Thursday, 11 February 2016

Super Bowl parties, Chinese New Year and February blahs

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I remember it was only February 3rd and the words "This is the longest month ever" came out of my mouth. 

Because, well, winter is long. And I'm pretty much over it. 

So I've been trying to keep these two entertained inside on those cold days--but with a now very mobile little girl, who laughs at pretty much everything that her brother does...she has thankfully been providing the majority of the entertainment without my help. 


Because a moving, laughing, real life doll is fun to play with. Says every 3yr old everywhere. 




And on those cold February days when a mom is trying to convince her little girl to please keep those adorable little head bands on without tearing them off to eat them--well, big brothers come to the rescue, and show their support.


Which I'll pull out for him when he's 16, just to remind him.



But you know what else you do when it feels like a dreary, long, never ending month? Well, you hatch some plans. Some spontaneous plans that will surely result in memories for your kids. Because that's really what it's all about.

So on a day when Terry had purposely taken the day off of work, we waited until the end of the day, then called Mya's school and picked her up 20 minutes early. And called Jen to see if she wanted in on our plans too. So 2 little surprised cousins packed up their backpacks and walked down the school hallway, excited to have gotten called down to the office unexpectedly, and even more excited to find Terry waiting for them at the end of the hallway.

"We're going to McDonald's guys to play on the indoor playground and have an early dinner".

And the look of shock, excitement and the words "BEST. DAY. EVER!" came screaming out of their mouths.

Because we could have waited that extra 20mins and greeted them as they got off the bus and brought them at that time instead. But there is something pretty darn special about being called down to the office out of nowhere, and feeling like you're leaving school "early"--even though they basically missed the length of time it takes for kindergarteners to get their snowsuits on.

To them though, it was exciting. To them, it was thrilling. To them, it was something that they'll never forget.

Because I still remember when my parents did the same for us, all those years ago.

And for me, it all of a sudden made an ordinary, dreary, cold day feel a little bit special.

Because it was.



And then, just when I scanned the calendar to see if there was anything ANYTHING else great happening in February to look forward to, I realized YES! Chinese New Year. Of course. Chinese New Year and my favourite love day--Valentine's Day.

So February started looking up.

Because getting together with family to celebrate Chinese New Year is something that we've done now for several years and something that we do not only to help teach Oliver and Scarlett about their culture, but also for our kids, so we all can learn.

So we dress in red...


make dragon masks...



put up decorations...

and hand out red envelopes to little kids full of coins and gold chocolates.





And then I looked on the calendar, at that cold dreary month of February, to find that there was also some little ol' game called the Super Bowl coming up too. And although I don't care about the game, I do care to hang out at our neighbourhood Super Bowl party.


 Because our street gets shut down, a big screen is put up on my neighbours garage, the bbq cooks up delicious food, kids play street hockey and man hunt, everyone brings a dish and everyone hangs out until it's so dark out that you can barely see anymore.



And, sometimes we look up to watch the game--when Beyonce comes on at least.


So February has started to look up. A bit.

And when I pulled out the Valentine's Day decorations yesterday and Carter and I quickly put them up to surprise Mya when she got home from school...




well it made me realize that 10mins of Carter and I scurrying around stringing hearts meant that it changed the whole mood of our house--from dreary to happy.

All with just a few little hearts.

(And an impromptu Valentine's Day card making session after school yesterday).




Happy February everyone. Maybe this month isn't so bad after all. Love day is just around the corner.

But I'm still over winter.

Erica xo

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

All hail the parents of a 2 or 3 year old

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Let's just take a moment of silence here for all of the parents of either a 2 or 3 year old.

I bow to you.

I salute you.

Because I fully, fully GET it.

Here's the deal. There's something quite magical about 2 and 3 year olds--there really is. They are flippin' cute, hilarious, curious, adventurous and cuddly. Their little voices, their little words, their excitement to start each day, their absolute adoration for you--it's just the best thing in the world. I mean, Carter--the little boy love of my life, he will hug you and kiss you a million times a day. He will snuggle you, squeeze you and make you feel like you are the most precious thing in the world to him. When Sophia cries, he runs to her, hugs her (too tight most times, but nonetheless...he still tries) and sings lullabies to her when nothing else is working. As I tell him daily, he is my absolute favourite 3yr old little boy in the whole world...and he then, without fail, tells me that I'm his absolute favourite old mom in the whole world.

But, having a 2 or 3 year old also means that they have this incredible ability to bring you to your absolute breaking point--then just when you feel like you're losing your mind...just when you feel like your mind is actually rolling down the street, they take their one little finger and give you a little push to just push you right over the edge. Just for kicks.

"I don't know what happened mom"- Carter
Because 2 and 3 year olds are NOT always easy.

So if you are living with a tiny human who has been alive now for about 2 or 3 years, you know what I mean. Because isn't there always something that you're working on with these pint size humans? There's always something that you're trying to teach them, trying to change in them, trying to curb. Like, in our house for example, we're working on not interrupting and acting out when mom is talking to friends or family members who come over. We're working on not tearing around the house like a madman, jumping on couches, climbing on me or asking me a million questions as I'm focused on talking with whoever has just knocked on my door. Because, you see, these tiny people really do actually believe that the world revolves around them--it's developmental, but it's real to them. So if mom is focused on talking to someone else for even a couple of minutes--well, let's make all hell break loose and be on our worst behaviour. Because we're 3, and the trying threes are real.

So if you happen to come over or expect to talk to me in any way, shape or form at any location, I apologize in advance--we're working on it, daily.

But, if you're sitting there living through what they call the terrible two's or the trying threes, please just know this: with a lot of work, consistency, consequences and boundaries, IT WILL PASS. It really will (I'd like to tell you it doesn't take all of those hard things to get you there...but I can't lie). And on those days when it feels like it's never going to end, well it's also okay to feel like you just want to run away for a while--just to HomeSense for an hour or two to quietly stare at all the pretty, breakable things that you can't yet have in your house, but runaway nonetheless.

But, you see, even though they call them the terrible twos, it's not that 2yr olds are actually terrible--it's just that as a parent, some moments during the day can feel pretty terrible. And when you hit the trying threes, it's not that 3yr olds are always trying...it's just that there are moments during the day that can feel pretty trying. Because little people are still learning. Little people are testing boundaries. Little people are looking for guidance (and sometimes in the most reckless, annoying of ways). So hang in there moms and dads of these tiny people. We'll all get through it together. Because every single hard part of parenting is just a phase. Some are long phases. Some are short. But everything really is just a phase that will eventually end--with a lot of patience, boundaries, consistency and love. It will all eventually be a distant memory... *or you might just choose to block it out--whatever floats your boat and keeps you going.



Because with every hard, exhausting part of having a toddler or preschooler in your house comes a million easy, amazing, wonderful parts as well. This is why children are designed this way--I'm sure of it...so us parents can flip a switch as quickly as they can. It's pretty much like giving birth. The moment that it's over and you're holding that baby in your arms, you all of a sudden forget the agony that that baby just put you through and all is rainbows and sunshine again. Childbirth "wasn't that bad" I do remember people telling me before I gave birth to my first. Which is probably what I will say when I have raging hormonal teenagers in my house and I'm reminiscing about how cute and adorable and lovable our kids were when they were little. Because they really are.






So, you see, somehow we're able to forget about that toddler temper tantrum in the grocery store, or the smack that your 2yr old handed over to a friend on a play date, or the fight over putting pants on every single morning, or the pee on your floor. With one "I love you mommy" or unexpected kiss for no reason, or snuggle on the couch, we forget the hard parts and love these little humans to the ends of the earth. Because they really are so flippin' lovable.






So to all of the parents out there with the barely 2 seconds that you have to read this between calming toddler temper tantrums, cleaning up a million messes, fighting over getting dressed, convincing them to eat what you've made for dinner or reminding them that the word "no" can not be the only word in their vocabulary...please know that it gets better, eventually. And those moments when they come up to you and squeeze you, and love on you, and cuddle you, and ask you to lay with them at night--well those are the moments that we'll remember when we're staring blankly at our spouses when our 16yr olds are really giving us a run for our money.



Everything is a phase, I keep reminding myself. Everything is just a phase. 
And if you know someone who has a 2 or 3 yr old in their house, pour them a glass of wine.

Erica xox  













Friday, 29 January 2016

Baby proof your fireplace or tables for under $4!

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Our baby is on the move. 

You turn your back and she's gone. 

You put her down in one place, and the next moment she is trying to scale my stairs. 

She is a pint-size crawling explorer with no limits and no fear. So Sophia-proofing our house has officially begun.

And the scariest place that we decided to start with was none other than our fireplace. 
Remember our fireplace that we spruced up and transformed a while back? Well, it's all pretty and nice to look at now, but it scares the heck out of me when it comes to babies. Those sharp, rough brick edges and my sweet baby's little face and head?...ya, gives me nightmares. 

So I started searching for solutions. Solutions that would cover those sharp edges and save my sweet baby from certain harm. 

BUT--I had no idea that what I would find would cost me over $40 and essentially be some not-so-soft foam that is wrapped around those sharp edges, sold in pretty packages, found at places like Babies R' Us. 

So I went on a hunt for something different. Something cheaper. Something softer. 

And...and I found it. 


For all of $2 each, you can head on over to your local hardware store (like Lowes or Home Depot) and pick up two of those insulated foam pipes with the adhesive already on it, and you've got yourself some cushy, soft, baby-proofing done on the cheap. 


The great thing about these foam pipes is that they already come with adhesive on them, so you can easily stick them to whatever you want and they'll actually stay put. Have a coffee table with sharp edges? These would work too. Have side tables with sharp edges? This will do the trick. (*just be sure to do a test patch first on your furniture to make sure the adhesive comes off without doing any damage).


The other great thing that I love about these foam pipes is that they spread out way more than the expensive fireplace foam from Babies R Us, so more of the sharp edges are actually protected. And the bonus? They come in grey--so it coordinates with the rest of my living room colours (which is what I tell myself every time that I look at it and cringe at how ugly baby-proofing my house actually looks)...but clearly, completely necessary and absolutely worth it. Safety first of course.

So, to get started, all you do then is peel off a bit of the plastic (in order to reveal the adhesive), spread out the foam across the edge of your fireplace and then push it down and hold it for a few seconds--so that it stays put. Then continue, little by little (peeling and then sticking it down) across the entire edge.


Then when you get to the corner, carefully curve the foam around the corner and hold it in place until the adhesive sticks securely and continue on.


And once your first foam pipe runs out, grab your second pipe, cut it to size, and continue placing it on the rest of the fireplace.



Then, voila!

You've got yourself a much safer fireplace, for less than $4 (technically--since you're not even using 2 full pipes).


And not that it actually LOOKS nice--but hey, I'll sacrifice style at this point to save my baby's head.


And those pretty glass lanterns? Well, baby proofing means that they've made their way to storage too--for now. Because little hands would just love to grab those without a second thought. 


 So our sweet crawling master is now a wee bit safer and I can sleep a wee bit better.

Because just this week she has learned how to stand up.

And so it begins.

Good night everyone,

Erica xo


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Oreo peanut butter cheesecake-super easy, super delicious

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Sometimes you just need to make something a little decadent.

Something a little bit amazing. Something a little bit delicious.


And although I made this particular cake for a birthday party, an occasion to make it isn't necessarily necessary.


Because this peanut butter Oreo cheesecake will blow your mind.







So if you need a little pick-me-up on these dreary, long January days...this cheesecake will certainly do the trick. And if you've never made a cheesecake before and think it must be hard to make, then this recipe was made just for you.




It's melt-in-your-mouth delicious, with the perfect amount of Oreo crunch on top and strips of peanut butter throughout. And easy easy easy to make.

Pretty much perfection.


So take a minute and indulge. Treat yourself.
And enjoy!

Here is the recipe that I used, copied and pasted from This Gal Cooks.

Ingredients
For the crust
  • 1½ C ground Oreo cookies (about 21 cookies)
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ⅓ C butter, melted
For the filling
  • 3 8oz packages of ⅓ less fat cream cheese
  • 1 C creamy peanut butter (do not use natural)
  • 1 C granulate sugar, divided (3/4 C, ¼ C)
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 9 crushed Oreo cookies
For the topping
  • 10 crushed Oreos
  • Hot fudge sauce for drizzling
  • 9 inch springform pan
  • Aluminum foil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 (300 for dark pans)
  2. Make the crust by combining the melted butter, sugar and the ground Oreo cookies. Mix in the butter until well incorporated and all of the ground cookies are moist. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. *Note: I would suggest putting a separate pan on the lower rack of your oven to catch any of the drips from the peanut butter seeping through the springform pan.  
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, ¾ C granulated sugar and the vanilla extract on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Mix in the 9 crushed Oreos and then remove 1½ C of the batter from the mixing bowl and set aside. To the remaining batter, add the peanut butter and the remaining ¼ C sugar and mix on low until well incorporated.
  4. Pour half of the peanut butter batter over the crust and carefully even out and smooth with a spoon. Pour half of the plain batter over the peanut butter layer and carefully even out and smooth with a spoon. Repeat this process until the remaining batter is used. The final layer should be the plain batter.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 60-90 minutes or until the center is slightly jiggly. If the top of the cheesecake starts to darken too much, cover with aluminum foil.
  6. After baking, remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool in a fridge overnight. Once cooled, top with the 10 crushed Oreos and then drizzle with the fudge sauce.
Happy baking!!
Erica xo



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