Monday, November 16, 2009

::back to life::

So I haven't blogged since my birth announcement a) because I don't get a lot of long stretches to sit at the computer, and b) because I have been working on that post for so long. But hopefully now I can get back to our regular programming, which will likely now include some baby-related content.

But today, I wanted to share a recipe that I just tried and fell in LOVE with. It's Jamie Oliver's "Scrumptious Spanish Chickpea & Chorizo Soup." Man, oh, man, is this ever good - and easy! If I can make while a two-month-old lies on a play mat, it's a keeper. Try it for yourself! I'm going to freeze half the batch. It may look a bit rustic, but it's fantastic. I have posted it here with some changes I made.

scrumptious spanish chickpea and chorizo soup
starter | serves 4

• olive oil
• a ring of chorizo sausage (mild or hot, your choice), finely chopped
• 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 3 sticks of celery, finely chopped
• one package of frozen spinach, thawed
• one large can of whole tomatoes
• one large can of cooked chickpeas, drained
• 5 cups chicken stock
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 100g prosciutto, finely chopped
• extra virgin olive oil
• 3 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot and add the chorizo. Allow to heat up and cook for a couple of minutes until the fat comes out of the chorizo, then add your onion, garlic and celery. Turn the heat down and cook slowly for 15 minutes with a lid on and without colouring the onions. Now take the lid off – the smell and colour will be fantastic. Stir it around and get some colour happening now. Add your spinach, tomatoes, chickpeas and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for around 40 minutes.

At this point you can remove about a third of the mixture and purée it in a food processor. Pour it back into the pot, give it a good stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the pata negra or ham and 2 or 3 tablespoons of good Spanish extra virgin olive oil. Divide into bowls and grate some hard-boiled egg on top; it actually adds a lovely richness to it.

Perfect with some fresh ciabatta bread and butter. Enjoy!

::becoming mom::

ATTENTION: To any male readers or squeamish female ones, this post contains descriptive phrases and terms like "membranes," "placenta," "tearing" and "stitches." Consider yourself warned. This is Heidi's birth story. :)

Written in my journal:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dear God,

Five days overdue - had lots of contractions overnight but they subsided when I took a 5 am bath and then went back to sleep. This is very frustrating, God. Last night at home group, Gemma prayed for us and said it takes a strong marriage to have a baby, and that perhaps Your plan for Wayne's time at home was to strengthen our marriage so that we can get through this next period of separation. And that makes a lot of sense, but it still makes me sad for Wayne, and sad that I won't be able to rely on him for my recovery. You must really be trying to teach us a lot of patience and grace. You're succeeding because it's definitely difficult. Lord, you've never let me down, and I do trust Your ways. Please show us the lessons You want us to learn here and the ways we can put them into practice, giving the glory back to You. Amen.

Saturday, September, 15, 2009

Our daughter, Heidi London Baxter, was born Saturday, September 12, at 9:20 am at Surrey Memorial Hospital. She weighed 7 lbs. 13.9 oz. and measure 21 3/4" long.

Contractions began, 5 minutes apart, at 12:30 am, waking me up. The day before, we'd had my membranes swept by the midwife (Ina) and I drank a dose of the lemon verbena oil mother's cocktail to strengthen my Braxton Hicks contractions so they would jump start labour. She told me to expect cramps, but when Wayne and I decided to walk through IKEA, the cervical cramps got so bad that I was doubled over in pain and in tears. By the time we were halfway home, I was reclined in the passenger seat, sobbing. Thankfully, Monica, Wayne's mom, had taken Dora for the day, so we didn't have to deal with the dog.

We came home and napped but when I woke up and found that the cramps had subsided and nothing was happening, I lost it. I was so tired and upset that Wayne had only one full day left at home before having to return to Gagetown for his last course. I told him I could only be positive for so long and I was sick of hearing, "It'll happen soon" or "Don't worry." Thankfully, Wayne knew just what I needed - for him to listen and empathize. He was upset, too, but let me dump on him and let out all my frustrations. I'd lost all hope and was angry at God for taking away my dream. It didn't make sense to me that after losing our first pregnancy last August, and having prayed harder than I ever had before to conceive when he was home last Christmas (and we did!), and then praying again for him to be home on her due date (and he was!), that it wouldn't happen while he was here. How could it be?! But I know I should never set my expectations on something I don't control: God's timing. And to be honest, I hadn't spent the time worshiping or praying the previous month to even warrant presuming to know His will or timing for our family. I was too busy prepping for baby and getting to-do lists done to "bother" with that. I should know better.

That night, after a steak supper at Wayne's parents' place, we climbed into bed at 10 and I asked Wayne to pray because I knew that if I did, it would not be heartfelt or sincere. While that's no reason not to pray, he obliged with a simple prayer: "God, we're not messing around anymore. We want a baby by 8 am. Amen." Well, that plea, combined with my emotional breakdown relaxing my body to the point of submission, must have done the trick because two hours later, I woke up with contractions five minutes apart.

I can't believe how fast time passed during my contractions. I handled them on my own for about 2 hours, letting Wayne sleep until 2:30 am. I knew that if this was the real thing, and he was running on only 2 hours of sleep, he would be so tired. Four hours isn't great but it's better than two. :) I realize now that I must have had back labour the whole time because the only thing that would relieve my pain was squatting or leaning on the kitchen counter and swaying my hips. Lying down - or even sitting - was out of the question. And I noticed that my contractions didn't seem to start small, swell and then dissipate, like our Lamaze coach described. The closer together they became, the stronger they attacked, until they began to take me almost by surprise. Two nights prior, I'd woken with strong Braxton Hicks and had spent some time putting together a lunch kit full of snacks for us. It's a good thing because once we realized these were the real thing, the last thing I could do was concentrate on food.

We called Ina around 3 am and she advised me to take a hot shower to see how it affected the frequency and intensity of my contractions. I had about 5 strong contractions in there without any letup so I knew this was it. We called Ina back and she decided to come over and check me out. When she arrived, just after 5 am, my contractions were 4-5 minute apart, lasting a minute-and-a-half, and I was only 2 cms dilated. It didn't seem like much and for all the Baby Story I've watched, I knew the delivery could still be hours away. Little did I know what was coming!

At that point, I realized I was starving, but my contractions were so long and painful that I knew the only thing I could stand would be yogurt. Poor Wayne took the dog out and gas station-hopped until he could find yogurt at 5 am. Ina had me crouched/squatting beside the bed with the upper half of my body supported by pillows, lying face-down, because I refused to lie down. By this time, I wasn't really drinking enough fluids either because the contractions were attacking so strongly that I honestly thought I would vomit as each one began. It was then that I started to worry because I knew the drive to the hospital would be exhausting and excruciating, having to sit straight up in the passenger seat. But when I quickly reached 5 cms, Ina said we had to go, NOW. Danielle, who was on her way to our house, rerouted to the hospital and met us in the family birthing unit. But not until we detoured to drop off the dog at Wayne's parents' house at 5:30 am, mid-contraction. I had about 5 in the car and arched over the back of my seat when they happened. The longest break I had was about 3 mins. I didn't have another good break for an hour or so. We called my parents to let them know we were on the way to the hospital and after parking, had to squat in the parkade twice, and once in the lobby, with contractions. They were coming so fast.

We scored one of the three rooms at Surrey Memorial with a tub and promptly filled it, though I had doubts that it would alleviate my pain. And I was right, but at least being submersed gave me something to do: I doggy-paddled on my side (yes, I felt like a beached whale) through each contraction for the next 2.5 hours, while Danielle kept cold cloths on my neck and forehead and Wayne held my hand. Although I don't remember, Danielle says I didn't want to be touched, save for these two comforts. I needed the lights off and quiet in the room, something the nurse wasn't very good at. She seemed to be all business and she really annoyed me while I laboured (although she was very helpful afterward). I was given an IV of penicillin because I had tested positive for Group B Strep, but received only one dose instead of the recommended two, as labour progressed so quickly. The contractions were so painful and so intense that we didn't even think to call our parents to tell them how fast this was all happening. It was a good thing, too, because a labour that fast doesn't qualify for drugs, and my wails and groans could likely be heard for miles! I don't think my mum would have been able to stand it. I felt stupid at the time, but it even took too much energy to cry from the pain. I just wanted to die. Really. It would have been easier.

Finally, mid-contraction, a new sensation: the urge to push. It scared me halfway out of the tub at first, and my new vocalization prompted the midwife to ask if I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement. Silly me, I thought I'd have to get out of the tub just to go to the bathroom. Then it clicked: that was Heidi's head! Just when I had "mastered" breathing through my contractions, this new feeling threw me for a loop and things started happening very quickly, although I was so thankful to have something to "do," other than endure the pain of the contractions. Out of the tub I was and onto the bed on all fours, leaning on the back of the bed, which was raised. I was so scared and all I could say to Danielle and Wayne was, "Pray for me!" It finally occurred to me that I hadn't even thought of pain management, but when I asked Ina for the gas, she laughed at me and told me I didn't need it, that I was being such a trooper and would be meeting the baby in just a few minutes! I was too exhausted to argue, but really wasn't working with the contractions. This new sensation was scary and it finally hit me that I really had to do this, I really had to push her OUT. With each contraction, I screamed and panicked and really thought my body would just break in two. But the contractions subsided and Ina saw that I'd need gravity to help. So she ordered me onto the toilet.

Once there, I was resisting the urge to push - Ina was very hands-off, which I didn't really appreciate at the time. I didn't know what to do and her description of how to breathe was lost on me, so I finally had to bark at her that I didn't understand what she meant and to describe it a different way! That was the only time I lashed out at anyone (I think!). Danielle sat by my left foot on the floor and Ina at my right. Poor Wayne was stuck standing in the doorway to the bathroom. While my sense of time was quite compromised while I was pushing, it couldn't have been more than 10 or 15 minutes I spent in the bathroom. When Heidi finally crowned, and I had to pant through the next contraction, I thought she would fall into the toilet like on that show "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant"! Haha. Ina assured me she would catch the baby. She asked me to reach down a feel Heidi's head, but I refused, knowing it would make me panic. On the final contraction, Ina had me stand up and out came Heidi with a GUSH of waters. It was the biggest relief I have ever felt, and she was on my lap, slippery and warm, right away. She gave an annoyed squawk, as if to say, "I've finally arrived! Why is it so cold out here?!" and I was in complete shock. I didn't know what to do. I just couldn't believe THAT was labour. That I'd just done it! It was all I could do to pick up my jaw off the floor and look at Wayne across the bathroom to make sure he was still there to witness this! Neither of us were particularly emotional, just amazed that it was done, and she was here! And that the pain really DOES disappear in an instant. I had to ask if I'd torn (yes, she came out with her fist up by her face - ouch) - I'd previously thought people who said, "You won't even notice if you tear," were lying. But it's true. The relief of that baby coming it far surpassed any pain of tearing.

Of course, Heidi was semi-sitting on my lap as we waited for the placenta to deliver and I couldn't see between her legs. While we'd known for four months that we were having a girl, you never know! So I had to ask Danielle, "Is it still a girl?" :) I was in my own little world for a while, just stunned. None of us wanted to cut the cord - it was too icky for Wayne and I didn't trust myself to do anything at that point, I was so shaky. So Ina cut it, wrapped her up and gave her to Wayne to hold, skin-to-skin. The next hour or so was a blur, as I was being stitched up (I opted for the gas at that time - woohoo!) and Wayne held his first-born daughter. She looked so tiny in his arms.

Because I had only received the one dose of penicillin during labour, there was a risk that Heidi could have a reaction to the Group B Strep, and so her temperature and other things needed to be monitored every 4 hours. If we opted to stay overnight at the hospital, it would be no problem, but if we wanted to go home, we'd be responsible for monitoring her progress. I wanted to stay, because I felt so unsure, but Wayne really wanted to spend our first night at home with the baby as a family, even though he had to be up at 5 am for his flight the next morning. So by 8:30 pm, we were heading home with our precious new bundle, finally a family of three.

Heidi's temperature stayed level all night and the next day and all was well. I was banished to the third floor of the house for three days to heal (too many stairs for the stitches) so I had my mom, Wayne's mom and Danielle taking shifts to stay overnight and bring food, etc. I would have been so lost without so many helpers - thank you, everyone!


Heidi arrived with ginger hair and peachy cream skin, and she is the spitting image of her daddy. The older she gets, though, the more like me she looks. She is gaining weight rapidly and Dora has taken quite a licking (I mean liking) to her - haha. Heidi is the joy of my life and I cannot describe the love that comes with parenthood. I cannot wait for Wayne to join us at home and to experience all her cuteness and sweetness for himself next month.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Wayne and I are delighted to welcome our daughter Heidi London Baxter into our little family! She arrived Saturday, September 12, at 9:20 am after three hours of active labour. Apparently, that is fast. I didn't realize that counting the hours of "labour" doesn't start until it's considered "active" labour, which, for me, began around 6:15 am. I thought my labour would have been considered to be 9 hours long, as my initial contractions began at 12:30 am.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to relay the entire birth story; I'm busy writing it out by hand in my journal as I nurse, and perhaps will one day post it for those of you who like reading that stuff (before I had kids, I always found them kinda weird, but as a new mom, I'm now totally interested!). But it is to say that we are all healthy and happy, and the best part was that Heidi arrived exactly 24 hours before Wayne was set to take off again for Gagetown, NB. I admit, I DID give God an earful on that issue, hmmm, about 7 hours before contractions started. I should know by now that coming to the end of myself is the only way God will work in my life. For three weeks, I was holding out for my "plan": to have Heidi while Wayne was here. But as Wayne's date of departure drew nearer, I toughened up, shut myself off from Him, and held out for God to do things MY way. Only when I broke down and was truly honest with myself, and Him, did I allow Him to take over.

And boy, did He ever!

More on all this later. Time at the computer (especially to type with two hands) is rarer now. For more frequent updates, check me out on Facebook. The time it takes to compose thoughts and spell them correctly on this blog may prove to be a little much for a while. At least with FB, I can think in stops and starts. But I will be trying to maintain my writing as best I can.

Cheers. And thank you for praying on our behalf. I know the Lord was listening.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

::tick, tock::

Since being on maternity leave, I have discovered I am not too good at doing nothing. I don't really know how to relax at home. At home, there's always something to DO, like sweep or mop, wash dishes, make beds, walk the dog, cook or bake. The only times in my life I've really allowed myself to relax is on vacation, where my surroundings don't dictate my daily tasks (well they do, but the tasks include better things like drinking dirty gin martinis, swimming, and sunbathing!).

Today, Wayne is out with his buddy geocaching in Fleetwood Park. No problem, except we have only one car. Not that I have anywhere to be, but I suppose I'm so used to being on my own with the freedom to what I want, when I want, and it's usually structured by a schedule. I could walk to Starbucks, or go shave my legs, or have a nap, I suppose. But I'm a bit indecisive at the moment...grrrr. This is like PMS without the moodiness.

Any of you moms reading this are likely rolling your eyes and thinking, "Get OVER it! I would kill to be bored for 5 mins.!" And I know this will end as soon as baby arrives. I'm just in a funk, I think: done being pregnant and now just WAITING; overjoyed to have Wayne home but not used to waking up each day, together, with nothing in particular to do; being told by the midwife to relax and pamper myself (what does that MEAN when you have no money?!). I think I'd welcome some structure back into my routine. I don't miss work, but I do miss having a purpose each morning. It was such a delight to get up to take the dog to daycare at 8 am today, to have a deadline to get out of the house. But now, I'm looking at this screen and feeling a little lost. Weird...

I'll probably look back on this post in a week or two and laugh at how pathetic this sounds - "Tough life, Meg, being bored. You should have enjoyed it!" Maybe I will take that nap. At least time will seem to speed up.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Here's an annoying thing about Blogger: when I start a post and then finish it later, it posts itself in the order in which it would appear, as if I had finished and posted it the day I began writing it.

For example, I started this post on the 15th but just wrote it out today. Now it looks like I posted it on the 15th. What the heck is the point of that?! HOw does anyone know I wrote something new?

I guess from now on, I'll have to copy and paste drafted content into a "new post" every time I want to finish something I started previously.

Also, anyone know why you have to upload photos in the REVERSE order you want them to appear within a post? Do you photo bloggers use an external photo uploader or something to bypass this silly thing?


::10 years on::

Last weekend, I happened to take Dora with me to downtown Langley, where (I had forgotten) Arts Alive was taking place. This annual event shuts down the one-way strip of Fraser Highway and it becomes a pedestrian-only area where local artists can display and sell their work. I was taking Dora to the Big Dog Little Dog Bakery for some marrow bones and training treats, but was surprised that I couldn't access the street by car. So we parked behind Fraser and walked into the crowds among the kiosks, which is always a good opportunity for her to test her heeling skills among the chaos of people and kids and strollers and wheelchairs, etc.

After buying what we needed at the bakery, we continued down the street to see what else was available and I eventually heard the sound of a jazz combo playing. We wandered over to the old Coast Capital Savings building and, lo' and behold, who was playing but my local jazz idols, Campbell Ryga (sax), Jodi Proznik (stand-up bass) and Brad Turner (trumpet)!

I was quite the band geek in high school and while I excelled more in my concert band ventures than my jazz band skills, I still prefer to watch/listen to jazz/big band. I played the trumpet and while I was no prodigy, our band did win some pretty prestigious awards and was invited to represent Canada at the 2000 World Exposition in Hanover, Germany. But I still remember the days of the Surrey Jazz Festival and the UBC Honour Bands, where we'd sit in awe of Brad Turner, et al., as they flawlessly, and effortlessly, created the sounds of pure genius with their ensembles. I remember doing a master class with Mr. Turner and being so nervous to play in front of him - I felt like the biggest fraud because I may have been good at hitting the high notes and reading what was on the page, but I was embarrassingly bad at improvising, which is a "must-have" skill as a jazz musician.

While Dora and I stood there and watched, Brad and Campbell were sitting out on one number, hanging at the rear of the open-air stage while the other members of the combo played a tune. Now, I may be 38 weeks pregnant and I know I looked haggard that day, having just planned to make the one stop at the bakery without putting any thought into my housewife-ish appearance. And it has been 10 years since I last "worked" with Brad Turner. But I'll be darned if, when I spotted the players and realized who I was watching, Brad didn't look straight at me and recognize that we had met before. I wasn't about to approach him to chat after their set because I looked so gross and sweaty (no makeup, you get the picture - I really just shouldn't have been seen in public that day!). But it was the coolest thing ever and it made me wonder what would have happened if I had pursued music education after high school instead of journalism? If I had chosen what I loved rather than what I was good at? Being recognized by someone so influential from that time in my life, who knew me only from that "scene," made me think about how different life can turn out based on one decision. Where would I be? Would I have even been able to learn the things he teaches now at Capilano College? I honestly don't know if I had enough talent. But it would be so cool to know.

That one glance we shared last weekend is probably a glance he shares with former "students" all the time - "I think I've taught that girl/guy," he must say to himself, as he goes on with his day. But it was much more meaningful to me. I am so grateful for the way my life has turned out - and I'd really have it no other way! But wouldn't it be neat to know if we had what it took? If we would have succeeded somewhere else? If I could have spent my early 20s playing in smokey cabarets in Paris and Zurich and Barcelona and Dusseldorf? If music would have become my life?

I guess I'll never know...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

::happy anniversary, wayne::

Three years ago today was the best day of my life. We spent the morning preparing for our life's biggest commitment: to each other. We spent the afternoon in God's house, making vows to one another in front of friends and family to honour and respect one another until the Lord takes us home. We spent the evening celebrating our union and looking forward to the days, months and years ahead, trusting that God would guide us through the best times and the worst. I've never been so sure of anything in my life and I know I married a man who cares so deeply for me that I can rely on him for anything.

While I am a natural worry wart and I get slightly frantic if I can't see far enough into my future so I can prepare myself for what's next, our marriage Scripture helps me keep things in perspective: Luke 12:22-31.

22Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Wayne, you've made me the happiest woman alive for the past three years, even if a third of them has been spent apart. God has been with us and has kept our connection strong. I can't wait to see what's in store in the years to come - all in due time, of course. ;)

Cheers, honey!

::what's your colour personality?::

I love quizzes that reveal a piece of myself I'd never thought of in a certain way before. Here, I've stolen Imogen Lamport's link to House Beautiful, which has a quiz that helps you pinpoint what colours inspire you most.

1. What’s the first color you see in the morning? "Homespun Linen" (a light grey) - the colour we've painted our master bedroom to go with the French Grape feature wall behind our bed. Although sometimes the first thing I see is a white and brown combo, if Dora's snout is in my face, reminding me that she needs to go for her morning pee. :)

2. What color are your eyes? Blue with grey undertones

3. What color do you wear the most? Probably brown, although I am very partial to teal and cream

4. What color do you never wear? Yellow - I have two yellow shirts that are just the right shade. But any other shades in that family make me look funny. I actually NEVER wear orange although it does look quite nice with my skin tone.

5. What color do you wear when you want to feel sexy? Black, I suppose. But I have a sexy Grecian gown that's brown and beaded, too.

6. What color gets you the most compliments? Um, green, I think.

7. What color is your lipstick? Wine shine...but I mostly wear just clear lip plumper. I do have a great orange-y red. Lipstick makes my lips look smaller on my round face. Plus, my teeth are unevenly coloured, so it makes them stick out more, too.

8. What color was your living room when you were growing up? Ugh - navy blue wallpaper with little flowers, pink and cream? So '80s.

9. What color was your bedroom when you were growing up? Bubblegum pink! Never let a five-year-old choose her own paint and wallpaper if you don't intend to redecorate until she's 15!

10. What color are your sheets? Crisp white to go with the brown bedding.

11. What color was your favorite crayon as a child? I honestly don't know. I wasn't a fan of crayons.

12. What color is your car? Black.

13. What color was your prom dress? Cream with gold threading

14. What’s your favorite gemstone? Amber - all variations

15. What is your favourite flower? Orchid (my wedding flower)

16. What color makes you happiest? The summertime combo of orange, hot pink and lime green!

17. What color depresses you? Very yellow green - like swampwater (ick)

18. What color calms you? Green

19. What color makes you grind your teeth? Anything flourescent

20. What color would you like to try, but are scared to? I'd love to have a room painted black with ALL white furnishings and frames on the wall. Of course, this room would need glass French doors facing south east, so the natural light would brighten the room.

Clearly, I'm partial to greens and browns - very earth-tone oriented. What is your colour personality?

::buttermilk cake update::

(See previous post for link to recipe)

So the Buttermilk Cake turned out to be DELISH - I froze the layers in plastic wrap the night I made it, saving for an occasion I'd need to contribute something edible to a soiree. Yesterday, my mom had my cousin, her four kids, a family friend and me over for a lovely mid-afternoon lunch on the deck and I brought the cake. It got RAVE reviews and, even after a week in the freezer, was terribly moist and dense. We added blueberries to the mix (and drizzled over top a hint of the chocolate icing leftover from the Pioneer Woman's Best Sheet Cake. Ever.), and my mom had also whipped up some coconut cream custard, which we had on the side. What a treat. There's a leftover piece waiting for me in the fridge right now, actually...

On an apologetic note, I have neglected my blogging commitment this week as I've been a) adjusting to life on mat leave, and b) busy nesting. I spent the weekend finishing the nursery and doing baby laundry, which led to other chores around here that I've been putting off. Some spontaneous napping has been know known to happen, too. :)

I do have some posts started that I will finish and publish soon, but they may be a bit sporadic.

Today's lesson - buttermilk is a wonderfully splendid thing!

Monday, August 10, 2009

::weekends are for eating::

After making the Pioneer Woman's "Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever." (who am I to argue? I'd never even heard of sheet cake until I saw her recipe) on Friday night for Saturday's luncheon with les parents and les grandparents, I had a lot of leftover buttermilk to deal with. (Why can't they sell buttermilk in 500 mL or even 250 mL cartons, like they do with regular milk and half-and-half? Who ever needs a full litre of the stuff?) Anyway, determined to use the buttermilk and not let it sit and go rancid in my fridge door, I decided to make buttermilk pancakes for myself yesterday morning.

Now, when you think of pancake breakfasts, most of us think of big family celebrations, like Christmas morning, or community days events where the firefighters man the huge flat top grill while kids with balloons tied 'round their wrists line up for flapjacks and proceed to smother them with salted butter and Aunt Jemimah "syrup." And if you're lucky, your breakfast sausages will soak up all that leftover syrup and you can feel your arteries clogging as you chew.

But cooking and eating pancakes alone is not exactly However, what a pregnant woman wants, a pregnant woman (usually) gets. I wanted pancakes, and so I made them.

The best recipe I could find online (that's right - I don't have an "old faithful" pancake recipe that I swear by...yet) was this: fruit-topped buttermilk pancakes. Not only were they mighty tasty, but the fruit puree on top in lieu of syrup was DELISH! I don't know why I would never have thought to puree and heat fruit as a topping but I'm sure glad "Arlene Butler" did! I can still taste it...probably because I only ate two big ones yesterday and had the leftovers for breakfast today. Ha. These pancakes reheated nicely and the fruit puree kept well - leftovers could be used stirred into yogurt or a smoothie. Some tweaks I made to the recipe:

-first, I halved it to serve 3 instead of 6 (sad, I know)
-I substituted honey for the brown sugar in the fruit puree
-I substituted apple sauce for the vegetable oil in the pancakes
-I did still add a smidgen of REAL maple syrup to the pancakes when I served them. Any excuse to eat real maple syrup is a good one, I say

If this sounds too healthy for you, try it first, you won't believe it. The vanilla in the batter really bumps up the sweetness of the pancakes, too, so the flavours all around are amazing.

For those of you now craving buttermilk pancakes but don't want to buy it JUST for the recipe (because you know it won't get used), try one of these substitutes instead. And yes, I DO wish I'd thought to research buttermilk substitutes before buy an entire litre of it. :)

For each 1 cup buttermilk called for in a recipe, use 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream;


1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup;


1 cup milk plus 1 3/4 tablespoons cream of tartar;


1/4 cup buttermilk powder and 1 cup water

*UPDATE: With STILL more buttermilk to use up, I'll baking up this Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries and Whipped Cream and freezing the layers tonight for use at another time. Doesn't it look delightful? That should about do it for my litre of buttermilk!

Friday, August 7, 2009

::the seam::

Is it not the most ANNOYING thing to receive a fresh Tim Horton's coffee where the lid opening seems to be strategically placed over the seam of the cup? That drives me nuts! You take a sip and one drop gets caught between the expanding overlapping pieces of cup which inevitably drips onto your shirt as you drive. ARGH! Plus, the more you drink from it, the softer the cardboard gets on your lip and you end up with bits of cup on your tongue at the end of the coffee.

Man, if I worked at Timmy's for just ONE day, things would be straightened out pretty quickly...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

::on bargains and probiotics::

My mom recommended I do the Activia 14-day challenge a few months ago. Being pregnant and having yogurt virtually EVERY morning for some protein before walking the dog, I switched brands and gave it a whirl. Supposedly, the "probiotics" in this yogurt are supposed to "help regulate your digestive system naturally as part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle." She swore by the difference it made in her digestion so I figured it would be worth a try.

I didn't notice a thing. Not one thing.

Maybe that's good! Maybe that says my digestive system is in working order and doesn't need to be messed with. Then I realized that I'm a) creating a lot of waste with these 100g snack-pack portions, b) paying an awful lot for something I could (and sometimes did) eat two of every day, and c) taking in a lot of extra ingredients and almost DOUBLE the sugar of regular, unsweetened, plain yogurt (which I love).

So I ditched the challenge and went on the hunt for a more economic, more pure yogurt that I could buy in a decent size.

Behold - the beast of all yogurt beasts!

That's right, kids - this is 4 kg (!) of plain yogurt. Guess how much at Superstore? $7.99! I had never noticed these tubs before but it was like the heavens opened and rained down yogurt manna. Now, maybe you're one of those people who needs the fruit mixed in and the super-duper creamy yogurt to choke the stuff down. But I could literally eat plain yogurt at every meal and not get bored. I love it and it's been GREAT in a pinch if I stay up too late at night and get hungry right before bed. If you think 4 kg is a lot of yogurt, believe me when I say I go through one of these in about 2 1/2 weeks.

The best part is, I can come home and preportion it into tupperware to have ready to go each morning! Whether it's a quick snack before walking the dog or adding it to a fruit smoothie for breakfast, this stuff is awesome and I'm pointing it out because if your family is a yogurt-loving family, you should know about this ridiculous deal.

I even used it to whip up a batch of fresh blackberry frozen yogurt last night, with the beautiful wild blackberries gifted to me by Gabrielle, Dora's daycare mom. Here's the recipe. I substituted honey for sugar - let's hope it turns out!

::simple pleasures::

How is it that such a simple find could make life so grand in a moment?

Well, I suppose anyone who shops at Winners or Homesense would say, "VERY easily!"

This lovely accordion file is EXACTLY what I've been looking for for more than a year (hey, I wasn't actively looking, okay? Just keeping my eyes peeled until the right one came the right price!). Because I rip recipes out of magazines and print them off from the web, I have not been diligent in transferring my growing collection to recipe cards and inserting them in the albums I bought LAST year to organize them. Instead, while I had sorted them into categories (chicken, desserts, appies, etc.), I had merely paperclipped them together in chunks, shoved them in a manila file folder and kept them in my recipe book cupboard - next to the still-packaged recipe cards. It was a bloody mess every time I went to look for a recipe, not to mention putting them back, when I would often just throw the used recipe on top of the file to reinsert "later." Of course, this happened 15 or so times before I'd get annoyed enough, need to make a certain recipe again and now had to shuffle through a pile of mismatched and unsorted recipes to find the one I wanted, defeating the purpose of the original categorization.

So when I found this folder at Homesense the other day for $7.99, I snatched it up with glee and excitedly brought it home. It's so adorable and was such a great deal. And in 20 minutes of labelling the tabs, unclipping and stuffing recipes into pre-existing pockets, my "recipe sorting project" was complete! No more dreading the hours I'd have to spend painstakingly handwriting each recipe on matching cards and inserting them into photo holders in an album. Balls to that, I say!

So there you have it - it's a little scary, actually, that something so insignificant can lift such a burden. It's instant nesting at its best!

::bacon makes everything better::

This is a motto of Wayne's: bacon makes everything better. And it really, truly does. For a while there, I was eating turkey bacon (or "turbacon," as I've heard it called). But, much like my thoughts on diet pop (found in #13 on the list in my previous post), I have gone back to the real thing. I think turkey bacon has even more junk in it to make it taste and look like "real" turkey than it's worth. So when I do eat bacon, it's real meat, baby. Trans fats and all...

The point is that I have stumbled upon a new creation, one so seemingly absurd that you'd at first recoil at the thought. But then, the more I think about it, the more curious I become. What am I referring to?

Chocolate Covered Bacon. Yuh huh!

Unfortunately, I just went grocery shopping at lunch and did not buy bacon. But next time, I will, and I will be making this. I will definitely need help eating it, though! Perhaps I'll make it one of my farewell recipe attempts next week at the office!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Can't think of much to write today so I'm stealing this little questionnaire from Sharon.

1 What's the last thing you put in your mouth? Water

2 Have you ever kissed anyone named Matthew? Ummm, no.

3 Where was your default picture taken? At home

4 Who was the last person you rode in a car with under the age of 20? My cousins Emily and Kylah (ages 8 and 6) - yesterday!

5 Can you play guitar hero? I think so. That's the one for Wii, right? I like the drums.

6 Last time you walked further than a block? This morning. Every morning, walking Dora.

7 Name someone that made you laugh today? Hm, I'm not in a very good mood today due to lack of sleep. I guess Dora would be it - does she count?

8 How late did you stay up last night and why? Too late - 11:30. WOUldn't be bad if I could sleep until my alarm goes off at 6 am. 'Cept that I woke up at 4 am instead. Boo for that.

9 If you could move somewhere else, would you? Absolutely. But BC will always be HOME.

10 Ever been kissed under fireworks? I don't think so. If I have, it obviously wasn't memorable.

11 Do you believe ex's can be friends? No, it's a bit dangerous.

12 Do you like calling or texting better? Meh - calling if you're going to get to the point. I have such bad reception in my house that I have to stop what I'm doing just to talk to you, so I'm not keen on chit chat. Texting is fine but again, it takes a while so it better be for a reason. I'd rather email (hey, I'm a writer!) or set up a date and then talk face to face.

13 How do you feel about Diet Dr Pepper? Diet anything is gross. Don't be deceived by "artificial" sugar. Shouldn't the word "artificial" tip you off that it's a fake of an already bad thing?! Yuck. If you're going to drink pop, just drink the original!

14 When was the last time you cried really hard? Last month sometime? Hormones. Missing Wayne. You know...

15 Where is your biological father right now? Probably chillin' with a cold one at home with Mum and my little bro.

16 Where are you right now? At my computer

17 What bed did you sleep in last night? Mine

18 What was the last thing someone bought for you? A bunch of goodies at a baby shower last Wednesday.

19 Who took your profile picture? I did.

20 Who was the last person you took a picture of? Danielle at her brother's wedding.

21 Was yesterday better than today? Yes - I didn't work. :)

22 Can you live a day without TV? Yes. Easily. But I used to watch a lot.

23 Are you a bad influence? Depends on my mood. haha

24 What items could you not go without during the day? TUMS, my phone to talk to Wayne, water and FOOD!

25 Would you share a drink with a stranger? No way! Sicko! You never know who has oral herpes, or who is a carrier.

26 Who was the last person you visited in the hospital? Cousin Sarah - popped out baby #4, Oliver.

27 What does the last text message in your inbox say? "I think I'm being assessed tonight. Pray for me!" (Wayne's doing a field exercise this week -- he was assessed and he passed!!! He's now a fully qualified Command Post Officer AND Safety Officer)

28 What are you wearing? Maternity jean shorts, teal cami, yellow plaid shirt

29 How many times have you been pulled over by the police? Once. Got off with a warning. I honestly didn't know pulling a u-turn on an advanced green was illegal (I was 20, okay?)

30 If we were to look in your inbox, what would we find? pages and pages of undeleted emails

31 Has anyone ever called you perfect before? My husband. :) He's a good liar.

32 What song is stuck in your head? Over the weekend, The Remainder by Death Cab was going around and around...

33 Someone knocks on your window at 2 am, who do you want it to be? Publisher's Clearinghouse. Or the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew.

34 What gets in your way of your sleeping? Being my most creative and alert after 9 pm. :( Boo.

35 Who was your last missed call on your cell phone? Mum.

36 Can you handle the truth? I prefer it. Don't beat around the bush - it wastes everyone's time.

37 What was the last book you read? Still reading Julie & Julia.

38 Is there something you always wear? Underwear?

39 Have you ever crawled through a window? Yes.

40 What is something that can always make you feel better? A hug from Wayne. Or a snuggle from Dora. In that order.

41 What do you want right now? A snack. And a good night's sleep!

42 Look behind you, what do you see? a side table, a chair, a lamp, and a shelf

43 Have you ever worked in a food place? Pick one: McDonald's, Northview Golf Club, catering, Sammy J Pepper's, Boston Pizza, Kelly O'Bryan's, Moxie's, Dublin Crossing Irish Pub...

Monday, August 3, 2009

::9 to go::

Well tomorrow is the beginning of the end, I think. Only nine more working days until I'm officially on maternity leave. Scary. Part of me wonders what I'll do when I wake up on August 17 with no where to be. The other part of me wonders how I'll get everything done in only three weeks before baby arrives! I'm doing a lot of that lately - waffling, feeling one way then another. Feeling excited and up for the birthing challenge one moment, then scared s***less the next!

Two women I know gave birth yesterday and though they are both "doing fine," I always wonder how they really feel. It's always bugged me when people say, "Soandso gave birth to a healthy baby boy/girl last night. Both mom and baby are 'doing fine.' " What the heck is that? I'm pretty sure that if you just pushed something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon, you wouldn't exactly be doing "fine." Elated? Yes. Glad it's over? Yes. Exhausted? Definitely. But "fine"? Um, isn't "fine" what you say when your husband asks how you are, when he should CLEARLY know there's a problem, that he's most likely caused? Isn't "fine" that pat answer you give when a co-worker or church greeter asks how are you are but you know they don't really want an answer? I think, in terms of birth, when people say "fine," it means the mom and baby survived without serious complications. But that could mean MANY things and it seems to always be so hush-hush when it comes to what actually happened in the birth room. It's like an exclusive club you can only join if you actually give birth yourself. I guess I'll be going through the hazing process for this club membership in about 4 weeks' time - but when I bust outta that joint (SMH), I'll be sure to let you know EXACTLY how I'm feeling. None of this "fine" crap.

A chuckle for the day.

Friday, July 31, 2009

::goodbye, Bailey::

My cousin, who just gave birth to her fourth child last weekend, sadly had to put her 13-year-old Cocker Spaniel to sleep yesterday. Bailey was old and sick and was going downhill fast. The poor guy.

My other cousin, her sister, found this poem as a source of comfort for the family as they mourn the loss of their pet. Having Dora, I now know this has a huge impact on a family, especially the oldest child, who often has the strongest bond with a pet. I am grieving with them. So long, old pal.

A Tribute to Bailey

When God had made the earth and sky
the flowers and the trees,
He then made all the animals
the fish, the birds and bees.

And when at last He'd finished
not one was quite the same.
He said, "I'll walk this world of mine
and give each one a name."

And so He traveled far and wide
and everywhere He went,
a little creature followed Him
until it's strength was spent.

When all were named upon the earth
and in the sky and sea,
the little creature said,
"Dear Lord,there's not one left for me."

Kindly the Father said to him
"I've left you to the end
I've turned my own name back to front
and called you dog, My friend."

Author Unknown

Thursday, July 30, 2009

::open letter to my soldier::

Dear Wayne,

My dinner plans were postponed this evening and it gave me a night off. I was thankful, actually, as it's just too hot to be social or in a relatively good mood. So I made myself a lovely Caprese Salad and thought about how I would have loved to have made one for you, too, and eaten it with you on our deck with a cold beer (O'Doul's for me, of course). Then I chuckled thinking about how much more groceries will cost when you're home for two or three weeks next month, and just how big the salad would have needed to be to constitute a meal for you. It really is different cooking for one. And easy! But downright boring for a foodie like me. I can't wait to have a reason to try new recipes again!

After supper, I took Dora to the Glen Valley Dyke in Langley. She had a grand time swimming in the river/tributary. You would have loved to be there. She was happy as a clam to be in the water, paddling around with her ball. We watched the sun set. I can't wait to go for leisurely dog walks with you again. I may be a little slow these days, but a good walk is still one of my favourite things to do. Will it be hard for you to walk and not to march? (Just jokin'.)

I saw video of myself from last night opening gifts at the BBQ. It's funny how I look down every day and see a baby belly, and I see it in the mirror all the time, but from farther away, through a lens, I really understand just how BIG I am! Sometimes I look down and wonder how a whole baby can fit in there. But on the video, it's clearly no problem! That footage has really shocked me into reality - we are going to be parents. And soon. To a person that is half me, and half you. This concept, while not new, is difficult to apply to oneself. I think that, until we meet our child for the first time, the concept will remain slightly blurry. But in that moment of meeting, it will all become crystal clear, and we'll be a family, the three of us.

I can't wait to have you home again, and not have to meet you in a rental car, or on an Army base, or in a hotel room (um, that sounds dirtier than it is). To ask you to take the dog out, to bring the laundry upstairs, or help me fold a fitted bedsheet (you have no idea how difficult that is to do alone!). I can't wait to dance with you in our living room, eat supper together at the table, play a few rounds of Liverpool, and watch CSI: Miami just so we can make fun of Horatio's opening lines. We can take the baby for its first walk around the neighbourhood and Dora and I will show you all the new things you've missed since you left eight months ago: the new dog park, the complex across the street, a new elementary school down the road, the Golden Ears bridge, the new paint on our walls, and the beginnings of a nursery.

Most of all, I just want to wake up next to you and know you are here, no matter for how long. I know it will fly by in the blink of an eye, but so will the 10 weeks after that, and we'll be together again, and moving together across our great land to start a new life together in Kingston, or Quebec City, or Shilo. Wherever you go, I (we!) will follow, and I am ecstatic to know that time is so close now.

I am so proud of your accomplishments so far. A year ago, we were telling our parents that you were joining the Armed Forces and they smiled and encouraged us to embark on an adventure. And an adventure it's been! There are no words to describe the power that your attitude and perseverance has on my outlook, how your integrity and drivenness help me to keep my head held high and to trust that the Lord is holding us up and holding us together in spirit, until we can be together completely again. We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.

I love you with all my heart, and I'm counting the days until I see you again, in Vancouver.

Your adoring wife,

Meghan xo

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

::like a blue-assed fly::

Yes, that is a momism. My mom is British-born but moved here where she was 8. That wasn't early enough to purge the old English idioms and funny sayings that sometimes slip out. So when she is so busy she doesn't know what to do with herself, she says she is buzzing around like a blue-assed fly.

I guess the metaphor is that you only ever see it's bum because it's always moving on to the next thing? I dunno. It doesn't have to make sense. Just gotta know what it means.

Anyway, the point is, this is a busy week. Like stupid busy. Monday night was my work baby shower; last night was a co-worker potluck BBQ at my place to celebrate the engagement of another co-worker; tonight I had a "BBQ" with my life group from church (which they turned into a surprise baby shower!); tomorrow is supper with some friends; and Friday night, I may have to figure out somewhere to go that has air conditioning!

Thankfully, this weekend is the long weekend, and although I have some nesting to take care of (that is, cleaning the garage out and attempting to install the car seat), a birthday party, a wedding and some freelance, I don't feel particularly stressed about any of it.

It has been a bit of a stressful week for Wayne, who uncharacteristically failed a safety test on Monday. Of course, with safety, it's all or nothing, so it was only a pass or fail grade. Even though you get to rewrite it, he was pretty miffed because he'd even gone for extra help TWICE last weekend! Turns out, he'd been given a faulty piece of equipment with which to complete the test. So they struck a deal with him: redo the test with a working piece of equipment, and if you pass, we'll scratch the first fail off your record. And he passed! I am so happy for him and he was relieved, too. Now, they have named him safety officer for the entire last week of his course, which begins Monday. It is a huge compliment, as they only give extra responsibility to the guys who can handle the job, but it also means he has to spend the weekend brushing up on his procedures. Bummer, but I'm so proud of him for continuing to be an open and honest person, even in the military. Everyone knows where he stands at all times and he is fair with everyone. In the end, it's all about relationships and respect: what kind of boss would YOU want to follow? I know Wayne asks himself that each time he responds to a certain situation that includes dealing with a team of NCMs (non-commissioned members). He was made for this job.

Tonight will mark night #2 of sleeping in the foyer on an air mattress. I'm about to head upstairs for a cool shower (last night, Dora joined me. I'm sure she will tonight, too!) and then to enjoy a sleep with an ice-cold face cloth draped across my forehead and eyes. Pure bliss, I tell you. Try it!

Monday, July 27, 2009

::quote of the day::

Courtesy of Fariyal Cross:

The other day I bought a designer purse. But, before even considering it, I checked to see how many diapers and bottles I could fit in.

Welcome to your new life.

I love this. So sad but so true at the same time. I guess the era of the "clutch" is officially over...for now.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

::another day::

I forgot to post yesterday. Oops. It was an exciting day - my newest baby cousin arrived: Oliver MacLeod, 7 lbs, 3 oz. What a little sweetie. He is the youngest (and last!) of four - two girls and now two boys. Perfect. :) He lives a couple of blocks away from me so I hope to see and snuggle him lots, especially when HIS new baby cousin arrives in six weeks! (Yes, he's totally smiling in that picture. What could he have been dreaming of?)

I can't believe, now that Oliver is here, how time is slipping away. When I'm at work, it seems to go SO SLOW. I just want to be done and have that time to myself to nest and assemble everything and wash baby clothes and finish the bookcase I started. I can't wait to not have to think of my days in blocks - the 8-5 block and the 5-10 block - and then cramming my weekend full of to-do lists. It's really taking a toll on me. Then again, I know Wayne will be home SOON (not soon enough) and that's when time will start to fly and go by in a blur. I don't know how I'm going to do it once he leaves for his last course, especially with the dog, but I'll have to work out the kinks until I find a system that works for us. I'm hoping my kiddo likes to be swaddled/wrapped, because I have a fabulous invention that I plan to use when walking Dora. Hopefully this will avoid using the stroller a million times a day. My biggest fear is the fall/winter, when the weather starts to turn sour and it'll likely be raining more often than not. Then again, baby will be a bit older and more settled by that time and will hopefully adapt well.

Friday, July 24, 2009

::bad mommy::

One look at these makes me want to take out shares in Nestle!!!

Yes, I WILL use these sinful indulgences to help my children make friends when we move to a new military base town. That is, if any make it out of the kitchen...

::no title::

Weird story about the Hutterites and their driver’s licenses.

Winning online comment below:

Marc Country wrote: Just think: if these Hutterites ever realize that their shoes, pants, shirts, and hats all come together to form a crude representation of a person, then they'll probably have to consider their clothing as yet another form of forbidden 'graven images'.

And then, it's naked Hutterite time...


Thursday, July 23, 2009

::a lesson for the ladies::

Warning: another bathroom post

One thing I will NOT miss about working is changing the toilet paper dispensers in the women's washroom. It's odd because I think most women are responsible for this job at home and HATE it. Yet they get to work and - lo and behold - these commercial TP dispensers are just too darned confusing to figure out! "They must be designed by a man," says lazy coworker #1 as she unwraps a new roll and balances it on top of the two empty ones.

I'm talking about these dispensers:

Maybe some women think a key is required (um, do you see a keyhole?). Maybe some think it's magic ("Ooooh, ahhh!"). Either way, it's just plain annoying and rude to leave it empty and I'm surprised more women don't just say, "Does anyone know how to change this thing?"

Is it because I've worked in hospitality for 10 years that I know this? Heck, I learned at age 15 when I worked at McDonald's how to change these things. But I really thought it was common knowledge.

So, if it's not, today I bring you a lesson on how to be the hero at work by changing these TP dispensers.

1. Use all the paper right down to the cardboard roll.

2. Positioning your fingers behind the roll with your thumb in the front, pinch the outer edge (left edge for the left roll, right edge for the right roll) of the cardboard with your thumb and index finger so that you are now clamping the flat bar (which holds the roll) in between the now flattened edges of cardboard.

3. You will feel a flat prong in there (see pic - look closely at the edges of the bar where they meet the circular clamps). It is a piece of spring loaded metal parallel to the bar. Give 'er an extra little squeeze and - "pop!" - outward will swing the arm on the outer edge of the dispenser. (GASP! It is magic!)

4. Remove cardboard roll, insert a new roll (the right way), and swing the arm back onto the bar into the locked position (it will click into place).

5. Ta-Da! You have successfully changed a roll of commercial-grade TP! And you have saved the next few users the sigh of exasperation that comes with seeing the lazy-woman's TP dispenser on display for all.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


By way of a Facebook group discussion topic I started in a group for Canadian Military Wives, I have "met" (as much as sending Facebook messages can be "meeting") another young military wife in Abbotsford today. She just gave birth to her second child (already has a 2 y.o.) and her husband left for Basic Training in St. Jean, QC, mid-June. He is also Army and graduates in September, so we're going to get together for a coffee one day soon and chat. It's not often I meet people who know exactly what my life is like. What a treat that will be.

She says she is perpetually stuck in BC because his trade has various wait lists for his required courses, meaning he is not stationed anywhere specific for any length of time, and thus, is not entitled to a posting for his family (as far as I understand). Much like Wayne, that wait time will be spent on PAT platoon (Personnel Awaiting Training), keeping him away from home, yet mostly unproductive. This is a frustrating prospect. Wayne says when the guys are on PAT, the local Canadian Tire refuses to sell the military guys any rope for fear they'll hang themselves out of sheer boredom.

(Bad joke - you get used to those with an Army hubby.)

This "meeting" got me thinking about how artificial the cyber world is and how odd it is to make a connection like this, yet so timely and perfect. Really, connecting online with people is not different than was the revolution of the postal service (which is ancient), telegraphs, the printing press, telephone, satellite and television. There really is nothing new under the sun. If it weren't for the Internet, many couples I know would never have met. And so many babies would never have been born. And the plans God had/has for those babies' lives would never have been realized.

So even though I feel strange about meeting someone for what I could actually call a "blind friendship date," I resign myself to the fact that this is the way the world is these days. And I don't need to feel weird about it; my sole responsibility in this life is to respond the way Christ would, and let Him do the rest.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

::zucchini blossoms::

You know when you think about something or someone and suddenly, later in the day or week, that thing or person pops up in your life unexpectedly? And it's really eerie and it makes you look over your shoulder and wonder who was in your thoughts that could have orchestrated this timely coincidence?

Yeah, that feeling. Well, it just happened to me.

This post came through on my Google Reader today and what do you know? I was just thinking this morning about when I would ever get to try zucchini blossoms. Dora and I walked past a house in the neighbourhood that had massive zucchini plants. The apricot-coloured petals of the open blossoms caught my eye and reminded me of all the Iron Chef America battles I've seen where they use these, making me wonder how the heck I could get my hands on some.

Well, Des, over at Life's Ambrosia has now inspired me to officially be on the lookout for these gems. Have you ever seen them for sale at your local market? I'm thinking that maybe the White Rock Farmer's Market or the Ladner Village Farm Market might have them. Maybe even Save on Foods or Choices? Please let me know if you have a lead. Since I'm living on my own for the time being, I may just invite you over to eat them with me if you are the lucky one to find them. :)


My dad was over yesterday painting our two upstairs bathrooms. By the time I got home, it was time to clean up and reassemble all the fixtures, medicine cabinet, electrical face plates and other decor. Of course, you can't put it all back dirty, so straight home from work I changed into Cinderella mode and Pinesol'd my way around my dad as he reinstalled the fixtures, etc. Of course, my cleaning instinct kicked in and I ended up giving our room and the nursery a good wipe-down as well (it's amazing how much dust gets in through our screens!).

Sounds like an easy job, but on our third floor, in a north-facing bedroom, at the end of a 30-degree day, it is not easy for an eight-month-pregnant lady. :( By the time he left, I was so pooped that I ate a popsicle, sat on the couch to watch tv for an hour and promptly fell asleep...make-up still on (I HATE that!)...until 11:30. (Hence no blog post last night.) Once I woke up, I didn't actually climb into bed again until after midnight. And I had the most horrible sleep I've had since being pregnant.

Oddly, it wasn't the heat that kept me up. It was the fan! (I need darkness and silence when I sleep.) I think I woke up every time I moved. I liken it to trying to “sleep” in the airport when the janitors are cleaning around you (never had that experience? Ah, lucky. The joys of travelling standby...). All you do is doze. But if I turn off the fan, I’ll roast. Boo. I may resort to setting up the air mattress in the living room again this week so I can have some peace and quiet. Plus, I can watch tv in bed - score! ;)

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Most of you know Dora, our beloved Springer Spaniel. She is our fur-baby. She turned two a couple of weeks ago and is really coming into her own. While she's been a little (sometimes unnervingly) territorial/protective at times since I've been pregnant and Wayne's been away (it is her job), she has really mellowed out and become a lovely companion. Having her around in Wayne's absence has definitely created more work and responsibility, but it has also kept me busy, given me purpose, regulated my walking (the only exercise I've had since pregnant), and most of all, provided a sense of security and cameraderie. I can count on her to be my secondary alarm clock, give me cuddles and kisses when I'm having a lonely day, sit on my feet in the winter, "dry" my feet straight out of the shower, smile when I come home (I swear! She smiles!), and just be all-around cute.

Dora will be a big sister in 7 weeks and I'm praying she takes it in stride. I know it will be tough once Wayne goes back to New Brunswick for his last course to take care of her and the baby, but I'm up for the challenge. I've received a few comments implying that my dedication to her will go out the window once baby arrives, and my desire to care for her will pale in comparison to that of my child. This may be true, but it's hard not to take that as an insult. Many women have much harder circumstances than me and they do what they have to do to get through. I will only be a "single mom" for 10 weeks and I will make it work, through prayer, perseverance and the eagerly accepted help I know I'll receive from friends and family.

I love you, Dora-bear. You have been very loyal to me for the past year in Daddy's absence. I will not let you down or let you feel crowded out.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Today I saw a mother driving an old Toyota Camry (4-dr) with two kids under 10 in the back. At the stop light, she pulled up next to me, and slightly ahead. I noticed a lot of movement in the backseat out of the corner of my eye. When I looked, the little boy in the back was playing with his sister's toys and wanted to hand something to the mom.

And what did I see? Not a stretch toward his mom with the toy held out for her, the way a child retrained by a seatbelt would do. No, no. He just stood up and leaned over her seat to give it to her. Because he wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

I looked up toward her, expecting her to whip around and bark at him to sit back down and fasten his seatbelt. Instead, she took the toy and discussed something with him before turning back around and stepping on the gas when the light changed. And he was still perched on the edge of the seat, now turned toward his sister, engaged in the toys they had.

It was then I realized the mother wasn't wearing her seatbelt either! I had to blink a couple of times to make sure I wasn't seeing things! I was so appalled that I considered honking and yelling at her. But off she went and ended up merging in front of me when her lane cut off.

She pulled into a complex about 3 blocks from mine. If I see her again, I'll be tempted to say something. At first, I thought to myself, "Well, I can see she's the type who would verbally retaliate, so why bother?" But then, I thought, "No, she is not caring for her children. In fact, she is ENDANGERING their lives and if someone was doing that with MY kids, I would hope that someone would MAKE it their business to brave the impending conflict for the sake of those children."

I even thought about what kind of memory it would create for that little boy, if some crazed, red-headed pregnant woman reemed out his mom right in front of him and his sister for being such a reckless driver/mother. He would either develop some sort of complex, thinking his mom doesn't love him or doesn't care about his safety, OR he would grow up to be the kind of guy who would step in for others, too.

Dang. I should have said something.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Really, this heat is quite gross. Even when I'm NOT pregnant, I'm not a fan of SUPER heat like this. Mainly because it's no fun for redheads to seek out shade and miss all the fun stuff like beach volleyball, swimming for hours and reading a trashy book on the sand at the local beach.

I took the dog to the off-leash park after work and didn't bother changing out of my jeans because I figured I'm going to sweat profusely in whatever I wear, so I might as well not dirty another outfit. It worked but, man, was that a sticky situation. :oS Then I headed to Costco with Jill (in the same outfit - ha!) to buy a massive box of diapers and wipes to get ahead of the game - who knew Costco was the happenin' place to be in Langley on a Friday night?! I guess it's the A/C but it was packed.

Does anyone buy their baby stuff @ Costco? I found their diaper selection to be quite disappointing. I've been stocking up on Pampers Swaddlers and PC diapers lately, and the only brand that looked appealing to me @ Costco was the Huggies Snug & Dry. Oddly, the smallest size was "1-2" (up to 15 lbs.). Well I wanna know: which is it? Are they 1? Or are they 2? It's kind of a big difference. Bonus: I picked up a box of baby wipes containing 704 wipes! Maybe it's because I'm not a mom yet but that seems like a LOT of wipes! I was very excited by this.

Now that I've showered and talc'ed and I'm cooling off in my cotton kimono, I think it's about time for some frozen yogurt and my latest read, Julie & Julia. If I don't fall asleep, that is.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

::dogs and babes::

While I am fairly certain Dora, our two-year-old English Springer Spaniel, will be quite indifferent to our new addition in 7 weeks (she's a pretty mellow dog), I'm wondering how to go about creating this delicate balance between fur-baby and...real baby. While I originally wanted the extra time off before baby arrives to spend with her, my recent reading says to actually start distancing myself from her now so that when baby arrives, it won't be such a shock to her to no longer be the centre of attention.

Gee. Good thing someone wrote that down cuz I never would have thought to do it that way. Really!

So that has left me contemplating what other tips and trick I may not know about incorporating a baby into a home with a dog. I know we should bring home baby's first hospital blanket for Dora to smell before she meets it so the scent will be familiar. I also know the husband should carry the baby in first and I should come into the house afterward to greet the dog without the baby in my arms. But so far, that's it.

My other concern is that Wayne has been gone for eight months and Dora will be thrown for a loop when he shows up for two or three weeks next month. While she'll just start getting used to having him back, we'll introduce our little bundle, throw her for another loop, and then he'll leave again for 10 weeks. Not exactly a trauma-free experience for a dog who LOVES her alpha to bits.

Has anyone else found anything helpful in terms of familiarizing a family dog with a new baby?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


name: the word by which an individual known, spoken of, etc. (Cdn Oxford Dictionary)

Wayne and I thought we had this child's name chosen for good. We've been referring to it by name for a couple of months, now. (12 weeks, actually!) While we had trouble deciding for both genders, we were relieved when the task was cut in half once we found out the gender.

But as time goes on and the day moves closer, the stress of it has made me second-guess myself and I have been hesitant to refer to Baby B by name. How can I assign a child a personality? All the names we like have been considered by euphony as well as origin and meaning. But it seems that each name comes with an attached preconceived expectation of attitude and personality. I feel like I am not giving my kiddo a chance to show us who it is before we decide what it will spend the rest of its life being "known" as!

I suppose we'll go in with our list of top 3 or 4 names and hope for the best. But I never imagined this would weigh so heavily on me. I have kept baby names in my wallet for years - literally.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I've been pondering my future career options lately, as the end of my time at the office draws near and I face indefinite unemployment in favour of motherhood. I know I can write and edit from home, but without knowing where I'll be or what kind of baby I'll have or how involved I'll be in church/community activities in my "spare" time, I have no idea how to project my goals or estimate my return to a serious attempt at contributing to the family income.

So I Googled "freelance writer portfolio samples" today to see the latest advice in setting oneself up for success by compiling and showcasing one's previous work, and by featuring one's talents and skills for potential clients to consider. Among many things that popped up in my search was a blog about personal branding featuring this video which is a to-the-point rant about putting your passion to work. It is worth the watch and I warn you now: if there are kidlets around, you'll need headphones, as this guy tells it like it is in no uncertain terms. :)

Also, I came across a handy little resource that uses colour preferences to determine successful career paths. The Colour Career Counsellor, powered by The Dewey Colour System--is the world's only validated, non-language colour-based career testing instrument. Just by picking your favourite colours you can find out what kind of career you should be in. I took it, but nothing new here:

My results:

Best Occupational Category
Key Words:
Self-Control, Practical, Self-Contained, Orderly, Systematic, Precise, and Accurate

These conservative appearing, plotting-types enjoy organizing, data systems, accounting, detail, and accuracy. Your very careful, conscientious, conservative nature gives others the confidence to trust you with handling money and material possessions. Structured organizations that have well-ordered chains of command work best for you.

2nd Best Occupational Category
You're a CREATOR
Key Words:
Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional

These original types place a high value on aesthetic qualities and have a great need for self-expression. They enjoy working independently, being creative, using their imagination, and constantly learning something new. Fields of interest are art, drama, music, and writing or whether they can express, assemble, or implement creative ideas.

So organized creativity is what I like, which I already knew. This would account for my desire to write but only after being given an assignment with clear objectives. I am not waiting to write the next great Canadian novel, nor can I hear music in my head that's never before been composed. And being passionate about this is really not a stretch. So I think my next step is to brand this desire, articulate it through logo, wordmark, vision and mission, and sell this package to whomever I meet in the future, and whichever companies I'd die to work for but could get away with calling "clients."

Obviously, because I'm an "organizer," having this all planned out before I go on maternity leave is appealing to me, so I don't just float along in the parenting abyss without the energy or motivation to get moving again. But I can say that I will pursue my work with gusto and will try my best not to resign myself to working a part-time job to make some extra cash just because I was too lazy to figure out my "business" plan. God gives us talents for a reason and I want to use mine for good and to contribute to my family. But in the midst of all this, I must remember that "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." (Proverbs 16:9) Without Him, all my plans are useless.

30 days of blogging

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The “What’s Your Style In One Picture” Challenge, Summer 2009

Image from Creative Spaces. Photo © BBC Good Homes. © 2002. Hylas Publishing, publisher.

I am participating in the “What’s Your Style In One Picture” Challenge, Summer 2009, put on by Alek over at From the Right Bank to the Left Coast blog. I am choosing one picture to encapsulate my design style. Now, not being particularly visually creative, I wondered how I would even begin to define this. I like so many different looks, if they're done well! So I cheated a bit and took the "What's your style?" quiz over at

Surprise! My result was: Old World, New Way
Deep, rich and regal but muted for a time-worn effect. Finishes are distressed, woodwork is rough-hewn. A lived-in but luxurious old world.

I was happy with this result, even though I wouldn't say I'm particularly married to it. So I sought out some "Old World" kitchens and found the pic above.

Take the quiz for yourself! What's your style?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The King of Pop

Today was a strange day; Michael Jackson died. Even stranger - so did Farrah Fawcett. But she was before my time - I don't think I've even seen her in anything. Except on David Letterman when she was all wigged out and wacky.

But MJ. I wanted to marry him when I was two. I had a Mickey Mouse record player in my room and my parents had Thriller on vinyl. I would listen to it over and over and over. Apparently, I even wore one glove. When he came to perform at BC Place on the Jacksons' 1984 Victory Tour, my parents couldn't get tickets, but faithfully took me down to Vancouver to hang out outside of the stadium. I remember sitting on my dad's shoulders and listening to the music thumping from inside.

I used to videotape his appearances on awards shows, tributes and televised concerts and watch them over and over. Even when his albums HIStory, Scream and Invincible came out, I was at A&B Sound the first day to pick them up. I wish I had collected them all before now; I'm sure the prices will skyrocket and production will jumpstart again.

I wrote in my baby journal organizer today that he had passed, and told my unborn baby that the Elvis of my generation had died. I will buy a paper tomorrow and keep it (if I can get my hands on one) to show him/her. I also wrote that I would share his music with him/her when they are old enough to appreciate it. If my parents had done this for me with the Beatles, I would know a lot more about them.

Anyway, even though he became strange and lost as he aged, Michael Jackson was simply a product of a very sad and, I'm sure, lonely childhood. I guess I'm one of those people that is choosing to overlook all the not-so-nice areas of his life that some people might point out and use to say, "Good riddance." We are all products of our past experiences, and he is no different. Regardless of his mistakes, you can't get around the profound influence he had on the world of pop, dance and video.

Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.

Monday, June 22, 2009

restroom small talk

Our department just recently moved into a new area at our office. Whereas we had a private, one-stall bathroom in our previous area (unisex, mind you), we are now directly located next to the three-stall version on the upper floor, where most of the women congregate (we have wheelchair accessible single stalls elsewhere, much farther away). Out of convenience, we now mostly use this more "communal" version nearby.

What I've noticed since using this bathroom is the amount of chit chat and useless banter that happens between the women in there. To me, the bathroom is a sanctuary, a quiet place. But to other women, they seem happy to talk about the weather, or whatever happened at morning devotions, or to ask questions about one another in an effort just to keep it from being awkwardly quiet. It's like they can't stand being alone with their own thoughts. It seems they also often think I must be dying for someone to talk to me because it never fails that I get cornered by one of the many coworkers I don't know too well (we have an 80-person office) wanting to know when Wayne will be home, when my baby's due, how I feel, or how our department likes the aforementioned new location.

Maybe it's because I've gotten used to living in solitude, with only Dora to chat with in the mornings while I primp for work. Or maybe it's my hormones (another preggo lady told me recently it's normal that EVERYTHING irritates you in the third trimester...which I'm finding true). Or perhaps, it's because I was a contented only child for my first nine years and value quiet more than others. Regardless, restroom small talk is not for me. When I'm in the bathroom, it's my small sliver of time in the day when I can remove my work face and pay attention to myself for 2 or 3 minutes. Not pay attention to YOU, whoever you may be, talking to me from the next stall.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I saw a quote today that reflects my very core:

Why procrastinate now when you could do it later?

So, I freelance. Writing, editing, you know. Word-nerd stuff. And I love it - it brings in extra income and creates a client-base for later on when I won't be "working" but will need to make money (being a stay-at-home mom). Granted, I have only a couple of regular clients, but I always keep my eyes peeled for opportunities. Many of you know I was a server on the weekends from the time I turned 19 until, well, last February. I've worked at: Cooking Creations catering, Northview Golf Club, Boston Pizza, Sammy J. Peppers (shhh), Kelly O'Bryan's, Moxie's, and Dublin Crossing Pub. That's eight years of late nights, fake smiles, pretending to care...and great tips. Once I decided I couldn't take it anymore, quitting that industry was one of the easiest decisions of my life, but my bank account protested. :( Loudly. Obviously, Wayne and I realized we spent all that extra cash because we HAD that extra cash. No problem. But it really makes a difference to have to earn an honest living.

So, I freelance. Not regularly enough to depend on it. But it sure helps when I do. But, in true journalist fashion, even when I have two weeks to complete an assignment, I leave it to the last few days to even start. Something about the pressure to get it done motivates me. Or, secretly, the fear that I won't be able to come up with anything creative or suitable scares me out of doing it until it's absolutely necessary to start.

Tomorrow is the day, folks. I have cleared my schedule and will hunker down and work my little heart out. After walking the dog, attempting to paint my toenails (can't...quite...reach!), prepping food for Father's Day BBQ, doing laundry, talking about nothing with Wayne, and possibly napping.

Sounds perfectly doable. Right?