Sunday, 29 June 2014

The reality of strawberry fields

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Phew. We made it. Summer has officially begun. 

These past couple of weeks have been insanely busy at school (hence, not having an ounce of time to sit and write in this lil' blog o' mine in forever)...but we're here, summer has arrived, and school is officially out until September. 

So with the sun shining and strawberry season in full swing, we decided to tag along with Jen and Jeff and go strawberry picking with the kids this weekend.   

They tasted just as good as they look.

But it's funny...because as I took a look through all of our pictures from that day, I realized that the pictures told a different kind of story than what really happened that day.

And it made me realize that we never usually take pictures of certain parts of our lives--and maybe we sometimes should.

In many ways, strawberry picking with the kids was exactly as the pictures show--a beautiful sunny day with kids in sun hats, slathered with sunscreen, excitedly holding their plastic buckets as they pulled deliciously ripe strawberries right off of the vine. Red fingers and juicy strawberry juice dripped from chins as they giggled to each other and ran through the strawberry fields. In so many ways it was exactly what the pictures show.

But what you don't see is the exhausted mom and dad...both of us so tired from being up all night, all week long with a sick baby (who was thankfully feeling better--but anyone who has ever looked after a sick baby before knows that the residual exhaustion takes days and days to be cured).

What you don't see is how we chased toddlers through our exhaustion, smiled when we felt miserable and picked sometimes only one strawberry at a time since one year old's like to you can never really do anything in one place for longer than a few seconds.
So you see that picture above? That's Carter in the orange shirt, just about to take off--getting his little legs ready to wear his tired mama out. That picture makes me laugh just looking at it--because years from now I might look at this picture and really believe that strawberry picking was so calm and relaxing...because there are no pictures of me chasing him down the fields, picking him up as he squirms and cries, redirecting him away from other people's perfectly picked strawberry buckets.

There were no pictures taken of the discussion with little people sitting on daddy's knee on the edge of our van in the parking lot, talking about the importance of changing their tone of voice (because when you're three years old there is still a lot of learning to do).

And there were certainly no pictures (thank goodness!) taken of me trying to convince my one yr old to PLEASE come out from the back of the van when I went back to get some wipes for sticky fingers. And if there were pictures taken, you would have seen a tired mom, sweating hot, climbing over huge car seats and picking up a squirming little boy who thought that with all of the fun right in front of him at the strawberry fields that it was even more fun to play in a sweltering hot van (because one year old's are funny like that).

So the strawberries? They were delicious. They were insanely delicious.
And the memories? We still made a ton.
But the reality? Well, I kinda wish now that I had said to Terry "Hey! Make sure you get a shot of my derrier as I'm climbing over car seats, sweating hot, okay? That'll be a good one for the baby book!".
I wish that I had thought to throw someone the camera as we ran exhausted through the fields after a little boy who thought that the strawberry fields were his playground. And I really wish that I now had a picture of a little 3yr old sitting on her daddy's knee in the parking lot of a strawberry field, getting some life lesson advice. Because that's really how it is.

And the real reality is that it won't always be this way.

I might one day actually have to wake up a sleepy teenage boy and drag him out of bed in the morning, because he's lost his 1yr old never-ending energy. And I might have to sit on the corner of a teenage girl's bed and give her a different kind of advice or just a shoulder to cry on...because one day she will unfortunately likely face more than what we can just solve on her daddy's knee in the parking lot of a strawberry field.

And when all else fails? ...Well, you let your parents take you out to dinner after strawberry picking when they offer--braving four little ones under the age of four at a fancy restaurant--and you come away feeling happy, fulfilled and inspired to pull out the camera more often, so you can capture all of your realities...because it will one day tell the story of your entire life.

Have a great weekend everyone,

Erica xo

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Chocolate peanut butter balls

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I may have gone a bit overboard.

I walked into a store just shortly after we lost our baby and I was a bit too emotional to be staring at white chocolate and milk chocolate...all 50% off. It was the day after Easter and I remember piling my arms full of chocolate. Literally pulling bunny after bunny off the shelf. Filling my arms with crinkly wrappers full of heavy chocolate, looking over at my mom and sister who were staring at me all wide eyed, not daring to stop me. Because when a girl is sad, good Lord let her have all the chocolate she wants.   

So I went a little overboard. A little.

Okay...maybe a lot.

I almost bought out the store.

Because, well...I use chocolate for a lot of different recipes, and chocolate costs a small fortune--but not if you buy it at Easter time, in the shape of a bunny of course. So I buy a ton of chocolate after Easter, freeze it, and use it for all sorts of things--chocolate/caramel apples, chocolate bark, chocolate covered fruit, chocolate molds, chocolate covered caramels..and the list goes on and on. And white chocolate? Well, that's hard to find at Easter, so when I saw these glorious white bunnies that I haven't been able to find for the past two years, I got a little excited. And I may have filled up 3 bags worth of it.

So as we packed up boxes the other night for our big move coming up, I stood staring at my mound of chocolate and decided that I don't really want to have to pack up a ton of heavy chocolate--because, well, eating it sounds a lot more enticing to me.

So I went a bit chocolate crazy this week, and made a bunch of yummy stuff..

I made this ridiculously delicious Oreo bark (recipe found here)

And made my absolute favourite--chocolate peanut butter balls. 

They're so easy to make and will literally melt in your mouth. 

If you want to try them yourself, here is the recipe that I use

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips (or approx 1lb chocolate bunny)

1) Combine the peanut butter, icing sugar, butter and vanilla. Cream well and kneed well.

2) Roll dough into small balls and place on parchment paper, on a cookie sheet.

3) Melt chocolate in small batches in microwave, in microwave safe bowl.

4) Use fork and dip peanut butter balls into melted chocolate, then place on cookie sheet.

5) Place in fridge and let harden (at least 20mins). Then enjoy!

Happy Sunday everyone.

And happy Father's Day to my wonderful dad and hubby.

Now go eat some chocolate. Or come on over here--I promise you there will be more chocolate goodies coming out of this house soon..and we're not about to eat it all ourselves!

Erica xo

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Bedtime with littles...

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Before I became a mother, I always had these visions of what bedtime with little ones would be like.

It went something like this:

I'd look over at my adorable little kids, all sleepy-eyed and cute and whisper "Come on kiddos, it's time for bed"...and little people would look at me all lovingly and get up immediately saying "Okay, mommy" and we'd all walk upstairs together, all happy and ready for bed.

We'd get them into their jammies as they'd snuggle my neck and kiss my cheeks and we'd start our bedtime routine of brushing teeth. That'll be cute (I used to think) when they're old enough to brush their teeth--I'll probably sing a brushing your teeth song and we'll all happily scrub those teeth until they shine.

Then we'd turn down the lights, pick our favourite bedtime book and snuggle into bed together for some cuddles and stories. As their eyes would start to flutter shut, I'd rub their backs for a few minutes, kiss their foreheads, whisper "I love you so much" and tiptoe out of their room. Then just before quietly closing the bedroom door, I'd take one last look at my adorable sleepy children all snuggled under their covers, falling asleep so peacefully and I'd think to myself "This is why I wanted to be a mom...for sweet moments like this".

And then I had children. Yeah. And, well, this fantasy unfortunately doesn't always translate into reality.

Some nights it does.

Some nights are so sweet and wonderful and easy...and there are "I love you's" and snuggles and back rubs and tiptoeing, and lullabies and moments where I feel like "Yes, this is why I love being a mom so much". Then there are nights where putting toddlers to bed will just about make you feel like you're losing your mind...where you literally feel like you're watching your mind roll down the street. Where your husband and you will look at each other, all wide eyed and exhausted. Where you'll need to have the love and patience of Mother Teresa and the strength of God himself just to get through it. Because little children are the masters of delay tactics.

So instead of my blissful fantasy of what bedtime would look like...some nights are a little less fairy tale(ish).

Getting upstairs isn't necessarily the tricky part anymore, since we found the magical solution of using our timer on our phones. "Two minutes until the timer is going off and we're heading upstairs", we say. And all of a sudden the timer is the bad guy, not us. You can't argue with a timer, you can't plead with a timer, you can't negotiate with a timer. It goes off, and there is nothing that we can do about it. So little people (for now) usually accept it and we distract them with a race to the bathroom for who will get to their toothbrush first.

First step completed.

They're upstairs.

But my magical fantasy of happily brushing teeth to their mom blissfully singing a little song isn't exactly how it goes.

Instead we're trying to wrangle two squirming kids into the bathroom (which is as easy and flawless as herding cats)--put toothpaste onto their toothbrushes--then wipe toothpaste off of their toothbrushes since it's the wrong yucky kind mom..the same yucky kind that was an all time favourite just the night before.

Then as little hands clench onto tiny toothbrushes with all of their might, my speech begins...

"You can have a turn to brush your teeth, but mommy does it first. I don't want your teeth to rot and fall out, so I have to get all the sugar bugs off first, then you can have a turn."

Doesn't work.

So I bump it up a notch.

"Listen, there are kids at my school who have black teeth because their mommies don't brush their teeth. Their teeth are literally about to fall out because they're so rotten. I'm not willing to let that happen to you. So let me get in there first, and I promise you can have a turn when I'm done".

Little hands ease up, and I get a good scrubbing in. Phew.

We dim the lights, pick two stories and sit on the edge of the bed together. We find the mouse on every page of Goodnight Moon and as the last words are read I get up to turn off the lights.

"What story do you want to hear tonight honey?" I say in the dark as I try to convince her to lie down as I rub her back.

It's always one of the same stories each night...she wants to hear about the day that she was born. The day that Carter was born. The day that Oliver was born or the day that Scarlett was born. Always one of them.

So I tell her stories of us rushing to the hospital to welcome new babies to our family and kissing tiny baby cheeks and washing newborns in the hospital sink and she loves every minute of it...

and then, just as the words "The end" fall from my lips, it's like a sensor goes off--a 3yr old sensor that starts screaming "Your mom is about to leave!---do something...ANYTHING!!"

So her leg is all of a sudden itchy. She needs me to scratch it.
She needs a drink. She's all of a sudden DYING of thirst.
She left her bear downstairs. She needs to go get it.
She has an ouchie. She needs an icepack...right now.
She is too hot.
She is too cold.
She wants blankets on her.
No--not those blankets mommy...the blankets that are lost somewhere in the closet..the ones that we can't find anywhere.
Finally found them.
She doesn't want blankets on her anymore.
Her pajamas feel funny on her leg. She needs new ones.
She hears Carter talking in his bed. She needs to go give him a kiss and rub his back--he wants me mommy...only me, she says.
Her skin on her arm is dry. She needs to put cream on.
She can't see her owl stickers on her wall. She needs to turn the light on so she can make sure they're all still there.

...and mama is watching her mind roll down the street.

So yes, putting little ones to bed is not always easy. It's not always lullabies and smiles and sweet kisses goodnight. Sometimes it's incredibly exhausting.

But I'm sure that we'll one day look back on these days and laugh. We'll laugh about the crazy things that we did to try to get our kids to fall asleep. The millions of songs that we've sung, the millions of stories we've read, the negotiations, the bribes and the pleas. We'll remember the wide-eyed looks of desperation that we've given to each other from across the dark hallway...and we'll remember how much they needed us. 

Because one day they won't.

One day they won't care if we leave the room. They won't cry when we say goodbye. They won't want us to sit with them and read story after story to them. They'll grow up...and Terry and I will sit there and maybe wish for these exhausting days to come back again.

So I'll take the hard with the good. Because ultimately, that's what parenting is all about.
But I'll also enjoy the silence that I hear right now, as they're both fast asleep...because silence is a beautiful thing.

Goodnight everyone,
Erica xo



Sunday, 1 June 2014

Moving on

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We've been a little busy lately.

We sold our house this past week, and signed the final paperwork just the other day to buy our new home.


It's been a lot.

A lot of emotions. A lot of stress. A lot of work. A lot of excitement. It's just been a lot.

But everything is now finalized and settling down and I can stop having dreams of washing windows and scrubbing floors. Because it's sold.

And I certainly know one thing is for sure--our house will never look this tidy again--I can promise you that.

*Some pics are different sizes depending on how they downloaded--some being from the professional and others from my own camera 

Check it out! My bench cushion and pillow that I made (the one that was shockingly pinned thousands and thousands of times on Pinterest) actually made the cut for the MLS listing pics! yes!!

So after hours of packing, de-cluttering and cleaning (thank you family for all of your help!), we put our house up on the market...and within only one hour of it being up, our real-estate agent had emails flowing in from other agents asking to show it to their clients that very day.

So with that, we packed up and moved into mom and dad's house so that we could allow all of the showings to take place without little people (and ourselves) making a mess every time that we walked through our front door....and we waited. We waited for news and updates from our agent, and checked as our neighbours sent us emails telling us that we didn't even need to have an open house since they were watching couples outside of our house literally signing offers on the trunks of their cars.

 People apparently fell in love with the same things that we fell in love with when we first bought this house. The original hardwood floors, the beautiful original wood trim details, the french doors, the big backyard, the location, the character and our ginormous walk-in closets (which I'll miss dearly). Now, mind you, this house looked nothing like it does now when we first bought it. It originally had a green bathtub, ugly flooring throughout, a terrible bathroom (and only one bathroom actually), a scary concrete basement, pink walls and a mud pit for a backyard...but we saw the potential in it and spent years working hard to make it our own.  

Then by Tuesday night when we sat down to review the offers that had come in, we sat across our dining room table staring at 8 (EIGHT!) signed offers. It was incredible.

So when I drove up and saw the for sale sign on our lawn the other day I couldn't help but get a little teary. Because it's our home. It's our first home. It's where we've rocked crying babies endlessly throughout the night. It's where we've cheered as tiny feet took their first steps. It's where we've sat on our front porch late at night, drinks in hand, dreaming of and planning our future. It's where we've laughed at funny toddlers, and cried when parenthood got the best of us. It's where we've celebrated holidays and eaten pancakes every Saturday morning around the dining room table. It's where we've let tears fall when life was hard and it's where we've smiled when life was great. It's a street across from my sister and her family, so it's where our children have grown to love each other and consider each other siblings instead of cousins. It's our home. And it will be hard to leave. Really hard.

But as life moves on, life brings us to new places and means that we have new as our family has grown, our house has progressively gotten smaller. Our house that used to fit just Terry and I so perfectly, (with extra rooms even!) has been steadily filling up with little people--and all of their things. So we're moving on. Moving to something new. Something different. Something bigger. Something that will take a while for it to feel like it's ours...but one day it really will feel like home once again. I'm sure of that.

And with a new backyard like this?...well, we couldn't resist.

I'm still trying to convice Terry that we'll need to get one of those ride-on lawn mowers...just for kicks.

So with some big plans for eventually gutting bathrooms, laying down hardwood upstairs and painting some walls, we'll make it our own and I know that this will one day feel like it's ours (we just have to now convince Jen and Jeff to follow us). Mind you, it's only a few minutes away from them, so the cousin love will undoubtedly will just be in a different location now--poolside, with a sippy cup full of cold juice on a hot day.

Now excuse me while I go sit and stare at my whole house that needs to be packed up. This should be fun.

Happy weekend everyone,
Erica xo

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