevitable return to work by...

[1] Attending our amazing women's Christmas brunch book swap.  Pinterest inspired decor, amazing speaker and song-writer Carolyn Arends, two new books to take home [Poisonwood Bible & the Guernsey...], incredible brunch food and a great entry into the Christmas season.  Way to go NLCC!

[2] Decorating for Christmas.  I love re-purposing old decor in new ways.  I have to say that I still adore the colour combo of gold and burgundy.  I'm not so much into the modern addition of purples, blues and silvers.  Not my style.
my mantle:
(p.s. the 'sign' is pinned to the back of our usual picture on the mantle. Maybe tacky, maybe brilliant)

Oh, and with the kitchen renovating yucks behind, I'm super happy with an open shelving concept now because I can jazz it up seasonally.  So fun.

[3] Taking-in extra kids.  But I mean, how cute are they?
(future daughters-in-law on board!)

[4] Baking
Dairy consumption is getting so close I can almost taste it on my lips (and feel it on my thighs).  I have been dairy-free for almost a year because of Toby's allergy.  I'm actually getting so used to it I was thinking of continuing to abstain...but then I saw this and this on pinterest.  What better season to re-introduce dairy into my diet? Good-bye self control.  

But this is still dairy free baking.  As you can see, Silas has a sweet tooth like mine:

[5] Re-doing my blog
Notice any changes?  Why has it never occurred to me that my husband works in I.T. and can do fancy things with a computer and websites (and therefore ask him to help me fix my blog?)  Or maybe it was my secret plan all along...woo him with baking and then sabotage all his free evenings with my own internet projects.  Mua ha ha ha.

(Notice any changes?)  Trying to think up a new way to make my banner and organize it all.

[6] Starting the advent madness!
Silas and I packed a compassion box the other day which was very fun.  I love that we prayed together and that he's learning about giving.  I need to be a better model of giving on a regular basis...
Yes, he is asking if he can have one of the suckers

[7] Chasing these crazy boys.

[8] Reading about random things.  Including (but not limited to):

All this to say: my head is full, my days are busy, my prayers are many and it's all about to get a bit crazy.  If you don't hear from me on my blog, well, that's why!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What if...?

Lately I've been overcome by fear and anxiety.  The 'what ifs' of living in a ruthless world have been hunting me down and strangling my contentment to the ground.

Love is vulnerable.  I could lose those I love in a heartbeat, in an instant. In fact, the very things I most take for granted (my home, my family, my health) can be snatched away.  Right now.

I've been overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of despair and uncertainty that this world offers as its foundation.

Wait a second, don't I believe in a good God?  Yes.  Doesn't He turn all things good?  Yes.  He doesn't allow suffering in our lives does He?  Sometimes.  That doesn't make sense.

So as a Christian, once I believe in God, everything will be ok right?

But He never promised it would be easy, or perfect, or well- that my life and journey would in any way go as I planned.  At all.

I have so little control of our circumstances.

But this, THIS truth is like gold to me.  Found in Joshua 1:9.  Do you know what is better than guaranteed perfect outcomes?  Perfect wealth and health?  Better than a guarantee of having no sickness, no disaster, no loss, no death, no (insert hardship here):____________?  Do you know what truth is better than anything this broken world has to offer?

I will tell you.
In a poem.

We'll call it "Ever felt...?"
In the alley,
far from home,
lost and hurting
in a place unknown.

Broken, beaten
by death's blows,
lonely, hidden
where no one knows?

Heart is aching and
throbbing with fear,
anxious, betrayed
no one is near.

Abandoned, forgotten,
stolen away,
ravaged and abused,
left in dismay?

Oh hollowed out woman
Oh child left in the dark,
Oh spent, wearied wounded
Oh broken lonely heart.

In all the dark places
Where wind, rain & woe
rattle the windows
and flatten you low.

In all the deep valleys
while swallowed by pain
when bruised and beaten
by life's ruthless terrain.

One promise alone
will be the flickering light,
will shoulder the weight
of this endless cruel night.

Wherever you are,
in the places unseen
whatever has happened
how ruthless and mean.

(here it is!)

My God, He is with you.
You are never alone.
His love and His comfort
Is your new home.

When all is uncertain
and the very ground gives way
Cling to Jesus, your only savior
in every breath, of every day.

No hurt is too heavy,
No fear is too strong
His arms, they will surround you
All the night long.

Be comforted and healed
Though life's hardness remains
When everyone else leave's you
He will stay.

There you have it.
I was wandering around (internally) lost and confused again because I was looking at my circumstances.  Life is going to be hard.  I will experience disease, loss, death, and will leave this life covered in mud and mess.

But my gracious God came into the mud with me and will stay with me the whole way.

All praise is due Him.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Back to Work

One whole year (thank God for Canada) at home and now IT is upon me.

Back to work.

I remember being very excited about this with Silas.  I remember feeling thrilled to use my nursing skills, relieved that I could have a few days out of the house, and I remember that at first it was hard- but then it was no problem.

This time?

I mainly feel overwhelmed.  It's been a 4 month frustrating, praying, discerning, waiting process of trying to find a part-time situation that would work for the kids and us.  I finally found two great part time jobs, but that means orientating to two new jobs.  At the same time.  Over Christmas.

Did I mention I haven't weaned Toby yet? Gulp.

I have had a few emotional ups and downs over these past few days trying to cope with all the changes ahead.  I've Worried.  I've tried not to worry.  I've been anxious.  I've tried not to be anxious.  I've stayed up late being harried and frantic: trying to organize myself without giving myself an ulcer.

I remind myself:
The kids will be fine.
I will be fine.
I will feel like an idiot for awhile but then I will learn the ropes again.
I will feel guilty at times when something's going on with the boys and I can't be there.
And every night, I'm sure, I will speed home (within legal limits) and get excited about the thought of seeing 4 little limbs running over themselves to greet me at the door.

It's hard, already, being a working Mom.  Half of me feels silly for not advancing in my career more.  Half of me feels guilty for leaving the kids at all.  I guess I should always shoot for 50% contentment?!

I was told that you cannot simultaneously feel fear and gratitude at the same time.  And that frantically thinking about something doesn't change it.  It will be what it will be.  I will have to accept whatever the new normal is.  So to counter the rising emotional wave of agony and anxiety rising up in me, I will hold tight to the many things I have to be thankful for:

  • Awesome friends and family willing and able to take care of the boys so we have to pay minimal childcare costs. 
  • An incredibly involved and supportive husband who is more than capable and able to watch the kids while I'm away
  • Jobs to return to- so that I can help pay for our living costs
  • A new opportunity to teach students at BCIT- so excited.
  • Fun, already planned Christmas advent activities to distract the kids, entertain the caretakers, and get us all focused on what really matters instead of my absence
  • Healthy boys
  • An incredible career, which I love, to return to.

This weekend Jason is away.  But it's also my last weekend with the kids before work starts.  So rather than dread his absence, I'm gonna choose to wring out every drop of the weekend.  I'm gonna savor all the moments, cherish all the snuggles, and live in all the moments with them and not worry about what's over the next hill.

Or at least, I'll try.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Monkey Party

Monkeys monkeys everywhere.  We hunted for bananas hidden around the room, spread PB on them and decorated them with yummy treats. We read monkey stories, ate monkey cupcakes, played with 'monkey dough' and Toby ate cake for the first time.  

Too fun.

Having a themed birthday may just become my new addiction...
 Loved decorating for this.  Will include a link to tutorials here later.

Happy Birthday Toby

I don't think a single year of my life has gone as fast as this one.
How is it that my precious, sweet cheeked, blue eyed, cuddly baby has turned into a 1 year old?

I cannot get over this kid.  In four words: he is just delicious, delightful, daring, and determined.  He is sweet and cuddly and constantly on the move.  We have a four chair barricade at the bottom of our stairs and he still doggedly finds his way through, over, or around them.  As soon as the outside doors are opened he is right there- trying to get out.  He loves his little hockey stick and cries when you take it away.  He climbs into the fridge or dishwasher as soon as the door flies open and if you leave a toilet paper roll or toilet unattended...well...he's sure to get to them.

He is not very vocal or excite-able but is generally quite content, curious and stubborn.  Try changing this kid.  No really, try it.  It's a full on 15 minute ordeal trying to keep him still.

He is right in the thick of things- standing with the boys, in the lego house Silas is building, hanging on my leg while I cook in the kitchen, and always trying to do what Silas is doing.  He can already build lego towers!

My oh my.  What a sweetheart, what a gift, what a joy, what a fast moving little life.

In celebration of this little explorer, we're having a family 'monkey' party.  I may have spent too much time on this and let my creativity go a little nuts but once you start making a theme, well...there's no going back.  Having a banana hunt, playing with monkey 'dough,' eating monkey munchies, decorating bananas, you know- all too much fun!

Here is this little hero:
In the sprinkler...  
Why not eat puffs off the floor? 


Goin for it! 

Can I? 
Neighbors' garden looks good

Clearly not understanding the word 'barricade' 
Helping me garden of course! 
This is often the look on Toby's face: perpetual surprise.

On a bike already?! 
Always wants to do what his brother is doing!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

25 days of Advent

Cause I can't wait any longer...
And here it is: our Family Activity Advent list.
Enjoy it.  Copy it. Take from it, suggest more for it.  Would love to hear what your Christmas traditions are!

1. Get out and play with our new nativity scene (got it off ebay). Hope this will pass on as a family heirloom.  Can't wait to have Silas play with it, add to it, and watch his face each day as we move the camel closer and closer to baby Jesus.
2. Pack boxes for our compassion child   Found out those will be sent in late November.  I plan on doing this ahead of time with Silas and reflecting on it on this day.
3. Have dinner by candlelight.  Bought some yummy Christmas/discounted candles from Bath and Body works!
4. Make Christmas ornaments!  I wanted to make this (too expensive) and would love to make this (yeah right) but with a 1 year old and almost 3 year old, we'll stick with  these (and these).  I also got Silas a little ornament set from Michaels cause it was easy, on sale etc.  I hope to keep some to have Silas give away.  
5. Invite friends or family to go ice skating 
6. Make homemade marshmallows and give some to someone working outside with hot cocoa mixes. (And have some ourselves)
7. Make snowflakes and hang them in the window.
8. Put up Christmas lights.
9.  Dance party to Christmas music [Looking for some good kids' Christmas tunes- any ideas?]
10. Watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn.  I found 'The Nativity' for a buck at Salvation Army (still new in a package).  Hope it's good.  BUT that will most likely be for us adults in the evening.  Any good suggestions for kids' Christmas movies?
11. Make gingerbread men to give away.
12. Go sledding with friends or family.
13. Stamp and mail Christmas cards - get my small children to help!
14. Cut down Christmas tree.
15. Make cinnamon ornaments to hang on tree, string popcorn for the tree, put up the main decorations
16. Pick an international need to give money to.  Look at it on the map, pray for them, do something to celebrate that culture
17. Snowman pizza for dinner and gingerbread (graham cracker) houses for dessert
18. Make and decorate Christmas cookies to share with neighbors.
19. Ride the Stanley Park Christmas train
20. Pick something off this list to do.  This site is incredibly inspiring and I hope to move in this direction... 
21. Make a fire and sit by it to read stories and look at the tree
22. Get hot chocolates, get in our jammies and head in the car to look at Christmas lights
23. Give away day!  To strangers, to family, to friends....ornaments, cookies, 
24. Fondu with friends, maybe make a birthday cake for Jesus [thanks Renauld family!]
25. Puzzles, games, family, food, music, cake, stories, walks, worship, celebrate =)

Not sure where work and regular life fit into all this [especially since I just found out I am orientating for two new jobs], but you know, we'll make a way.  This isn't 'stuff to do, and I don't want to 'make sure it gets done.'  In fact, if we miss a day- no biggie.  Just a fun guideline.

P.s. that other link I provided with the 100 list?  If you need a list to have this advent, pick hers!  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Advent Part 2

A few posts ago I wrote about the Christmas Advent Journey we've started this year.  I have been busy shopping, creating, planning and conspiring since then.  So far, I've compiled my 25 days of Christmas activity list (but it still needs some fixing), I've found a bunch of fun gifts to include and started collecting supplies for all the fun activities we'll do.  I also found a bunch of used Christmas kids' books (to wrap up for each day) and splurged on one new one.  I think we'll buy the kids one new Christmas book every year.  

But the main thing I needed to do asap was actually make our advent calendar boxes.

I found a bunch of cheap (1-2 dollar) boxes from the dollar store, found some christmas cookie tins from Value Village and Salvation Army (as well as some in the back of our tupperware cupboard).  I also had some old jewelry boxes my mom donated.

I got some gold spray paint from Michaels and hosed down the tacky boxes from the dollar store and bought a few sheets of scrapbook paper.  Then I went to work making some cute/scrap book style numbers for each box.

And presto, here is our advent calendar:

They were super fun to make and will be even more fun to fill.  I hope these will bring about a lot of fun family memories.

Back to the workshop I go.
[I plan on including daily/weekly collages of all our December activities!]

Next up: a birthday party for Toby who turns 1 in a week!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Busy Bags

An oldie but a goodie: 
This summer I attended my first busy bag making party. What a great way to meet new people, swap some fun tot-stuff and get my creative juices flowing.  

I made 8 of them.  Silas loved playing with them while I put them together:
This was the one I made: dyed pasta, cut up straws, beads and pipe cleaners.  

Favorite moment over the summer with it?  On a dinner cruise where few other families had activities for their kids.  It went longer than expected and I whipped out this 

Crowd pleaser.  Soon I had 10 kids surrounding me and fighting over pipe cleaners.  Good times.  

One received from my friend: cupcake decorating!  (Good one Michelle!)
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