one one two two

Those poor palmiers, I very very diligently halved the recipe and then grabbed the wrong size of measuring cup and used twice as much sugar as they needed! They were (mostly still edible) but pretty well encased in carmelized sugar. I need a do-over on them.

Last week Gwen had her first-ever Pajama Day at school and honestly you’ve never seen a more excited kid. Also: they were allowed to bring stuffies and two of her friends brought toys Gwen gave them for their birthdays.
Pork chops with apples & onions are a favourite family dinner, but I need to talk about those peas. I threw them together at the last minute, cooking them in butter with lemon zest and smoked salt and they were delicious. Even picky eater Gwen admitted she liked them “a lil bit,” and Nicky couldn’t get enough.

I spent a few evenings sewing a couple of rag rugs together using this DIY to make a new pouf. The rugs were $13 each and I stuffed it with old duvets and pillows I was planning on getting rid of so in addition to being easy it was very affordable! Initially I wanted more neutral-coloured rugs but the ones I found were much more expensive and I decided to go with the thrifty option. The kids and pets certainly think it’s great.

I have been working hard to slowly but surely refresh our living space and HONESTLY I am so happy with how it’s all turning out. The living room/playroom switch has opened up so much more space for playing, and just makes so much more sense than they way it was before. The simple act of repainting the (new) living room and dining room all the same colour makes those areas seem so much bigger as well. We shortened Taylor’s desk which got rid of even more wasted space and clutter, and opened up the office into the living room. And other than our new couch (which was sorely needed) I think the only purchases have been paint and a few small decor items. Other than that, it’s all been rearranging.

This weekend I’m going to repaint the wall where Taylor’s desk used to be (there were a couple of shelves above that we took down that left a major amount of holes behind), and next I’m going to focus on the playroom. I want to finish repainting, move the blackout blinds to make more space for naptime, create new book storage (shelves? a bookcase? boxes?) and invest in a new play kitchen. I got rid of Ol’ Bluey when we had the floors redone but I need a new one. I just feel like it’s something kids really love! I’m like 99% decided on this one, although I loathe the pink and would paint over it/replace it. It has a lot of space for play and I like the shape a lot. I have it planned out in my mind how I’m going to install it in this weird, awkward corner while still leaving space behind it to store the folded minicribs when they aren’t in use, with a shelf above it that has a framed poster mounted on the front to store the minicrib mattresses. It’s hard to explain but I’m very confident that it will work. I’m just hoping that the kitchen drops in price a lil more before I pull the trigger on it.

Also this weekend we’re going to start putting the tree up! Long-time readers will know I like to have it up, bare, for a while to let the kids get used to it, so we won’t decorating until December 1st. A little Christmas has already started sneaking in though: the new mushroom ornament and the felt Santa (made from a kit by Gwen) are already brightening up the room with holiday cheer.

Autumn Leaves

Last week was so hectic around here, I’m very much looking forward to taking it easy. We still have Gwen’s actual birthday dinner on Wednesday and I have an MRI scheduled for the same day (first thing in the morning before work, yikes) but other than that there’s nothing out of the ordinary on my schedule.

Halloweenies

You know, I made sure to charge the battery for my camera so I could take proper pics of the kids in their costumes but the battery is still in the charger and all my Halloween pictures are on my phone.

Gwen chose to dress up this year as a Chocolate Chip Cookie Kitty Cat Princess and no lie, I killed it. Her costume turned out perfectly and at her request I also made a Chocolate Chip Cookie Kitty Cake Royalty costume for Nicky. She had a great time at her school Halloween party, and so much fun trick-or-treating! We went with her best friend Hugo, Hugo’s sister Frankie and their cousin Taiga, and also went to one building with her friend Danielle from school. She is still a little shy and requires a parent when going up to most houses and Taylor had Nicky in the stroller, so Sym handed out candy at our place so I could go with Gwen. After we’d gone around the block Taylor took the little kids home and put them to bed while I took over candy duties from Sym.

We decorated and tantset up our Halloween candy station at the front of the house this year and I honestly don’t even know how many kids came through. Hundreds, literally. We were giving out candy for around three to three and a half hours! We actually didn’t run out of candy but we had over 700 and there’s maybe 100 left? I think for next year I need to get some larger decorations and more spooky lights for my display.

Now that Halloween is over I need to REALLY get to work on Gwen’s birthday party plans. I have some half-formed ideas for her outer space-themed party but everything is still very nebulous (GET IT) and this party is… this Saturday. OOPS.

october

Hmmm two-thirds of this month have gone by and I haven’t posted at all. I’m still trying to get a handle on our new schedule, and it hasn’t helped that Nicky is getting molars (I think, he won’t let us check). The past few weeks he’s been up multiple times during the night, crying and fussing, which is unlike him. His constant wake-ups mean Gwen ends up sleeping in our bed, which means either Taylor or myself end up sleeping on the couch. It’s not ideal, and on Wednesday night I reached my limit of Nicky-Up-All-Night and just let him cry. And you know what? He fussed for a little while and then slept all night! The same thing happened last night so I guess that’s just the way it is. Letting him cry is hard for me, partly because it breaks my heart but also because I know our neighbors can hear him and I feel like they will judge me! Although if they have to hear him making a noisy fuss I suppose it’s better at 9pm vs 3am.

Gwen is still settling in at kindergarten; she loves it and has made a lot of little friends (and was the only classmate invited to one friend’s birthday party) but she struggles a little with stuff like… everything. Paying attention, accepting disappointment, following instructions. She will be working with a speech language pathologist for her delay and a resource person for her fine motor skills. I had a “goal-setting” conference with her teacher earlier this week and it was hard not to cry afterwards and feel like I’ve failed her, but as my friend reminded me last night, she’s still only four!

With everything that’s going on with the little kids, I’m also having some struggles of my own. I can’t remember if I mentioned this on the blog but my Graves’ disease came back this summer, so I’m being treated for that again, but on top of that my back pain (I injured my lower back when I was a teen) has been truly terrible lately. I’m worried that having the wear Nicky in the Ergo for school pickup is basically destroying it, and if it turns out that’s the case I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I saw a doctor about it two weeks ago and was giving a prescription for some EXTREME muscle relaxants, but tbh they don’t really help? So it must be a problem with something else: bones or nerves or connective tissue. I’m also supposed to have an MRI but I don’t have an appointment for it yet, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

This post seems pretty negative, but in spite of it all I’m feeling pretty happy, calm and content (although maybe it’s the pills, haha). I’m deep in my holiday season planning; we had a great Thanksgiving (Taylor and I made the traditional chicken & waffles), and I’ve already bought birthday gifts for both girls as well as ordered the new pieces we need for this years Christmas pajamas. It’s going to be so cute; I can’t wait! We should have Symphony for Christmas this year but her dad got mixed up and made plans for her with his family and, being the very gracious person that I am, I did not insist we stick to our regular schedule. So we will be doing Mini Christmas again this year with Symphony. Unfortunately, there is no Christmas light Maze here like last year (although if you are in or around Arlington, Texas I recommend it) so I will have to find a different fun holiday activity for our weekend.

Of course, before Christmas comes Halloween, and I need to go out today and buy the things I need to make Gwen’s costume. She wants to dress up as a cookie princess (???) so I need… to make… that. I have a surprise day off today so we’re going on an adventure to the fabric & craft stores for supplies. Gwen is actually off school today; for some reason I always end up not working on her school’s professional development days, which is pretty cool but it would be cool to one day have a day with JUST Nicky (this has never happened). Anyway. I’m not sure what to dress him as yet, but I’m thinking… maybe… cookie prince?

one year

Saturday was Nicky’s first birthday, and I honestly can’t believe how quickly the time has gone! It seems like the blink of an eye and my tiny little green bean burrito baby is a big boy who loves to eat steak, play with other kids and is thisclose to walking.

To celebrate we had a brunch party with some friends and family who were in town for a wedding. Taylor and I made food for fourteen people- seven adults (including Sym) and seven kids and amazingly enough it was not a disaster? We had fruit salad with strawberries, blueberries and butterscotch melon (SO GOOD), bacon, tater tots, and funfetti pancakes. Taylor and I were actually at the stove making pancakes at the same time; he was making everyone else’s food while I made Nicky’s smash cake: a stack of 12 silver dollar pancakes for his twelve months here. I used a tablespoon to measure out approximately the same amount of batter for each, spread a little cake frosting on top of each and stacked them up. I secured the whole stack with a wooden skewer that I pulled out just before serving to the birthday boy, and it was a hit.

After Gwen, after getting sick, and after Taylor’s and my very responsible decision to not have more kids (even though I REALLY REALLY wanted a baby) I thought I’d never get to experience pregnancy and childbirth again, and even though my third was my most physically uncomfortable pregnancy and the delivery was terrifying, I am so happy to have had Nicky. I’m so grateful and lucky to have three wonderful children who all love each other, and to watch them grow together is my greatest joy in life.

The Perils of Scrimping on Butter

One night last week we were stumped on what to give Gwen & Nicky for dinner. On Thursday Sym is at her dad’s and Taylor and I eat later in the evening, so it’s just the two little kids to cook for. We decided on a lazy classic: breakfast for dinner. Just some fried eggs & toast. Easy-peasy.

We’d run out of butter to fry the eggs so after he got home from work Taylor popped back out to the store to pick some up. The grocery store by our house is way too busy at that time of day so I directed him to the drugstore instead. They only had the cheapest cheap no name butter, but butter is butter right? APPARENTLY NOT. Like I’m not some fancy label buying butter connoisseur; I buy store-brand butter for the most part, so I figured this would be fine. And when the house filled up with smoke and the egg whites were overdone while the yolks were barely warm I assumed it was just Taylor messing up somehow (SORRY TAYLOR).

Then on Sunday I wanted pancakes for brunch. We only recently stopped using pancake mix and making them from scratch (we use this recipe, which is pretty much perfect IF you half the amount of salt), but they’ve turned out great each time we’ve made them. So imagine my surprise and consternation when the house filled with smoke AGAIN and the first two pancakes were still raw on the inside when they were BURNT on the outside.

It was at this point when we realized the problem: THE BUTTER. That cheap-ass bargain basement butter with its ludicrously low smoke point was ruining the pancakes like it has almost ruined the eggs! We quickly wiped out the cast irons and tried using vegetable oil instead, which worked a little better (no smoke at least) but it did not impart a nice flavour to the pancakes, and we were still having trouble cooking them through: they were still turning out raw on the inside even when the outside was seriously overcooked. We tried reducing the temperature and flipping them a few more times, but then Taylor had a revelation: there was butter in the batter! Three whole tablespoons of melted trash butter, rendering our pancake batter uncookable and inedible.

In the end we had no choice but to send both the pancakes and the remaining butter to the food waste bin, while we went out for brunch instead (which was a whole other comedy of errors), but in the end we learned a valuable lesson: Don’t. Scrimp. On the butter!

In other news, Taylor and I have found a solution to Gwen’s kindergarten drop-off/pick-up problem. Turns out getting Gwen to and from school with both Nicky & the daycare kids was actually not… physically possible for me to do. So now Taylor drops Gwen off in the morning and I pick her up in the afternoon. I’d hoped to avoid this because I feel like going in to work so late won’t be good for Taylor’s job, but at the end of the day I just cannot do both drop off and pick up. It would be different if we’d gotten a space at the school LITERALLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM OUR APARTMENT, but we didn’t (something I will be forever bitter about) so we’re doing it this way instead.

eleven

Two days late but OH WELL.

Nicky is now eleven months old, can you believe it’s been almost a year already??? I cannot.

At 11 months old Nicky is into e v e r y t h i n g. He’s pulling himself up into a standing position on everything her can reach, and he’s tall enough that when he does, he can get at things on our desks and the dining room table. We had to move everything off the sideboard in the dining room because he was thisclose to pulling my whole Lego Disney castle (that took forever to build) onto the floor.

He is also walking while assisted, and loves when we clap for him and loves to clap for us. He is finally taking a break from teething THANK GOODNESS. He’s a super eater, enjoys almost every food we give him, but given the option, will always eat meat over anything else. He hates diaper changes and sitting still to get dressed and wants to be on the go all the time. He’s got places to be, I guess.

Gwen & Ballet

On Monday Gwen had her last ballet class. It was a twice-weekly class at the community centre with 3-6 other little kids and oh my god did she love it. It was so adorable too, all these tiny kids concentrating and trying so hard to get the positions and movements right. I don’t think Gwen is ready for “real” ballet class at the dance school yet, but I’ve already picked out another community centre class for her to start in September.

And Then He was Ten (Months)

The closer Nicky gets to being one year old the more I’m surprised by how fast his first year is going. This is so silly but with the two girls born in early November in my mind that’s the “birthday month,” so September seems like too soon for him to be one!

July has been a pretty epic month for milestones with Nicky. He finally graduated from army crawling (on his belly) to crawling crawling (on his hands and knees). He still drops down to his belly when he gets tired or wants to put on a burst of speed (he’s so fast!). He also started pulling himself up into a standing position and can climb on top of low furniture (like my little mushroom table). We lowered the mattress support in his crib and have had to do another “layer” of baby-proofing for all the new things he can reach.

He’s growing in leaps and bounds and is now about 75cm tall and weighs a whopping 10kg (approximately). He’s unsurprisingly tall, so much so that I actually gave some of his old clothes as hand-me-downs to a friend’s baby who just turned one! Another friend gave me a big box of her one-year-old grandson’s hand-me-downs and almost everything was already too small.

The most progress he made this month though was with teeth. TEETH. SO many teeth. In his 9 month post I believe I said he was getting three new teeth, bring his total to five. Well, he did get those three, and another, and another, and then this past weekend, ANOTHER. This brings his total tooth count to eight, and getting six teeth in five weeks? Seems excessive.

Even with all the teething his personality continues to delight us. Nicky is such a happy, friendly baby, with smiles and giggles for everyone.

How does Gwen’s Garden Grow

At the end of June I was offered a raised garden box for myself & the kids. My neighbourhood had received a grant to build some for people who can’t access any of the community gardens for whatever reason, so it was totally free and even came with all the dirt it needed! I’m notoriously terrible at gardening but I figured WHAT THE HECK and said yes. The garden box was built and left in the part of the yard I’d specified, and over the long weekend Gwen and I went to pick out some plants. We got two tomato plants, a yellow pepper, a green pepper, one pumpkin, a strawberry, a blueberry, sage, parsley and chives. I put Gwen in charge of watering them and she’s very diligent about doing it every day.

We’ve had our garden for two weeks and amazingly, not only have I managed not to kill any, some are even starting to bear fruit! The pumpkin seems like it might not be long for this world, and I have my doubts about the blueberry (which is basically a single twig with some leaves that squirrels have dug up twice, but I dearly want it to live and grow because it is actually a PINK blueberry bush) but everything else is growing and thriving. The tomatoes especially, but the yellow pepper looks like it’s ready to blow up, and the sage and chives are doing well enough to use in meals already.