Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tiny ballerinas...and waiting on baby

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So Jen's due date has come and gone.

Two days ago.

And still no baby.

We're trying to be patient, but patience when it comes to babies arriving certainly isn't my speciality. My own babies all came early, and I was still dying waiting for them.

I'll be sending labor vibes to her from across the street tonight. That little baby girl has no idea how many people are anxious for her arrival. We just. can't. wait.

But another little girl, who swept us off our feet almost 3yrs ago, had a big day this week too. Her first ballet class.

As I was getting her ready that morning, it gave me a small glimpse into how I know I will feel on her first day of school--and how she will undoubtedly be feeling as well. I had her tiny ballerina outfit all ready and laid out the night before, her snacks packed and the start date starred on our calendar. We talked about what ballet class would be like, how her little friend Ayva would be meeting us there and how we'd say goodbye to each other and I would come back and pick her up when class was over.

She was so excited. And so was I.

But as all of the tiny ballerinas were called into the room and I went to give her a kiss goodbye, she clung to my hand and wouldn't let go.

"No mommy" she said. "I go home now".

I crouched down and kissed her cheeks, whispering to her that I knew that she was brave and that I knew that she could do this. That she would have so much fun and that I'd be right outside the door waiting for her.

So as I led her into the room, her little hand clinging tightly to mine, I wasn't sure if she would ever let it go.

But as her little friend Ayva came over and guided her in as well, she let go...

and smiled, and twirled, and pranced around with the other little ballerinas...and my heart just about melted. She snuck over to me after only a few minutes into the class and I crouched down as she hugged my neck and she whispered softly to me "Mommy, I be so brave".

And I smiled, kissed her quickly as I whispered how proud I was of her, and she pranced off to join the other little girls.

My brave little tiny ballerina. This was her first class.

So proud of you Mya. You did great. 

Love Mommy xox 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Plants vs Zombies cupcakes...and some lessons from kids

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Am I just completely out of the loop, or does anyone else not know what Plants vs. Zombies is??

I learn so much from kids.

Apparently I've been living in a hole, since I literally had no idea what this game was when I was asked to make cupcakes for a little boy's birthday this past week.

So after Googling it and figuring out what it was, and then deciding how I was going to create cupcakes based on this foreign Plants vs Zombies thing, I came up with some little cupcakes--and found out that I must be completely in the dark for not knowing what this whole Zombie thing really was.

Creepy, eh??

As I was in the middle of making each of the little characters, Jen and Jeff popped by, not knowing that I was in the middle of working on these little guys--and they immediately took one look at the toppers and got all excited...

"Hey! Plants vs. Zombies! These are so great!".

Really? You know what these are?? I asked.

"Oh yea..we play this game all the time!"

Geeze louise.

Then Terry came home a little while later and poked his head into our dining room to take a look at what I was working on..

"Hey it's a Pea Shooter!" he said. "These look so much like the real characters. I love Plants vs. Zombies".

I looked at him in disbelief. What...the a Pea Shooter???

(Apparently this is a Pea Shooter) 

I must be so out of the loop.

So I've learned a lot. This little boy who celebrated his birthday by eating a zombie head right off of his cupcake taught me that I can now confidently go back to school after Christmas without being the out-of-it teacher who doesn't know the latest and greatest in video games. These things are important people. Seriously.

And Mya? Well she learned a lot about some pretty important stuff today too. When we got together for a family birthday celebration, her wonderful second cousin gave her a detailed explanation about his Lego characters--their names, what they do, how their heads can pop off...all the good stuff that she had never been exposed to before.

So she sat there and intensely listened to every word that he said, trying to take in all of this cool information about these tiny little Lego men that she had never heard of before.

I think I know what she'll be asking for now for her 3rd birthday.

And her older cousins? Well, I'm sure that they will have plenty to teach her as well as she grows up...boy advice (only after she's 30yrs old though, of course), school advice...and all the good girly stuff.  

Happy birthday Sebastian and Grandad!

Going to go dig my head out of my dark hole now. So grateful for good ol' cupcake orders and lessons from smart kiddos.

Erica xo

Thursday, 19 September 2013

One of those days

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Today was a great day. Yes it was.

We went to the market, bought yet another huge bag of peppers (because apparently I use peppers in almost every meal that I make--and two huge bags, diced and put in the freezer, just wasn't enough to get us through the winter I decided). And we bought a gigantic squash, because I spotted a pumpkin the other day--so that clearly means that it's Fall, which clearly means that it's butternut squash soup time. I can taste it already.

And Fall? Well I just love it. Everything about it. The cool morning air, the slippers and cozy housecoats, the corn stalks on porches, the anticipation of Thanksgiving dinner, the pumpkins and my beloved mums that sit at the base of my front porch each year...

(at Costco right now for only $10!).

Then from the market, we headed to the play group at our church where I sat back and chatted with friends while the kids played, laughed and chased after balls in the front foyer...all leading me to believe and feel that this day was actually really great.

But this morning? Well it was anything but wonderful. Probably one of the hardest mama days that I've had in a LONG time. One of those days where I get woken up at 3am by crying babies and never fall back asleep again. One of those days where I look at Terry at 6am, both kids in my arms and say "I need a break...I just really need a break". Where I'm worn out physically, mentally, emotionally...I just needed a break. But it was 6am, and Terry was on his way out the door soon for work and I was staring down the barrel of another full day, but I was already spent. So completely spent. Because having two very young kids at home with me all day every day (who need every last ounce of my energy, attention and patience all day long) is just sometimes really hard.

So if there was an award ceremony this morning, I certainly wouldn't have be granted the Mother Of The Day award. The way that I handled the loud temper tantrums that began before 7am this morning was anything but award-worthy. Completely the opposite of the way that I strive to be. Almost laughable really, now that I think about it. But I quickly pulled my boots up, hugged my lovie as both of us said "Sorry" and "I love you" and started our day over 7:30am. Cause that's just the kind of morning that it was. And you know what? That's the beauty of motherhood. Everyone always told me that your kids will bring you to your breaking point, and then some (especially as they get older)...but what I've learned is that, yes, it's absolutely true...but they can also snap you right back even faster. That little "I'm sorry mommy" is all that I needed. Snapped right back. Started over. Kissed her all over her cute little face and moved on. Then found little moments throughout the rest of our day that made me smile and made me realize that even through my own exhaustion and my need for a break, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but right here, with these two little souls.

And dinner? Well we broke out our new oven, and popped in a frozen pizza--because sometimes you just need to have a pizza picnic outside for dinner when you've had a rough start to your day.

And my oven? I'm in love.

Not only because it's gas and glorious...but because the door doesn't heat up at all, so these two little noses can stare at cupcakes rising and cookies spreading, and I can smile knowing that that has always been my vision of what their childhood would be full of.

So we had a pizza picnic outside

and I tried to push my mommy guilt away as I reminded myself that every mother at some point will have moments where they say to themselves "I'll try harder next time" "I'll have more patience" "I'll do better".

And I will.

Erica xo

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Sibling Love: 6 things to do to make your kids actually like each other

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I've spent a long time writing and then deleting this post over and over again, because it's something that is hard to properly put down into words. It's hard to explain and I didn't want it to come across as though we had it all together or somehow figured it all out (because we certainly haven't). But then finally after almost deciding to scratch it completely and just head off to bed, I decided to just write without thinking. Sometimes that's just the best way around it. It means that it's truly honest and unedited. So here ya go:

Jen and I have been getting a lot of the same questions from curious mama's, all who are trying to figure out how to raise their children to have the same type of close relationship that Jen and I have. We've gotten emails asking "How do you do it?" or "What is the secret?" and "How did you as siblings end up actually liking each other so much?".  They would tell us over and over again how they hope that their own kids will be as close as Jen and I are when they're older, but they just don't know how to get them there.

I love getting these emails and questions asked to us because I am totally the type of person who is right there asking other parents for ideas, suggestions or advice that has worked for them. I don't think there are any better teachers than those who have been through it before.

So I've thought about it a lot. Thought about what to tell people. How to explain it. How to help people help their own kids to love each other, depend on each other and ultimately be each others best friends.

When I think about Jen and I as sisters, I hope and pray that my kids will have the same as we do as they grow up.

Jen and I have the type of relationship where we just get each other. We trust each other. We help each other. We know each other.

We literally see each other every single day, so much so that our kids are truly growing up as siblings instead of cousins. Not to mention, we bought houses only a street a part from each other, intentionally.

And those tough mama days? Well, we show up unannounced at each others front doors, teary eyed, tired, with screaming kids in our arms and pass over our crying lovies to outstretched arms. Because that's what sisters are for.

And when babies won't nap for their mama's, a phone call is sent out and all of a sudden a sister shows up and somehow magically gets that baby to fall asleep. Or when one of us is barefoot and pregnant, running after a toddler all day long and show up unexpectedly and take that wee toddler away for the day, so pregnant mama's can rest. Because that's what sisters should do.

And when someone hurts your feelings or stresses you out? Well, you call your sister because you know that she will make you feel better about it. She'll be sad when you're sad, mad when you're mad and rational when you're completely irrational. Because that's what sisters are good for.

I want this for my own kids. I want them to love each other to the ends of the Earth and I want them to grow up caring for each other, helping each other and actually liking each other.

But let me tell you, it's also not all perfect. Nothing ever is. Jen and I grew up having our fair share of fights, screaming at each other over stealing each other's clothes, hurting each other's feelings and saying things that we now wouldn't dare say at this (more grown up) point in our lives. We're not unlike so many other sibling relationships out there. But now that I've had so many people ask me directly how we ended up being so close, I've really had some time to think about how we've come to have the relationship that we do. So, here you go...a few ideas that I'll write down so that I can also refer back to this post when I'm sure there will be days in the future when I feel like my own kids don't want anything to do with each other.

Here are a few things that our family (or my parents) have done which have definitely contributed to Jen and I being so close:

1) Our parents purposely make a point of never EVER favouring one child over another.  
At first glance, it may seem like this has nothing to do with sibling relationships. But it really really does. When one sibling feels like mom/dad likes them more, spends more time with them or spends more money on them, it builds resentment and jealousy--which can ultimately destroy any relationship. Even to this day, my parents continue to be hyper vigilant about making sure that Jen and I know that they've spent the exact same amount of money on each of us for birthdays/Christmas etc. and they always make a point of spending equal amounts of time with us and our children. There's no chance on Earth that Jen and I could ever look at each other and feel jealous or resentful of one another--and no matter how many times you tell mom not to worry about making sure that she spends the exact same amount on both us and our kids, she'll always say "No, it has to be equal", which is exactly what I will tell my own kids one day too.

 2) Whenever we would fight as kids my parents would always remind us that we have to learn how to get along no matter what, because "your friends will come and go, but your sister will be in your life forever". 
If you hear this a million times during your childhood it's bound to sink in eventually. I never believed it as a kid, but it turns out they were right all along.

3) Mom and dad encouraged us to travel together--just the two of us. 
*please excuse the low quality pics here--I'm apparently so old that these were taken way before the world of digital cameras 
There's no better way to have to learn how to work out your differences than being a million miles away, stuck in a hostel or hotel room together. From fun trips to California and England, 

to more intense experiences like living with each other in Africa...

we came out of our travel experiences closer than ever.

4) If we get into a fight, Jen and I hash it out right then and there and GET OVER IT and MOVE ON.
No lingering hurt feelings. No unsaid words. We just figure it out right then and there. And even if one of us doesn't want to talk about it, we force the other one to--no one is allowed to run away, because the rational one in that moment knows what's best for both of us. We don't hold on to and remember hurtful things that we've done or said to each other in the past-and then bring them up as ammunition (one of the most unhealthy things of all to do, my parents have always said). We just completely let things go and move on. 

5) Mom and dad always encouraged us to have a sense of humor.
If there is one thing that our family does, it's laugh a lot. We don't take each other (or life) too seriously...

and we've learned (through watching our own parents live) that it's important to find the good in others--even when it's hard to do sometimes. So we try to laugh at each others little idiosyncrasies instead of getting annoyed, and we laugh off things about each other that might otherwise make us blow up. It's all about being able to laugh at yourself, not get offended when others can do the same (out of love, of course), don't take things so personally and relax a little.      

6) Mom and dad always encouraged us to spend time together. 
They'd encourage us to play together as kids, which led us to wanting to hang out together as teenagers, which led to us wanting to live together and go to Teachers College together as adults, which led us to living a street apart from each other as mothers and wives. It all started with purposely encouraging us to do things together, play together and ultimately taught us to like being with each other.   

So, there you have it. No magical solution. No one specific thing. Just a few things that I know that I will try to encourage my own children with as they grow up--while continually telling them and reminding them that family always comes first (and knowing that family relationships can be complicated, messy and wonderful all at the same time). 

Now, in saying all of this, I only have a sister--not a brother. Can anyone tell I think about Carter and Mya, is it possible for a brother and sister to be as close? If so, is there anything else that anyone would suggest in order to encourage a strong sister/brother relationship? I worry that since they're not the same sex, they might not be as close.  I hope I'm wrong though!!

Happy Tuesday!!
Erica xo 


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Ice cream parlour "Fill up their freezer" baby shower

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We've been prepping around here for someone very special to arrive.



dipping waffle cones into delicious melted chocolate and adding all of the final touches to a great afternoon ultimately means only one thing...

we've having a baby soon.

Well..not exactly me, per say. But my sister. Which is pretty much like I'm having my own, really.

Just like I feel every day as though I have three kids of my own under the age of three. Sure I didn't exactly birth one of them (minor detail, really)--but he's such a huge part of our life that really it's like he's my own.

We're only a week and a half away from having a new baby in our family, and I've found myself nesting, prepping, worrying and so excited thinking about how our life will all of a sudden change once again as another new little soul comes into our family. I feel like it's my due date coming up--staying close to home, clearing out our calendar, anticipating the rush to the hospital, making all of the necessary plans for child care for the older kids and dreaming about squishy baby cuddles and that wonderful newborn smell. I just can't wait.

So in order to help my sis and Jeff out when this new baby arrives, mom and I decided to throw them a baby shower. But not a typical shower. This time 'round, instead of asking people to bring a gift, we asked them to bring a meal that could be thrown in their freezer so that Jen and Jeff could pull it out during those first few crazy months when they'll have a newborn in their arms and a toddler at their feet. Because who's kidding who? Having a new baby and a toddler is not easy.

So with that said, I got my party hat on and started planning an ice cream parlour themed baby shower..because if you're going to celebrate new life, you may as well be downing some ice cream while you're at it. And well, I really just wanted to throw a party where I could make an awning out of cute pink striped fabric...really.

We kept it small this time, only a few close friends and family, but it was great--so so great. And the best part? Jen and Jeff's freezer is now full of delicious meals thanks to everyone who came. And that, to me, is the greatest thing ever.

So, with that is our "Fill Up Their Freezer" ice cream parlour baby shower...

This little guy is going to be the best big brother ever. And these two parents are already the best parents around. This little girl in that belly of Jens' is one lucky little lady. 

I'm in love with these cute straws. So in love. 

Everyone took an ice cream cone full of candy home with them when they left.

And dipping ice cream cones that morning in chocolate, sprinkles and Skor bits meant that everyone had a yummy treat to put their ice cream in and fill up with endless toppings. 

Mya had been waiting for this ice cream party for a LONG this little moment here just absolutely thrilled her.

And Carter spent his time entertaining us with his mad piano skills. 

I love that I caught this moment between these two little cousins when they didn't think that anyone was looking. Sharing one's monstrous ice cream cone is the ultimately sign of love.

And a second party outfit is a must when you know that more ice cream will land on your party dress than in your mouth.

Now...little baby growing in Jen's belly--these two little cousins (and a very excited big brother) are patiently waiting for be prepared for mounds of lovin', slobbery baby kisses (and probably even a few eye pokes from curious fingers--sorry ahead of time about that) when you arrive. We just can't wait any longer!

your Aunt Erica xox

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