Monday, November 22, 2010

Nutritionist update

I am slowing down my appointments to once a month and trying to balance all my new information with some normal home cooked meals.  Each time I make something I try and change it a little bit using something new I have learned.  Yesterday we had pancakes.  Same old recipe from my dad, but whole wheat flour, substitute agave nectar for white sugar (threw my white sugar out) and added 1/2 cup pureed beets, plus a handful of dark chocolate chips (70% cocoa, so a healthier choice).  Deanna had told me about adding the beets a long time ago, but I hadn't considered it because my kids actually eat veggies really well.  It wasn't until I started trying to add even more vegetables into our diet that this came to fruition.  Tonight I made a spin on cabbage role casserole, substituting quinoa for rice, adding black beans and 1/2 a pureed avocado.  Only thing I would change is draining the liquid from the canned tomatoes as the quinoa does not absorb as much liquid as rice.  Anyhow, my main focus is to be sure we are eating more vegetables, so always making sure we have a veggie in addition to the casserole that in this case already had cabbage, avocado, black beans, etc. 

We've been trying to always have a healthy treat option on hand, currently pumpkin muffins or breakfast cookies, something that is made with natural ingredients, but feels like a treat when you need dessert or a fun snack. 

We've also been experimenting with Kefir and have tried it in potato salad, smoothies and used the kefir cheese as a replacement for mayo in sandwiches.  We are getting used to it and it is supposed to be a great probiotic, better than plain yogurt!

Anyhow, that is the brief update!  Chat more soon!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nutritionist update

Things are progressing along nicely.  Last week my homework was to lift 4 pounds of butter at the grocery store, because that is how much fat I lost.  So, I went to the store and lifted a pound up to my bicep and put 2 on my stomach and pretended that is where they came from.  After awhile they do get heavy, so no wonder I do feel tired so often- a lot of work carrying around all this extra weight.  I've always known that, but I guess never wanted to really admit that was the reason.

In the last year and a half or so that means I am down 20 pounds, so a nice number to reach and I am heading in a positive direction.  Today I bought 2 new books to help me out, Clean Eating for Families and Kids and Deliciously Deceptive.  We will see if they help me or confuse me?  Right now I am in the middle of watching a documentary called Food Inc. and it is... I guess what you would expect.  Most of us have ideas of how our food is prepared, but you don't necessarily like to see it in action.  They really show you the steps and I have to say I was pretty sad when all the little baby chicks were being swept down a metal slide and shoved around like potatoes :(  It talks a lot about salmonella and E. Coli, things I have heard of enough times, but don't really know that much about, so it is interesting to learn more.  This week we talked more about perservatives in the deli meats, she really doesn't like that we eat deli meat (I just find them so convenient) So, for now we are going to try and go mostly without, tomorrow we are making a roast and will have leftovers for sandwiches or salads all week.  

We have tried a few nice recipes, here are a few:

Grain Free Crumble

6 cups choppe fruit of your choice (we used apple)
1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 and mix together in glass baking dish

2/3 cups nut or seed flour (we used almond flour, but she also listed coconut flour, pumpkin seed flour, or sunflower seed flour - whatever you could find I guess - I got mine at Bulk Barn)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pecans
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup honey
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp all spice
1/4 coconut oil (this is my absolute new favorite item, even spread it on toast  - it is semi-soft like shortening, but tastes yummy, can be used in baking, cooking, etc. - I got mine at Bulk Barn, but any natural food pantry type store would have it)

Mix topping until slightly crumbly and spread over fruit
Bake for 40 minutes - very good, Devin ate 3 helpings!

Mexixan Bean Casserole

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
1 red pepper chopped
3/4 cup brown rice
1 can kidney beans
1 can tomatoes
1 tbsp chilli powder
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
grated low fat mozza cheese (my nutritionist would say organic, but I haven't got that far yet)

In skillet heat oil and water.  Add onion, garlic, mushroom and peppers, simmer until tender about 10 minutes.
Add rice, beans, canned tomatoes, spices and cover and simmer for 25 mintues or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. 
Transfer to baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted. 

We ate this with homemade guacamole (avocado, lime juice, garlic and a bit of salt and cilantro if you like it) and I'd like to say organic whole grain tortilla's, but it was multigrain tostitoes, oops!  Plus a big side serving of sugar snap peas to add the extra veggies in there and help fill us up!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another blog - yep!

Our Quirky Class, is you guessed it my class blog!  There are 31 grade 6 students learning to blog along side me and we've just got it up and running.  Part of the whole process is to meet new people from far away and become closer with the people we are surrounded by daily.  Jasmine already made a post and quite a few kids replied to her question of, "what is grade 6 like?"  Tyson and Allie may like to check it out and we would love to have them comment on there.  Hope to see some of you on there!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A month has gone by

So, today was my one month visit to see the nutritionist.  I go once a week to visit her and get advice.  Tomorrow I am going to the natural food pantry where she happens to work once a week to learn more about all they have to offer and what is good or not so good.  I've been trying a few new products and 2 that I would recommend are coconut oil, which she says she uses as a replacement for butter, even to spread on toast or in baking.  I've tried both and am very pleased with the texture and flavor.  Apparently it is a good fat, like avocado and has many health benefits, still obviously used in moderation, but a nice option to have.  Coconut oil is semi-hard, like a margarine consistency, but white with more flavor.  I bought it at Bulk Barn, not sure where else to find it yet.  The other item is hemp seeds or hemp hearts.  I have tried a few new things like chia seeds and of course ground flax, but I like the hemp best.  It has a nice texture and flavor and doesn't get soggy in your cereal or yogurt like the others. 

Today we discussed the dirty dozen in produce, they are the 12 most likely fruits and veggies to have strong amounts of pesticide on them and so they are recommended to buy in organic.  I have never bought organic and still have to do research on this, but thought it was nice to have a target list to maybe start with.  Anything with a peel does not absorb as many pesticides, so not as necessary to buy organic oranges for example - made sense!

We also talked about deli meats and to stay away from nitrites, I need to look this up, too, but she said Farmboy has some options for natural meat, but of course you pay for it and it doesn't last as long because it has no perservatives in it. What I've read so far though, there is a reason for the nitrites and that is to keep the meat from spoiling and things like botulism, so I'm still thinking this one through.

I signed up for another month, so more posts to come!

And I am down 5 pounds - so yeah!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jay's 1st post!

Jay wrote the below to me in an email from California, he hadn't intended me to share it with everyone, but it made me laugh out loud. I figured I might as well make someone else's day by making them laugh, too. Here it is:

So I'm not a blogger, but I thought, here's the kind of thing people put on their blogs. Plus, I cant' just let it all out to you in person, so hopefully this just gives you something to read.

I'm having an issue with this office and its bathrooms. And coffee room. As you know, I drink a lot of water. I don't have a water bottle here- what I have is a paper coffee cup that holds about 1.5 cups of water if I fill it to the brim. Besides the smaller size, the coffee station where I can fill up the cup feels like it's half a football field away. If it wouldn't look so strange, I could probably get my daily quotient of jogging in running back and forth to fill up my cup. But that's not the only thing.

See the bathrooms are slightly farther away than the coffee station. And with all the water I drink, I make frequent use of them. In some ways it may seem to be convenient- I could go to bathroom and hit the coffee station at the same time, right? Well, I really have no intention of taking my open top cup into the can with me, either before or after I fill it with water. Especially since, ideally, my washroom experience should be a 2 handed affair. The alternative is to leave my cup lying somewhere close by, but do I really trust my water to be lying around in the open for just anyone to grab? I don't know these people. And I could grab a new water cup every time I fill up, but let's try to be at least a little bit environmentally friendly.

Now the bathrooms have their own charm, and by charm I mean that at some point the seven dwarves must have worked for AMCC. There are 2 urinals in the bathroom and one of them is at knee level. Perhaps there was an equal rights movement for pygmy immigrants in California. I'm thinking management is doing everything they can to encourage their workers to move in to their cubicles full time with their families.

Peeing downhill isn't an inconvenience, but let's face it, accuracy suffers with distance. Not to mention that compared to a toilet, the urinal doesn't quite contain splash back in the same way since it's not as deep. Half the time I hit the bathroom, I'm relegated to hobbit status as the full size urinal is in use. What's immediate apparent is the floor puddle from previous users who are under the same inconvenience as I am. Which doesn't help as you try to stand as much out of the way as possible to keep from needing rubber boots to go to the bathroom. Take my word for it, awkward foot positioning does not aid your targeting in any way shape or form. By the end of the day, the puddle is striving to achieve pond status and I'm doing my best Jackie Chan impression by hanging from the walls when I go to the washroom.

The end result is that about every hour, I spend 5 minutes getting my exercise by going down to get a drink, return to my desk, go to the bathroom, and then returning back as fast as I can before anyone can figure out where the wet tracks out of the bathroom are coming from or notice the water marks streaked half way up my jeans.

Don't even get me started on the actual toilets ...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week #2 with the nutritionist

I had a pretty good week in some regards.  My goal had been to eat 2 green veggies a day and to eat more veggies in one sitting.  Often the diet was telling me to eat 2 cups of veggies and I was only eating a handful of raw carrots.  I figured this had something to do with why I was so hungry all the time.   Between the shrinking of my stomach from last week and the extra veggies this week, I was feeling better or at least not hungry.  Mid-week I started fighting off a cold, but interestingly enough it went away without me really even getting too sick at all... maybe it was all the green veggies?

So, what did I learn this week?  I'm allowed to email her questions, so here are some interesting tidbits I learned and hopefully will retain.

1) Eating eggs is a good thing and they have been given a bad rap.  However you need to eat them with a soft yolk.  Hard yolks have more cholesterol and less nutrients.  Don't ask me the science behind it, but that is what I learned.

2) Cook using liquids.  For example, again with eggs, I said what is the difference between fried and poached eggs if they both have a soft yolk, she said the cooking method does something to it, adds something that is bad for you.    She said cook chicken in water with herbs or a tomato sauce for example.  BBqing was also not her favorite method of cooking for this reason and she said do not eat blackened foods as they are known to be carcinogenic. 

3)  If I am going to eat something with little nutritional value, like Rice Krispies I should eat a fat with it, like Flax to help sustain me through until snack time.  She said the same with snacks like rice cakes,etc.

4) Don't drink cold water.  Cold water closes your blood vessels and makes it harder to absorb all the nutrients you are trying to feed it (or something like that).  She says weight loss books say the opposite because you burn more calories warming the water up in your body, but your body needs the nutrients, so to drink it warm.

My goals for this week are to drink warm lemon water every morning to kickstart my digestive system.  To track how much water I drink and aim for 8 glasses a day.  To take my calcium/magnesium before bed as it can be calming?  To continue eating my veggies and to add my exercise because I have been slack the last 2 weeks!

There you have it!  I did sneak back under 200 pounds this week, a number I hadn't seen since before summer holidays, so that felt good! 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nutritionist update

So, week 1 is over and I've had my first 1 on 1 session with my nutritionist.  We didn't take any measurements, not even a weight.  She isn't so worried about that number, but wants to teach me to read labels and consider what I am putting in my body.  Yesterday's discussion included tidbits such as:

Always choose the whole grain option over whole wheat - read the label carefully! 

Eating no yogurt would be her preference over eating a higher sugar yogurt or an artificially sweetened yogurt.  I tried the plain yogurt, but seriously that was just not good!  I've been trying to decrease to lower fat versions, but she said it really is more the sugar I should be concentrating on.  I wondered if it was better to eat a yogurt every day to get your calcium and probiotics, even if it had sugar in it, but in her opinion, dairy was not the end all be all and she wasn't worried about me having it daily like my physician had suggested.  I do take a supplement of calcium (now calcium citrate and I have to say I like the taste of this liquid calcium, especially right after the fish oil I am now taking).  Her suggestion was if it said dairy on the menu, I could substitute that for a protein.  I'm not giving up yogurt by any means, but I maybe won't eat 2 a day (sometimes that happens).

She likes the 90:10 rule, be good 90 % of the time and the other 10% you could have fun - celebrate a birthday or eat a fun snack.   I thought this was a good rule and in the course of your week, if you eat 21 meals and 14 or so snacks, that is a couple times a week where you could have a treat and not feel guilty about it.  It is good to know you can treat yourself and not feel guilty about it. 

A good first session.  I also learned from her body composition analysis that my water levels are low, so more water and more veggies and fruits that naturally contain water. 

She also suggested, twice now, warm lemon water in the morning to kick start your system working.  I haven't made that a priority yet, but should try it this weekend.  I also need to focus on more veggies.  I know I don't eat a full cup when it asks for them, unless they are cooked.  A full cup of raw veggies is a lot, unless you are eating a salad, so I need to focus on that.

Anyhow, so far so good!  I did lose 1.5 pounds when I weighed myself at home, but was quite hungry this week.  That's why I have to focus on my veggie amounts to help fill me up more. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hi, ho, hi, ho... off to the nutrionist I go!

On Thursday I met with a nutritionist. My goal is to feel less tired and have more energy. The closest plan she has that matches this is a weight loss plan of course. I've said it before and I will say it again, I am done with dieting... I'm just trying to live a healthier life everyday and be happy. Since I started this mentality last June, as in a year and a bit ago, I've lost 13 pounds and kept it off (I won't mention the other 5 I had lost but gained over the summer, sigh)

Anyhow, I meet the nutritionist and I am slightly nervous and partially excited. I fill out oodles of paperwork, I think over 15 pages, plus a 7 day food log prior to our meeting. When we meet we discuss my paperwork and she takes my measurements and then basically sends me on my way saying she will send me the website and password later that night. Harumpf!

The night goes by and still no email, I think it was later the next afternoon when I finally had access and my initial response was disappointment. I mean, really it is like the online Curves program I had done 2 years ago, they give you a set menu and if you don't like it you can scroll down and replace it with something else. It is pretty much like any other diet, Dr. Phil, Ultimate Body Challenge... been there done that... chicken breast and veggies here I come. I'm not thrilled!

I keep looking through the website and more and more of my questions get answered as I read on and things become more clear. For example, in the first 2 weeks,I am not allowed beef, pork, potatoes, nuts, hard cheese, alcohol, and I can't remember why, but something like they are heavy and slow down the digestion. These food are slowly re-integrated starting week 3. So at least I know the menu changes as we go through the process. She also has a list of recipes on the site, including muesli and muffins, so apparently I will be able to switch from whole wheat breads after 2 weeks, too.

She had told me the key would be our weekly meetings and I think she is right, this is where she will have to help me tweak the menu to better suite my family and my needs. She didn't do that this week, which is why I freaked out a bit on initial reaction.

Based on her recommendations, items I shopped for today included: calcium citrate (instead of carbonate, better absorbed by the body and I bought a liquid from that also has Magnesium in), fish oil (I bought lemon flavored, we will see how that goes down, I may have to stir it in with yogurt or something?), wheat germ, wheat bran, spelt flakes, chia seed, ground flax seed... many of these are for the muesli recipe that looked pretty good and that I can eat for breakfast:

2 cups organic rolled oats
1 cup spelt or barley flakes
1/2 wheat bran
1/3 cup skim milk powder
1/3 natural almonds (chopped)
1/4 wheat germ
1/3 cup ground flax seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla (pure)
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup diced dried fruit (pineapple, apricots, cranberries)
3/4 apple juice concentrate

in shallow baking dish, combine first 9 ingredients. Mix 1/2 cup apple juice concentrate with vanilla. Pour over mixture and stir to coat. Bake at 275 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and add remaining ingredients. Bake for another 15 minutes. Let cool, store for up to a month. 1 serving = 1/2 cup.

So,  I'm signed up for a month.  The first two weeks will be like a real diet, quiet restricting, but I think there are reasons for that, so I am willing to do it.  Over time, foods will be reintegrated and we will keep adapting the menu, so I should lose some weight, but ideally am introducing news foods and habits that will stick around for the long haul and in the long run make me feel better... I hope. 

I have my weekly meetings on Thursdays and will keep you posted as to how successful or frustrating things are going.  Thanks for your support!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blog Hop

I really have NO idea how this works or if I have done this correctly, but based on the instructions, I believe if you click the link below, you will be taken to a list of bloggers who are all participating in the Kids in the Capital Blog Hop. A cool idea, if I can get it to work!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A visit to the Asian Superstore

I had been wanting to visit the T & T Supermarket ever since I had heard it opened.  I had read a few other blog articles from moms in the area who thought it was a cool adventure to take their kids on.  I had to go to that end of town to pick up the cheque for my Taurus stationwagon that was written off, so it seemed like an opportune time.  According to their website: T & T Supermarket's goal is to enrich the lifestyle of Asian families in Canada by offering them choice food and household items in a comfortable shopping environment. We also hope to introduce the colourful Asian food culture to the Canadian multicultural society.  I figured that since they are hoping to introduce families who are unfamiliar with their products that they would not mind me pointing out all sorts of interesting things to my kids and taking pictures to show you, too!  Upon entering the supermarket the belwo picture is what we saw.  Not so different from your ordinary grocery store, except that most of the packages are written on in Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese...), sometimes with NO English translation.  It must be very frustrating for them to shop here when they arrive, as we don't have Asian translations on any of our products.  The kids and I roamed around the aisles, each kid with a little red basket on wheels. (You had to pay a loonie to get a real cart and of course, I had no change).

Next, you will see many pictures of foods that we found interesting.  We talked about what kind of words to use to describe things we saw or tasted, because saying it was weird, gross or yechy, wasn't very polite.  We tried to say, "that is different" or "I've never seen anything like that before, cool!", etc.  They had many different types of chicken feet: marinated and ready to cook, raw, frozen and they had duck feet as well.  I just can't get over in the picture below that they have little toenails - that does make me shutter a bit.  We also saw for the first time, Gooey ducks.  Deanna, is this what is underneath those green circular things at the beach?  Jasmine seemed to think she had seen these, at least the very tops of them.  They were quite the site to see.  They also had Silkie chickens that had blue flesh. Then there were pigs feet, again something you saw in a few spots, marinated, raw or frozen. Then there was the cow tongue and we couldn't get over just how big it was - huge, really!  Unfortunately, I could not bring myself to buy any of these items.  After looking some of them up online (check out the link to the gooey ducks, very interesting video), I might be tempted to try a chicken foot at an Asian restaurant, just to try it, but I couldn't see preparing them at home quite yet. 

Although we didn't buy any of the above items, we did manage to spend $78.00 on: pork and lamb for a hot pot (we'll use them in fondue, they are sliced really thin and rolled up), vegetable dumplings, steamed pork dumplings, chocolate steamed buns, passion fruit, mango roll with bean curd, mung bean bread with custard, Jasmine honey tea (like iced tea), mini-sponge cake, Asian popsicles, mini jellies and more.  Tonight we taste tested all the drinks and dessert items.  Jasmine loved the sponge cake, Pam and I loved the Mung bean bread (I thought Devin picked the coconut bread, but this was still good).  Most of the desserts were cool to try, but necessarily to eat again... if you know what I mean.

Below you will see us on our way out of the store, we stopped for some bubble juice.  If you haven't heard of this before, it is a Taiwanese drink that is becoming more popular in America.  The bubbles are actually tapioca balls and taste sort of like gummy candies.  I think all of these drinks have a bit of a tea base, so they sort of had an after taste we did not love, but the cherry slush one was very good and the mint chocolate one was not too bad, we did not really drink the pudding one though.  It was a fun way to end the shopping trip and ensure we were hydrated and full before the 30 minute drive back home. 

All in all this was a fun way to spend the afternoon.  The kids said they would like to go again and I would go a few times a year to buy items for a sushi meal or a night when you wanted to experiment with something new.  
Check out the Tapioca ball in the straw.  You drink and chew at the same time.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vancouver Island, B.C.

First stop, Nanaimo B.C.  After waiting 2 1/2 hours for our flight in Vancouver, it was a pretty crazy notion to find out that our flight to Nanaimo was only 8 minutes long.  You honestly wait longer on the ground to get on and off the plane than you are in the air.  We arrived in Nanaimo to beautiful weather at about 6:30 B.C. time, which is 9:30 p.m. Ottawa time.  By the time we hailed a cab, checked in to the hotel, it was waaaay past bedtime for the kids.  We stayed at the Buccanner Inn and  upon check-in the innkeeper gave the kids a freezie, so we decided that it was fate and we were supposed to check out the surroundings while they finished them off.  The below picture is from our little walk across the street from the inn.  We also followed a flock of waddling, pooping geese into the water.  The kids were off to bed and we were delighted to have a separate living area to watch TV as they fell asleep.  The next morning we were lucky to be picked up by my Brother-in-Law, Trevor and chauffeured to Qualicum Beach. 

The above waterfall and "fairy garden" is part of the beautiful yard at the B & B we stayed at in Qualicum Beach, The Tea Cozy.  Hans and Tannis were our hosts and just happen to be the next door neighbours and good friends of my grandparents.  Hans is a Swiss trained chef, so needless to say we ate very well in the mornings, but Tannis always made sure we had home-baked treats and fruit to come home to in the afternoon as well.  They were very kind to let all the cousins take over the yard to hunt for fairies or play bocce ball.  We rented both of their rooms and were very happy with that arrangement, as the kids could go to bed and we could watch a movie in the next room or read until we were ready for bed, too.
After the big anniversary party was over, we had a day to have some beach fun.  My Uncle Dan has a couple of "yaks" as he calls them and brought them down to Parksville so we could each take a spin.  I was a little too nervous to want to go far in the ocean water, but it was fun to get in and out and have the experience.  Jasmine took a turn again this year, but  Devin opted not to and he had fun scouring the beaches for crabs with the Japanese exchange student Akane.  Parksville has a great playstructure and water park.  I tried to use the panoramic view to show you, but it doesn't do it justice.

The above picture is the marina in Ucluelet.  We stopped here for lunch our way to Tofino and ate lunch on a parked ship called the Canadian Princess.  The road to Tofino was windy and Devin did throw up, unfortunate for Les and Trevor, as Jay and I were driving up with mom and dad.  Good thing we were caravaning, so they walkie talkied us and we pulled over to get Devin some new clothes.  He was fine and barely even noticed - what a kid!  Below is our first beach visit to the farside of the island at MacKenzie Beach.  We walked there from our B & B condo that we were ALL staying at.  It was a cool experience, crazy windy, freezing water, but soft sand and cool rock outcroppings off to the side to climb and explore.  You can see the panoramic photo below where we were trying to explore (our family had taken our shoes off further down the beach, so it was tough for us, but quite a cool view)
In the above pictures you can see snow on the mountains in the background.  We weren't at a major beach here, actually we were at the botanical gardens and one of the paths had led us to this beaut of a spot. The next two are at Long Beach.  I can only tell because of all the logs washed up in the background.  Long beach, was well long - wouldn't really matter how many people were there, I don't think it would ever be too crowded.  Below are some pictures from Chesterman Beach, which was our favorite.  Going during low tide, you could walk right out to Frank's island and explore.  We found loads of mussels and barnacles stuck to rocks and with a close eye you could see starfish, too.  We did peel a few off the rocks for kids (and Jay) to touch and have fun with.  Our kids loved jumping waves and I took some great video clips of that in action, too.

We ended our trip with a crabfest, which I also have some cool video of, and a campfire, including sparklers and colored flames.  Your choice was crab or hot dog?  Hmmm?  Not tough for most people, but I love a cheap hot dog.  My brother-in-law, Jamie and my dad dealt with the crabs the most, but they did give me the chance to put one to death :(  Why is that fun?  Who knows, but it kind of is!  I'm trying to remember if the kids tried any, but for some reason I think they did. 
After all of that, and many things I haven't even had a chance to mention, like homemade ice cream treats and the guys on their scooters, it was time to head back to Qualicum.  We spent one more day with all the Gramma's and Grampa's, mostly treasure hunting for geo-cache's, which unfortunately we could not really find.  But everyone was such a good trooper, including great-gramma and grampa.  The only real problem is, it was soooo hot!  Especially for there, as no one had air conditioning to cool down in afterwards.  Great-gramma hiked all through these woods (and the picture below was the clear path, most were full of roots and stumps).  
On our very last day, we headed to Parksville once again and had a final play with cousins Sam and Hayden.  We collected baby crabs and Auntie Nanny made this crab hotel for them.  We treated ourselves to Dairy Queen and then went for our best swim yet, low tide at Parksville.  It had been so hot that day, the sand was warm and the water was like a bath.  You could walk out a block and not even be up to your waist.  The sand was soft, the water was calm and the kids had a blast.  My dad drove us back to the Buccaneer Inn and the next morning we were off on our flight home.  What a trip to remember!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My wish for the cousins!

Growing up we had few visits with our cousins.  Really all of my cousins lived far away from us, so there wasn't much to be done about that.  I do however have very fond memories of my cousins, especially Cara and Jen, as that is who we saw most often.  I hated reading, yet my cousins loved to read and my Uncle Glen managed a book store, so he had many, many books laying about the house.  My cousins read for fun, do you believe it... sure not something I did as a kid.  But at their house, I read Archie comic after Archie comic.  I also remember playing operation on each other when we were supposed to be falling asleep.  Jen would pretend to cut my arm open, fix a bone and re-stitch me up.  Or sometimes we would write words on each others backs and see if we could figure out the message... funny what you remember.  I also remember that my cousin Jen could take the sleep out of her eye in one long strip - weird!  Why do I remember these things?  I'm sure we did many more exciting things together, like motor boat or katamran at their cottage for example, why don't those memories stand out more? 

I hope that my kids will have fond memories of their cousins.  We don't see each other very often either and we are very far away from each other.  We do what we can to keep the specialness to their relationship by sending videos, making phone calls and passing on hand me downs (seems silly, but little kids love getting stuff from their older cousins, Devin will wear it if it came from Tyson). We try to put family first when we can and this summer is no exception with a trip out to BC to celebrate great-gramma and grampa's 60th anniversary.  It was great to see them on their special day, but it was really special because we got to spend that day with all the cousins and aunties and uncles and great-gramma and grampa got to see how all their great-grandkids interact and it was really cool!
Below we have Devin and Samantha buried in the sand at Tofino.  These two are only a month apart in birthday, but just because of the nature of girls and boys, typically you will find Sam playing with Jasmine and Devin with her younger brother, Hayden.  I love this picture because of the great smiles, they were loving this moment!

Below we have a couple group snaps with all the Shadbolt cousins, I say that, but unfortunately for grampa none of their last names are actually Shadbolt :( 

Below we have the boy cousins and the girl cousins.  The boys are especially funny and well rounded, but I think they all have a sweet, sensitive side to them... they really are Shadbolt's!  Then you have the girls... very powerful and driven, they know what they want and they know how to get it, not necessarily a good thing at their age.

Crazy cousins posing at the beach.  Jasmine thinks Tyson is smelling his armpit here, ha, ha!  Devin is doing a karate chop!
Hayden is the most huggable, kissable, kooky kid you ever did meet and he is incredibly lovable.  Here the boys hugs and almost choke each other to death, seriously, we had to break it up, too funny!
Jasmine especially loves her cousin Allison.  I'm glad long distance plans have changed, or we would owe a fortune to the phone company in a few years.  Jasmine is just starting to figure out that she can phone her cousins and talk (for what seems like hours).  Allison is a great role model for Jasmine and helps her write notes to the fairies, gives her drawing lessons and more. 
My sisters and I were each blessed with 1 boy and 1 girl, pretty strange odds, considering we came from a family of 3 girls.  It's wonderful to get together, whether it is with only one set of cousins having special quality time or whether we are all together having a chaotic adventure - the cousins are a blast!  I only hope that years from now the cousins will remain close.  My cousins and I have drifted apart and besides the odd email Christmas letter (or now blog from my cousin Jen), we don't keep in touch as much as I would like.

One little cousin isn't mentioned above and that is Olivier, from Jay's side of the family.  We are blessed to have him so close by and living in Ottawa.  As Olivier gets older, he asks more and more to come and play with his older cousins and he seems to have a real fondness for Devin.  He is a talkative little guy with a great spirit and ravishing appetite. Oli and the kids get along so well, that it is easy to have him over to just hang out and he fits right into our day.  Oli will soon have a baby brother, Alexandre Justin and we can't wait to add another cousin into our family!  Olivier lives so close, that we often don't think to go on a crazy adventures with him.  Hopefully we will start making playdates to do fun and adventurous things and he will get old enough to come for sleepovers - can't wait for that. 

One last thought on cousins... cousins last a lifetime.  At the anniversary my dad got to see many of his cousins, and we even got to play with his cousins, kid's kids, so like 5th cousins.  It's amazing how long the line up can go, especially on Jay's side with his mom's 16 siblings.  Cousins are like good friends, you can hook up years later just where you left off when you were a kid, they don't judge you, they just hope you are doing well and I love that, even if you only get a Christmas letter (or more likely, your mom gets a Christmas letter from their mom and fills you in)... whatever, it's all good!  Below is Sam with 5th cousins Bridget and Sidney.  I remember selling lemonade with their mom, Christine, who is my 3rd cousin when I was a kid.   

Thursday, July 15, 2010


These two lovebirds are my Gramma and Grampa Shadbolt, my dad's parents!  We recently returned from their 60th anniversary party and it was awesome.  I have to say, you gain a whole new appreciation for your grandparents when you are older.  Now that I have my own kids, you see that most of their relationship is really all fun and games.  Most of the time the grandparents are taking kids on adventures, playing a game, reading a book or just listening to the kids tell a long-winded non-sensical story.  As you get older, you realize that your grandparents are "real" people who have had real experiences and listening to my Gramps tell stories about his mom helping others and how you just have to help young people who are struggling, was well, simply heart warming!  It showed me a whole new side of him and one that I think is remarkable.  Here he is below with Devin - two peas in a pod, those blockheads are.

Gramma has always been a great inspiration to me.  I'm not sure how old I was exactly, but it was over 30 years ago now when she had her stroke.  Her entire right hand side was, still is, paralyzed.  Imagining what possibly could have happened after such a health crisis, you can't help but be impressed with this women.  When she visited Ottawa about 10 years ago, she not only conquered the downtown area, including parliament buildings and the market, but also our 3 flights of stairs as we had no elevator.  What a trooper!  And it's not just my Gramma that is inspiring, because you have to realize how much having a stroke changed all the life plans and dreams of not only my Gramma, but also my Grampa.  To see them together over 30 years later and still smooching and grabbing each other's butts, well it was wonderful!    Here she is below with Jasmine in her beautiful yard that she maintains so well.

Happy Anniversary you two!  We loved seeing you, we love that you held a celebration to catch up with all your friends and family and we love that you are so inspirational to other around you, including us!  Thanks for being great grandparents! 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer is here!

Once I live through tomorrow's PD day, I will be free for the summer.  Although, it seems to me my summer is already full of things to do.  It's always daunting to see just how much has to be covered over the summer.  How does any normal person do it?  Without the summer off to catch up, I am afraid my house would crumble and our friendships would fail. 

I just made a list of all the playdates we would like to have over the summer and I have 24 seperate dates listed.  Hmm, how will I ever fit that into my summer?  I guess 8 of those are adults I want to see, so potentially I could do a kid playdate during the day and then grown ups at night.  It could be a crazy schedule to fit them all in.  I may just have to have a JK party here, with 3 or 4 little boy friends of Devin's over at once. 

Then of course there is the TO DO list and it is crazy full.  It includes everything from: go through all the closets (yuck, totally time consuming), dig trenches in the back for new bushes to be planted, fix the garage door, re-caulk the shower, buy a new vehicle and on and on for about 30 other items. 

And last, but not least, all the fun stuff.  We have 2 holidays booked this year and hope to do some camping as well.  We also want to get to the Museum of Nature and Calypso Water Park.  We are planning a ride on both a double decker bus and the O-Train, too!  So, when will I get all of this done?  Did I mention swimming lessons every day for two weeks for both kids?  No, well yes, that too and it is right beside the public library, so we are hoping to visit there daily for those 2 weeks, too.  

Right now it feels overwhelming, but once we just get into it and go day by day, it won't be so bad.  It won't be bad... it will be great!  Lots of time spent hanging out with friends, crossing things off the TO DO list and just having a good time!  

What are your summer plans?

Friday, June 4, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words?

Well, if that is true I have nothing to say!  I dropped my camera a little over a week ago and feel slightly naked now.  Although I haven't been taking as many pictures as I used to, mostly because I know I won't have time to scrapbook them all and I already have so many of similar situations, but still I want to take some pictures. So far I missed taking pictures at the 2 km family run last weekend, the kids first soccer practices, rock band with the Howley's, Devin holding hands with baby Thomas and tomorrow is the street BBQ. 

Problem is I'm not sure what kind of camera I want.  I've always had a simple point and shoot camera.  I'm terrible at taking good care of my camera, it's almost always in my pocket, in my purse, in a backpack amongst water bottles and snacks, etc.  It's amazing it has lasted this long.  I do however have this longing for a nice camera, one that I can take close ups with.  I always use the excuse that I should have had it when the kids were babies and now there isn't as much point, but ... I still think I want one.  Trouble is I don't always want to carry around a big lug of a camera.  So...

I think I need both: a point and shoot camera for the day to day type events and a nice camera to have fun with when I am in the photography mood.  What kind of camera should I get?  Recommendations for both are welcome.  What do you have?  Do you like it?  What would you not get?  Do you know of any cool camera features? 

I'd like to say it is part of why I haven't blogged lately, but it's only been broken for about a week, so I can't use that excuse.  Summer time is coming though and it should be a good time to catch up.  We'll be starting with the trip to BC and gramma and grampa's 60th anniversary party - can't wait to blog about that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Salad of the Week

Curried Quinoa Chicken Salad

Mix the following:
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked, diced chicken breast
1 mango chopped
2 green onions sliced
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/4 chopped cilantro
Mix the dressing:
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 rice vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Stir the two together! Very yummy, especially if you love cilantro, so flavorful! Quinoa is a protein, so you can eat this as a side dish or a meal. We had it as a meal, along with homemade tortilla chips (slice 2 tortillas, spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, oregano, pepper, etc., toast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes not 12 like me.), we dipped our chips in hummus as well.
The original recipe called for dried apricots, not mango, it also asked for walnuts not pecans. Devin did eat this salad in small doses, with no cilantro bits. Jasmine did not enjoy it, but didn't really try much.

The 4 year olds, Sam and Devin!

Devin and Samantha are not even a month apart by birthday and according to the below picture, almost the exact same height, too. I'm sure however, that Devin weighs 10 more pounds than her; if he sat on her he would crush her! Although Jasmine and Samantha played so well together, when Jasmine wasn't around (which sometimes happened being the sneaky mother I am), the 4 year olds had a chance to play together and they liked it! They especially had fun Irish dancing together; well after all they are the perfect height for each other!