Saturday, 28 April 2012

Chocolate Crackle and Reese Peanut Butter Cup cookies

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      I didn't sleep well at all last night. I was tossing and turning, mind running a mile a minute, stressed and overwhelmed by all of the upcoming things on my to-do list both here at home and at work. As I calmed my breathing and tried to stop my brain from working so hard I slowed down and finally let my eyes close.
    
    The thing about these kinds of nights is that it makes you wake up the next morning with a sense of urgency. I woke up, wrote a quick work email at 7:15am, finished up some school work in my jammies, then got out of bed and started on my list of things to do. Terry took Mya and walked to the market with Jeff and Oliver, and Jen came over and I worked away at the last of the details of the baby shower that I'm throwing next weekend. With my dining room table full of shower decorations, platters, glasses and ribbon, I began to relax and feel like I had things under control.

      I love throwing parties, showers and events. It`s an incredible amount of work, but I just love it. People always ask me how I do it...how I have time to make all of the details, decorations and food with a baby and a job etc etc. But the reality is that it really does take me a long time. I start early (literally months before the event), and I work away at it a little bit at a time. I'll spend one night when Mya is asleep and make a banner. Spend another night and make the little food cards. It literally takes me months to prepare...but I enjoy every moment of it. It's fun, it's exciting and I love taking the time to throw a party, event or shower for someone to let them know that I care. With my dining room table full of shower love, I began to feel the stress of everything else wash away and I started getting excited about the prospect of having our friends over to celebrate the excitement of new babies to come.

     One of the great things about life though is that it usually seems that when life feels overwhelming or stressful, something great is bound to pop up just around the corner (and if it doesn't, I usually make a point of planning something great). With a night like last night, it was so nice to know that we had plans to meet two sweet new little babies today. There`s nothing like sweet baby cuddles to make you forget about the to-do list of real life. Our friends Katie and Andrew, and Mark and Krista just had new babies and we were so excited to finally get the chance to meet them. So, the day before, I whipped up a couple of desserts to bring and we jumped in the car and made the long drive to see these sweet little girls.

    The two desserts that I made were Chocolate Crackle and Reese Peanut Butter Cup cookies. Both so incredibly delicious..and so incredibly easy to make.

   Here is how I made them:

Chocolate Crackle: I dare you to eat only one piece of these...honestly, they`re beyond addictive.


1) Grab some chocolate chips, half a pound of butter, a sleeve of saltine crackers and some brown sugar.


2)  Lay parchment paper over a cookie sheet (make sure the cookie sheet has edges) and lay out a sleeve of saltine crackers.


3) Cut your block of butter in half and throw it in a pot, with a cup of brown sugar on medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter and sugar melt together and begin to boil. Once boiled, turn down heat and continue stirring for a couple more minutes.


4) Pour the sauce over your crackers and smooth out with a spatula. It should be really runny (make sure to fill in all the cracks).


5) Put in oven at 350 degrees for about 5minutes, until the caramel sauce starts to bubble.

6) Take out of oven and quickly pour hand fulls of chocolate chips over the caramel sauce and leave it for about 3minutes to melt.


 7) Use a spatula to smooth chocolate over all of the crackers.


8) Put in fridge for a few hours. When hardened, pull out and break them all up into small pieces and enjoy!! Holy delicious.





And the other yummy recipe:

Reese Peanut Butter Cup cookies


1) Make up any of your favourite peanut butter/chocolate chip cookie recipes. If you're not really into baking, just buy one of those cookie mixes in the bags (they're just as delicious as the real deal and not as time consuming).


2) Cut up some peanut butter cups in quarters.



3) Use a table spoon and scoop out a ball of cookie dough. Roll into a ball, then flatten out with the palm of your hand. Place a piece of peanut butter cup in the middle.


4) Carefully wrap the sides of the cookie dough around the peanut butter cup.


5) Roll into a nice little ball, place on cookie sheet with parchment paper and put in oven at 350 for about 9mins (or whatever your specific cookie recipe calls for).


6) Let cool and eat!!!


And to finish off...a few baby pics from our visit today our friends and their beautiful new babies...






Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Quick Tip and Some Happies

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      I get excited when I hear of great things that save me money--I'm a frugal kinda girl and a good deal gives me the same kind of high as finding a fabulous pair of new shoes. So when I heard of this fab little trick to save us from having to buy baby shampoo over and over again, I was thrilled. So I thought I'd share it with all those other frugal mom's/dad's out there who also gasp at the price of the much needed and very necessary baby wash. I'm sure Johnson's won't be thrilled that I'm passing along this secret info, but here it goes...


If you have one of these foam pump baby wash bottles -like the one pictured above (or probably really any of those foam dispenser bottles that kids use to wash their hands), make sure it's empty.


 Fill the little foam bottle with about an inch of the normal Johnson's baby shampoo.


Fill up the rest of the bottle with water.


Voila...perfect foam and only an inch of shampoo used!! I'm probably more excited about this than most..but really, it's these little things that bring me such darn joy.

I woke up the other morning, however, in a complete funk. My throat was sore, I hadn't slept well, it was a work day, I had nothing to wear and I forgot to make my lunch the night before. Bad news all around. As I dragged myself out of bed to the sound of my little one crying at the edge of her crib I tried to crack a smile as I pulled her out of bed and kissed the top of her warm little head.
"Morning sunshine", I said as I tried to snap out of it. It didn't work.

Terry came in to get his morning kisses from his girls as I was getting Mya dressed. I tried to pretend that I wasn't in a bad mood, but he saw right through it (as he always somehow does).
"I'll finish getting her dressed, you go get yourself ready" he said to me. So I headed to the shower to the sound of him talking to her and tickling her as she giggled loudly enough for our whole neighbourhood to hear. You can't help but feel better after hearing those sweet little giggles..but I still wasn't completely cured.

I continued to get ready as Terry fed Mya breakfast downstairs and got her ready for daycare. As I brushed my hair and finally found something to wear that somewhat fit this pregnant belly, I heard those little feet coming towards me from in the hallway.
All I heard was "Mama, Mama" (those new little words just melt my heart each and every time)..and I stuck my head out the bedroom door to see her smiling face in the hall searching for me.

I decided in that moment that I had to get out of my funk before continuing on even another moment of the day. So I kissed Terry goodbye, grabbed my girl and cranked up the radio to whatever song happened to be playing (thank you Black Eyed Peas). I swung that little baby around on my hip, singing at the top of my lungs, dancing and spinning her around as her smile reached past her cheeks. She laughed, smiled, clapped and squealed in delight. I laughed with her as I put her on the floor and watched her spin around and around to the music, clapping, smiling and enjoying every last minute of her crazy mother's attempt to put herself in a better mood. It worked though.

I was 15minutes later than usual getting to school that day because of my impromptu dance party that I threw for myself, but it was totally worth it. I didn't want to leave Mya at daycare knowing that I was grumpy and I didn't want my kindergarten kids to come into a classroom with anything but positive energy from me. Back when I was a kid I remember always knowing when my teachers were in bad moods...and because of that, I always vowed to not let my students ever think for a moment that I was in a funk. Kids always take it personally no matter what.
 
So in the end, I showed up at school happy, dressed, lunch packed and ready for my little kiddies to come piling into the school. Sometimes...you just have to sing and dance in order to make the world right again.

And to finish off...a few other recent happies:

1) Chicken walking down the road:

Mya's grandma showed up with this little chicken costume that she found at a thrift store (tags even still on!) for Mya to wear this October...but come on...if someone shows up with a chicken costume you gotta put it on right away. This little girl loved it--even though I'm sure our neighbours were scratching their heads watching this chicken run up and down the sidewalk in April.



What good timing...Terry got home from work just in time to be greeted by a little chicken.

2) Fish Fry!

Our church held a fish fry tonight, so we got take out and Judy came over and we enjoyed a ridiculous amount of food...I mean a ridiculous amount of food. Delicious.

3) Puddle jumping:
I think it must be instinctual...no one ever taught her to jump in puddles..she just naturally started stomping.


5) Practicing for when her new baby brother or sister arrives. We'll have to teach her that milk doesn't go in the nose...but it was a good try regardless. Oliver's such a good sport.


6) Shopping at the Gap--flipping through the racks like a pro, checking the prices and deciding if it's worth it or not.



And the rest of the night will be spent working on the details of a baby shower I'm throwing in a couple of weeks...I love the excitement of more babies to come!  Have a good night!



Friday, 20 April 2012

Mya's Birth Story

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     As my belly continues to grow and the waves of nausea hit me with incredible force throughout the day, it reminds me that this wee baby will be here wrapped in my arms in no time. The thing about babies and children is that it makes time speed up ten times over. I look at Mya and realize that she is almost 18 months old and I can't believe it. It feels like it was only yesterday that I had her growing so perfectly in my belly, anticipating her arrival.

From a growing belly, to an 18month old who is now caring for her own baby dolls...I have no idea how this happened so quickly.


    
     With the new anticipation of our next baby, it has pushed me to do something that I have been meaning to do for over a year now...write the story of the day that Mya was born. Everyone always tells you to write down everything when you have a new baby--keep a journal or baby book to document all of the important moments, feelings and milestones that you and your new baby are going through. But when Mya was finally born, we were so overwhelmed with a baby who had jaundice, a baby who had acid reflux, a baby who wasn't gaining weight, a baby who wasn't feeding properly and a baby who refused to sleep, that the last thing that I was thinking about was writing down everything that had happened. I was just in survival mode at that point and trying to relish all of the wonderful moments of complete bliss that I was feeling with this new little person who just came into our lives. So, here I sit, 18months later and I am finally fulfilling my promise to myself to document the day that she was born so that all of those little moments, those feelings and those memories are not lost forever.



    

 It's difficult to put something so incredible into words...but I figured if I just pulled myself back to that wonderful day, looked through all of our photos and allowed myself to fall back into the feelings that flooded me that day, all of the memories would come rushing back and I'd just keep writing. So..here we go...

     My biggest fear of giving birth was not knowing if I was actually in labour or not. Never having felt a contraction before, I was worried that I wouldn't get to the hospital in time. I had been put on bedrest almost a month before Mya was born since she was already trying to make her grand appearance before she was supposed to--so my OB had told me to essentially run to the hospital the moment that I thought that I was in labour since the baby could come fast.

     The night before Mya was born, my sister and Jeff were over at our house just hanging out and watching tv with us-and I knew. I knew that something was different. I knew that something was going to happen soon, but I was surprisingly very calm. I told everyone that I was going to go to bed, and I fell asleep immediately.
     
     When I woke up the next morning at 5am with a burning sensation whipping around from my stomach to my back, I quietly got out of bed and started walking out of our room.
Terry quickly shot up in bed, and called out "What are you doing?"...as if I was about to jump off a cliff with my big pregnant belly.  I looked at him, smiled, and said "I'm going to have a shower because we're going to the hospital now"...and I left the room as I heard him fly out of bed and quickly rummage through his closet for something to wear.

    I felt another contraction coming on and I rested my head against the cold shower wall, letting the warmth of the shower water ease the burning sensation that my body was feeling at that moment. I remember smiling through this contraction though, since I was thinking to myself "Aren't I supposed to be screaming or being a bit more dramatic right now? I've watched the Baby Story a million times and everyone screams...this actually isn't so bad".  But my moment was lost as the shower curtain swung open with Terry staring at me resting against the wall with the most panicked look on his face. All I remember hearing him say was "Will you PLEASE get out of the shower?!". It made me laugh, which I'm sure he didn't appreciate at the time...but I felt so calm and I'm sure it's a completely different perspective watching your wife begin to labour, not really knowing what is happening minute to minute. But I did finish shaving my legs--cause really, you can't go having a baby without smooth legs. Really.

    So we collected our pre-packed hospital bag, fed the dog, grabbed some fruit and snacks from the cupboard and headed to the car. I remember feeling excited, calm, but I also felt some denial about what was actually about to take place. You dream about the day that your baby will be born. You try to picture what it is going to be like, how you are going to feel, what is going to happen. But in the moment that it was actually happening, I just couldn't believe that this day was actually here. It felt so surreal.

    As we got to the hospital and were whisked into triage, I continued to feel each painful contraction every couple of minutes as I slowly laid down on that uncomfortable, yet somehow comforting hospital bed. Terry held my hand and we sat staring at each other and smiling, not really knowing what to say. What do you say to each other when you know that something so miraculous, so incredible, so unbelievable is about to take place? There really are no words.

    As more and more contractions radiated through my body, Terry would try to follow the rules that he learnt in our pre-natal class about holding my hand, breathing for me, rubbing my back. But every time that anyone touched me the pain somehow radiated to that exact spot where their skin touched mine. As this was happening, I was trying to find a way to tell him to stop touching me without hurting his feelings since really, he was trying so hard to do everything that he could to help. So after another painful contraction, I turned to him, smiled, and said "You know the Dog Whisperer and how he has rules for the dog owners about how to train their dogs? He always says to them 'no touch, no talk, no eye contact'. Well, pretend that I'm the dog and you're the dog owner..no touch, no talk, no eye contact -and oh ya, no breathing-when I'm going through a contraction. Okay?". And he looked at me like I was nuts. But he got it--and from there on out, the poor guy was forced to just sit and watch me wither in pain. But it's what worked for me and in the end, no feelings were hurt. Complete success.
   
     As I laid in bed, a nurse came over to check on me and suggested that I go for a walk down the hall to speed things up. So Terry took my arm and we started heading slowly down the long hallway. I remember stopping after only a few steps and needing to hold on to the bar on the wall as a wave of pain swept through my body and paralyzed me from head to toe. After it passed, Terry took my arm and we took a few more steps...but then all of a sudden all that I saw in front of me was black and I could feel the weight of my head as I no longer had control over my neck. I knew that I was about to faint and I quickly told Terry as I held the wall in an effort to control what I knew I no longer had control over. All I remember after that was Terry running down the hall towards me with a wheelchair and a nurse helping me back to bed. Apparently me and walking during labour don't mesh very well.

     After a couple of hours in triage, we were moved into a nice large room where our family started piling in. My mom works in the hospital and she just happened to be working that day, so she kept coming up to check on us until her shift was finally over. It was such a surreal feeling to be watching our family start to arrive, sit by my bed, pull out magazines, nibble on snacks and send texts on their phones to keep others up to date. Even through the painful contractions that were clearly letting me know that something huge was about to happen, I remember feeling that there was no way that an actual baby was about to be born. I remember saying to Terry "I just can't believe that a real live baby is going to come out of me". He looked at me, laughed, and replied "Do you think you're about to give birth to a puppy or something?". Good point..but I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that this miraculous thing was actually about to happen and we'd have a baby in our arms in only a short period of time.

     With each sweeping contraction, I can't even tell you how thrilled I was when they finally told me that the epidural was on it's way. Hallelujah. After convincing those lovely nurses that Terry needed to stay with me to hold my hand as that needle went into my back, I remember also cutting them off when they began explaining everything that they were doing and everything that were about to do to me. I don't need the gory details, just get the job done. So in silence, Terry sat there staring me in the eye, squeezing my hand as that needle went into my back and I knew that glorious relief was soon to come.
    
     As the pain began to settle and our family continued to sneak in and out of our room, trying to quietly surpass the limit of people allowed in our labour room, it felt like a relaxed little party. People were hanging out, laughing, talking, watching the monitor, bringing me ice chips and chatting up our wonderful nurse who I absolutely loved.

      We were all relaxed, happy and just anticipating the arrival of our little girl...until my OB came in and announced that in 20mins they were going to have me start pushing. I almost had a heart attack. All of a sudden we weren't just having a little party anymore. We weren't just hanging out at the hospital making new friends with the nurses. The reality of what was about to take place hit me so hard and I started to shake and I felt like I couldn't catch my breath. I remember saying to the nurse, "But I don't think I'm ready to do that...I don't know how to push. I'm not so sure about all of this anymore". She just smiled, touched my hand and said "Don't worry, I'll walk you through it all and you'll be just fine". Easy to say when you're not the one about to deliver a real live baby. Real, live baby. I couldn't believe it.
   
    As they got me positioned and explained to me what I needed to do, all of a sudden I was pushing, waiting for another contraction, then pushing again. I had Terry, Jen and my mom all cheering me on..telling me I was doing a great job, counting til 10 and holding the oxygen mask over my face since baby's heart rate kept dropping. There was so much love in that room, you could feel it with every sweeping contraction and every moment of holding my breath.

     I was quiet throughout all of the pushing, concentrating and trying to do my best..like I was going to be graded at the end of it with a pass or fail. But when my OB finally said "here she comes", my world completely stopped and I squealed as I felt slippery, wet skin touch my chest. I looked down in complete shock and awe as this perfect, tiny baby squirmed right there in front of me. My eyes filled with tears and I kissed her sweet, wet head. I looked at Terry and with tears in his eyes too he bent over to kiss her as well. It's a moment I'll never forget. Love just radiated throughout the room. I remember my mom kissing my cheek, telling me that I did a great job as Jen snapped all of the photos that I'll forever cherish.


     Terry fell in love with her immediately, as we all did...but when I asked him what he remembered most about her birth he said that he remembered holding her hand, wanting so desperately to comfort her as she was being checked over by the nurses.








    After they got Mya all cleaned up, weighed and checked, the rest of our family started to pile into the room. I'll never forget looking up to see my dad walk in and hug my mom as tears filled her eyes. They said something quietly to each other in their embrace and to this day I don't know what it was..I've never asked. But I can only assume that it was a moment between them where they were acknowledging the miracle of their youngest baby having a baby herself and the miraculous moment that they were experiencing together of becoming grandparents themselves for the first time. It was just confirmation for me that this baby was going to provide not only Terry and I with everlasting joy and love, but others as well. The room was full of excitement, flashes from cameras going off, tears and smiles. What a wonderful way for this baby to enter this world, already completely consumed by love.









      As I think back to this incredible day, it makes me excited to think about doing it all over again. I don't think there is anything like carrying a baby in your belly, watching it grow, feeling it kick, then experiencing the miraculous moment of meeting your baby for the first time. I really feel like I can't even do it justice by putting it into words, since there really are no perfect words to describe an experience such as this. I know too that it means that there are of course a million little parts and moments left out. But regardless, it was the most incredible moment of my life. And 18 months later I have finally put it down on paper with the hope that I will never let the stress, chaos, heartache and busyness of life overshadow what's really important in life...our little Mya and our mini, but growing family. Nothing else means more.




    
    
    

    


            


Friday, 13 April 2012

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches--super easy dinner idea

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     Sometimes life works in interesting ways to show you how amazing people really are. With everything that we've been through in the past couple of weeks, the love and care of others is what I'll remember the most.

     With having to stay in bed, one of the most wonderful things that happened was that our stellar family and some fabulous friends showed up with amazing meals for us. Thank you to everyone for the delicious dinners--I am forever grateful. We even had wonderful friends show up the night before I started back to work this week with another amazing meal, knowing that it would be a busy first day back to school for me (and this fabulous couple is ready to have a baby any day now!). Thank you Shannon and David!

     Since I've had dinner on the brain from all of the wonderful meals that have shown up at our door, I decided that now that we're back to the reality of real life again, I wanted to try a new recipe.

      I'm always trying to come up with new dinner ideas (or just figure out what to make each night). Ever since I started back to work after being on mat leave with Mya I've found that I've had to be extra organized with dinner. I like to cook, I like to try new recipes. But it always feels like a rush to get dinner on the table before Mya has to go to bed each night. Most nights I somehow find enough energy at the end of the day to put together a yummy meal...but other nights I'll just pull out a pizza from the freezer and throw it in the oven.
  
     When I was on the search for a new dinner idea I came across a recipe that looked delicious--buffalo chicken sandwiches (which definitely looked like something that my hubby would love). The recipe that I found was from this fab recipe blog and since I'm not into really spicy foods, I decided to switch a few things up. It's usually made with Frank's Red Hot sauce and I knew a whole bottle of that stuff would absolutely kill me, so here is the recipe that I used instead. With a few little changes, I made this the other night and it was delish! I'd say Terry thought it was a hit too since he ate THREE sandwiches that night.


  Here is how I did it:

Get together only 4 ingredients: frozen chicken, ranch dip (powered form), a bottle of buffalo sauce (I used the mild kind and I still thought it was a bit hot for me!) and buns.


1) Place a few pieces of frozen chicken in the slow cooker (I threw in 5 pieces and I found out that I could have put more in since there was extra sauce in the end). I always thought you had to thaw chicken before putting it in the slow cooker..but as long as you double check that it's cooked through this recipe works perfectly! 


2) Cover chicken with the entire bottle of buffalo sauce.

3) Pour the ranch sauce over top and mix together until chicken is covered.


4) Put slow cooker onto medium for 5hrs (or low for approx 7hrs)

5) Pull chicken out at least 1/2 hr before you're going to eat it and shred it (the best trick in the world is that you can shred chicken in your Kitchen Aid mixer-if you have one. Just go slowly or you'll end up with mushy chicken. But it'll shred it really nicely if you're careful. If you don't have a mixer, just use two forks and pull chicken apart. If it's ready, it'll pull apart easily.


6) Put chicken back into slow cooker for another hour or so (so that the juices can soak into the chicken).


7) Toast up your buns on the stove with a bit of butter until they're a tad crispy, then put chicken on top.


8) Terry liked it with just the chicken, but I threw some thick slices of cheddar cheese on top and it was even more delicious. If you want to get even fancier, you could add lettuce, tomatoes or whatever else you want. If you have leftovers, you can even use the chicken to make quesadillas the next night.


Easy as pie...and so delicious!!

Enjoy!!







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