Thursday, 29 November 2012

Running--oh, and another Christmas craft idea

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     This past week has been a week of baking and prepping for Christmas and the parties, cookie exchanges and potlucks coming up in December. This time of year is always so busy. But to me, busy is exciting. Busy is fun. Busy means that we get to spend time celebrating with those we love. Busy, to me, is actually a really good thing. Terry and I have talked many times about the fact that we want to make sure that busy doesn't turn into stressful around this time of year...because if it does, that's what our kids will ultimately then remember of the holidays. And Christmas in this household can be nothing short of magical.

     As brown sugar, sticks of butter and chocolate chips have exploded all over my counter top over the past couple of days, it has been a huge motivation for me to get my butt out and get some exercise before eating through the holidays officially begins.

   And as a side note: My biggest baking tip for the holidays? Bake up your cookies, then immediately put them in the freezer once they've cooled. For me, not only am I less likely to eat them if they're in the freezer, but if you pull them out the day that you are going to serve them, they are as fresh as if you just made them that same day. I've recently learned that homemade cookies actually only have a shelf life of about 2 days before they start to harden, by sticking them right in the freezer you won't be rushed days before your guest come over and they'll be super fresh. Win/win.

    Anyways, in order to offset the Christmas face-stuffing that is bound to happen very soon, I've been dragging my tired self out of bed in the morning and started back to running. Yes, with both kids tucked into our double stroller and the dog running along beside me.

     And although it literally takes me longer to get everyone ready for the run than it takes me to actually get a good run in, I'm doing it. Good Lord, I'm doing it. I'm exhausted before I even get out of the door. From being up throughout the night with Carter, to making sure everyone has eaten breakfast, has a clean diaper and is wrangled into their snowsuits, we finally get out the door...only to go back into the house to get Mya's forgotten sippy cup and snacks off of the counter. And the dog of course. Geeze.

     But man does it ever feel good once I get going. I love the feeling of cranking up my music and getting lost in the feeling of flying down the sidewalk. I would never call it easy...EVER...but it does feel good, and I think running is one of the best stress relievers out there for me.

     Mya loves it because there's nothing better than going fast. And Carter...well, he just sleeps through the whole thing, being lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the bumps and movement of the stroller. And Meika? Well she's just in dog Heaven. It's good for all of us.

     Jen called me yesterday morning, just after I got home from another run, and asked me if I wanted to do a run for charity this Saturday. Yes, THIS Saturday. I only just started back to running once I got the okay from my OB to start exercising again a couple of weeks ago, so I hesitated for a moment. But then she told me that the deal with this run is that you HAVE to wear a full Santa costume while running, or you'll be disqualified.

So, DONE. I'm in. 'Cause that's just hilarious.

     And really, isn't it better to say "Yes" in life more than "No"? I think so. Makes for some pretty darn good experiences and memories.

     So we'll decorate our strollers all Christmas-like, pack the kids into their strollers...get our Santa suits on, and pretend that we've been training for months. Should be good times.

       And something else I've been working on around here?..cute Christmas stuff. Here is one of them:

     I saw this online and decided to give it a try as it looked so incredibly simple, yet so incredibly cute.
All you need is an ornament, a washer, a small key ring (found at any hardware store) and a glue gun...and you've instantly got yourself name cards for your holiday table, or tag holders for any party or event you're holding.

1) Glue the washer onto the bottom of the ornament (to keep it from rolling around).

2) Thread the key ring onto the top of the ornament, then put a dab of glue on it so that it stands upright.

3) Put a name card, label or anything else in it and you're done! In less than 5mins flat. How adorable would these be on your table at Christmas time? Love it.

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Easiest DIY Christmas Wreath Ever

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     When November 1st rolled around, I took one look at Terry and said "Guess what day it is today?". He raised one eyebrow, took a deep (overly dramatic) breath and replied "I know, I know...Christmas decorating time".

     He knows me so well (and consequently puts up, and plays along, with my absolute love of holidays...Christmas in particular). With a little convincing, he made me wait at least a week and a half before starting to pull out the bins of Christmas decorations.

     Our house though has now exploded Christmas...and I couldn't be happier.

Click here to see how I made this wreath last year.

     For the past couple of years, we've always decorated our tree while sipping on hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music. It's become our little tradition, and (very intentionally) adds that added extra bit of magic to the whole process...while hopefully making good lasting memories for the kiddos. this year we didn't exactly listen to Christmas music. I wasn't on the ball like previous years. Instead I ran around the house saying "Where the heck is that Christmas CD?!" about eight million times before I gave up and decided that cranking up the radio would have to do. We turned our afternoon of tree decorating into a mini dance party, swinging and dancing around the living room to Ne-Yo and Beyonce.

"Single Ladies" won out "Jingle Bells" this year, and I don't think Mya minded at all.

And for the record, I would like a new Christmas CD for Christmas this year.

With Christmas sparkling throughout our house, I managed to sneak a half hour away when Mya was in bed and Terry was snuggling with Carter and figured out how to make one more special addition to our house. This wreath literally only took me about 30 minutes to make and cost me a  whole $6!

    All you need is a metal coat hanger, about 80 Christmas balls (different sizes and preferably 3 different colours), some ribbon and a glue gun. I bought all of these balls last year at the end of the season, so they were on clearance for only $2.44 a box!

So, start out by shaping your coat hanger into a best as you can.

     Check your Christmas balls and see if you can easily pull off the silver hookie parts at the top of each ball. If you can pull them off easily, yank them off and hot glue gun them back onto the balls (this is a critical part--you'll end up spending forever making this wreath if you don't glue them down since they'll start popping off once you string them onto the wire). Mine were already stuck really well (I couldn't pull them off for the life of me), so I skipped this step.

      Start stringing the balls onto the wire, making sure to space out the colours appropriately and fill in the spaces with the smallest balls. As you go, you'll get to a point (around this point in the picture below) where you'll think "This isn't looking right..I must be doing something wrong"..but keep going! Don't think too much as you string them on (the quicker you work the better it will look, promise). I was thinking too much at first and ended up pulling half of the balls off--so just go for it!

See...looking better already.

Once you have filled up the wire completely, take your hot glue gun and glue both ends of the wire together, so that it stays in the shape of a circle and the balls don't fall off.

If you leave the natural hook of the hanger in it's proper shape, you can use that to hang it on your door (like this pic below).

I then added ribbon (the kind with the wire in it so that it keeps it shape) and glued it onto the wreath with the glue gun.

Voila! Done! The great thing too about this wreath is that if you use it for a couple of years and then get tired of it, you can just cut the wire and string all of the balls off and use them elsewhere all over again.

...Another Christmas crafty idea to come soon...just finished it last night! 'Tis the happiest time of the year.  Happy decorating :)  

Friday, 9 November 2012

"How do you do it all?"

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      It's a question that I get asked a lot by people. So I thought I'd take a minute to let you know exactly how I do the things that I do, especially with 2 kids in tow now.

     Here is the honest truth: I don't do it all. 

     When you see me making an elaborate fondant cake that takes literally hours and hours to complete, you know that there is laundry piled up in my basement and either Terry or another family member is looking after the kiddos. 

     When you see me baking up a storm, you know that my kitchen is a disaster and that it probably took me all day to get it done.

     When you see pictures of me out at fun places with Mya and Carter, you know that it took a lot to get us there...usually complete with rushing to get there on time, cranky tears, unexpected diaper changes or forgetting Mya's sippy cup.

Attack of the butterfly plants!

     When you see me putting together any of the parties that we throw, you know that it was months in the making...doing tiny bits and details along the way, always when Mya is in bed, fast asleep and usually in 10 minute time slots. 

     And you know that when I'm writing in this blog that I'm usually typing with one hand, holding my boy in the other, stopping to settle him back to sleep, nurse him or I just completely give up and finish the post the next day, while my girl again is fast asleep upstairs. And I write because I love to, so sometimes I leave the vacuuming until tomorrow so that I can just sit and write. Everything is a juggling act, and on a daily basis I choose what my priorities are and focus on only a couple of things at a everyone is doing, I'm sure. 

     A lot of people have been especially asking me how I managed to get our 13 Random Acts of Kindness completed with a 3week old and 2yr old. But let me tell you, it wasn't just easy peasy. First of all, I didn't do it all on my own. Jen and I did it together--that makes a huge difference. 
     And you know that meal that we made for a family?...well, it literally took us ALL day to make. No joke. One of us shredded the cheese, while the other held Carter and watched over Mya and Oliver as they ran around the house..then we'd take a complete break, take the kids outside to play, then come back in and tag-team, trying to get all of the ingredients into the pan or cut up. Really it was chaos. Complete chaos. But we were determined...completely determined to get it done and ready for that night for the family we were making it for. And those goodies beside the meal?..we pulled them out of our freezer. Our mom taught us to always have baked goods in the freezer, ready to be pulled out in a split second--particularly for purposes like these. So we bake when we have time, and then always have a supply of yummy treats to pull out whenever we need them. 

     To be honest though, I have yet to even attempt to make a meal completely on my own with a newborn and 2yr old in my arms--I've been pulling out either one of the meals that I made up ahead of time and froze (while I was pregnant) or we've been eating the delicious meals that our wonderful friends and family have made for us. At this point, the only way that I can envision being able to actually get dinner on the table each night is to literally take a few hours on either Saturday or Sunday when Terry is home and cook up a few meals each week and freeze them. That's my goal at least--how nice would it be to not have to think about what we'll have for dinner each night, or finding the time to actually put something together on time? I'm gonna give it a try.

     Anyways my point in all of this is that, just like everyone else out there trying their best to live the life that they envision for themselves, I try to balance my priorities, keep my focus on my family and try to maintain a sense of sanity within it all. Some days I feel stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted...while other days I feel like I can take on the world. But in the end, how I "do it" is by letting some things go, leaving room for whatever else I decide to tackle that day...while realizing that it's certainly not always glamorous or easy. Oh, and undereye makeup is key people--seriously...people tell me all the time that "You have a newborn, but you look so rested!" will fool them every time. Speaking of which, my bed is calling me...we'll be up  in a couple of hours, so better get some shut eye in when we can.


Saturday, 3 November 2012

13 Random Acts of Kindness

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     October has been a busy month for our family. With bringing Carter home, Halloween and celebrating both Mya and Oliver's birthdays, there has been little room for boring.

     Halloween party with friends and trick-or-treating on a dreary (but very fun) night meant for a fun-filled week...and lots of candy..for the kids of course. I won't tell you that I've eaten at least 10 mini chocolate bars today alone--oh dear. GET THEM OUT OF MY HOUSE PLEASE!

Trick-or-treating fun...
It's hard to get this little chicken to give up her superstar sunglasses...even when it's dark out. 
Yes, that's our little pumpkin poking out of Terry's coat, all wrapped up under blankets and sleeping through all of the fun.

     With Halloween and birthday celebrations filling up the month of October, I didn't want to forget about a little tradition that Terry and I started last year in order to celebrate Mya's birthday. As her first year approached we decided that in order to help to teach her about caring for others we'd start a tradition of performing random acts of kindness together around the date of her birthday. Click here to see what we did last year.
     Since Mya was 12months old last year, we decided we'd go out and do 12 random acts of kindness. So with another year behind us, we decided to add another act this year and include all of the kiddos (since really we're now celebrating all three of them). So Jen and I went out this month and performed 13 random acts of kindness with all 3 kiddos.  

Here is what we did: 
1) Smiled at everyone we passed on the street.

2) Put food in the food bank bin at the grocery store.

3) Brought cupcakes to our neighbours for no reason.

4) Held the door open for everyone at the mall.

5) Bought a large coffee for the next person in line behind us at Coffee Time.

6) Made a meal for a family with two young girls and a newly pregnant mom who has been feeling pretty rotten with morning sickness. But really, wouldn't anyone (kids or not..sick or not) love to have someone show up at their door unexpectedly with a complete meal ready to be eaten that night? Doesn't get better than that.

7) Brought shopping carts back to the grocery store that were randomly left all over the mall. This one took about a million hours to do since little people like to do things all on their own, even if it means crashing into every bench and wall along the way...but they did it!

8) Put loonies on kids rides so some little kiddos could have a free ride.

9) Put loonies randomly around Dollarama for people to find.

10) Wrote a letter to Terry telling him how much I love and appreciate him. I think love letters are a bit of a lost practise...thought it was time to bring it back (especially when there are so many reasons to tell him why I love him after the first few weeks of having a new baby in our house).

11) Sent a card to a friend for no reason other than to let her know that we were thinking of her.

12) Thanked our mail lady for always being so friendly to us and for doing her job in this mucky weather.

13) Made a point of telling someone how much we appreciated them and why. There is nothing better than having someone let you know what you mean to them, while listing out the specific reasons why you appreciate them.

So that's it...Happy Birthday to our little Mya, Oliver and Carter. Here's to teaching our kids about kindness, caring and thinking of others before ourselves. I don't think there is anything more important.

Have a great weekend!!

And happy birthday today to my wonderful dear Kristyn! xox
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