Time For Thanks Giving…

October 5, 2016 at 12:03 am | Posted in Daddy-O, Depression, Food, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Fall is here and even though we can still wear shorts and t-shirts, it’s turkey time again. Actually, wearing shorts the second week of October isn’t all that unusual.  In Southern Ontario where we live, we often get an ‘Indian Summer‘ – a blissfully warm few days of gorgeous sunshine which follows the first frost of the season.  I haven’t noticed any frost lately, but it has been quite cool.  This past Summer was so hot, the cool weather was a blessed relief.

My Sister passed away last week.  She died from complications during a normal surgical procedure.  Saying she and I never got along was a mild understatement.  I shed about 5 tears.  Anyone who knows me, knows that is unusual because tv commercials can make me cry. Watching a particularly heart-wrenching episode of Grey’s Anatomy makes me sob.  I was despondent when my darling Dad passed away last year.  For my Sister, 5 tears.  I am free. Enough said.

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend and I’m hosting dinner – I’m so excited, I haven’t looked forward to anything in a long time.  I love cooking Turkey – the house always smells so wonderful that you can’t wait for dinner.

I told Lexy she was cooking the Turkey this year.  She’s a little panicked, thinking I was serious 😉

I wanted to post some of the side dishes I plan on serving.  I’ll add pictures later.  As I’ve said in previous posts,  I started this blog to record my children’s antics and to house some of the family recipes for them when they’re older.  As I found out last week, one never knows when your time will be up.

Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash

1 – Medium sized Butternut Squash, scrubbed and sliced in half length-wise, seeds removed

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Water (enough to go halfway up the Squash in the Slow Cooker)

In a bowl, combine Butter, Brown Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice, mix until combine and spread over Squash halves.

Place the Squash halves cut side up in the slow cooker – cut into smaller pieces if they don’t fit properly – note they will shrink a bit as they cook.

Carefully pour water down the side of the Slow Cooker making sure you don’t pour directly on the Squash.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until the thickest part of the Squash is very soft when poked with a knife.

Carefully remove the Squash from the slow cooker, trying not to lose the sugar/butter mixture or burn yourself.  Note, you can keep the Squash in the Slow Cooker until you’re ready to eat, just make sure the cooker is turned off.

Using oven mitts if the Squash is too hot to hold in your hands, scrape the soft flesh into a large bowl with a spoon, careful not to get the tough skin and stir to combine all the yummy juices and spices.

I used to just use Cinnamon and Brown Sugar, but I also liked a bit of Nutmeg flavour.  Then I had a brain wave and decided to use Pumpkin Pie Spice which already has both of those plus Ground Ginger, Allspice and Cloves.  It’s a heady mixture that pairs amazingly with the succulent Squash.  Just go easy on it, a little goes a long way.  I suggest you start with 1/2 of the 1/4 teaspoon first, mix it with The Brown Sugar and sample – see if you like the flavour strength.  If not, add a bit more until you’re satisfied.  It’s so good – even Lexy likes it.

The next dish is one of my favourites and can be cooked when the Turkey is done – if your oven is like mine, the Turkey will take up the whole oven.  This dish is the ultimate comfort food, dreamy vegetables baked in herbs – amazing with gravy or on their own.  The beauty of this side dish is it doesn’t matter if you have this exact combination of root veggies, pick your favourites.

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Large Parsnips, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Medium Red Onions, peeled and cut into quarters

1 Rutabaga (or large Turnip), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Yellow Fleshed Potatoes such as Yukon Gold (a Canadian invention by the way), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Carrots, peeled, cut into 1″ pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme

3/4 teaspoon dried Oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary

1 teaspoon coarse Salt

Several rounds of Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Preheat your oven to 450F

Place all of the chopped veggies in a bowl.  The above quantities are an approximation – you will need enough veggies to fill a sheet pan completely, but loosely (to allow for flipping the veggies during cooking).

Drizzle the oil over the veggies and sprinkle on the seasoning, salt and several good rounds of fresh ground pepper, mix well to coat.

Place a length of non-stick Aluminum Foil on your sheet pan.  Dump the seasoned veggies on the pan and spread out evenly.

Place in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes and stir. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the veggies are fork tender and not burned.  Stir and flip the veggies so they caramelize and brown on all sides.

Place in a serving bowl and enjoy.  Try not to eat too many before they get to the table.

The veggies will hold in a covered dish on the stovetop for 4-5 hours if you want to make them in advance.  They can be served at room temperature.

Turkey Stuffing (for inside the bird)

My Mom’s recipe, it flavours the bird from the inside and tastes incredible.

1 Package Pork Sausage (Maple Leaf makes a great Pure Pork Sausage just for this purpose)
2 Slices dark Rye Bread (Dimpflmeier makes wonderful Rye but regular sandwich bread or pre seasoned turkey stuffing bread is also fine for this)
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Large Onion Diced
1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
Ground Black Pepper
Garlic Powder

Sauté the diced onion until barely translucent. Add the minced Garlic and sauté for a few more minutes. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, place the Pork Sausage, and the sautéed Onions and Garlic. Add 1/2 Tsp. Poultry Seasoning, several rounds of freshly ground Black Pepper, and 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder.

Tear the bread into bite sized pieces and add them to the mixing bowl. Mix the mixture thoroughly but not too much that it all breaks down. Form into a loaf and stuff into the cavity of the bird (make sure there are no giblets in there first!).

When the Turkey is cooked, remove the stuffing – it should come out whole like a meatloaf. Slice and serve with dinner.

Dressing – for Outside the Bird

ingredients1 loaf Turkey Stuffing Bread (if you can’t find the pre seasoned bread, use a loaf of white bread and make sure you have lots of Poultry Seasoning)

Poultry seasoning (if you don’t have pre seasoned bread)

1 large onion diced

1 large clove Garlic, minced

2 half sticks unsalted butter, cut into slices – half for inside the mixture, the rest on top

4 packages OXO Chicken Bouillon powder and hot water prepared to package directions, set aside – note, you may not need all of the Bouillon; or you can use boxed low sodium Chicken Broth (Campbell’s)

Water, enough to fill the pan half way up the loaf

Saute onions until translucent and then add garlic. Saute for a few more minutes until the garlic is softened.  Remove from heat.

Make the bullion as directed on the package in a measuring cup.  Alternately pour a cup of boxed Chicken broth into a measuring cup.  Set aside.

torn-breadIn a large bowl, tear 1/3 of the loaf into small, bite-sized pieces.  If you used regular white bread, sprinkle liberally with Poultry Seasoning, then proceed to the next step.

If using the pre-seasoned loaf, scatter half the onion mixture over the bread.  Sprinkle some of the bouillon liquid or Chicken Stock over the bread and onions until the bread is just moistened.  The bread should hold a shape if you squeeze it in your hand, but it shouldn’t release any liquid. Add a few pats of butter. Mix to incorporate.

onion-bread-and-chicken-stockTear another 1/3 of the loaf and add the remaining onions and garlic and more bouillon or Chicken Stock as above.  If using the unseasoned loaf, add another round of Poultry Seasoning.  Mix.

Tear the remaining pieces and repeat as above.

Tear two pieces of Aluminum Foil and overlap slightly.  Dump the mixture onto the centre of the foil and shape into a loaf that will fit into the baking dish with some room on the sides of the dish.

ready-for-the-ovenPlace pats of butter all over the top and wrap the foil around the loaf so that the opening is at the top.  The dressing will steam in the oven, so the water can’t get in it.

Fill the pan with water, half way up the foil making sure water can’t  get into the package.

Place, covered, in a 350F oven for half an hour.  Remove lid and open the package for browning.  Place in the oven for another 1/2 hour.  The dressing is done when the top is crispy and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle.  So good with gravy 🙂

Another Goodbye…

February 29, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Posted in CKD, Depression, Family Ties, Kidney Disease, Miscellaneous Crap | 1 Comment
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The house is so empty now.

I notice it especially after the girls have gone to bed.  There’s no one pestering me for a cuddle-on-demand, or hoping to benefit from my nightly Cheesies snack.

For those of you who are not cat, or pet-person, stop reading now.

IMG-20141115-00850We had to put our Male cat, Maverick (Mavvy) down on Saturday. He was battling end-stage Kidney Failure.  Our Vet told me, during one of our many talks about his declining health, that if he were Human, he would have been on Dialysis.  We are very familiar with Kidney Disease in our family, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  In December or January, the Vet told me that any measures we took at that point would only to be to prolong his life, not ‘fix’ it.  He was trying to be kind, knowing what Mavvy meant to me, to us – yet he had to drive home the message:  enjoy the time you have left with him.

We had 15 good years with our Cats. Mavvy was pre-deceased by his Sister Charlie in November.  Charlie had Cancer.  She had a large tumour in her abdomen, the size of a man’s fist.

We didn’t know, until it was too late.

With Charlie, it was obvious that it was her time to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

My Bobcat

My Bobcat

She loved us unconditionally.

Well, as much as a female cat can love anyone. She was unique. She was beautiful.  She was snarky.  She was my Bobcat.  If you entered the same room as her, she would let you know you were on her property.  She would make a sound, a trill, her version of ‘hey I’m here’.  She wanted affection on her own terms, she’d walk over for a pat on the head and scratch under the chin and after a few minutes, would go back to one of her favourite spots.

Alex would say, typical female – she would leave after she got what she wanted.

There was no question that it was Charlie’s time. She lost so much weight, didn’t want to eat and could hardly walk.  The option of Euthanasia wasn’t up for debate.  She was running out of time and we wanted to spare her a painful death.  She deserved that.

Mavvy though, was my boy through and through. I fell in love with him the minute I saw him.  He was all ears and paws and had the most mischievous look about him – I knew he was going to be trouble. We were only looking to get one cat, a female, but then they showed me her Brother and that was it for me.

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(L-R) Mavvy and Charlie about 8 weeks old

The two kittens spent the first few weeks sleeping on my neck or chest. Charlie gave this up after a while, I guess when she got too big or Mavvy claimed me all for himself.  The two of them were inseparable.  They would sleep together, play and groom each other.  They were crazy cats.

(L-R) Charlie and Mavvy. He knew he was caught...

(L-R) Charlie and Mavvy. He knew he was caught…

The first Christmas we had them, they were about 3 months old.  They thought the Christmas Tree made a great jungle gym.  They nearly knocked the tree down one day in their excited obsession playing with the ornaments.  It was years before I could place ornaments lower than three feet off the ground – first because of the cats, second because of my young girls.

The first time we had my Father-in-Law over for dinner, I remember being in the kitchen, fixing whatever it was we were having for dinner.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my FIL’s hand reach out and grab Charlie by the scruff of the neck.  She jumped up on the table and helped herself to the butter.

They were little stinkers.

Every night for 15 years, up until last Friday, Mavvy would try to lie on my chest. Most times he succeeded and I’d have to put the iPad aside because he wanted my attention.  Now.  He would rub his head against the side of my face in greeting as if to say “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii” – even if he just saw me a few minutes ago.  He would ‘bark’ to let us know he was absolutely starving and we had to feed him.  Both of those things he also liked to do at 4:30 in the morning.  He was such a pest.  His affection knew no bounds.  His soft purrs were always so comforting.

After we lost Charlie, we were afraid he would go into mourning for her. He seemed for the most part, to be fine.  We could tell he would call for her sometimes.  When he was in the basement he would make a cry that sounded like he was saying ‘Hel-lo’.  I think at first, he was calling her.  We noticed his coat was looking scruffy.  I thought it was because he wasn’t grooming himself – Charlie used to make sure he had a daily bath, and she was no longer there.

Just before Christmas, Mavvy got very sick – he couldn’t hold his head up on his own and other things. We thought that would be it for him, but we changed his diet and gave him vitamin supplements and he seemed to perk up and be his old self again.  His coat was soft and silky again, like it used to be.  It was encouraging.  We (I) thought his problems were in the past and he could have a few more years with us.

Shortly after that it seemed that he was becoming Diabetic again because he was suddenly ravenous, all the time. Even after we fed him, he wanted more food.  He was also drinking and peeing a lot.

Last week he started lying on the kitchen floor a lot. The floor is cool and both he and Charlie did this near the end.

Thursday night he refused his vitamins and didn’t want his canned food. He ate a bit of Kibble only.  He also spent a lot of time in the basement, sitting in the chair next to Alex’s computer that he and Charlie used to share at night.  He wouldn’t come when he was called.  He stopped pestering me for food.  He would lie in front of his water dish, even if he wasn’t drinking.  He just lay there. I was actually worried he would drown if he fell asleep.

Friday night when the girls and I came home, he wasn’t there to greet us. Normally he would be on the steps, waiting for us to get home.  Lexy found him in the chair in the basement.  The hiding instinct had begun.  His breathing was rapid.  He couldn’t get comfortable.  I didn’t know it at the time, but we had our last evening cuddle.

The next morning Lexy and I went to see my Mom. She surprisingly remembered Mavvy and asked how he was doing.  When we got home, his breathing was worse – fast but shallow and laboured.  He looked worn out.

We took Mavvy to the Vet (our regular Vet was closed so we had to go to the emergency Vet). She told us it was suspected he had fluid around his lungs which was causing him to have great difficulty breathing. The only way to know for sure was to have x-rays taken and tests run.  She said he may not survive the x-ray.  We made the decision to let him be with his Sister.  One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  I feel guilty.  I hope it was the right decision.  I hope he knows how much he was loved.

Most times it was hard to find where one cat ended, and the other began

Most times it was hard to find where one cat ended, and the other began

2015, My Annus Horribilis…

December 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Birthdays, Christmas, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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To paraphrase Queen Elizabeth II, 2015 is not a year on which I shall look back fondly. In other words, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’, a horrible year.  I am very much looking forward to its conclusion.

There is an old superstition that you must take down your Christmas Tree before the last bell tolls on New Year’s Eve. Otherwise you will be dragging all your baggage and bad luck from this year into the new year.  I’m not taking any chances, my tree and all the trimmings are already down.

This has been the worst year of my life.  I’m not exaggerating.  It really sucked and seemed to be never-ending.  If it wasn’t for the love and support of my family, I’m not sure what I would do, I probably would have lost my mind by now.

In January, I lost a very dear friend of mine to Cancer.  Randy was also a work colleague and his presence in the office is sorrily missed.

Photo by Aurélien Muller (http://www.maclupus.net)

Randy Moreau – Photo by Aurélien Muller (http://www.maclupus.net)

It took longer than I expected to get over Randy’s passing, especially when there were so many reminders everywhere.  There were mementos on my desk and on my wall; passing his many offices within our work walls; having to look up something in old files that we worked on years ago – all brought back strong memories of him.  French Macaroons and expensive Italian Cologne still make me smile.

On the heels of Randy’s passing, I had to deal with my Parents’ transition from their last home to an Old Age Home.  My Father was very sick with Cancer and my Sister kept the details from my Brother and I, and it seemed that he had more time than he did.  The last few months of his life, he had no discernible quality of life.  He was unable to self-ambulate, he couldn’t get out of bed without assistance and was getting to the point where feeding himself was difficult.  His pain increased nearly daily and we watched as the cancer raced through him, eating him from the inside out.  He was so skinny at the end, mostly blind and mostly deaf.  When he was in Palliative care, unable to eat or drink, he still knew when we were there – I’d call his name and he’d reach out his hand to hold mine, and try to talk.  I know he had things to tell me.  I knew he was dying.  I told him several times not to worry, we would look after Mom.  That was our job now.  He could rest in peace.  He passed away in early September, on an incredibly warm day – and on my Birthday.

I have not been able to get over his passing, as much as I try.  He was too important to me.  He was my everything, he was my Daddy.  I miss him, terribly.   I had an emotional breakdown during our family Christmas Dinner and couldn’t stop crying and had to leave.  I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s good time – I felt like a fool.  The emotions were still so raw. My Mother-in-Law told me something that a friend sent her after her Mother passed. She said: your Mother teaches you everything, except how to live without her.  Truer words were never spoken.

Dad 1923-2015

Dad 1923-2015

My Mom has Dementia which is continuously worsening.  We can no longer have a conversation with her other than a few sentences which are repeated over and over again.  She’s alone in her Old Age Home and it’s far from where we live.  It’s like I’ve lost her too…

The next wave came in November, my female cat, Charlie was looking very skinny.  She was still eating and drinking, but it was harder for her to jump up on the furniture and she wasn’t as social.  She would still bark at us any time we would pass by close to her, and loved to be petted.  She had the loudest purr I’d ever heard.  She started walking less and taking more frequent breaks.  She would let me cuddle her for quite a while (she was not a cuddler, but she was too weak to jump down).  I made an appointment at the vet, fearing the worst.  That day when I came home, she was lying down by her water dish, unable to get up any longer.  It was her time.  I miss my little girl, my Bobcat with the tufts on her ears.

Charlie (2000-2015)

Charlie (2000-2015)

Charlie’s brother, Maverick didn’t mourn her loss as we expected.  He searched for her for quite a while and on occasion we could hear him calling her, probably wondering why she wasn’t answering.  He had become more cuddly with the rest of us – he was always my cat – he sleeps with me every night and more often than not, requires play time or food around 2 a.m.  He hasn’t learned that I’m not supposed to be awake then.

Last weekend Mavvy started acting funny.  His head was down and he couldn’t hold it up on his own.  His pupils were wide and he and trouble walking.  His head even tilted on a 90º angle for a bit.  When he’d walk, it was like he was on crutches, his front legs stiff and straight out, his head tucked into his chest.  He couldn’t go up or down stairs, he’d bump into walls.

We took him to the vet, who suspected a Stroke.  He’s currently on a decreasing course of low-dose steroids and he’s almost back to his old self.  He’s not ready to go yet.  I’m not ready for him to leave.

So after all that, to say that I’m more than ready to see the tail end of 2015 tonight and ring in 2016 is an understatement.  I’ve always believed, silly or not that bad luck happens in odd years and good in even.  I’m so ready for my luck to change … Happy New Year everyone, may it be a good one…

What to Do When Dad Goes Out With the Boys? Girls Night In, Making Cookies!

November 28, 2015 at 8:08 pm | Posted in Christmas, Daddy-O, Family Ties, Food, Movies, My Kid is a Donut, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Toblerone Shortbread Cookies to be exact…

Alex is off for his usual boys weekend involving much drinking, debauchery and Football, so I decided to make cookies with the girls and watch a Christmas movie (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) while drinking Hot Chocolate.  I dunno, but that sounds like a pretty good night to me …

Back to the cookies … I had a copy of my Mom’s Shortbread recipe around the house somewhere.  I found it after we moved my Mom from her Apartment to her Long-Term Facility this Summer.  I was so happy that I finally found a copy of the most incredible Christmas Shortbread that I had been searching for, forever.  Somehow, between then and now, I’ve misplaced the recipe and it made me very sad – sad to the point of tears, over a stupid recipe.

Last weekend I decided to try the Robin Hood Flour “Melt in Your Mouth” version because the ingredients, from what I could remember, were similar.  Damn they were good.  I cut up pieces of Dairy Milk with Crunchy (available at Walmart in the British Food aisle) and put them in the mix.  The cookies lasted until Tuesday. Except for the chocolate, they were my Mom’s recipe.  Mom used to shape the cookies into crecent moon shapes and  after they were baked, she dipped half in melted chocolate.  Mom also sometimes added finely ground almonds to the dough.

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Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) Unsalted Butter

1 scant cup Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup Cornstarch

4 oz chopped Chocolate (if using) or more

“Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take your butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking so it will be nice and soft. This will make it easier for the sugar to mix in with the butter or shortening.

Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until very light in texture, about 5 minutes.

Creaming butter with sugar adds air to the batter, increasing volume to help better mix the flour into the butter mixture.

Add sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine flour and cornstarch in a separate large bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined.

Flour straight from the bag may be compacted. To loosen it, scoop it out of the bag with another container or spoon before pouring it into your measuring cup. This will help you get a more accurate measurement. Level it off with a knife to make sure you have just the right amount.”

Chop one and a half of the regular sized Toblerone Bars into smallish pieces and mix them into the dough.

cookie and chocolatebatter 2

“Place ball of dough by heaping  tbsp (15 mL) on prepared baking sheets 2” (5 cm) apart.  Press down with a fork.

making cookiesmaking cookies 2

Place your cookies about 2” (5cm) apart to allow for spreading

Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.”

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cookies

Should be a good night 🙂

We might save some for Daddy when he gets home … maybe …

Last year we made a batch for the girls to take to their School’s Christmas party.   They didn’t contain either of the chocolate types because of potential allergies. After baking, the girls frosted them.  They were a big hit.

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Maybe Next Year, Santa Can Help…

January 4, 2014 at 1:29 am | Posted in Caityisms, Christmas, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut | Leave a comment
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As I’ve often written before, my kids are my life. There isn’t anything that I wouldn’t do for them, but this time I don’t think there is anything that I can do.

It’s often been said that my kids are mini versions of me. Lexy looks just like me but with brown hair and Caity has most of my features but is a combination of both her parents. I realized lately just how much like me Caity really is.

Just before Christmas, we were watching the Santa Buddies movie while the girls ate their dinner. There is one scene where the ‘bad’ guy, Stan Crug (rhymes with Scrooge) – played by Christopher Lloyd, is asked by a sick boy’s father if he would donate a puppy to his son for Christmas. Crug denies the request and says that if he wants the dog, the Dad will have to pay for it. The Dad explains that they have no money for the animal and leaves, dejected.

Just as the scene ended, I could hear Caity crying in the kitchen. I asked her what was wrong and she said that the man on the screen was very mean and it made her very sad. She cried for about 10 minutes until the movie got happy again.

I cry during Grey’s Anatomy. I cry at Bell commercials. I cry reading sappy birthday cards at the drug store. The stage version of Les Miserables brings me to tears. I’ve always been this way. Work had been very stressful this past Fall and I would frequently end up in tears because of the tough decisions which were being made that I had no control over. A friend of mine said that I was born with a birth defect, my tear ducts are too close to my heart …

Caity appears to have the same condition.

Tonight the four of us were watching TV and during one of the countless marathons a commercial for one of those ‘save the children’ programs came on, with John Lennon singing “Happy Christmas/War is Over” in the background. There were many sad faces of destitute, orphaned children on the screen. Caity started crying again. Actually she started sobbing. Hard.

I asked her what was the matter and she said she was sad about the orphans. I tried to reassure her but nothing was working. I pulled her onto my lap for a cuddle, which is the one sure way of finding comfort for her and usually calms her down quickly. She sobbed on my shoulder.

She lifted her head and looked at me and said, “Mummy, I know what I’m going to ask Santa for next year…”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“I’m going to ask Santa to give all those Orphans new Parents so that they won’t be lonely at Christmas”.

I told her that was a lovely thing to do. Caity surprises me sometimes. She’s only six, but she already has so much empathy. I’ve always known her to be a sweet child who doesn’t like to see someone upset or hurt. She will always try to help them, especially at school. Yes, she can be a little devil and the world’s biggest pest sometimes, but she has the most endearing qualities too. It is very sweet knowing that she has complete and total faith in Santa, that he can do anything. I just don’t know how he will pull this one off.

I’m sure it’s because she’s been sick with Bronchitis this week and her defences are down, but she nearly made me cry tonight. Alex rolled his eyes at us and Lexy said that we should try to adopt a kid next year.

Earlier this year, Caity told me that she wanted to empty her piggy bank and give the money to someone who really needs it. Maybe this is an opportunity to teach the girls about charitable giving. We’ll have to look for a good cause or two to support. It sounds like something we can do as a family.

My Girls

Happy 2014!

January 1, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Posted in Christmas, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Toeses and Noses | 2 Comments
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I’m sitting here at the computer, with a warm glass of Sauvignon Blanc (simply because it didn’t make it back into the fridge after Midnight), waiting for my pies to finish baking.  More on that in a minute.  The girls are playing Disney Infinity and despite having every character currently available (Santa went a little nuts), they seem transfixed on The Incredibles characters.  Lexy must always play “Violet” and Caity ends up with “Mrs. Incredible/Elastigirl“.  My hand is swollen – a result of my Boxing Day fiasco (more on that later too), and it’s difficult to type.  I need to ice it and elevate it.  Or have another drink…

Last week after Christmas Dinner (a fabulous Turkey if I do say so myself…), I made the usual Turkey Pot Pie.  This time, however, I used actual pie crust instead of Bisquick biscuits.  OMG it turned out fabulous.  Even better the second meal when I had leftover Pot Roast gravy poured over top – yum yum!  I said to Alex that I could probably turn my standard Goulash or Beef Stew into a Pie, since we both enjoy the frozen beef pies, or pub pies – so why not make them?  I made the stew earlier today and let it cool slightly before putting the mixture into the pie shells.  I’m thinking this will make a couple of yummy dinners this week 🙂

The fun part of the Turkey Pot Pie adventure last week is that I severely strained the muscles in my left Bicep and Forearm.  I was at Target’s Boxing Day Sale at the ungodly hour of 6 am to pick up a couple of Kitchen Aid Pot sets that my Brother and I wanted.  I was fine lifting the first box, but when I picked up the second, it felt like a zipper was moving up the middle of my arm and then the pain started.  It hurt so bad I started crying in the store.  I hadn’t been in that much pain since I fractured my ankle many years ago.  It’s slowly been getting better, but certain movements still make it twinge and I can tell it’s not fully healed yet.  The fact that my hand is swollen too is a pretty good indication that I’ve done too much with it today.

I’m on vacation still until the end of the week, heading back to work on Monday.  I’m putting the girls in daycare and plan on taking some much-needed time to do nothing for two days.  They were home last week too because of the horrific ice storm which paralyzed Toronto and Durham Region – luckily our wires are buried, so we weren’t affected by the power outage, just the massive build up of ice over everything.  If you haven’t heard about the ice storm, you can read about it here, and here, and here.

Front LawnThis was my front lawn the night of the storm.  Our pretty Birch Tree had snapped on two of the limbs and the other just bent over under the weight of the ice build up.  There was half an inch of ice on everything, including my Husband’s car.  That was a lot of fun to chip off.  The driveway was even more fun.  And of course, every place you could think of had sold out of road salt.  Hopefully it’s back in the stores by now.

Something like 300,000 people in and around Toronto were without power for more than a week.  Toronto Mayor Rob Ford decided it wasn’t an emergency and everything was being dealt with as quickly as possible to restore power.  The temperatures dropped to more than -15C.

It was pretty nuts.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say for now.  Hope all y’all had a warm and wonderful New Years.  Let’s hope 2014 is better than 2013 – the curse of the odd year once again over.

Christmas is Coming, The Goose is Getting Fat…

November 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Posted in Caityisms, Christmas, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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OK, so the other day I did some surfing to find even more things to get the kids for Christmas this year and I ended up at the Chapters website.  With it being less than two months until … wait for it … Christmas, they naturally are trying to sell us loyal consumers, well, everything.  Don’t get me wrong, I love and worship Chapters and think it’s the best thing since sliced bread, which is why I give them so much of my money every year.  They have wonderful things to browse through if you’re in the mood for ‘window shopping’.  But I digress.  While I was surfing their site, I came across the page for the Elf on the Shelf doll and book.  Well.  If that isn’t just the neatest thing ever invented.  I’m not even being a little bit sarcastic.  I literally think it’s the neatest toy/idea out there.

elfFor those of you who are not familiar with the phenomenon, basically it’s a small boy or girl elf doll which you ‘adopt’.  S/he comes with a story book which also acts as a set of instructions for the parents, presented in a way that’s entertaining for children.  It’s brilliant in its simplicity.  The story goes that the elf is a magical scout elf who works for Santa Claus.  After you have ‘adopted’ (read: bought) your elf and taken him/her out of the packaging, you pick a name that is unique to your elf, put the information into the book that comes with the elf and finally go to the website to legally ‘adopt’ your elf into your family.

The elves have no magic until after the adoption and naming are done.  After that, no one is allowed to touch the elf for Christmas Magic is the most fragile of all magic, and if you touch the elf, the magic might come off then your elf would no longer be able to travel to the North Pole.  Your elf cannot talk, but s/he listens to everything that goes on in the household.  Each night, when all the humans are in bed, s/he flies back to the North Pole to tell Santa about the activities at the house and if the children were good or bad – this helps Santa come up with his Naughty and Nice list.

The next morning, after flying in from the North Pole, your elf will be in a new location in the house and the children will have to find them.  This is a lot of fun, especially since the elves have been known to get into a lot of mischief when everyone is sleeping.

Yes, we started a tad early this year, but the kids were so excited so I thought we’d try it.  They named our elf “Snowflake”.  Last night she sat proudly on our fireplace mantle, listening to all the activity in the house.  Caity kept watching her.

“Her eyes don’t move, Mama.”

“Nope”.  I explained to her that Snowflake was very much like the toys in Toy Story.  The come alive when no humans are around to see them.

Then she went off to play with something and came back to check on Snowflake a few minutes later.  Lexy was much more patient, but still entranced with the whole idea.  They both said goodnight to Snowflake and welcome to our house.  They hoped she would like it at our house and would leave us a present when she left on Christmas Eve.

This morning when they were brushing their teeth, I could hear Caity ask Lexy “Where do you think Snowflake is this morning??”.  They came racing down the stairs and found her in the kitchen.  She was sitting half inside Alex’s Tea Bag container, legs inside the container and the lid resting on her knees.  Apparently after her long journey to the North Pole and back last night, she needed a cup of tea!  Alex exclaimed that all his tea bags will now taste like little elf feet!

The girls giggled like crazy when they found her.  This is going to be a fun six weeks.

Then, when Caity was getting dressed for school this morning, I was sitting on the couch watching her, but pretending not to.  Caity put on her shirt then ran into the Kitchen, looked at Snowflake and said “Pretty”.

Then she came back into the family room to put her jeans on.  She ran back into the Kitchen, looked at Snowflake and said “Pretty”.

She came back into the family room and put her socks on, then she ran into the Kitchen, looked at Snowflake and said “Pretty”.

Lexy was at the Kitchen table, watching the whole thing.  The final time Caity came into pay Snowflake a compliment, Lex said:  “For goodness sake Caity!  Stop trying to suck up to Santa!!”

I howled … I can’t wait for tomorrow. 😉

The World According To Us…

January 2, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Christmas, Family Ties, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Mostly because I haven’t had the energy to think, let alone compose a coherent thought.

Before I continue, if anyone knows how to turn off that damnly annoying little box that pops up on the bottom of one’s screen anytime one tries to change a page or for that matter do anything at all on a Windows 7 computer, please let me know because it’s driving me up the fucking wall having to keep clicking on the “show all content” box every thirty seconds!! Whew.

OK, that rant has been completed, here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

20130102-194730.jpgChristmas has come and gone once again and once again, the girls were completely spoiled. Caity brought home a bag of ‘Reindeer Attractor’ which she made at school. It was a brown bag which contained oatmeal and glitter and a label attached which had the instructions: “Sprinkle on the lawn at night. The moon will make it sparkle bright. Santa’s reindeer fly and roam. This will guide them to your home”. We had our family Christmas on Christmas Eve so Santa had to come on the 23rd, the girls and I went outside to spread the glitter/oatmeal on the lawn.

The girls were very excited and Caity was especially enthusiastic – it was very cute watching them spread handsful of the mix on our front lawn, then race back for another handful – being careful to cover as much of the lawn as possible so that Santa’s Reindeer would certainly find us.

20130102-200331.jpgCaity was very excited that night and in addition to the cookies and carrots, she left a selection of her favourite hand drawn colourings she felt Santa would especially like to take with him.

Needless to say, Caity was thrilled to find her pictures gone and the cookies eaten. Santa had come. And he even brought a couple of friends for George 🙂

Perhaps there is something to that Reindeer glitter after all.

Lexy and I had our annual ‘Mommy and Daughter Day’ last weekend answer it was wonderful. I surprised Lexy with a spa day and she had her first manicure and then she had her hair done, after that we went to Toronto to see The Wizard of Oz. it was fabulous, and the lead, Danielle Wade, was the perfect embodiment of a young Dorothy Gale. Lex was mesmerized during the performance and was a bit startled by the pyro effects and the Wizard’s freaky eyes. Lexy even found a way to amuse herself while we were waiting for the GO Train to take us home after the play…
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Things my Kids Said…

December 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, CKD, Depression, Family Ties, Kidney Disease, Miscellaneous Crap, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Yesterday the girls were talking about their beds.

“Well, Mommy has her own bed too” said Caity.

“Not really.” replied Lexy.  “she has to share it with Daddy.  We’re lucky, we get our own beds…”

—————

Caity’s crazy about monkeys. She has been since, well, she was born.  Anyone who knows her, knows that her friend George is most beloved and she carries him everywhere.  Poor George lost the stuffing in his middle quite some time ago (it migrated to his feet), and he can no longer sit on his own.  George is a good monkey.  He gives me a hug and a cheerful “ooh ooh ahh ahh” every morning when Caity gets up.  You can’t ask for a better friend than that.

For Christmas, Santa brought Caity the “Monkey Dunk” game.  We opened it yesterday and as I was separating the banana tokens, I told Caity that she better keep George away from them because he might eat the bananas and then they couldn’t play the game.

“Mommy…” Caity said, rolling her eyes at me.  “George isn’t real….”

————

Happy New Year everyone!  I haven’t posted as much as I’d like recently because I have been sans-computer since September.  Santa was a sweetheart this year and spoiled me rotten by bringing me an iPad.  I’ve put it to good use so far and despite what my Husband says, I haven’t burned out the battery yet…

Here’s hoping the odd year curse* is left behind us once again and a promising even year is ahead again.  I, for one, cannot wait to see this year pass, it was stressful to say the least.  All the best, see you next year 🙂

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*The odd year curse is something I have noticed throughout my life.  Bad things happen in odd years and good in even.  I’ve lost jobs in odd years, gained them in even.  People very close to me (myself included) have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses in odd years and ‘cured’ in even.  It always seems like if bad things are going to happen they will happen in an odd year (9/11).  Although My kids were both born in odd years, their births were both difficult, Caity still struggling with some of it.

Almost Paradise

December 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Posted in Daddy-O, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Entrance to the lobby

We just came back from vacation.  Alex and I spent a much-needed week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic at the Bahia Prinicipe Ambar resort.  No kids.  Just us.  Alex’s Step-Mom kindly moved here for the week so we could get away.  We both desperately needed a vacation after everything we’d been through the past few years.  I was exhausted – physically, emotionally, mentally – I had not one ounce of patience nor energy left.  I needed to recharge my batteries.

The temperature hovered around 28°C all week, it was heavenly.  Although the resort is listed as 5-Star, I’d give it 4-Stars.  It was really nice, but I wasn’t blown away.  The a-la-carte restaurants were good, especially the Don Pablo and the Bella Italia, but the Santa Fe really sucked.   By the end of it, we were tired of resort food and were so happy to find a Wendy’s at the airport.  Nothing though, could compete with the view.

We sat around the pool most of the time and went on one excursion – snorkeling and Stingray/Nurse Shark dive.  The ocean was too rough to go on the other excursions we booked, including Snuba and a Catamaran sail along the coast.  It was nice just to relax – something I haven’t done in years and up until now, wasn’t sure I remembered how to do.

Just gorgeous

the beach...

The beach was beautiful and with the exception of the crazy German tourists who nearly started a fist fight when we were on the transit with another German couple who didn’t seem too pleased to be bothered by the first couple, it was a great trip.  Alex surprised me (although I knew he was up to something) with a ring.  A beautiful three-stone diamond ring, surrounded on each side with four smaller diamonds.  When I saw it, I knew what it represented – him and our two daughters, my three monkeys.

We went snorkeling, held Stingrays, swam with Sharks and Parasailed. What more could a person want? The extra surge of Vitamin D really helped – so did the plenitude of Pina Colodas. Now I get to go back to work and face a gazillion emails and get ready for Christmas – which I can’t believe is only two weeks away.

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