Sun 11 May 2014

Happy Birthday Mother’s Day

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After a week of sick kids+husband, what I was really looking forward to this Mother’s Day was the possibility of a healthy family. No-one yelling “Snot! SNOT!” at me. No feverish kids. No couch-bound husband. Actually getting more than four or five hours of sleep.

And not cooking.

The not cooking thing worked out for the most part. The rest … not so much.

Although the “Snot! Snot” shouts have been less frequent, there were still a few middle of the night wakeup calls last night, and the pugs and cats had me up at 6:16am, although technically it was the brief power outage that occurred a few minutes prior which knocked out the baby monitor, which then made it beep incessantly, which made Paco whine, which set the cats off … that got me up. But since it’s hard to get upset at a power outage, I simply let the dogs out, and then curled up on the couch until five minutes later when Abby wandered downstairs and started her non-stop chat stream. At least the first words in her one-sided dialogue were “Happy Mother’s Day!”.

But, I still had a great Mother’s Day. The “Happy Mother’s Day” refrain was repeated when Evelyn came down and again at a few other points during the day, sometimes morphing into “Happy Birthday Mother’s Day!” which made me smile. At school Abby made me the mini garden above, as well as a “bouquet” of flowers, and then I received another bouquet of flowers from my brother and sister-in-law.


And my garden gnome collection grew again by one. It’s a good thing that we have a big garden 🙂

My favourite gift of all though was the start of a lovely Mother’s Day book, forgoing store-bought cards from the kids in favour of a book of pictures and notes. Of course, since the kids are small the notes were short (and Ev’s was written by Abby/Charles) but it was still lovely!

*After a filling brunch out, I did have to make and serve dinner, but technically I didn’t “cook” it.

Thu 6 Feb 2014

Comfort food

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If someone told me a month ago and I would be calling Kale “comfort food”, I would have laughed. Of course, a month ago, I hadn’t tried Kale. I had heard of Kale, and heard that it was healthy, but outside of the health benefits I had the impression that it was much like chewing grass. Or seaweed. And not seaweed in the tasty sushi form.

Now, sushi is comfort food. Chocolate is comfort food. Starbucks Chai Lattes are definitely comfort food. But Kale? Kale is good-for-you* food and most good-for-you food is not comfort food. Or at least I didn’t think it was. But all that changed when I tried this recipe. It’s gooooood. Really, reeeally good. So good that Abby, who doesn’t like “the green stuff” in salads, likes this salad. Even Paco will eat this salad (you’d think that being a pug he’d eat anything, but he’s usually adverse to green leafy stuff too). And although it keeps in the fridge for several days without losing its crispness, I do think it’s best served shortly after preparation. The other good thing is that it takes about five minutes to prepare, so it’s not like making up a huge batch saves you much time or effort.

I’ve made this recipe twice in the last month. And after a week of dealing with a sick kid (“MOMMA! SNOT!!”), and getting sick myself, I needed some comfort food today. And this totally did the trick. And, just to make sure I was sufficiently comforted, there’s the chai to round it out. 😉

*Of course, while putting this post together I ran across information that Kale is not-so-good-for-you if you happen to have hyperthyroidism. But, as with everything, moderation is key and I’m not that addicted. Close, but still within the bounds of reasonable.

Sat 14 Jan 2012

Bailey and more Bailey

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For quite a while, Abby refered to both Paco and Honey as “Honey”, which amused us since they look nothing alike.

At first we assumed she thought that “Honey” was the word for dog, but we quickly realized she actually knew the words “pug” and “doggie” and “Paco”, and could apply the first two correctly, she just chose not to use Paco’s name. She could say Paco, she just didn’t call him that. Slowly, she started to use Paco’s name and now rhymes both names off with no effort (although she does say that Honey is a “bad boy” sometimes).

The cats, however, are not so lucky. Abby still, more often than not, refers to Logan and Bailey as “Bailey” and “More Bailey”, which is almost even more amusing than the pug naming as it seems that she can recognize that they are not the same cat – which is a feat in itself since most of our family and friends have to use the collar colour to figure out which is which – but for some reason she still calls them almost the same name. Again, she can say Logan, so it isn’t that.

Same window, different cats. Really, if she called them both “Bailey” it would make more sense.

Tue 9 Aug 2011

Because we are masochists

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Two years ago, when I was about six months pregnant, we decided to build a fence. We had the fence holes dug and posts placed by professionals (at 6x6x12ish it was a smart move), but the rest of it was a DIYer (with Charles completing a bit more than me, given my issues with bending over too far … being six months pregnant and all).

It took three or four weeks, working weekends and evenings, but we’ve truly enjoyed our fence for the past two years, so it was definitely worth the sweat and blood (yes there was blood – I was briefly banned from using a hammer).

The pictures below don’t fully capture the work, and definitely do not capture the length of our fence. But they do show some of the fruits of our labour.

(There was also the new laminate floor that Charles installed in our basement when I was about eight months pregnant. That change, however, was not initiated by us but was in response to one of our cats taking offense to the carpet that had previously covered it.)

Surprisingly, this year we decided to continue the “Tracy pregnant = start home improvements!” trend by building Abby a swingset. But, not just something that could be thrown up in a matter of a few hours. Noooooo. Little did I know when I agreed that a swingset would be a good idea, that monkey bars were also part of the package. And if you have swings and monkey bars, you need something to bridge the two – and not just a slide platform, but a little fort. With climbing wall. And sandbox. And all of this comes in two tidy cardboard packages, delivered to your door.

The instructions said it would take two people eight to ten hours to build the playset. And although I’m kind of 1.5 people right now, since we do have Abby to contend with Charles was pretty much left on his own for this one while I entertained the small child. And waved from the window occasionally. I also helped hold some pieces at one point.

Again, the pictures below do not seem to truly capture the work. At least this time there was no blood.

I would say that it probably did get finished within the sixteen to twenty hours quoted in the instructions, and with the exception of the sandbox (as we need to buy sand and figure out how to cover it so that the neighbourhood cats don’t use it as a large litter box) it has received the approval of Abby.


Mon 7 Mar 2011

Snug as a …

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When I tuck Abby in at night, I pull her blankets up to her waist so they cover the strip of skin that inevitably peeks out from between the two halves of her PJs. Any lower and she would squirm out from under them, any higher and they would distract her from falling asleep or, if she did fall asleep with them up, cause her to overheat in the middle of the night.

When I tuck Honey in at night, I pull her blanket up to her neck. She doesn’t seem to exhibit any preference for how far her blankets are pulled up, and they are always off of her by the morning, but we still tuck her in every night. She gives us the puggy dog eyes if we don’t.

When I tuck myself in at night, I pull the blankets up to my ears. When I was a child I pulled them all the way over my head, and then carefully created a little tunnel so that I could get fresh (cool) air. I can’t recall when I stopped doing that, but I’m sure that Charles appreciates my modified routine so he doesn’t suffocate at night.

Paco tucks himself in at night by pawing at and then crawling under the covers and settling against us. At first we worried he might not be able to breathe properly under the blankets, with his squishy little face, and tried to persuade him to sleep on top, but he was persistent in his efforts to get under the covers and we soon learned that he will crawl in and out of the covers to find his optimum level of comfort.

The cats, of course, would never admit to sleeping under blankets as they would not want to be seen in the same light as a mere mortal or a lowly pug. But there was a time not too long ago that both cats liked to snuggle under the blankets. Never with each other though, that would be unheard of.

Mon 11 Oct 2010

Love it or leave it

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Our backyard has an abundance of trees, which is both a blessing and a curse. In the summer, the leaves form a wonderful canopy to shield our yard during the hottest parts of the day. We look forward to winding down and spending time in our backyard and often refer to it as our own little oasis.

I sometimes think a little cabana would finish off the oasis effect nicely, but so far all we have is the shed that you can see in the picture below, which, although useful, isn’t really the same as a cabana. Although it is handy for when we want the pugs to run off some of their energy (“What’s behind the shed?!? Is there a squirrel behind the shed!?! GO GIT IT!!”)

(By the way, there’s almost never a squirrel behind the shed. But the pugs are ever hopeful.)

But while we sing the praises of our backyard all Summer, come Fall we’re humming a bit of a different tune. For a good six to eight weeks, that wonderful canopy rains down on our yard and covers it in an ocean of leaves. Sure, it’s very pretty to look at to start, but by the sixth week the raking, piling, and carting of leaves to the curb has worn out its welcome and we just want it to be over.

The pictures above were taken today. The pictures below were taken in the middle of October 2008 (the leaves fell a little early that year). The one on the left gives you a bit of a glimpse into how high our leaf piles get – and that’s only half the leaves, the other half are out of frame on the other side of our driveway. Please note that most of the trees still have their leaves at this point.

So, we clearly have a bit of a love/hate relationship with our trees. Beautiful shade all summer, weeks of back-breaking work in the Fall. Usually we try to split the work to save our backs (and sanity) but last year poor Charles had to rake all the leaves by himself, since Abby was just a few weeks old at the time and kind of attached to me 24/7. This year I figured that I could help a bit, but wasn’t sure how much we might be able to do with Abby around.

As it turns out, this year, I think we’re going to enjoy the fallen leaves a bit more.

Tue 15 Jun 2010

Give peas a (second) chance

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Abby had quite a few bibs when she was born, but there was one that seemed to make it into rotation more often than the others – or perhaps just elicited more comments so it seemed like it was always on her.

Although the bib itself is cute, it was particularly funny because I hate peas. With a PASSION. Always have. My mother, on the other hand, loves peas and often served them when I was growing up. But not to me. For me, she would make a separate side dish, free of the nasty peas. I fondly remember overhearing a conversation between my mother and grandmother when I was about sixteen, with my grandmother wondering why my mom was going through the hassle of making a different vegetable for me (why didn’t she just serve me the peas?) and my mother responding that she figured if I didn’t like them by the age of sixteen, there was nothing she could do to get me to like them. Smart woman.

Except, I discovered a few years ago that I don’t hate peas (sorry mom!). I hate cooked peas. Fresh peas on the other hand are tasty, tasty, tasty! And farmer’s market peas are both cheap and tasty. So for the past two weeks, our fridge has held a huge number of fresh peas. As has my stomach.

And today was market day. Abby clearly shares my taste for fresh peas, although she will have to wait until a meal at her nana’s house before we find out if she shares my dislike of cooked peas.

We actually use to grow them in our garden a few years ago but never seemed to eat many ourselves. Can’t figure out why.

Fri 9 Apr 2010

Abby had two little lambs

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Little lambs, little lambs
Abby had two little lambs
Whose fleeces were as white as snow.

The pugs do tend to follow us around the house, so perhaps these Easter outfits are even more appropriate than I originally thought? To be honest, my original thought was “75% off! Sure, I’ll buy them for 75% off!” – I wasn’t thinking too far beyond that.

*And yes, one is yellow, not white. No pugs were peed on in the making of this post. I just thought the yellow one was cute too.

Wed 17 Mar 2010

A pet Angora rabbit might come in handy, actually

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When I told Charles about the Mabel’s Labels contest I entered, he was, of course, curious about what the contest entailed. When I told him that I had to write about my passions, his response, without having read my entry, was “Well, I can name three right off the bat: Abby, knitting, and pugs!”

I guess I really am that transparent!

Unbeknownst to me, he had already used those three things to build a theme for my birthday presents, which I discovered when I opened them this morning:

Ball winder Knitting kit Knitting book

A yarn ball winder, a knitted toy kit, and a knitting book, which has patterns I can knit for the pugs and the cats! The book also has patterns for turtles, hamsters, rabbits, pond fish … and no, despite the picture on the cover, I’m not talking about patterns of these pets, I mean patterns for these pets! Not that we have any of these as pets right now … although I have had all, except the pond fish, as pets in the past.

I pretty much immediately had to try the ball winder. Isn’t that just a beautifully wound ball of yarn? Clearly Logan thought it was! I can’t wait to try it out with the yarn swift that my dad made for me for my birthday last year.

I decided to continue the theme this morning when I got dressed and I put on my sheep socks and my knitting shirt (which is conveniently also green to help celebrate the other important day today).

Sheep socks Knitting shirt

If only I could top it off by spending the whole day knitting.

Oh, and his response to my family when they asked if he had any ideas of things I wanted for my birthday: “Well, you never can go wrong with knitting things.”

Can you see why I love this man?

Tue 22 Dec 2009

And they called it puppy loooove ….

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Do you think Abby likes Paco?