Friday, December 31, 2010


I haven't had a white Christmas for nine years and still counting.  I *thought* I'd finally get it this year when the weather forecast predicted SNOW on Christmas day, but it came a day late.  I was rather glad in the end, because it was quite a storm and a lot of people would have had to cancel their Christmas plans.  Oh, and when I say "quite a storm" it was just an average day in Ontario...but here, it's a big deal.  And I say that without mockery, because snow in a city that rarely gets it, really is a different ordeal than Canada, where it's expected, dealt with, and life goes on.

Last year we got several feet of snow in just a short time, and even this Canadian girl was impressed (though I was unimpressed that even several days later when the roads were 100% clear, schools were still canceled and stores were closed...but that's a whole other story).  We were definitely unprepared for that storm.  The highways were a mess and John ended up spending two nights in the city because he couldn't get home.  When he did get back, shoveling himself in was quite a chore.  Shoveling himself out the following day, after yet another big dumping was an even bigger chore.  It took several hours.  The snow was heavy, and the plows went by (we park on the street, usually) and packed the snow in even harder around the car.  I insisted that most of the problem was a lousy shovel.  Seriously- it was lousy.

So this year, when my mom asked what John could use for his birthday in June, I said a snow shovel!!  Dad bought one that he really likes from the lumber yard he works for, and they bought a small red shovel for Joshua to help.  This, of course, thrilled Joshua to bits and pieces.

John's new shovel DID make a difference this year.  He likes it.  He also likes having Joshua by his side.  And by the way, his poor bare hands aren't really poor bare hands.  It was 55F that day and the snow was already melting when I took this picture.  

He hates his mittens; then again, I made a bad choice in style.  They have the fingerless gloves under the mitten-ed flip-top and they're a pain to get on.  The whole ordeal leaves Joshua quite frustrated.  I'm going to have to find another pair.  His current ones will be better next year.  

I'm loving the snow- it's so much prettier outside when a blanket of white snow covers an otherwise bleak and wintery world.  And maybe next year we will have a white Christmas!  Or perhaps we'll just have to go north to find it.  (I doubt it though- I'm not that desperate)

Happy Birthday Jesus

About three week before Christmas, we started telling Joshua that Christmas was coming and telling him what it was about.  When we explained that Christmas was the day we celebrate Jesus' birthday, Joshua wanted to make a cake.  I already have a gazillion things on my list of things to do in the kitchen, and the only way I could have a fresh cake ready on Christmas day was to premix the dry ingredients or go boxed.  I'm glad I chose boxed, because I really did end up running short on time.

While we were grocery shopping, to told Joshua to pick out one of the cakes from the Betty Crocker shelf.  Of course, he had to pick pink.  Nothing against pink- but EVERYTHING against a fake strawberry-flavored box cake.  But this was Joshua's project, so the pink cake went in the cart, followed by pink icing and a small jar of sprinkles.

On Christmas night, John took Joshua upstairs for a bath and bed, and I remembered the cake.  So he came back down in his pajamas and helped me cut and serve the cake before bedtime.  Instead of singing happy birthday, we prayed and thanked God for the precious gift He gave us 2000 years ago when He came in the form up a baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths.  

What a gift that was.

Christmas Holidays Part Two

The holidays are over.  My family returned to Canada.  John's work schedule is back to normal. The tree will be coming down as soon as I get out to buy a plastic storage bin for all the ornaments.  All that remains of my Christmas cooking is a bit of turkey in the freezer.  Even the broth from the turkey carcass is gone; I made potato & cabbage soup for lunch on the last day of my family's visit.  All that's left is that little bit of turkey, a tree that needs to come down....and a bunch of memories.  They're good memories, though, and it was a fun Christmas.

My parents, and my brother Derek arrived on Christmas Eve, just in time for dinner.  I had cranberry meatballs in the crock pot, and a variety of finger foods already made in the fridge.  There were fiesta pinwheels, hummus and mini pitas, artichoke & spinach dip with pita chips, antipasto pasta salad, veggies & dip, and I sliced up the leftover summer sausage that didn't make it to the antipasto salad.  Finger foods are so fun, and I would have enjoyed doubling my list for the pure enjoyment of making them, but there were only five adults to eat the spread.

After our meal, we took a drive for Joshua to see the Christmas lights.  Derek was sick, so he stayed behind. We stuck to a nearby neighborhood so we could get Joshua to bed at an early hour.  He doesn't sleep when he knows Grandma and Papa Jim are around, and he's pretty exhausted by the end of a visit, so we try and counteract the early mornings with reasonably early bedtimes.  I wish I could say it was successful.

When we got back to the house (Derek was still alive, for those who might be wondering ;-)), John put Joshua to bed and I whipped up a buffalo chicken dip- a recipe I've been wanting to try for over a year- and then we watched a Christmas movie.  

Here's the tree before we went to bed.  I guess nobody felt like wrapping this year!  We did wrap a few things for Joshua because I thought it would be more fun for him to rip open the wrapping paper, but you can't see them in this picture.

Joshua had gone to bed very excited about Christmas, but the gifts were secondary to having his grandparents around, so there was time to brew a pot of coffee and set out the coffee cake, fruit and cheese for breakfast.  We didn't eat right away, but I wanted to have it ready so I didn't have to miss out on the fun of watching Joshua with his new toys because I was in the kitchen making breakfast!

Most of the gifts were for Joshua, John got a new shirt and tools from Derek, and a coffee press from my parents.  Derek gave me this nifty loose-leaf tea pot that actually strains the tea out through the bottom of the pot when it's set on top of a cup.  It's hard to describe, but is cool enough that it might earn its very own blog post one day. ;-)  My parents gave me a calendar, after seeing me go a whole year without getting around to buying one for 2010, and a joint gift to John and I: an ICE CREAM MAKER!!  I have been eying up ice cream makers for several months now, because I found some recipes for coconut milk ice cream sweetened with agave nectar: guilt-free ice cream.  

Anyway, moving on.  John and I went Christmas shopping for Joshua the week before Christmas, and it was hard to resist pulling everything off the shelves.  There were so many fun things that I knew he would enjoy.  But I never want to over-do Christmas where the emphasis is on the gifts; and I don't want to raise expectations that we can't meet from one year to the next; and Joshua is so young, he could be easily overwhelmed with too many things.  So we basically put a bunch of stuff in the cart, and when we were done shopping, we went through everything we had grabbed and re-evaluated.  We eliminated nearly everything (which was the plan), and ended up giving Joshua a red bean bag chair, one new train, and a kit to make his own tool box, since he's always running for his 'hammer' and 'screwdriver' when John's doing work around the house.  We knew there would be enough toys from the rest of the family.

                                                      We did stockings, too- they are so fun.  

My parents gave Joshua a hot wheel track and it *almost* rivals the train table.  Not quite, though. :-)

Flint (my parent's dog) liked to lie on top of the hot wheels track, and Joshua, whether he was playing with track or not, got quite upset about it.

Yes, Joshua spent the day in his shirt and underwear.  In case you were wondering.  We are in the throes of potty-training.  Doesn't make the prettiest pictures, but life must go on, be it Christmas or not.

A new floor puzzle from Nanny and Bunky: (Joshua's great-grandparents)

The turkey didn't have to go into the oven until 1:30pm and the day ended up being very low-key and relaxing, as did the rest of the week.

On Monday, we were supposed to take Joshua to Disney on Ice: Toy Story 3.  John got free tickets at work for us and Raina and Andrew.  For the week prior to Christmas, Joshua had been complaining of a sore throat and we were giving him regular doses of a homeopathic cold remedy from CVS.  I've used it before, during his colds, and it seemed ineffective.  I kind of expected it to be, because it was homeopathic and I have no faith in homeopathy, but since other medicines are not an option, I figured it didn't hurt.  There's no way of knowing if he got any relief from it.

Well, it would seem that catching the cold early made the medicine much more effective.  Joshua's cold never broke out this time.  Then on Monday, when we'd gone the whole previous day without giving him the cold stuff, he woke up sneezing non-stop and with a runny nose.  Miserable on top of that.  We canceled our tickets and started the homeopathy again. the afternoon his cold was seemingly gone.  Not a sniffle in sight.  

A week has passed since then, and we are still hearing complaints of a sore throat and Joshua coughs about three times a day- just a little throat clearing, really.  This cold is very anxious to stick around.  It seems the homeopathy is keeping it dormant, but I need something to kick it down.  We're going to buy unpasteurized honey today, and see if a few teaspoons of that will help; and some spirulina mixed with apple sauce for lots of extra vitamins.  

Anyway, I'm impressed that we've held a cold at bay for two weeks now, especially when Uncle Derek brought his own dose of germs.  I'm sure it won't always be possible to avoid a cold, but it's nice that Joshua was healthy for Christmas.

How was YOUR Christmas?  :-) 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Holidays Part One

I've started several blog posts in the last couple of days, and quite obviously, never get as far as finishing them to the point of posting.  John should be walking through the door any minute now, which means that this one may not get posted either, but I'll try.

John's Christmas holidays started on Saturday when we slept in.  Even Joshua.  As soon as we were showered and ready to face the world, we went to a Christmas event hosted at our community firehouse.  It was announced the previous evening by a long line of fire trucks and police cars, who came slowly down the streets of our town, blasting their sirens and thrilling Joshua to no end with their big display of flashing lights and noise.  We stood outside, in the cold, watching as the trucks drove slowly out of sight.

At the firehouse on Saturday, there was a Santa and Mrs. Clause.  I guess we should have realized that's what it would be, but we were halfway through the lineup by the time we did.  We aren't doing the whole Santa thing with Joshua- but we aren't opposed to letting him sit in Santa's lap, full knowing that it's make-believe and that he won't be squeezing his way down our chimney any time soon.  So, he did.  And he was pretty scared of the jolly old fellow.  Facing his fears paid of in the end, though, when he received a Handy Manny car to assemble and play with, and a hot dog and soft pretzel for lunch.

Some people were sitting around eating their food, and we could have mingled, too, but we had still more to do that day and quickly made our way back to the van.  We made a quick stop at the grocery store so I could make a Greek salad to take with us to John's parents that night.

Nancy (John's step-mom) was hosting a birthday party for three family members: John's sister, Jen, his nephew Logan, and his Dad.  She ordered a bunch of Armenian food, cooked a turkey breast and a few other things that all quickly disappeared.  It kind of turned into a combined birthday/Christmas thing, where everyone exchanged gifts.

I tried to take pictures, but only got one that's remotely worth keeping.  The living room is small, and with fourteen people crammed into it, there wasn't much space for taking any.  I snapped this one while the birthday cake was being cut.  It doesn't even have everybody in it.

We stayed later than we expected to- which means we had a good time.  When we got Joshua to bed, he
was more than ready for it, which meant lots of crying and tears before getting him to sleep.  Funny how the more tired he is, the harder it is to get him to sleep.  I'm just waiting for the day when it clicks: Sleep Is Good!

On Sunday, we dropped Joshua off at his cousin's house and did some Christmas shopping.  Can't sneak things into the cart unnoticed anymore!  I'm kind of glad of it though- I love that it gave a reason (not that one always needs a reason) to spend time with his family, and he had such a good time!  They're so good with him.

John and I finished all of our shopping, except for my dad, who we took care of the following day.  When we got home, we decided to keep Joshua awake, as it was too late for his nap.  This one, seemingly innocent decision cost us any relaxation we may have desire for the rest of the evening.  My calm, happy child turned into an overtired little monster who I managed to calm only by constant cuddling in my big over-sized recliner.  Not a bad thing in the end- I love cuddle time. :-)

Monday went by so fast- I can barely remember what we did.  We found my dad's Christmas present at JC Penney's.  Picked up a few groceries.  Organized the bedrooms upstairs for when my family comes on Christmas Eve.  Today was much of the same.  John and Joshua did our big grocery shopping which will last us for two weeks, right through my family's visit, and I stayed home to finish the cleaning and do some cooking for our itty bitty freezer.  I feel the next couple of days closing in on me as Christmas comes closer.  I have to take so many breaks.  It's frustrating.  But I THINK I've learned from years past, and started early enough this year that I will be ready in time, and the week should go off without a glitch.  Ha.

Joshua started sleeping in his big boy bed again.  Actually, it's a different bed.  Rather than put him in a whole new twin sized bed like last time, when he refused to sleep in it....we just took the rail off his crib and turned it into a daybed.  Same bed, different idea.  He loves it and was so excited when we told him what we were doing.  He helped John turn the screwdriver.  And then he slept in it ALL night, which shocked me, as lately he's been waking up around two every morning wanting to cuddle with me...which he's allowed to do because he's still pretty young and personally, I'm not up to the whole get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night thing to get him back in bed and wait out his screaming and crying when he's lonely.  And even if I was, I can't because my joints make me feel ninety years old when I get up in the night.  I've got myself covered. :-P

When Joshua finally did wake up, it was eight-thirty in the morning, and he came into our room with his pillow and blankie and just wanted to cuddle.  So we put him between us and we all feel asleep for another hour.  I think he's finally catching up on the lack of sleep from our vacation in Canada.

That just about puts me up to date.  John is watching the last few minutes of the Amazing Race and I'm just relishing this quiet evening with the twinkling lights on the tree, my vanilla scent candle burning on the end table and smelling oh-so-good, a hot cup of peppermint tea...a great end to a busy day.

Oh, I nearly forgot.  One of the things I've always wanted to do is learn to make six-pointed snowflakes.  So this Christmas, I did.  I was pretty happy about that.  Made a whole bunch of them and hung them from the kitchen ceiling.

Some of them are nicer than others.  After the first half dozen, I started to get the hang of it- where to cut and where to fold, etc.  Our home is so Christmas-y this year.  I love it.  We even hung lights outside the house.  This is the first time I've had lights hanging around the roof, of all the places I've lived, even if it's just a tiny part of the porch and not the whole house.  I'm okay with that.  They're pretty.

I may be back before Christmas, but in case I'm not:


Monday, December 13, 2010

Tree Time!

Last year, our Christmas tree was a bitty little table-top thing.  I had my heart set on a real one for this year.  There's nothing better than the fresh scent of pine, the vibrant green needles and thick, full branches of a real, live Christmas tree. 

On the long ten-hour ride back from Canada on Saturday night, we decided to stop for a tree before going home.  I didn't want to wait another day!  It helped break up the monotony of the ride for Joshua, giving him something to look forward to, when he finally lost his sanity during the final two-hours of our trip.  

Growing up, we always drove way out to the country and cut our own tree.  The whole experience was fun: searching through rows of trees for the best one; Dad cutting it down with his old wood-handled saw; piling on the horse-drawn sleigh to take it back to the car; drinking hot chocolate at the tree-store; petting the animals on the farm; the long drive home.  It was perfect.  In the earlier years, we always went with friends, which added to the excitement.

I've always wanted my child/ren to experience the same thing, and with several tree farms in the area, it will be possible in the future...but this year, we settled for good ole' Home Depot.  We found a tall, narrow fir about six feet high, though we first had to tear the living room apart, moving things around and putting some furniture downstairs in order to make it fit.

Once we got it home, John set it up right away so the branches would fall for the following evening.  

I let Joshua put one ornament on the tree, since he didn't quite understand why he had to wait.  I gave him my new Tim Horton ornament and he said he wanted to put it "up there."  John lifted him so he could point to the exact spot he wanted and....well, it was the very top of the tree.  So Tim Hortons it was.

Joshua loves to help his Daddy do work around the house with his toy tools, and he was there, faithful as always, to make sure John got the nails in okay around the door frame. ;-)

Before we did any tree decorating, we drove to Starbucks for drinks.  We got a child-sized, child-temperature hot chocolate for Joshua.  We didn't tell him what it was before he took his first sip, but he looked up and asked, "Is there chocolate in it?"  He drank most of it, so I assume it was good. =)

Finally time to decorate!!

The finished results:

I still used our table-top tree from last year, too, and just added a few small gold ball ornaments.  If I find some cheap cream colored ribbon, I'll add that, too:

Yes, there are three different colored strands of lights.  Green, red, and green-and-red.  I don't remember having such...variety...on our Christmas tree two years ago, but since we had 'em, I used 'em.

I'm so excited about Christmas this year; it's the first one where Joshua actually understands what's going on, and though it's not technically his first Christmas, it pretty much is.  It's going to be fun!  =)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

When I should have been cleaning the house, Joshua's friend came over to play.  And when I should have been packing my suitcase, Joshua and I baked cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies with red and green M&Ms.  After I put him to bed (one-and-a-half-hours late), I spent the next 45 minutes looking for his water bottle (all his sippy cups broke within two days...guess they were getting old and brittle).  Joshua spent that 45 minutes wide awake, waiting for the water bottle.  I finally found it inside one of his toy cars.

Now, when I should be frantically running around the house, trying to get everything together before we leave in the morning, I am blogging.  With my feet up.  Because they are so swollen I can't stand on them.  And because my back is on fire (figuratively speaking).  This paragraph has nothing to do with anything, except to explain why I am talking about a lack of time, when I am obviously *wasting* some of it by writing on my blog.  In case you were wondering.

I'm okay with all of this.  Joshua is only a child once, and I only have him with me for a 'few' short years.  He's been waiting for his friend to come over for days....and I promised him we'd bake cookies for his great-grandparents and grandparents....and, well, one must drink water.  ^-^  I had to make a choice between investing my time and energy into a clean house and a neatly packed suitcase....or a person.  My son.  And now, here I am, with a happy son and unexpected time to write and, oh... I guess I could complain about UPS.

I ordered a pair of dress boots to 'winterize' my summer dress and make it do-able for my friend's wedding this weekend.  They were expected to arrive Monday, Tuesday or today.  They didn't.  I actually ordered them much earlier, but when they came, they were too small.  Good thing we're taking my grandparents shopping on Friday.  I guess I'll be doing some shopping, too.

I'm SO excited to be going up to Canada.  The timing of this trip is perfect- I've managed to cram a lot of stuff into our travel plans.  It's going to be splendid.  

I'll be back in a few weeks. =)  I guess that's all I have to say.

Good night.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Emily the Train

If you're familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine, you know who I'm talking about.

I've already talked about Joshua's love: the train table and all the adorns it, including Lego tunnels and farm props for scenery.

Clearly, it consumes at least some of Joshua's thoughts as he goes about his day.  One day, while on our way home from shopping, he randomly informed us that he wanted "Annie and Clarabel," Thomas's coaches.

It's hard to not hand Joshua everything he wants, whenever he wants it-- but in the end, that is not the most loving thing to do, so we told him they cost money and he would have to wait for them.  He was okay with this.

The older he gets, the more he understands.  Makes things so much easier.

So when we got home, John unloaded the van and Joshua apparently had a mission of his own.  He took all the magnets off the fridge. "Here's some money for Annie and Clarabel, Daddy," he said, piling them in John's lap.

Still resisting the urge to humor him by taking him to the store, I got a mason jar from the kitchen and let him put the magnets in the jar along with a $1 bill.  This seemed like a good compromise that he could understand, and that taught him the importance of saving.  Over the next three months, John would give Joshua some loose change here, a dollar bill there, and Joshua kept talking about how excited he was to get Annie and Clarabel when he saved up enough money.

Then yesterday, he decided he wanted "Emily."  John found a coupon code online and when we helped Joshua count the money, we found there was just enough money to buy either Emily or Annie and Clarabel.  It was late- 7pm.  But we got in the van and took Joshua to A.C Moore to buy his train.  He was too excited to sleep, at this point.

We explained that he could only have one of the trains, and if he chose Emily, he'd have to save up money for A&C all over again.  He still want Emily.  In fact, he was practically hyperventilating in the back seat, grinning from ear to ear.

When we were parked in front of the store, Joshua said in his highest-pitched scream, "I GET TO BUY EMILY!!"

At the store, he held my hand and at each aisle, he would glance down and say, "Nooooooooo...not this one!"  And then there they were.  At this point, he had given a lot of shoppers a reason to smile.

We've bought a few other trains for Joshua over the last year.  He goes in with one train in mind and always leaves with a different one, finding it hard to choose from all the dozens of options.  This time, he was very focused, skimming the rows of trains for Emily.

There she was.  He held on to her with all his might, and we raced back to the checkout where he plopped her on the counter with a victorious, "It's EMILY!!"  It's a good thing that he was so cute, or we may have had some angry fellow-customers when we pulled out a jar of change to be sorted and counted.

Ten minutes later.....

We exited the store with Emily in Joshua's hand.  He has never been happier to own a toy.

Sometimes love is doing what doesn't seem the "nicest."  I wanted to give Joshua what he wanted, but by having him wait and save, the enjoyment multiplied a thousand times.  Love is preparing Joshua for the future, where there are consequences for poor choices, whining doesn't accomplish anything and toys aren't handed to him on a whim.  And the reward is great.

(Pardon his pizza face...Emily was a little more important than a clean face at the time ^-^ )

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

It's American Thanksgiving.  Once again, John is working the holiday.  We kind of skipped over Canadian Thanksgiving too, with the exception of pumpkin soup made in its honor.

So-- turkey and stuffing are out of style around here, but thankfulness never will be.


1.  a GOD who loves me so much that He sent His son to die for me.

2.  freedom: to worship; to work; to play

3.  a home to call our own: a roof over our heads, a furnace to keep us warm.

4.  food: not only to fill our bellies and keep us nourished, but that GOD gave us hundreds of flavors to cook  
     with and enjoy.

5.  creative license.

6.  the four seasons: the promise of spring, the fun-filled summer, the beauty and inspiration of autumn and
     nostalgia of winter.

7.  people: young and old.

8.  for the people that I call FRIEND.  I have some amazing friendships.

9.  my family: a loving, caring husband who has stuck with me through thick and thin- and my baby that I love
     more than life.

10.  modern conveniences that simplify life and make room for more of everything else.

11.  good health: not at its best, but not at its worst, either.

12.  the internet: I've become a research nut, and the internet is an amazing resource.

13.  my more extended family: great in-laws, loving parents, and a hilarious brother who I can call a friend.

14.  my little brother's memory: knowing Mark is with Jesus.

15.  laughter.

16.  fresh drinking water: I don't have to drink from a mud puddle.

17.  church family: no matter how far one travels, there are brothers and sisters on every corner of the earth.

18.  trains, planes and automobiles: no more impossible covered-wagon rides.  friends and family are always      

19.  the input of a Heavenly Father for every big and small life decision.

20.  nostalgia.

21.  the ability to drink in the beauty of the world around me- to see; to hear; to smell.  life is beautiful if one
       will only look and see.

22.  my childhood: every day spent in the city makes me so glad that I was raised in a friendly community
       where play was a way of life and friendships were the most precious thing to be had.

23.  puppies.

24.  the body's amazing ability to heal itself.

25.  thankfulness.  being thankful nearly swells a person up with gratitude and gives yet another reason to
       smile.  =))


Thursday, November 18, 2010

What We Do

Sometimes we go out just because we need to get out.  Looking for a change of scenery...and free entertainment.  Sometimes free entertainment comes in the form of beautiful scenery, driving away from the city and seeking solace in the gorgeous countryside; sometimes we buy Starbucks (okay- not so free) and Joshua finishes the whipped cream from my frap;  sometimes we go browsing after we've finished our mandatory shopping-one of our favourite spots for browsing is the kitchen department of nearly any well-stocked store;  sometimes we go to the bookstore, find ourselves some reading material, and sit while we flip through the pages and chat, whilst Joshua plays with the train table.

Other times, like today,we go to the pet store.  There are several that we visit every few months.  Maybe it's not even that often.  There is PetSmart, with dozens of fish tanks, cats, turtles, iguanas, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds.  Joshua really likes that.  He had the store memorized by the time he was a year old, leading us from one section to the next and screaming at the top of his lungs when it was time to go.

But my personal favourite is a little pet store nearby, right next to the grocery store...and I think Joshua and John would share my sentiments if they were asked.  Why?  Because they have puppies.  Sweet, adorable, furry little puppies.  We love to go in there, let them lick (and sometimes nip) our fingers, rub their silky fur and fall in love.

Today was a little different then our other visits.  I was shocked to see pigs.  There were four micro pigs and one potbelly pig.  I was familiar with the potbelly pig (though I had never seen one in real life), because when Derek was 14, after he finished his "I want an iguana" phase, he wanted one of those potbelly pigs.  I never got the hype.  Now, twelve years later...I get it.  I can't believe I'm saying that.  But they were REALLY cute.  

I fell in love with the potbelly pig, a five month old female who, when at face level with her, was absolutely adorable.  I named her Lucy.  I hope she tells the person who buys her. ;-)

I've almost convinced John that we should own a pet pig.  But then I stop and think and maybe it's not such a good idea.  After all, they DO grow up to be 60+ lbs and...well, they lose a lot of their cuteness.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I have to admit, I've been a little distracted this week, resulting in the severe neglect of this blog.  I started a second blog where I am recording any information I find on living life without a gallbladder, liver health, etc. and sort of compiling everything in one place.  There's just so much to learn- I could write all day and still have more to say.

I want to be a doctor.  I wish I could just snap my fingers and find myself fully certified.  The likelihood of my ever becoming a doctor is very slim, if not impossible.  Being a mother is my number one joy and priority in life, and is all-consuming right now.  Not to mention my current physical inability to do so.  So I'm content with my researching and trying to figure out all the puzzle pieces of my own health, along with John and Joshua.  I read books about interesting medical discoveries (within my brain capacity, that is), and am currently delving into the world of herbal medicine, which is particularly interesting to me.

I've got a liver tincture "tincture-izing" in the cupboard and dandelion in the kitchen to treat water retention.  I haven't used it yet.  I'm first re-correcting my diet- it's so easy to get off of the gluten/dairy-free eating, especially when I'm in a particular amount of pain and cooking isn't so do-able.  But I can't wait to see how it works.

So yea.  I want to be a doctor.  A doctor, and a dozen other things, too....because the world is full of things to learn and things to do, and it's all so fascinating.  But most of all, I want to be a Mom- and I am.  It's the very best thing of all.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Have I ever said how glad I am to be married to John?  He's a great guy.  And one of the little perks to our life together is his Armenian heritage which brings with it much of the delicious food.  It's similar to the Mediterranean cuisine, I think.  

Yesterday, John and his siblings, Chuck and Jen, got together and made lahmejoun.  Lahmejoun is lovely bit of yeast dough, rolled thin as can be, placed on a baking sheet and smeared with a thin and tasty layer of ground meat (beef or lamb), green and red pepper, garlic, spices (including allspice and pepper), etc.  It's then placed in the oven at 500F and baked for 10 minutes.  It's kind of without the sauce and 
cheese, and much more addicting.

We had the leftover meat mixture cooked up on toast, and I think I can come up with a gluten-free version of this for the future.  

Kneading the dough:

It was a long day: Six hours to make 9 dozen lahmejouns.  So very worth it, though, and lots of fun in between.  It was great hanging out with John's family.

John with his brother and sister:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Marky Boy

I've been thinking about Mark a lot today and the ache of missing him got a little worse than it's been in a while.  I always know he's not here anymore, but sometimes it just kind of--hits me.  Like a ton of bricks.  And I realize that I'm not going to see him again, as long as I'm living here on earth.  Mark will never make it past 19.  He'll never play with Joshua or get a chance to be the amazing uncle I know he would have been.  He won't come and visit like he said he would.  I can't just phone him up when I want to talk.  I can't set all my little projects aside for him to fix for me.

I was trying to untwist a slinky today- I didn't know those things could actually get knotted up.  And I found myself thinking, as I yanked at it in frustration, "Mark could have fixed this."  I'm sure there are a lot of people who could fix it.  But Mark loved projects like that, where he had to figure things out and find solutions.  If it took an hour, he would see it through. 

Loved.  I hate using past tenses when I speak about him.  It wasn't supposed to be this way.  We used to talk about growing up and having families and visiting each other--

Derek, Mark and I once pooled our money together to buy another "Adventures in Odyssey" CD for our collection, and I remember Mark asking, "Who gets it when we're not living at home anymore?"  The question never got answered; it just wasn't important.  Today, I don't even know where it is.  Maybe Derek ended up taking it, or maybe my mom has it packed away.  When Joshua's older, I may ask where I can find it.  Maybe Derek will beat me to it, but we can always share.  We did before.  But I wish we were still sharing with Mark.

I found Mark's Christmas present.  Why do I always find his first?  It's not like I can give it to him.  (No, I don't buy it).  I hate when that happens, as though to remind me that with all the Christmas shopping that I'll do, I won't be able to get something for Mark.

I can't write anymore, right now.  It hurts too much.  What a gift it is, to know that Mark is in Heaven.  With Jesus.  So eventually, when the ache dulls again, I can wipe my tears away and smile for him.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Apple Picking

I've always wanted to go apple-picking.  I never did much fruit-picking growing up.  It wasn't something my family did, though we did enjoy an afternoon of strawberry-picking with friends the summer I was 14.  Still, that one experience didn't convince my parents that it should become a yearly ritual. 

When I got married, I hoped it would be something John and I would do together.  John was all for the idea and we eagerly anticipated loads of fresh self-picked fruit all summer long, and maybe even learning how to can jellies and preserves.  And then morning sickness set in.  My PGP put a stop to our plans the next year...and the next one, too.  This year was better.  Not a whole lot better, but enough to give it a shot.  It was kind of a last minute decision, after picking up fresh veggies.  We decided that if the produce was cheap enough this week, we'd take the extra money to a nearby orchard to pick our own apples.

John ran in with my list in hand, and bought 2 large heads of cabbage, 3 bags of carrots, celery, 5 lbs of sweet potatoes, 3lbs of green peppers, 2 large bunches of grapes, a bag of oranges, 3 large zuchinnis and 3 romaine hearts for $15.  We could definitely squeeze out enough money for apples.  I love the price of produce here.  The grocery store prices can add up quickly, but farmer's markets, produce stands, the Italian market...they all help keep the cost down significantly. 

So we arrived at the orchard and were given a large cardboard box and a wagon to haul our goods.  The man in charge told us we'd have to walk way out, as the pickings were slim, and my heart sank.  The ground was uneven and "way out" really WAS waaay out.  I couldn't even see the end of the orchard.  John looked at me and I nodded my head.  I'd give it a shot.

Within 10 ft we found our first apple.  Joshua picked it and threw it in the box with great enthusiasm...I can identify that apple by the large bruise it now bears.  We showed him how to be gentle, and continue along our merry way, Joshua and John sharing the duty of wagon-hauler. 

    (last minute decisions usually mean I don't have the camera with me- these were taken on the cell phone)

The apple guy wasn't joking when he said there were slim pickings, but somehow we managed to find a dozen apples in the first row.

It was fun.  A LOT of fun.  Maybe I have serious thrill issues, but I enjoyed it immensely and would have loved to fill our box full of fresh-from-the-tree red delicious apples.  That's when I started feeling the pain, and that return to reality helped remind me of another reality: we didn't ask the price.  So we headed back and paid the bill: $6.  That works out to about 50 cents an apple.  In light of what we pay for produce at the store, that $6 seemed like a lot, but on the other hand, it was well worth the experience, and next year we hope to return for more.  More apples... and strawberries, blueberries, apricots, tomatoes and peppers.  Better still, maybe we'll plant a tiny vegetable garden in our own backyard. 

By the way: how do you say apricot?  AH-pricot?  Or A-pricot?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friends and Things Green

Raina and Andrew came over yesterday.  Joshua was out-of-this-world excited to see Andrew again.  Between family emergencies, my trip to Canada, and a few colds, it had been a while since we were last together. 

Naturally, once they arrived, Joshua was a little quiet and uncertain, as was Andrew.  They warmed up quick enough in their own two-year old way, and were soon screaming and laughing and running circles around the house.  The toys were surprisingly neglected, as they seemed to find it more fun interacting with each other.  When they left, there were just a few cars and Little People to clean up, and nothing more than an average day with Joshua.  I also found a full glass of water on the floor next to my recliner, which I had failed to notice the whole time they were playing.  I couldn't believe it had survived the visit!

Raina and I enjoyed "girl-time" which neither of us get very often.  Time with friends was at my constant disposal before marriage, and I enjoyed every minute of it, but having less of it now helps to increase my appreciation for friendship.  It's a gift.


We've been going green around here.  When I was in my third-trimester with Joshua, I had my gallbladder removed, and while the doctor assured me everything would be fine- I'm finding it's not.  Research has uncovered the fact that I'm not the only one having problems, either.  Digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, weightloss, etc. all become harder.  And of course, this is due to extra stress on the liver, which is responsible for all those things and more, including filtering out toxins and chemicals.  So all that to say, in order to give my body a bit of a break-- I'm going green....ish.

I bought a bottle of "Tea Tree Tingle" shampoo at Trader Joe's for $4.  I was skeptical, especially when it didn't suds up like regular shampoo, but I love it.  My hair is softer and shinier after just one washing.  John likes it, too.  I also bought a bar of oatmeal soap.  There were only a few dollars left in my "miscellaneous budget" so that's where I started.

With the next paycheck, I'll find chemical-free dish soap and liquid hand soap, and maybe even some lotion.  Right now, I'm trying caster oil as a moisturizer, after reading great reviews online.  I'm finding that, as with most things, different things work for different people.  Caster oil might be the miracle that Jane Doe was looking for, but for me, it may be just the opposite.  It's all trial and error and time will tell.

I already make my own cleaner. 

So it really wasn't that hard, after all, to make a few small changes, and hopefully my body will thank me.

Ps. I am NOT a tree hugger.  Thank you very much.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Quiet Nothing-ness

Today was simply delightful.  Delightful in warm and cozy kind of way, just the way I would have ordered it, if living one's day to order were possible.  Not all the time, but just once in a while.

It started out with Joshua sleeping in- which means we all slept in.  What better start to a day than that?  Other than the daily pleasure of waking up next to the man I love, of course.

At nine o'clock in the morning, when the little munchkin had breakfast, we decided on a whim to rearrange the living room furniture.  Okay, I decided on a whim, and John graciously agreed to help.  There was a time in our marriage when getting this kind of assistance was like pulling teeth from a shark, so I appreciated his willingness to accomodate me and my furniture-moving disorder.  A magazine article I read this afternoon said it so well:  "Every one of my projects has a beginning- but no project has an ending."

The living room hasn't felt restful or uncluttered since the day we squished the train table into it, and I had been thinking about how to go about fixing the problem for several weeks now.  By 11am, we had the best furniture set-up that we've had in this house yet.  It just works perfectly, and even the train table has a home without being intrusive.  It opened the room up, giving it a lighter and fresher feeling, and- well, change of any kind is good for the soul.  I still couldn't manage to make room for a big, fresh-cut Christmas tree, though.  (sigh)

John's Mom came for lunch.  I baked sweet potatoes and smothered them in black bean sauce, sour cream, black bean salsa and cheese.  It's one of my favourite lunches and can even be made dairy-free with Tofutti sour cream and pumpkin seeds in place of cheese.  Comfort food.  And remember the spaghetti squash pie from yesterday?  Edible, but a genuine waste of pie pastry. 

We played with Play-Doh after lunch.  It's become Joshua's newest and favourite amusement.  When I was pregnant, John and I went to yardsales on the weekend for baby things, and even though Play-doh isn't exactly a baby thing, I couldn't resist picking up various accessories to put away for the future.  I brought them out earlier this year, but Joshua had little interest in it until earlier this week when it was actually HIM who asked for it.  And continues to ask for it multiple times a day.


My mother-in-law left and Joshua went for his nap.  John had a project in the basement- he's been fixing the furnace and making it more effecient- and when I finished washing the dishes, I went down to visit him.  At the bottom of the steps, I spotted a blue container that has housed an old cross-stitch project of mine for some years, now.  I started it for my mom.

I used to crochet all the time.  In fact, I had a hard time traveling, watching a movie, playing a game, or anything where my hands would normally be still, without having something to crochet.  I outgrew the habit when my back started giving me grief, but when I saw the cross-stitch, I knew it was something I could handle, so I took it upstairs and picked up where I last left off.  I also remember, while doing it, why I had stopped in the first place.  It's really one of the most mundane of activities.  I am determined to finish it though, for I know I'll never bring myself to throw a perfectly good project in the trash, and I don't want it following me everywhere I go for the rest of my life.

Joshua woke up and John came upstairs.  I cross-stitched steadily on, John learned a new song on his guitar and Joshua ate his snack and played with his trains.  We talked.  My grandparents called.  We talked some more.  John and Joshua went for a walk.   


Yes, it was just a day of quiet-nothingness that doesn't happen too often.  Aside from the walk, nobody left the house.  Aside from baking sweet potatoes, no food had to be made.  It was just...nice.  Really nice.