survival

mombie

one of my goals this year was to continue blogging and blogging regularly. well, it is now march and i have barely blogged this year yet.

january hit and my husband was back in school, and single parenting commenced. his program is very intensive for ten weeks, therefore he devotes all his non-classroom time to studying and homework. now, i am not complaining. i get it. i was in university for five years.

all my “free” time has either been spent marking, prepping and answering so many work emails. plus, focusing on my extra-curricular philanthropy club (pkss) or just taking a break and reading so i could de-stress and relax a little. now, do not get me wrong, blogging is relaxing for me, but is if i had to look at a computer screen for another minute after finishing all my school stuff … well, my eyes were going buggy.

i have been in survival mode since january. my husband’s employment insurance took seven weeks to kick in, so grocery shopping was just going to the store and buying groceries. it was going to store and price checking every bloody item to make sure i was getting the most out of my money so that we could make sure our mortgage and all the other bills we have could get paid at the same time.

it is friday night and i am sitting on the couch relaxing, having a much deserved glass of red wine, and relishing in the fact that he has one week left. i can see the light at the end of the tunnel. not only am i excited to have my husband back, but baby bird, who does not understand why daddy cannot play, will be so happy when daddy is back!

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phew … i made it

fnj

this year ended with a real bang. we had a flood due to our washing machine. thank goodness it was after christmas, as we did host my family for a brunch, however it still sucked royally. needless to say, i was ready for 2014 to begin.

these past couple months have been so busy that i have not even had time to blog, which has been disappointing for me. i have truly enjoyed blogging over the past year, however i just could not find the time at the end of the day. i could stay up for an extra half hour and blog and be tired the next day, or i was just so mentally-spent from the day that i did not have it in me to blog (or come up with something intellectual).

we are still in the middle of the “after-the-flood” clean up and repairs (actually they have not even began), but seeing the house almost bare is giving me a renewed sense of clean up and refresh that fits well with a new year. we have decided to spend some time doing some home improvements (despite the budget being extremely minimal). we want to make our house really work for us as our little girl grows.

not only have we been thinking about resolutions for our house, but i have been doing some soul-searching, goal-setting and resolution-thinking. this is what i have put together for resolutions thus far:

1. continue to be in the present. enjoy my time with my daughter and husband without worrying about what else needs to be done.
2. accomplish what i can in the time i have, and be okay with that.
3. continue working on my working mom balance (i have really been struggling with this one since school went back in september).
4. continue to cook with whole and natural ingredients and clean with natural, home-made ingredients.
5. take more time for myself to craft, read, blog, exercise, bake and spend time with friends.
6. remember to be a wife too, not just a mom. i want to reconnect with my husband, and spend more time talking about anything (except our daughter, the house, finances, etc.).

my list is still in the works, but those are the main ones i have been thinking about lately. i wish you all a happy new year, and here is to your health and family. cheers!

grateful thanksgiving

keep_calm_canadian_thanksgiving_invitation-r1e015d4cb98b49079ab3b591f53ab927_8dnm8_8byvr_324

i am sitting here reflecting after a busy thanksgiving long weekend, and there is so much to be grateful and thankful for. we have so much wonderful family and friends that we spent time with this weekend, celebrating family, birthdays, friendship and life.

this weekend was so action packed: a ninja friend gave birth to her precious little girl c, one of my best friends celebrated her little girl’s first birthday, we visited both great-grandma’s this weekend, ate three turkey dinners, enjoyed too much pumpkin pie, watched our cousin k play hockey, and visited with so much family.

poor baby bird has been up way past her bedtime for four nights in a row, she skipped her nap on saturday, and she was still the life of the party tonight. tomorrow i might pay for it, but she has such a great weekend visiting, it was hard to tear her away.

we are most thankful this month for our veterinarian’s persistence with our furry baby, and allowing her to spend one more thanksgiving with us. we thought it was going to be our time to say good bye to k, however thankfully she pulled through her illness, and has a new lease on life. she is energetic after a week of recovery, and ready to go out for walks to the park and play.

a lot of love was felt this weekend, and it’s a great way to revive one’s soul. happy thanksgiving friends.

all is right in the world again

k

our dog, kali.

today our beloved furry family member came back home after five days at the vet. she is also relieved to be in the comfort of her home, snuggled into her dog bed, snoring quietly.

kali is an old dog, almost twelve and a half, and of course with old age comes health problems sometimes. she has developed gall stones, which are no fun, however they were not causing her the major issues she was having earlier this week.

essentially, she would not stop throwing up or having diarrhea for almost two and a half days, and after multiple tests, x-rays, etc. her symptoms were connecting to a bacteria infection proven through blood work, and possible poisoning, which we have no idea how that could have happened. with a young child in the house, we have barely any poisonous-type materials, etc. in the house, and if we do, it is locked away downstairs in the garage (where the dog never goes) or medicines are in the medicine cabinet out of reach to both dog and child.

nevertheless, our furry baby is home and resting after a stressful week. we thought we may have to say goodbye to our family member, but thankfully she is back home. owning an older dog comes with the territory of sickness and possible death, and we are prepared for that eventually, however we were taken by complete surprise this past week.

all is right in the world again.

kk

she is a beach dog. loves to suntan, roll in the sand, and swim in the ocean.

what a day

wow. today has seriously kicked me in the rear.

my husband and i were woken up at midnight by our dog pacing, and eventually throwing up. repeat that sequence at just before 2 am. except multiply puking by five.

so, my day started at 2 am officially. the dog and i spent some quality time together outside in the yard and in the kitchen.

we visited the vet right at opening time and had some tests done and were sent home with antibiotics. results of blood work will not be in until tomorrow, so i have been trying to make the old girl comfortable as best i can.

i have attempted twice to feed her the oral antibiotics without luck as she has just yaked it back up both times. called the vet for some advice because it has now been over 24 hours since she ate, and she is weak.

so i tried a third time and so far she has kept it down. please work antibiotics as i cannot stand seeing my old girl in discomfort.

baby is down (almost, she is still yapping away in her crib) and this mom is heading to bed.

g’night!

meatless taco salad

we were asked to bring a salad to a family dinner on the weekend. on that side of the family we have a couple vegetarians, and i am always conscious of bringing dishes that they can still enjoy. especially around thanksgiving and christmas, when turkey and ham are main dishes.

so, i opted for a meatless taco salad. this recipe was simple, and contains fresh ingredients. next time i would make my own dressing, however since my husband told me the day before the dinner we were to bring a salad, i was in a bit of a time crunch. i had a baby shower to attend on the same day in the early afternoon, and i have to leave instructions for my husband to throw together the salad.

he did a great job and the salad was delicious.

meatless taco salad

taco salad

ingredients:
1 head of iceberg lettuce, torn into 1 inch pieces
1 head of romaine lettuce, torn into 1 inch pieces
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of corn, drained
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 package ( 8 oz) shredded Tex-Mex cheese
1 tomato, diced
1 bag of corn chips, broken up if large, or whole if small rounds
california salad dressing

preparation:

in a large bowl, combine lettuces, red kidney beans, corn, black beans, tomato. mix well.

just prior to serving, add cheese, corn chips and dressing (desired amount), tossing gently to coat. serve immediately.

note: this recipe is from cooking with paula website, however slightly altered.

homemade all-purpose cleaner

clean green

i am slowly switching all my cleaners, detergents, etc. to homemade ones. my neighbour and i have collaborated on this endeavour, and we have made liquid laundry detergent (previously posted), all-purpose cleaner and dishwasher detergent (i will post this recipe too, but i cannot find it in my folder of recipes, therefore it must be at my neighbours!).

for the laundry soap and dishwasher detergent our supplies cost approximately $25 (CDN), and that is enough supplies for approximately five recipies. The recipes make enough laundry detergent for at least 5o loads and dishwasher detergent for 35-40 loads.

for the all-purpose cleaner recipe below, the ingredients cost is approximately $25 (the Borax is used in all three recipes). One recipe made two large spray bottles full, and half a 4L milk jug. Plenty for a while.

homemade all-purpose cleaner

ap cleaner

ingredients:
1 gallon (16 cups) hot water
1/2 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. castile soap (liquid)
1 tbsp borax
10 drops essential oil (optional)

preparation:

combine all ingredients and mix well to avoid small chunks. pour into spray bottle.

the brand of castile soap i purchased was already scented (tea tree oil), so i did not add the essential oils to the recipe.

ap cleaner ingredients

note: i read that vinegar is not to be used on granite counter tops as it can break down the minerals in granite (i did not know this until today and have previously used this recipe on my granite), therefore this cleaner should not be used on your granite because it does include vinegar. i did, however, find a recipe that is granite-friendly, which i will post this week.

camping with a toddler

our family

since i had chosen to go back to work part time after my maternity leave with baby bird, our finances have obviously changed. we knew a family vacation would be a small, local trip for a few years (we did a big trip to hawaii last october) while we adjust to family life and a new financial life too.

my husband and i love to camp, so we opted for a camping locally in our province for a week. not only did it fit our budget, but we both love the outdoors and want to instill that passion into our daughter as well.

so, after we packed everything up into our trusty little matrix, maddy, off we went on our family adventure. we had a fantastic week of camping, and visiting with some family as well. we went camping last summer when baby bird was under a year, and it was fun, but she wasn’t mobile, so it was quiet.

and i apologize for all the iphone photos, but since i was so focused on packing every thing for the trip, of course i would forget one thing … the camera. sigh.

maddy all loaded

we used every inch of space in our beloved matrix, maddy, and the rooftop box. i am a bit obsessed with organization and it was my mission to make this vehicle work for us, as financially we do not want a car payment if we went for a newer and larger vehicle.

camping with a toddler was so fun, active and just plain old awesome. baby bird loved being outside 24/7, she loved checking out nature, helping us cook on the campstove, visiting neighbours (especially when they seemed to be eating …) and sleeping in a tent! she had so much fun that on our first morning home she woke up and asked, “mommy, outside?” she did not understand what we were doing back home and why we were not outside anymore!

we started our trip at gorgeous otter lake, just north of princeton, in the town of tulameen. we had heard great things about this lake, and the drive alone had us hooked. when we arrived, we hopped out and popped down the lake immediately to give both baby bird and the dog a chance to stretch and move.

we were not sure how setting up camp with a toddler was going to go, but baby bird wanted to help so much, that we put her to work. she helped daddy put the poles together, and lay out the tent. she thought is was so much fun! let’s hope she continues to think this way when she is say, twelve? well, she did grow board of the setting up part and eventually we had to bust out some colouring. she kept herself quite busy with that and we were able to whip up camp quickly.

setting up distraction

the first night was a disaster sleep-wise.

come’on. it is camping with a toddler, you had to know there would be some negatives!

we were not prepared for how cold it got at night, so we were all a bit chilly that first night. baby bird ended up in our bed, as did the dog. you know how once you are really cold, no matter how much snuggling will not warm you up. well, baby bird and the dog were snuggled in between us, so they were toasty, but my husband and i did not warm up as well, or get much sleep that night. there was some crying (from baby bird, not us) throughout the night, as she is not used to sleeping with us.

thankfully we had wonderful and understanding neighbours. we chatted with them the next day, and there were three families who have been camping once a year together for over ten years. they all had teenagers now, but they all distinctly remembered the baby/toddler stage and camping, and shared some funny stories. they made us feel better about the crying every two hours, all night, that i am sure kept many of the campers up!

second night she was out like a light at 8 and slept until 6:30 … no issues!

here are some highlights from otter lake:

breakfast time

what is camping without bacon & eggs?

bike ride

ready for a bike ride!

thumbs up

thumbs up to a great ride!

beach time

beach time! we swam later in the day when it was warmer!

sheep farm

checking out the sheep farm.

next stop on our adventure was our favourite beef jerkey & pepperoni place. we stop here anytime we are nearby!

doug's

our next camping spot was going to be in summerland at the rodeo, however en route, we stopped in naramata to check out some wineries. we have done a lot of winery tours but had never made it to naramata. so, we knew we had to stop as our schedule was very open.

we picked a few wineries, but our fave turned out to be the one shown below.

why? they have a patio with fabulous views of the lake, fantastic all-fruit/no-grape wines, they welcomed dogs happily and provided a water bowl and treats, and the best part of all, they had a whole play area for kids with a giant stuffie tea party all set up! how do you attract families (with either two legged or furry kids)? you provide these kinds of things!

elephant island winery

their pear wine is seriously amazing!

great wine, great toys

parent heaven … thank you elephant island winery!

we camped out at the rodeo grounds that night and it was quite the experience. a friend’s dad runs the rodeo ground for the city, so we were able to have a nice quiet spot, with showers and toilets, right on the rodeo grounds.

rodeo grounds

sunset (top) and sunrise (bottom) at the rode grounds campsite.

despite being told there were rattlesnacks on the grounds, we were right in the middle of nature at night up in the mountains of summerland. we did not see a single rattlesnack (that does not mean i was keeping my eyes wide open looking for them every second of our stay), but we had a late-evening visit from a couple cowgirls on their horses and were informed of a local bear who was visiting the neighbouring farm. the bear did not cause us any trouble if he did visit, but we were serenaded at 2am by a large pack of coyotes. we could not even be upset about being woken up at 2am because the sound they were making was so beautiful and wild. it was quite the experience. and, if you see the photos above of the sunset and sunrise, we were spoiled with fantastic weather.

and no stop in summerland is complete without hitting up my absolute favourite winery, dirty laundry.

dirty laundry

this winery, like it’s wine, keeps getting better with age. they did some reno’s and have expanded. seriously gorgeous. we wanted to get married here years ago, but they do not do weddings … at least not yet!

next stop was mabel lake, near lumby. now, we had heard amazing reports about this lake for a few years but had never made it that far. well, we were not disappointed. we have officially found our new camping lake, and will return here as often as we can! gorgeous lake, beautifully kept campgrounds, and well laid out for families!

mabel lake

view of lake from our campsite. and the great green space for playing on!

camo baby bird

decked out in her camo fleece. the temps were not as cold as otter lake, but still cool in the mornings

slide

there was a fantastic playground at the campground, which baby bird thoroughly enjoyed!

tunnel

“time tunnel!” baby bird kept hollering this as she crawled threw. i think she has seen dinosaur train a few times.

family shot

we did a lot of walks, especially before nap & bed time. and maybe some silliness occurred.

downtime

snack time, and she’s calling her friends to come visit on her “cell phone.” it s actually a great little counting toy (she can count to five).

beach

the beach at mabel was fantastic! the lake was such a great temperature on a hot day!

on the way home from mabel we planned a short visit with my auntie and uncle in vernon. my uncle was diagnosed with blood cancer three years ago, so their visits to us on the coast do not happen as much anymore. so, we try to come to them as often as we can! baby bird and i visited them last summer, so they were excited to see how much she has grown! we had a wonderful visit with baby bird’s gruncle and grauntie (great uncle and auntie).

gruncle

listening to one of gruncle’s stories!

grauntie

playing dolls with grauntie, and snuggling!

we departed from gruncle and grauntie’s early to beat the typical summer weekend traffic home. we stopped at a farmer’s market to capitalize on the delicious okanagan fruit (the peaches are to die for), and made great time to kamloops, where we stopped for some fuel and lunch.

back on the road, we hit a slight snag in the “arrive home early” plan. there was a serious accident on the highway between merritt and hope, and we were at a dead stop on the highway for about an hour and a half. you can only imagine how this might be with a toddler. baby bird did so well during that time, we stopped in hope for a treat at dairy queen. she got a cone and we shared a blizzard. the dog may or may not have gotten some of baby bird’s vanilla ice cream …

surprisingly, baby bird was a real champ after being on the road for what should have been about a four and a half hour to five hour drive, which turned into an eight and a half hour trip home. during our last forty five minutes she started to show signs of truly being done with the road trip part of our vacation.

done

here is to family vacations, road trip/camping-style, and many more fun adventures with my little family!

a few weeks away turns into well … too long

backtoschool

since i taught summer school this year i decided once it was done that i was going to take a break from all things “work-like” and just spend my quality time with my family. it was worth it because we had a great few weeks together before i had to go back to work again.

i went into school one day before it officially began to move into a new classroom, gather my materials, prep my materials and make sure i have everything ready for the first day of classes, well, i only was able to get as far as setting up my room and gathering my materials because i could not connect to our new wifi in the school and do any of the really important stuff i needed to do. do you not just love technology for that reason?

so, this is what i was able to accomplish, plus organizing my materials.

room

and now it has been two weeks since school has started, and i had completely forgotten what a september, and back-to-school, looks like. i was on maternity leave still last september, and the one before that i was pregnant, so i do not know what i did … hahaha. basically, i forgot how busy it is, and how much organizing and administrative stuff there is to do.

and, since i did not teach this term last year, and i had a new course to prep last year, i had not had a chance to review and revamp my materials for the units i plan to cover. so, i have been working a lot over the past couple weeks on my days off when baby bird is napping, or in the evening, to go over my materials and give them some “new-love” for my honours kids.

plus, it is always a struggling to get back into a routine again after the summer. and, even more so with children. i know all parents can agree with this, but it is even more difficult i think with young children.

so, this is my apology for not blogging for wayyyyyyy longer than i had anticipated, however i had to make sure my priorities were taken care of before i could do some of my passions (my family & my job). now i feel like i am back into the swing of things and ready to roll into my routine again.

 

oh $%&*, we lost quacks!

swinging with quacks

baby bird attached herself to quacks at eight months of age. i did not think that a baby could be that attached to an object, but he has been her go-to for quite some time. he travels with us regularly to the grocery store, library, play dates, you name it. he even accompanied us to hawaii last october.

so, on my first day of vacation, baby bird and i head out for a nice long walk in the gorgeous weather we are having in southern bc. we walked to a new park and played on the swings and slides for a while, and then slowly started on our way home.

on the way home, baby bird wanted to walk a bit, so out of the stroller she came. quacks hung out in the stroller while baby bird strutted her stuff on the sidewalk. we had a little mishap and baby bird tripped, and unfortunately, scrapped her knee up. there was a bit of blood, and a whole lot of tears, and of course mommy forgot to pack a snack! i finally coerced baby bird back into the stroller and we started to jog home, however the dog started to act up (naturally). while i was untangling the dog so she could go to the bathroom, i did not notice baby bird toss quacks overboard in her frustration at the lack of snacks and movement.

twenty five minutes later we arrive at home and i let the dog in the house through the basement so she can grab a drink, and while i am doing that, baby bird ask for quacks. moments later i realize, oh $%&*, we lost quacks.

i quickly grab some snacks and more water and back we go to search for quacks. now, when i left the house at 8:45 am, it was hot out. when i left for the second time at 10 am, it was sweltering. here i am jogging back the same route, which was about an hour long return trip, frantically searching for quacks and trying to feed an upset toddler. her knee is still bloody, she is asking for that fricking duck and i am sweating more than richard simmons on his best day.

sadly, i made it back to park where we were playing and still no quacks! thankfully i grabbed a lot of snacks because i knew at this point it could be a long return trip home.

i am jogging really slow now in the 30 degree weather, and thinking, “if i were a duck, where would i have gone?” i am frantically texting my husband, giving him a play-by-play of my morning thus far, and providing comic relief for him and his partner. he told me they were killing themselves laughing at my text messages at dinner.

about a quarter of the way home i stop in a shady spot to rest, and baby bird is finally quiet. i think she is realizing the severity of the situation at this point. i am thinking to myself, “what the heck am i going to do about quacks?” i know baby bird will be devastated, and i think i will be too, because this little duck has become such a huge part of our lives, and he is her soother when she is struggling to fall asleep, dealing with a new tooth, or just having a rough moment.

i stand up and release the break from my stroller, and turn to see if any cars are coming so we can cross the street, when i spot that fricking duck. some kind-hearted soul has propped quacks on a sign post at the intersection in the hopes that the duck will be reunited with its rightful owner.

quacks

i nearly $%&* my pants.

i lunge for that fricking duck and kiss it. then wipe it off as best i could and pass it to baby bird. she is thrilled and keeps repeating, “quacks, quacks, mommy, its quacks!”

“yes kid, i know.” this is what i am thinking in my head, along with a few choice expletive words.

next time quacks is staying at home, or he will be on a leash. needless to say, once baby bird was down for her nap that afternoon i had a shower to clean myself up. and, once baby bird woke up, quacks had one too. yes, i let her sleep with the filthy duck. come on, you try to pry it away from her …