Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Leap Day

Today is February 29th, happy leap year!  It seems that Mother Nature really took this one extra day of winter seriously, this morning we woke up to a huge snowstorm!

Giant flakes were falling down everywhere and within a few minutes it was a winter wonderland outside.  When I opened the front door to get a few pictures this morning,  Sydney let out a breathless "Wow!", she was clearly overwhelmed by the beauty of it all....

Goodbye February, just so we don't have any misunderstandings, winter's over, okay?

This morning in art class Sydney made the coolest project, a splatter paint picture on a canvas in a similar vein to one like this by the very famous Jackson Pollock:

It was so fun watching her hurl paint at her canvas. By the end of class, we were literally covered in paint from head to toe, but what fun we had doing it!  Can't wait to take home her finished product next week!

I had one of her canvas paintings from art class framed and we brought it home today and proudly hung it in Sydney's playroom:

It is the cutest bumblebee I think I've ever seen!

This afternoon I made the easiest, and most delicious loaf of homemade no-knead cheese bread.  I mixed up the dough yesterday afternoon and left it sitting on the counter for 24 hours before baking today.  It made the most beautiful textured loaf of bread with lovely pockets of cheese tucked away as a little surprise.  Paul thouroughly enjoyed it with a bowl of my homemade butternut squash soup tonight for dinner.

Here's the recipe, courtesy of one of my favourite blogs, Dinner with Julie:

No-knead Cheese Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp. instant or regular active dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 cup grated old cheddar, Gouda, or other flavorful cheese

In a large bowl stir together the flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a plate and let it rest on the countertop for 18-24 hours at room temperature.

The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with grated cheese and fold it over on itself once or twice, then roughly shape into a ball. (The cheese need not be evenly incorporated; in fact you want pockets of cheesiness in there.) Put the dough seam side down on a piece of parchment and dust with more flour. Cover with a cotton tea towel and let it sit for another hour or two.

While the bread is resting, preheat the oven to 450°. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and flip the dough over into the pot; it may look like a mess, but that’s OK. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 10-15 minutes, until crusty and golden.

Let cool for a few minutes, but eat warm.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Sydney's Tree

This morning when we arrived at school, Sydney and I found a little surprise waiting for her in her mailbox.  It was a certificate that read:

"For Tu Bi'Shevat 5772/2012 an Acacia tree has been planted in the central Arava region of the Negev Desert by Sydney W"

I had no idea that the preschool was planting a tree in Israel in honour of each student for Tu Bi'Shevat, what a lovely surprise!

Trees are very important in Jewish culture.  They are considered to be at the pinnacle of the plant world, which transforms the earth from a barren and lifeless mass into an environment capable of supporting other forms of life such as animals and humans.  In essence, trees sustain all other life.  Often for special occasions such as birthdays, graduations, new babies etc., instead of giving gifts, donations will be made to have trees planted in Israel in honour of the person being celebrated.  I love this about Jewish culture, how much it values the environment and appreciates the sustainability of the life that trees give!

I have to admit, I had never heard of an Acacia tree, so I did a bit of reading about them when I got home.  They are a flat-topped African flowering tree, here's how they look when in bloom, so beautiful!

I love knowing that Sydney has her own tree planted somewhere on this earth that will likely live on long after she and I have both left.  I can only hope that many more will be planted in her honour as she reaches many more milestones in her life in the years to come!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Sydney's New Train Table

This morning Sydney and I took a drive out to West Vancouver to pick up her new train table that I found for a steal of a deal on Craigslist.  Sydney has been absolutely loving playing with the Brio trains that belonged to her brother Zach, some twenty years ago, and we've had quite an elaborate set of tracks set up on the floor of her playroom.  Ever since seeing how much she loved the trains, I have been thinking that I would love to get her a train table.

This beauty is absolutely perfect in our space and is in primary colours in keeping with our colour scheme!  It has six huge bins underneath that hold extra track and trains, Syd loves that she can store stuff underneath and pull it up whenever she needs it! 

The very sweet lady who was selling the table graciously offered to help me load it into my car.  Even though I had measured it out the day before, it quickly became clear that there was no way that the table and Sydney and her car seat were going to fit in the back seat together.  After about 45 minutes of struggling with every which angle, I gave up, shoved the table in the back with all the seats down, and did something I swore I'd never do, moved Sydney's car seat to the front seat next to me.  I deactivated the airbag on her side and drove home on tenderhooks, with a knot in my stomach, praying that we wouldn't get into an accident or get pulled over!  Thankfully, we made it home safely and Sydney loved being in the front and being able to see everything so well!  I sternly warned her that this was the first, and last time that she was ever riding in the front in her car seat!

Syd literally played at the table non-stop, all day from the moment we brought it home!  It was a great buy!

This afternoon I had my Mother's Helper Eryn here.  I thought that a good art project for she and Sydney to work on would be painting the birdhouse that Sydney got from her friend Bea's birthday party on the weekend.  Sydney carefully worked to cover each panel with paint completely, she must have learned that from art class as we often cover an entire surface when working on a project! 

In the end this is what it looked like:

We filled it with birdseed, took it outside together and hung it in the Japanese Maple tree in our backyard so that she can see it from the kitchen window.  I so hope that one day we see a little bird at the house, Sydney would be thrilled!

So our week got off to a very nice start, let's hope it continues along!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

What's Up Doc?

We've been playing this little game with Sydney lately where we'll ask her what she wants to be when she grows up.  The conversation usually goes something like this:

Mom: "Syd when you're an adult, what do you want to be?"

Syd: "Macaroni"

Mom: "You can't be macaroni, silly!  How about a doctor?  Or a lawyer?"

Syd: "Oh I know!  Elmo!"

Then we laugh and I make a bunch of other suggestions, always reminding her that Daddy and I have big expectations of her.  Daddy usually chimes in at some point that marrying wealthy is always a viable option as well.  Pretty funny!

Yesterday Paul was lying on the couch resting and Syd came up to him and started prying his eyelids back and staring into each eye exclaiming, "Wow!"  I asked her if she wanted to be an eye doctor when she grew up, she seemed to agree at that moment while she was examining Dad's eyes.  Who knows, maybe I've got a budding opthamologist on my hands!

This afternoon we went to our friend Bruce and Felicity's house for tea and a visit.  Syd was having such a great time playing with their cat, Charlie and with their son Carl.  Carl built a very elaborate set of train tracks and pulled out some of his Thomas trains to share with Sydney, it was fantastic!  When the trains were no longer holding her interest, Felicity disappeared upstairs and reappeared with a little gift for Sydney, a brand new play doctor's kit complete with a stethescope, thermometer, blood pressure cuff and syringe!  Sydney loved it, I couldn't help but laugh watching her roam around the house with the stethescope around her neck just like a real doctor!

I thought it was fitting that Felicity would give her a doctor's set for a gift given our conversation about her becoming an eye doctor yesterday, perhaps it was a little foreshadowing of what's to come?

No matter what Sydney becomes, I will be so proud of her.  She is a bright and capable girl and I have no doubt that she will make something great of herself one day!  I can't wait to see, as time unfolds, where her interests lie and what profession she chooses.  One thing is for sure, she'll have a proud Mama cheering her on, all the way!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Happy Birthday Bea!

This afternoon Sydney and I went downtown to Jump! Gymnastics to celebrate her friend Bea's 2nd Birthday.  Bea is such a sweet, sweet girl.  She was so excited to be at her party today, you could totally tell that she completely got that today was all about her and having fun with her friends.  It was such a delight to see her merrily running about the gym today, thouroughly enjoying herself!

Bea has the hugest blue eyes ever and the sweetest round face.  Between that and her petite stature, she literally looks like a live doll.  She is so cute that I can hardly stand it sometimes!

(Again, photo courtesy of my very talented friend Lori and her amazing photographic skills!)

Sydney fell asleep in the car minutes before we arrived at the party so she took a while to warm up and play once we got there, but once she was fully awake, she had tons of fun playing in the ball pit, on the slide and on the various balance beams.  The gym is one of her favourite activities and such a good venue for a two-year-old party!

Syd was thrilled to get a helium balloon to take home at the end of the party, I tied it around the handle of my purse thinking that it would be safe until we got home.  Then we decided to stop and pick up a pizza for dinner and as I pulled my purse out of the car with Sydney in my arms to get our pizza, the beloved balloon slipped off my purse handle and up and away into Neverland.  Poor Sydney, the look on her face was heartbreaking!  She watched the balloon sail away until it was just a tiny speck in the sky before declaring: "Balloon go bye-bye".  It was so sad, I apologized a million times for letting it slip away and promised to buy her another one from the toy store tomorrow.  I'm pretty sure she's going to hold me to it when tomorrow comes, she's got the most amazing memory these days!

Erin, Bea's Mom, came up with the most amazing take-home for the kids, this very cool wooden bird house complete with a little baggie of bird seed!  I love it!  Sydney and I are going to spend an afternoon painting it, I think it will make an excellent art project, before hanging it up in the backyard to see if we can attract any birds. 

It was so nice to see a group of Mom friends today and for Sydney to have some time to play with her buddies, it was just what we needed!

Friday, 24 February 2012


I feel as though I have been in a bit of a funk these past few weeks and not truly savouring Sydney, or my days with her, as much as I mean to.  2012 has gotten off to a rough start health-wise for us!  It feels as though every week since the beginning of January either myself, Paul or Sydney has been suffering with an illness or injury.  I think it's starting to wear on me a bit, to the point where I'm having to look pretty darn hard each day to see the joy in it.  I'm finding myself being unusually short-tempered with Syd and really not letting her dictate the rhythm of our days.  I don't like this, it needs to change.  I want out of this funk!

Today Sydney and I went to our friend Christina and Jack's house for an afternoon playdate.  I really enjoy Christina's company, she and I are a lot alike in personality and I really feel an affinity with her!  Her little guy Jack is such a sweet little thing, here he is on his 2nd birthday:

(Photo courtesy of my very talented friend, Lori who faithfully packs her camera to all of our kid's birthday parties and then sends us the most amazing shots of our kids afterwards!)

I love how Sydney makes herself at home so quickly in other people's homes when we're visiting.  While Christina and I were chatting and sharing a bottle of wine, Sydney quietly disappeared upstairs.  When I went to find her a few minutes later, I found her sitting quietly at Jack's little table and chairs in the upstairs office, colouring away in one of his colouring books like it was her own room!  It was very cute!

I am so grateful to have so many amazing Mom friends in my life and love that I can tap into their energy when mine seems to be wearing thin!  Christina is a positive, energetic woman and she inspires me to shake myself out of this funk and get out to do some fun things!  She teaches Mom and toddler yoga on Sunday mornings at Granville Island, Sydney and I are definitely going to try her class out!  It will be a fun way to start our week and a good excuse to get Syd to practice her Downward Dogs!

So here's to shaking myself out of this funk, doing whatever it takes to inject some positive energy back into my days and finding joy around every corner.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Reading Break

It is only Wednesday night and I feel as though I've been through the wringer.  Sydney has been quite the challenge these past few days.  It's been the perfect storm of her being two, still being a snotty mess with this cold that won't seem to go away, and cutting a new molar ~ her last baby tooth, hooray!

To add to the challenge, this week is reading break for the universities, so both of my Mother's Helpers and housekeeper are off this week so I haven't had a break even for a minute and I am feeling it!

But I know that the whole point of this blog is to find the extraordinary in an ordinary day, so here are a few of the highlights of the past few days:

Tonight in the bathtub I asked Sydney how to spell her name, totally thinking that she would never know how.  Without missing a beat, she clearly said to me S-Y-D-N-E-Y.  Amazing!  Her mind is like a sponge right now, it is absolutely incredible!

We had lunch on Monday with my brother Paul who celebrated his 34th birthday on Sunday.  It was so nice to see him and to be able to bring him a little treat for his birthday.  With his birthday being so close after Christmas, it was hard not to duplicate anything that we'd given him for the holidays, so we got him this gift set from the Body Shop with products from the new White Musk Sport fragrance.

While we were downtown meeting with my brother, I popped into Baby Gap on Robson and they had literally racks and racks of clearance clothes, making room for all of their new spring wear.  I got Sydney a bunch of things at rock bottom prices including a huge stack of new socks, gotta love a deal!

And speaking of deals, today after art class Sydney and I popped into Peekaboo Baby on Dunbar and got two super cute things for 70% off on their sale rack!  We picked up these very cute Roxy flare jeans and this Dr. Bon bubble dress, I think it's going to be adorable on Syd!

I also started reading a new book this week: "Girl Meets God."  This interesting tale, written by Lauren Winner, is her own story of finding God.  Being born to an Orthodox Jewish father and lapsed Southern Baptist Mother, she decided to become an Orthodox Jew in her teens but through a series of events ended up converting to Christianity.  It is a very interesting read of one girl's struggle to find her religious identity, plus it just feels downright good to be reading a novel!

This afternoon we had our friends Mel and Logan and Sarah and Emma over for a playdate.  It was so nice to reconnect with them both and to have our first official playdate in the new playroom!  The kids loved the space, I'm so glad that we spent the time converting the room as a space for the kids to play.  Sarah and Emma had just returned from a week's vacation in Mexico and brought Sydney this very cool set of maracas as a gift.  They will be a great addition to her music station in the playroom!

So despite the hard week that it's been, there have definitely been some good things too, some weeks you just have to look harder than others to find them!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Eat Something....Anything!

Sydney's cold is slowly on it's way out.  She is still hacking away like a 80 year old with emphysema, but I can tell that the cough is getting less intense and less frequent.  A few more days and the worst should be over!

While she's been sick, Syd has hardly been eating a thing, a little bite of this, a little bite of that and a whole lot of popsicles.  Being that she doesn't have any extra weight to begin with, I was getting a bit worried about how little she had ingested in the past few days, so this afternoon I decided to make a couple of her favourite things in hopes of luring her into eating something!

I whipped up a batch of latkes today, Sydney loves them...come to think of it, so do I!  Syd sat perched on the counter helping me peel potatoes with her own peeler and then rinsing them off in the sink.  She watched while I chopped and grated, fried and flipped and then ate half a latke before pronouncing "no thanks".   I have the feeling I'm going to be eating a whole lot of latkes over the next week or so....

I also made some banana muffins which are always a big hit.  I usually make the mini muffins for Syd, but figured I'd make the full sized ones today so that Paul and Zach had a treat to take to work with them tomorrow.  Syd did devour one of these and I breathed a sigh of relief, at least she'd had something reasonable to eat today!

We decided to take advantage of the dry day today and took Syd out for a walk to Granville Island this morning.  It felt so good to get outside and get some exercise.  I have been so lazy about going to my fitness classes lately and am feeling fluffy and in need of a good solid workout!  I definitely felt better after I'd gotten out for a walk this morning, cleared the cobwebs and enjoyed some lovely fresh air!

Here's hoping that this week is back to "normal" and that the worst of cold and flu season is behind us!!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

"Homey" Depot

Sydney is still struggling with this horrible cold that won't let up.  We have been hunkered down in the house for the past few days trying to give her as much rest as possible so that she'll get over this bug soon! 

Long days at home are never easy for me.  I always feel the need to get up and go....somewhere, anywhere really!  This morning was no exception, I was feeling restless and wanting to be outside despite the near monsoon like conditions that we had to face! 

The toilet in our ensuite stopped working a couple of days ago.  Paul fished around the tank and surfaced with a funny looking part that he called a flapper, so I thought that today provided the best opportunity to go out looking for a new one so that we could get the plumbing up and running again! 

So, off to Home Depot we went.  Sydney loves "Homey Depot", as she calls it.  There are a million different things to look at and explore there, I could keep her occupied there for an entire day!  She found a shopping basket and gleefully stacked it to the rim with items off the shelves: electrical tape, light switches, twine.  And amazingly, as we were putting it all back before we left, she remembered exactly where she had gotten each and every item even while I was frantically running around trying to find where it should go!

This afternoon my cousin Mel came over for a visit.  It was so lovely to have some company after being hauled up in the house for a few days!  We sat and chatted and played with Syd over tea, it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

Mel's Mom, my Auntie Trish, sent a couple of treats for Syd, a sheet of ladybug stickers and a wind up dancing ladybug, which Syd just adored!  While we were visiting, she cracked open the package of stickers and created a ladybug collage:

And painted some very lovely pieces:

So, we'll take tomorrow as it comes depending on how Sydney's feeling.  If nothing else, I will try to savour these mellow days at home with her, knowing they won't last for long!