Tuesday, 31 March 2015



Once a week, I have been trekking Scarlett and Malcolm out to the Ontario Early Years Centre for a parent education workshop on Resiliency.  Free child care, food and parenting advice?  Sign us up.  It is nice to sit in a room with adults and learn about education's newest buzz word, but the best part has been the homework assignments.  Malcolm is usually eating at the end of the session, so I grab the supplies and take the activity home to do with Scarlett later in the day.

The first weeks' assignment was to make a flower and it was the most soul satisfying thing I have done with my child all year.  Both of us felt that way.  On each petal, you write one strength of the person you are making the flower for (we were provided a long list of strengths to choose from).  She felt so empowered by all the nice things I said about her and insisted that we tape it to the front window for all the neighbourhood to see.  We made one together for Nevin and finished by making one for me.  Here is what she said:

Loving: "Because you love Nevin and me."
Calm: [Me: Do you even know what calm means?] "Yes.  Like 'Calm Down!' You're good at that."
Different: "Because you like matching clothes and like unmatching clothes.  We're different.  I like that."
Strong: "Yeah!  You have big, strong muscles!"
Planner: "Because you like to plan things."

Different?  Planner?  She nailed it.

p.s. Last week, our homework was to blow bubbles to practice deep breathing with our kids.  We were supposed to practice when life was calm, so we'd be ready to use it when Scarlett refuses to put on her jacket and the baby is screaming in the carseat and Nevin is freaking that he is going to miss the bus our child's age appropriate decisions cause us tension (refer to descriptive word #2 above - clearly this mom gets worked up often).  Blowing bubbles indoors takes the cake when you are 4 years old.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Malcolm at 3 months


He continues to be big.  18 lb 9 oz.  27 inches.  The public health nurse refused to weigh him at the drop in clinic ("He looks healthy; no need.")  That just would NOT due for my Type-A self who wanted, needed, to fill in that blank line at 3 months in his baby book growth chart.  Shawn saved the day month.  He took Malcolm to the local bike shop and hung him from a bike rack that they have to weigh bikes (cyclists like to know how much extra weight they are hauling around).  Pretty ingenious, if you ask me.

Except when he has a cold, which seems to be every other week, he is starting to sleep well.  He can go about  seven hours with only one feed.  It is making a world of difference for me.

The hardest adjustment has been my lack of free time.  In my head, I thought at 8 weeks everything would just get easier - thats what I remember from the first two babies.  From his birth, I was counting down the weeks.  When eight weeks turned into 11 and 12 weeks, I started getting discouraged.  Then I realized a few things:  a) things were never as overwhelming with Malcolm as they had been with my first baby, b) I have three children and c) therefore things will never be as easy as they were with my first.  Instead of going up an adjustment curve, I'm just kind of flying straight across the graph of new parenthood.  I committed to taking time for myself everyday:  I work out for at least 30 minutes before Shawn leaves for work in the morning, and everyone in the family understands that it is my uninterrupted time.  It has helped a lot and it will get my through the next while as I wait for the return of glorious amounts of me time.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

So I have a cell phone.


Its been a big week for the telecommunications industry.  Sasha Warner, the last hold out of her generation, got a cell phone.  That's right.  I've joined the party.

I have really enjoyed these years of being unreachable.  A modern day hermit, if you will.  I could reach anyone I wanted at almost anytime, but they couldn't reach me.  I wanted silence, and I lived a text free, ringer free existence.  

But then we started having problems with our landline, and it seemed easier to just have two cells.  Shawn's been pushing this for a while, and it makes a lot of sense.  I agreed to it last Sunday afternoon, and he was on the phone with our cell phone provider on Sunday night.  The process was completed and I officially inherited Shawn's old phone Thursday morning.

Day one was a little frustrating for everyone but me.  Apparently, the key to using a cell phone is remembering you have one.  I missed a couple congratulatory calls and texts.  Shawn emailed me late in the afternoon to say "In case you forgot about the phone, I texted you to tell you..."  Woops.  I only got frustrated once, when I realized -- too late -- that I had in fact sent myself a text from my iPad to Shawn's old cell phone.  So day one wasn't a total success, but it helped me realize three things.  I can still be unreachable and have silence whenever I want: I own the cell phone, it doesn't own me, and I can turn it off whenever I want.

The same goes for social media.  I've been off social media since I gave up Facebook last year for Lent.  It was adding too much noise to my life.  With the cell phone, I have the temptation to add some things back in.  Like having Instagram for the first time ever.  I hear there are a lot of easy ways to document life with one's phone camera and Instagram, so I signed up.  I have posted a whopping three pictures to date.  Instagram is pushing, pushing, pushing me to follow others, but thats where the noise comes in.  I don't care who follows me.  I won't follow back.  I am using the technology how I want to and I am in control.

So there you have it.  I am in the game and you can call me whenever you want.  Just don't call me today.  I've had laryngitis since Thursday.

Amazing Easy Artisanal Bread


My Emile Henri dutch oven: one of my loves.  A rarely used, and adored love.  It was a wedding gift.  You know how some things just strike you the moment you have them?  I hadn't asked for a Dutch oven, but once I had it I knew I'd never want to let it go.  I love its colour, its heft, its marbled surface.  Its the most bizarre thing because normally I don't get too attached to things unless they are wool socks (or my Hudson Bay blanket.  Also wool).  We've had it for almost a decade and I think I've used it less than two dozen times just because I didn't know what to use it for.

Until last week.  I came across a recipe for bread that seemed too easy, and the picture looked too perfect.  Turns out, the recipe really is that easy and it really does make a gorgeous crusty loaf of bread.  The kind of bread that you would expect to find in a paper bag with the word artisanal stamped on it beside the $5 price tag (also stamped with organic carrot juice ink).  I have made it four times this week.  Since I can't afford another Emile Henri dutch oven, thus limiting my ability to make millions selling this bread to the masses, I'll just give you the recipe.  Because everyone deserves to have this bread in their life.

Amazing Easy Artisanal Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 cups water

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and yeast.  Mix in the water.  Cover the bowl and leave your dough to rise for 12-18 hours.  I've left it for as much as 24 hours, and it turned out great.
2.  Preheat your oven to 450 *F.  Place your dutch oven (or any lidded casserole dish will work) in the oven while it preheats.  Do not grease the dutch oven - the bread won't stick.  Heavily four your work surface and your fingers.  You are going to take the dough out of the bowl, but the dough will be very sticky.  Place the dough on the floured work surface and shape into a circle.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap while you wait for the oven to preheat.
3.  When the oven reaches 450*F, take the dutch oven out and plop the ball of dough into the middle.  Put the lid on the dutch oven.  This is essential.  The lid traps the steam, and steam is what makes bread crusty.  Bake the bread for 30 minutes.
4.  Remove the lid from the dutch oven and bake the bread for another 15 minutes.  Behold!  You just made a gorgeous loaf of bread!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Grilled Squash and Arugula Sandwich


I shot this picture way back in June, when I was deep into morning sickness and few things looked appetizing.  We picked up dinner one night and their version was SO good - when nothing was tasting good - that I decided to make it at home.  I made it a bunch of times and ate it until I was literally sick of it.  I took the picture when I was still in love, but shortly thereafter things took a turn and the thought of having another sandwich made me nauseous (morning sickness really brings time-worn cliches to life).

Now that the baby is out and morning sickness is a distant memory, I've decided that I kind of love these flavours together again.  I made it last week with sweet potatoes since I didn't have squash and it was also delicious.

Grilled Squash and Arugula Sandwich
(Inspired by The Masonry Restaurant)

1 butternut squash
1Tbsp olive oil
1 cup loosely packed arugula
1 Tbsp butter
Goat cheese
Sourdough bread (or Pumpernickel is pretty delicious, too)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 *F.  Peel and deseed the butternut squash.  Chop into pieces that are about 2cm cubes.  In a large bowl, toss the squash pieces in the olive oil until coated.  Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (if you aren't using parchment paper, put your cookie sheet in the oven while it preheats to prevent sticking).  Roast for about 40 minutes, until the squash is tender.
2. Take two slices of bread and butter one side - this will be the outside of the sandwich.  Spread goat cheese on one slice.  Layer on the arugula*, a half cup of squash and the second slice of bread.  Grill the sandwich until the bread is golden brown.  As your grilling, put a little pressure on the sandwich to squish it a bit - I think it makes it better.

* It seems like a lot of arugula, but it will wilt down and you'll wish you had more.

Scarlett's Dictionary


Bone. Verb.
1. To approach an impending meal with gusto.
    "Bone up to eat!"
     Synonym: Bon apetit!

Boxing. Adjective.
1. Used to describe men's underwear.
    "Excuse me, Mommy... I just saw Daddy's boxing underwear!"
    Synonym: Boxers

Sank. Verb.
1. To express gratitude.
    "Sank you, Mommy!  Sanks!"
    Synonym:  Thank you.

Marbleless.  Adjective.
1. Superb, excellent, great.
    "Mommy, don't you think these princess slippers are marbleless?"
    Synonym:  Marvelous
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