Monday, 31 October 2011

Sydney's Halloween

Well the long anticipated day has finally arrived and did Sydney ever have the time of her life today!  We started the day out early this morning by taking our pumpkins out to the front porch for a photo shoot of Sydney in her PJ's with her pumpkins.  She thought it was pretty funny to be outside in her pajamas and we got some great Halloween shots!  We then filled up the candy bowl and set it by the front door which she was most excited about, especially when I told her that kids would be coming over and that she could hand the candy out to them!

We took a little drive to Black's Photos this afternoon as they were doing complimentary Halloween portraits and came home with the cutest photo of Sydney and I, it will be a great souvenir of today and all the great memories!

Sydney could hardly wait to put her ladybug costume on.  After about a thousand tries at getting the perfect photo of her in her costume, we gave up and headed out to do a little trick or treating.  Our street was so festive, so many houses were decked out for Halloween with carved and lit jack-o-lanterns, decorations, lights and scary music.  Sydney trucked from house to house with her little basket and was so thrilled when the candy started to pile up!  After we'd been to a few houses I tried to convince Syd that it was time to go home as it was getting a bit chilly outside, by she just kept yelling "More! More!" and running to the next neighbor's house.  It was too cute!

We ran into our friend Lori and her little guy Weston while we were out, so we went to a couple of houses with them and then trekked up the street to their house to take a few photos of the kids together.  Weston was dressed up like a little shark, it was very funny as he is the sweetest boy you'd ever meet, so not mean like a shark!

By the time we had hit up all the houses that Sydney wanted to go to and had visited Weston, we'd been out for a full hour!  I was amazed at how well Sydney held up!  We came home to warm up for a bit and Sydney handed candy out to several kids who came to the door.  She was very sweet with her own candy, kept handing out little chocolate bars to share with Daddy and Zach, it was very touching!

We finished the evening off by heading to Sydney's Uncle Harry's annual fireworks show.  Uncle Harry outdid himself this year, putting on an amazing display of fireworks and Sydney did so well with all the noise, didn't flinch until the grande finale which was super loud!

It was such a fabulous evening with Sydney!  I have to say I love Halloween so much now that I have a child!  It was such bliss watching how much fun Sydney was having tonight and thinking about the years to come with her and all of the great Halloween memories that we'll be making together!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Little Birthday Party for Syd

This afternoon we had a few friends and some family over for a little birthday celebration for Sydney.  It was a very fun afternoon!  I tried to keep all of the snacks simple and delicious, served lox and bagels, a cheese and fruit platter, homemade cumin hummus and some sweets along with hot appys.  It was all very yummy!

I ordered a Princess cake from Fratelli Bakery on Commercial Drive, it was absolutely delicious!  It had several layers of light sponge cake and mousse all covered in whip cream, chocolate and strawberries!  It was delightful!

I found the most beautiful lipstick roses and made a couple of vases for the table centerpiece and the living room.  They were just gorgeous!  We will enjoy them in the days to come!

Sydney was absolutely spoiled rotten with gifts from everyone!  She had a lot of fun opening her presents, especially loved pulling things out of the gift bags to see what was inside.

By far, her favourite gift was this "Baby so New Home and Away Set" from her cousins Issy and Nathan.  Sydney absolutely loves dolls, or babies, as she calls them.  She is almost always toting a doll or stuffed animal around the house these days!  This gift couldn't have been better, it's a lovely new doll complete with her own bed, car seat and ride on horse!  Sydney pushed the doll around on the horse for at least twenty minutes during the party, it was great!

My favourite gift was a matching Mom and baby hat and scarf set knit by Sydney's Auntie Elaine!  So sweet!  I can just imagine Sydney and I going for walks together wearing our matching set....can't wait to wear it!

Our friends Rodney and Lynne got Sydney this giant set of 250 foam blocks that can be used not only for building towers but in the bathtub as well!  We are going to have tons of fun with these!

Sydney's brother Zach and his girlfriend Miriam got Sydney the sweetest clothes, a super cute little coat from Baby Roots and a complete yoga set; jacket, shirt and yoga pants from Ivivva Athletica, the kid's arm of Lululemon where Miriam works.  We tried the outfit on Syd tonight, she looks so hip and cool, very much a Vancouver babe ready for yoga class!

Sydney's Auntie Shery and Uncle Gerry got her this great set of flash cards that double as two piece puzzles, very cool!  They also got her these cute fleecy pajamas and a bathing suit which will be perfect for when we head to Hawaii later this year!

 Sydney's cousin Tybie got her this very sweet Mrs. Potato Head, we will have lots of fun with her!

 We got a couple of things to add to Sydney's art basket today too, some new play dough and some very cool chubby crayons!

It was such a lovely visit with everyone and a great chance to celebrate Sydney's birthday and surround her with family and friends.  I think she felt very loved and very spoiled today!

We have a great week ahead to look forward to with Halloween, her friend Declan's and Alexis' birthday parties, a preschool birthday celebration for Sydney and finally Sydney's kid's party next Sunday!  Fun times all around!!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Trick or Treating in Dunbar Village

This afternoon Sydney and I met up with some of the Dunbar Moms that we know to go trick-or-treating in Dunbar Village.  It was a great afternoon, the weather was perfect, a lovely warm autumn afternoon and the kids looked so sweet dressed up in their little costumes.  Retailers all down Dunbar street welcomed the little ones into their stores to help themselves to candy and various treats, it was a blast!

Sydney got her own little trick or treat bag and in the end managed to fill it about two thirds of the way up with candy!  She kept peering into the bag as it was getting fuller and fuller, I think by the end she was starting to get the concept of going "door to door" to get candy.  We'll have to see if she remembers it at all on Monday night when we take her out for Halloween!

The atmosphere on Dunbar was sensational, there were so many people milling about and we saw some of the best costumes!  Chloe Angus and her miniature horse Sunny were out in front of her shop all dressed up.  Sunny was dressed as a unicorn, it was very cute!

We ran into several other Moms that I know from various activities that Sydney and I have gone to and stopped to chat and admire the kid's costumes.  Saw lots of other ladybugs out there this year, seems to be a popular costume!  Sydney looked adorable in her little ladybug costume with her mop of red curls sticking out the top hood!

After trick or treating we went to my friend Sally's house for wine and snacks.  Had a great visit with the Moms and drank some amazing wine.  Sally and her husband love wine so I'm always sure to have something amazing when I'm there!

Sally sent us home with these adorable leaf cookies from Butter Bakery on Dunbar and our friend Liz gave each of us a little package of cookies from the same bakery too.  Such lovely treats to top off a very fun and festive event in our hood!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Pajama Day

Sydney and I had a pajama day today.  We literally didn't leave the house for even a second, stayed in our PJ's all day!  Luckily, after a bit of a worry about Sydney coming down with something yesterday,  she woke up feeling and acting like her old self.  I thought just to be on the safe side, and with so many events coming up, that I should keep her home for a day.

We actually had a great day together, played and read books, painted her Halloween pumpkin and she had a good long nap this afternoon so I had some time to get some things done.  I took full advantage of the fact that I had a day at home, put together Sydney's loot bags for her birthday party, made a pot of Curry Cauliflower Soup and Spicy Turkey Burgers which we enjoyed for an early dinner.  I even whipped up a batch of homemade macaroni and cheese for Sydney, it was yummy, I ate all the leftovers and Sydney loved it too! 

It was definitely a day for comfort food, it was cold and rainy and I felt very grateful that we actually could stay in our pajamas all day and blow off our activities.  I am keenly aware of the fact that days like this with my girl are numbered and I plan to enjoy every single one of them when they present themselves!

Am looking forward to getting back out and about tomorrow, we are having some friends for tea on Sunday and have decided to turn it into a mini-birthday celebration for Sydney so will spend tomorrow running errands and getting groceries to get prepared for that.  It should be fun!

Here's the recipes for the Curried Cauliflower Soup and Spicy Turkey Burgers along with the cheese sauce recipe that I use for the homemade mac and cheese if you're in the mood to try something a little hearty:

Curried Cauliflower Soup

2 TBSP olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1.5 TBSP sugar
4 tsp curry powder
8 cups cauliflower florets (from one large head), chopped
1 1/4 cups potatoes, peeled, diced and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
7 cups low-salt chicken broth
Chopped fresh mint leaves

Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Add sugar and curry powder, stir 1 minute.  Add cauliflower and potatoes; stir one minute.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 35 minutes.  Working in batches, puree soup in blender.  Return soup to same pot and bring to simmer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with fresh mint leaves once in serving bowls.

Spicy Turkey Burgers

1 1/4 lbs lean ground turkey
1 cup mild salsa, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 TBSP vegetable oil, divided
1 TBSP hot sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

4 kaiser buns, halved horizontally

Mix ground turkey with 1/2 cup salsa, onions, cilantro, 3 TBSP oil, hot sauce, cumin, salt and pepper in large bowl.  Shape turkey mixture into patties.  Heat 1 TBSP oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add burgers;cook until brown, about three minutes per side.  Reduce heat to low.  Saute until burgers are cooked through, about 4 minutes, turning occasionally.

Serve on kaiser buns with lettuce and topped with salsa.

Cheese Sauce

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Melt butter in small saucepan.  Add flour and stir until it is all mixed in to make a roux.  Add milk and stir constantly over medium heat until sauce thickens and is velvety.  Add cheese and stir continually until melted.

Pour sauce over cooked elbow macaroni and serve or you can top with buttered bread crumbs and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes if you want a baked macaroni.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

What I Should Never Take For Granted

This week has been a great reminder about how much I should not take health, mine or those of the people I love, for granted.  On Monday, Sydney and I went over to visit my friend Sarah and her little girl Emma.  We took the girls to the park down the street and when the kids got back to Sarah's house they were covered in sand and mud from the park and made quite a mess of her foyer and stairs.  Shortly after we left, Sarah was vacuuming up the dirt on the stairs and accidentally tripped and fell down the stairs, severely spraining her ankle.

Poor Sarah has been hobbling around on crutches ever since while trying to chase after an active toddler.  Sydney and I were planning to spend some time this week with Sarah and Emma to keep Emma entertained and help out any way we could until this afternoon hit. 

All was going well this morning, Sydney and I met with a lovely lady who will be working as a Mother's Helper for me starting next week and then we headed off to preschool.  Sydney settled down really quickly in class and I spent another lovely hour and a half at Oakridge Centre getting groceries and doing a little shopping.  We came home for lunch and a nap and just as we were headed out the door to swimming lessons, Sydney had a major bout of diarrhea.  Such timing!  Needless to say, we didn't go swimming as I didn't want to risk it happening again in the pool!!

I was hoping and praying that it was just an isolated incident, but unfortunately a couple of hours later she had another bout and was feeling very feverish.  We put her to bed with some Tylenol after a warm bath and are hoping for the best tonight.

I have been in denial for the past few days as well that I am coming down with something myself, have felt something sinister settling in my chest for a few days and have been coughing on and off.  This is really not great timing with all of the birthday parties and Halloween coming up!! 

So all of this is to say that I got to thinking today that health is really something that we should never take for granted, I am left wishing for the gift of an ordinary day after the events of this week!

Here's wishing you good health in great measures!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Big Girl at Preschool

Today was a big day for Sydney at preschool.  It was the first time that I left her on her own for the entire class and actually left the building!  She did so well, cried for about twenty seconds when I first left and then was quickly distracted and settled right into class!

The preschool classroom was decked out for fall today with leaves, pine cones, pumpkins and rubber boots in paint-filled pie plates for a stamping art project.  Every day the teachers pull out different toys for the kids, today there were so many new things that I think it went a long way in keeping Sydney happily distracted!

So off I went to Oakridge Shopping Centre for an hour and a half to myself!  It was terrific, I did a quick grocery shop, tried on a bunch of clothes, bought a sweater and a shirt and had a quick lunch before zipping back to preschool to pick Sydney up.  I felt like a new woman by the time I got there, it was just enough of a break for me to recharge my battery and get a few things done so I felt as though my day had some sort of efficiency to it!  I am looking forward to many more days spent at Oakridge while Syd's at preschool, I have the feeling I'm going to know this mall inside-out by the time this school year is done!

The preschool partners with Scholastic Books so that the parents can purchase books for their children at a great price and the preschool can benefit with free books from Scholastic for every dollar spent by the parents.  I ordered Sydney a bunch of books a month or so ago and we finally got them today.  It was so fun looking through them all, Sydney was very excited to have some new books to read!  I was quite amazed at how many objects she recognized in the pictures in the books without ever having seen them before.  Such a little smarty pants!

Our day ended off with a visit with our friend Laura and her little girl Faith.  We played in the garden at her house, enjoyed another beautiful fall day outdoors!  Laura just had a new baby boy, sweet Felix, about seven weeks ago, it was so great to snuggle and cuddle with him today and we were excited to finally get to give him his present, some very cute wee little boy outfits!

So all in all a great day for Sydney, I am so encouraged that she is getting so comfortable at preschool and am loving having a few moments to myself to count on during the week!

Monday, 24 October 2011


One of the things that I really love about this blog is that it serves as an e-diary of sorts for me so that I can look back on my days with Sydney during this most magical time with her and remember all of the great things that we did.

This morning didn't quite turn out as I had hoped.  I have been searching high and low for a new housekeeper as I am really not keeping up with housework the way I should, and finally found someone great a couple of weeks ago.  She was meant to start this morning, I had been looking forward to it all week, every time I would see a dirty sink, or spots on the floor or sticky finger prints somewhere I would smile knowing that it was all going to be cleaned up today.  So you can imagine my disappointment when I got an e-mail from the lady I'd hired to say that she had been up sick with the flu all night and couldn't come today.  Sigh.....

So I texted my friend Sarah for some comfort and she suggested that Sydney and I come over to her place for a visit instead of staying home this morning so we headed over to her house and took the kids to the park.  It was a great visit, her friends Kate and Tee came over too and we had tea and chatted and the kids played and snacked.  It was a great morning hanging out with some very lovely Moms!

When I got home I got a text from my friend Janice who is 18 weeks pregnant.  She had just gotten home from her prenatal ultrasound and couldn't wait to share the news with me that she is having a little girl!!  So excited for her!  They have even named her already, Josie Anne, very sweet!  I can't wait to rummage through some of Sydney's clothes that she's outgrown to pass along to sweet Josie.

Janice and I have been friends since we were really little kids.  When she got married in Las Vegas five years ago, she asked me to be her bridesmaid.  We had the most amazing time in Vegas for her wedding and one of the gifts that she gave me for being in her wedding party was this beautiful journal with inlaid stone on the cover.  It is gorgeous!  I brought it home and tucked it away in my nightstand where it stayed for almost two years without a single note written in it!  The second I found out I was pregnant I dug it out and started my pregnancy journal which has now turned into my baby journal as I have kept writing entries periodically since Sydney was born.

Coincidentally, right around the same time that I started writing in the journal that Janice gave me, she had a very vivid dream about me being pregnant even though she was five thousand miles away at this point and we hadn't talked in several weeks!  It was almost as though she knew when I picked up that journal that it was meant to be for something special and it really was.  Janice and I have always had a very special connection and I am so thrilled to share this time of life with her as we are Moms together with our sweet girls.

Almost three years later, I have almost filled the entire journal with entries so I recently bought a new journal to continue writing in.  I love that it has the letter "S" for Sydney on the front.  I am so looking forward to passing these along to Sydney when she is an adult, maybe she'll read them when she's expecting her own baby and know how I felt while I was waiting for her to arrive!

It is a wonderful way to preserve memories, I am so glad that Janice thought to give me that journal many years ago, it is something I will treasure my whole life!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A Halloween & Birthday Bash

What a fantastic party weekend it was! Sydney and I went to three in total, two birthday parties and one fabulous Halloween party in the middle!  It was fun times all around!

Yesterday my friend Lori hosted a family Halloween party for a group of Moms that live in the Dunbar area that met at our newborn group many months ago at the Dunbar Community Centre.  A core group of us have stayed in touch and remained friends, it's been so nice getting to know other families from the neighborhood and having Sydney's little friends so close by.

Lori is expecting her second baby in late May and is still feeling that first trimester exhaustion, so we all decided to pitch in and help make a few things to share with everyone.  I made a couple of really fun things.  This cake is called the Great Pumpkin Cake, it's a carrot cake baked in a bundt pan and then iced with orange icing to resemble a pumpkin.  The green stem in the middle is an iced flat bottom ice cream cone turned upside down.  Very cute!

I also made these ghost meringues which were super simple to do and looked so adorable!  The recipe was a simple meringue which was then placed into a pastry bag and piped onto a cookie sheet and baked.  Once cooled, you use melted chocolate to make the eyes and they look like scary little ghosts and taste oh so delicious.  They were obviously a hit at the party as they all vanished, like any good ghost, very quickly!

The spread was amazing, I also made the Jack-o-Lantern lollipops in the cup with a chocolate mold I've had for years, I dig it out every Halloween and was so happy to have an excuse to use it this year!

My friend Michelle made the cutest thing ever, she got a bunch of oranges, hollowed them out and carved them like jack-o-lanterns and then filled them with fruit salad for the kids.  It was adorable and such a healthy alternative to all of the sweets and candy that the day was filled with! 

Paul, Sydney and I had such a great time at the party, the kids were super cute all dressed up in their costumes and Lori did a little photo shoot of the kids in their costumes for us all.  It was a great memory!

This afternoon we headed off to our third party of the weekend for Sydney's little friend Myrtle who is also turning two.  It was such a lovely party, lots of Moms I knew and lots of new Moms to meet and the kids played really well together.  Myrtle's Mom, Saskia, had the most beautiful display of food, with fresh bunches of flowers in the middle and balloons dangling on top.  Sydney was fascinated with the balloons, kept asking for one the entire party through, so Saskia cut her off one to take home before we left.

Myrtle's Dad made this lovely chocolate cake for her birthday, it was delicious!

By sheer coincidence, Sydney ended up with a loot bag with a little ladybug on it which is the theme for her birthday coming up in a couple of weeks!  It was filled with some beautiful butterfly stickers, a Melissa and Doug finger puppet and some decadent Thomas Haas chocolates!

We played a very fun game called Pass the Parcel at the party.  It's basically like musical chairs with a parcel, if the music stops and the parcel ends up in your hands you get to unwrap one layer of wrapping paper and get whatever gift falls out, and so on and so on.  Every kid ended up with a little puppet in the end, Sydney's was a moose, very fitting seeing I am from northern BC where moose run free!

So it was a lovely weekend filled with happy memories of times with our friends celebrating.  We are feeling a little partied out after all the excitement but it was well worth it, we absolutely had a blast!