Camping season is coming!

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In 2010 my husband talked me into getting a camper. We purchased a travel sport camper. We had both camped growing up and felt it was something we wanted to do for our ONE son at the time. While my husband was used to setting up camp for a full summer away from home in a pull trailer with a bathroom, kitchen and all the amenities of home. I was accustomed to a pop-up camper that was used for a 2 week vacation every year. My camping experience required me to leave my camper and walk with a flashlight to go potty.

Needless to say I was a much harder sell on the camping life and the wonderful memories that were yet to be made with my new little family. But, the excitement in my hubby’s eyes and the curiosity in BigB’s then 4 year old eyes sold me on the idea.

The first year we were figuring things out. I was still not a fan by the end of the camping season. This was my profile picture on FB that winter:camping4

 

The next year we didn’t do too badly, we did a little bit of traveling and sightseeing. By the end of that camping season, I was pregnant with LittleL.  So, the following summer found us with a 3 month old baby and a newly minted 5 year old. My Facebook profile picture returned to the above image! I begrudgingly packed up a new baby every weekend and headed out for a camping “trip” that left us no further than 30 mins from our own front door. You know all that “stuff” a 3 month old baby needs, right? I was NOT a happy camper.
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In spring of 2012 we went shopping for a new camper to accommodate our growing family and to help make this momma happy. We got a bigger camper, so we didn’t have to fold down the kitchen table to sleep. We also decided to park our camper in one spot to avoid the repacking every weekend.

Guess what? Everyone had a great summer! We live in an area that is not child friendly. There’s no place to ride a bike or scooter, no place to play road hockey or find a group of friends to just hang out with. BigB loves a place where he can have a campfire every night, a pool, new friends to play with, freedom, sidewalk chalk, street hockey etc. He sleeps like a rock from all the fresh air and self made entertainment.

I still don’t LOVE it. I maintain my argument that I would like the boys to see more of our country, province, etc. than the same 1hr radius every year. For now though, they love the freedom, the fresh air and they are playing old school! Those things I played outside – bike riding, chalk, skipping, scooters – I’ll take that for a few more summers, then I will change my tune again. So I ❤ camping for my boys.

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Maybe 13 Won’t Be So Bad

I spent last week with my 13 year old cousin, Abby. As our 14-month old Violet toddled around after her big cousin, I couldn’t help but think that Tom & I were getting a brief glimpse into our future. Having a baby girl means, inevitably, having a teenage girl someday. As someone who is genuinely scared, sad and filled with dread at the prospect of my sweet, innocent and perfect little baby turning into an attitude-driven adolescent, I have to say that having Abby around showed me that maybe 13 won’t be so bad.

I learned last week that maybe 13 won’t be so bad because sleeping has really (and I mean really!) come a long way by then! If Abby woke in the middle of the night while she was with us, I was none the wiser! She put herself to bed every evening and I didn’t hear from her until well into mid-morning on the following day!

I had braced myself for a bit of brazen before Abby arrived. I was 13 once too and I remember making quips to my elders that resulted in stern looks (and probably embarrassment!) from my parents. Abby was pleasant and polite for the entire duration of her visit. My one-year old, however, threw yogurt and peas at me on a daily basis and made a few swats too!

There are elements of truth here but of course I write with a tone of jest. I don’t want to be interpreted as demonizing Violet in any way! My little one may be difficult but, moreso, she is a blessing in its purest form. What I’m trying to say is that I learned a valuable lesson last week and that is not to dread 13. Maybe 13 won’t be so bad because it means that I will have spent 13 joy-filled years with a person I adore and who was created out of deep love. Maybe 13 won’t be so bad because it will be a fun time in Violet’s life. Even if I hate the music she’ll blare on whatever iteration of the iPod has come about by then and even if she wants to have someone else’s hair colour, I hope that she enjoys the coming-of-age moment of being 13.

I know there will come a day when I will long for a midnight feeding and a dollop of yogurt in my hair but I shouldn’t dread 13 just like I shouldn’t dread any stage of our daughter’s life. Every day is a gift and every year will make us another year richer for having her in our midst. #MelHal

What Do I Really Think OF Camping?

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In 2010 my husband talked me into getting a camper. We purchased a 27 foot travel sport camper, we had both camped growing up, and felt it was something we wanted to do for our son at the time. We had both camped growing up, my husband much more than I. He was used to setting up camp for full summer away from home in a pull trailer with a bathroom, kitchen and all amenities of home. I was used to a pop=up camper that was used for a 2 week time span every year for vacation, this pop up camper required you to leave your warmish camper and walk with a flash light to go potty.
Needless to say I was a much harder sell on the camping life, and the wonderful memories that were yet to be made with my new little family. But, the excitement in hubby’s eyes and the curiosity in BigB 4year olds eyes sold me on the idea.
The first year we were figuring things out, I was still not a fan but the end of the camping season. This was my profile picture on FB that winter:
(insert “glad I am not camping” )
!

Bunny Pancakes

recipe for bunny pancakes

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So I tried making Olaf pancakes a while back and they were a flop. They looked nothing like the original poster’s! (See fail-photo below!) I was hesitant to try another shape pancake. I found this one on Pinterest. It was a bunny hopping away. Perfect – no whiskers, nose or details to worry about! We had our Easter breakfast this morning, as we have our hunt tomorrow and then we’re hitting the road!

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Recipe for Bunny Pancakes

I was unable to find the original poster’s link so here is the Pinterest picture I used as a guide. I didn’t do too bad this time! My two boys were impressed and that’s all that really matters! I posted the link (above) to my FAVOURITE pancake recipe! Yes, it has vinegar in it!

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Easter Cookie Nests

IMG_1987 IMG_1993

Coconut Oat Haystacks
Made into Easter Nests
Ingredients
• 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
• 2/3 cup milk
• 1/2 cup cocoa powder
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter
• 1 pinch salt
• 1/2 tsp vanilla
• 3 cups quick cooking rolled oats, (not instant)
• 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

In large saucepan, bring sugar, milk, cocoa, butter and salt to boil over medium heat, whisking until smooth. *TIP I learned the hard way! Be sure to boil the mixture for 2mins before you remove it from the heat.

Whisk in vanilla. Stir in oats, coconut

Drop by heaping “mounds” onto parchment paper ~At this point I changed it up by shaping my mounts into nest shapes. *Use your hands for this step, after the cookies have cooled a bit and are able to be molded.

IMG_1982                                             COLORED COCONUT

1 cup of Coconut
Food coloring
Baggie
Little L and I put 1 cup of coconut in a baggie and put a few drops of green food coloring in with it. I sealed the baggie and gave it to little L to shake it up. We used approx. 6 drops of green to achieve the color you see in the pictures.

I spooned small amounts of the colored coconut into the “nests” and pressed it in a bit while the cookies were still not firm.

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We added two jelly beans to represent eggs in the nest. When I make these again, I will add a small drop of icing to hold. #MelMar IMG_1994

 

 

National Sibling Day …

Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.

Margaret Mead

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/margaretme393230.html#hbyluhVcE1mrYMpq.99

Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.

Margaret Mead

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/margaretme393230.html#hbyluhVcE1mrYMpq.99

Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.

Margaret Mead

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/margaretme393230.html#hbyluhVcE1mrYMpq.99

sisters sisters1

“Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown,it becomes the strongest relationship.

~Margaret Mead

 

 

With almost five years separating us in age, we still grew up very close. I think it’s because MelHal was always thinking she was older than she really was. Like all siblings we have our moments, both good and otherwise. Here are some questions we generated and answered separately. It was nice to see each others responses. Have fun reading and looking at some throw back pictures of some cute little girls!

Questions

#melmar

#melhal

Christmas memory together…

The Christmas we got stuck on the boat going to NFLD, once we arrived Oma fell and broke her collarbone. #LONGSTORY

MelMar & I were always expected to wrap Dad’s Christmas presents for Mom. I did not have the crafty knack she did so I would often misjudge the amount of paper I needed. We coined the phrase “joiner piece” to describe the extra strip of paper I would inevitably have to add to cover the gift contents!

Something you said that you regret…

When I was 13 – Melhal was 7 and she spent her own money on a ceramic bell for me as a gift. When I was opening it, I said “is this really what’s inside ( with a teenage attitude) … YUP it was. It’s on video so it’s preserved !

Oh my. Hate revisiting this and have said my apologies! I may have scolded MelMar (to use her as an example!) when she was filling a shift in a job that I was supervising.:/

Time you were most proud of the other…

When Melhal returned from her year in Korea, I was pretty impressed that she stayed away from home for a whole year and came home and got engaged to her boyfriend ( double proud)

I think I am most proud of MelMar right now! She will be graduating with her Masters in Education next month and I think it’s amazing that she has pulled that off while also working 2 full-time jobs – being a teacher and a mom!

When you think of your sister as a parent, you think …

Melhal and her husband are very caring and put their baby girl’s needs first. Miss. V is bringing out a new side of Melhal, that I like!

I see MelMar as a Pinterest Parent. I often think of how little the boys realize now about how much work she puts into preparing activities and crafts but how much they will appreciate it when they’re older.

Weirdest memory you have together…

Oh so many…

Once when we were visiting our grandparents there was a festival happening in town. MelMar heard on the radio that you would gain free access to the grounds if you wore a clown costume. To this day I think she misheard because we were the ONLY people on the field dressed as clowns. We did get in for free though and people thought we were part of the attractions so they got pictures taken with us. I remember MelMar even developed a special voice to go along with her clown persona!

Favorite family vacation

See Disney Christmas Blog write-up. However every vacation together was all ways a hit! Camping and road trips alike!

Maybe it’s because I got severe food poisoning on the last Disney trip…or maybe it’s because I was 8 months pregnant waddling through “The Happiest Place On Earth” but I think it was our first trip to Disney in 1992 that was my favourite.

Favorite tradition

Not sure if it is a tradition, but we would always sit at the table for supper time ( seems to be a lost part of daily routine). Here we would have great conversation and share our thoughts/feelings!

I COMPLETELY agree with Melanie on this one. We would sit around the table for a long time after the meal was over and chat. We had no idea that those conversations were building our family’s relationship and that we were getting advice from one another about things happening in our lives. It just felt very natural to be talking around the table.

I could not resist sharing this youtube link to Avicii’s Song – Hey Brother

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cp6mKbRTQY

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Florida (Disney) … At Christmas Time?

   disneymickey       There seems to be so much circulating my personal Facebook page and on the Twitter feed about Disney parks! Spring break takes a lot of people down south. I love looking at everyone’s Disney pictures! MelHal and I went twice as teenagers and we made great memories on the LONG drive to Florida and being there with our aunt and grandparents.

     In 2011 my parents came to me and my husband with the idea of going to Disney for Christmas 2012. It was a hard sell to my husband, and I was on the fence. Seriously, Christmas at Disney? What about the traditions, Santa Claus, tree, stockings, gifts, turkey? I couldn’t handle the thought of “losing” a Christmas with my then 18month old and 6year old! These were the years of making memories during Christmas.

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     Time progressed and I ended up selling the idea to myself and my husband and we agreed to Disney for Christmas 2012. Twelve of us went. We rented a house just minutes away from the entrance to the Disney parks, and my aunt assured me there would be a tree and a turkey dinner!

     The trouble of gifts. We wanted to maintain the Christmas day traditions with and for the kids. So, Christmas gifts were flat and light! We were flying after all and needed to comply with the baggage restrictions. After all the concerns of Christmas traditions were taken care of, we were set to go to Florida with an 18month old and 6 year old.

     We went with a game plan – which parks to see, what things our children would want to see, etc. It was like a university course for 3 months to prepare for our trip! Once our plane landed and we felt the warm breeze on our faces on December 20th we knew we were going to have fun. After all, we had just survived a long international journey with two kids – even complete with flight change!

A few of highlights from our trip:

Seaworld

     Going over Christmas has its perks for sure! One is the décor. Wow! Every corner screams Christmas. The characters are Christmas themed, the shops have Christmas themed gifts, and there is artificial snow. Believe me, even though we are from Canada, we all got a little excited seeing those flakes fly in the sky

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     Seaworld had dinner with Santa. How cool is that? We had a buffet meal, the elves were there to entertain us, Mrs. Claus delivered warm cookies to us for dessert, Santa read us a story and of course the kids sat on his lap. If you want to do this, book ahead!

     Oh Wondrous Night is a show that Seaworld puts on during Christmas. Again, wow!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o2VbLOlUGw

     It is a live show of the Christmas story, including live animals. It was amazing and well worth viewing. It was another perk of going at Christmas.

Disney

     We went to a character breakfast at Chef Mickey. While it was pricey, it was a great way for the kids to get autographs and photo ops from all the characters without the line-ups and have a Mickey-shaped waffle! If your child has an allergy, please know they take it seriously! The chef came out to check on my dairy-free son and directed us to which items were safe for him. He even brought him an almond milk drink!

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     Going during Christmas provides you with a whole other experience like no other time of year! The decorations are breathtaking. Don’t get me started on watching Cinderella’s Castle lighting up. Every night they light the castle. Stop what you are doing and go watch. In the meantime, watch this video! (You can skip to the 5 minute mark if you’re short on time.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGoOkIuyc_0

     People warned me about the crowds at Christmas and by people I mean the internet. It really wasn’t as bad as I had myself prepared for but that could be because my kids were not old enough to go on rides. We were more for characters and shows. We did use the fast pass too, which helped a lot.

     The Osborne light show at Hollywood Studios is out of this world and worth staying till after dark to see! The Christmas music and dancing lights make it so exciting for the young and old. We did not stay and watch fireworks anywhere, because it was just too chilly in the evenings for us and the kids. Even though we are from the North, we were not prepared for the chilly evenings. We will be next time though!

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     I have to say that the REAL Santa is at Disney World! We met Santa at Downtown Disney and it was not a Santa Helper. It had to be the real deal! If you go at Christmas, find Santa. He is wonderful!

*TIP-about Photopass cards:

     Use them! With small kids moms never get in front of the camera. With the Photopass cards the photographer just scans the card and takes the picture and they’re at all the characters and hot spots. It was great. I was able to be in the pictures and see the excitement in the kids’ faces instead of being worried about getting the pictures. We bought the CD and we were able to print the pictures as we wished!

     So after all my nervousness, apprehension, Christmas tradition concerns and my husband not really sure about going, we all had a great time seeing Florida and Disney. When Christmas 2013 rolled around we were wishing we were packing up to go again.

    Well, ok NOT the packing part (we had to buy a new bag to bring back the gifts!). We will go back and see Disney again, probably not Christmas next time – but I certainly recommend the Christmas season at Disney!

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As you can see there was Christmas!

 

When Baby 2 Comes Along …

     When BigB was 4 years old we gathered both sets of grandparents for a lunch…and to put a roof on our shed. Along with the free labour, we had a purpose disguised in that lunch. We announced to everyone that BigB was going to be a big brother. Everyone was pleasantly surprised while BigB wasn’t sure at that point what it all meant. To be honest, neither did I.
35 weeks after that lunch, LittleL arrived via repeat C-section (that can be another post!). Our hospital stay was much like with my first, I knew what to expect from a C-section, my parents and sister were there to focus on BigB’s needs. My husband stayed in the hospital with me. I saved all the same things I did with BigB…Or did I?

     If I rewind a bit and look at #1’s baby book, (which, I might add, is nicely done in a scrapbook with fancy papers, stickers and printed pictures), all the blanks are filled in and all special moments are recorded! I included appointment cards for my OB GYN. Yeah, you know those cards you get every 2 weeks you go? I had at least a dozen of them securely glued in a pretty book. There were three other pages in that same book dedicated to special moments for each trimester as well as names we were thinking about, cravings I was having, heartbeat rates…it was all there to help me remember!

babyboxes
Other than the presence of physical mementos there were other distinct differences between my first pregnancy and second. With my first, there was a shower. There were cards and gifts to celebrate Number 1’s arrival. There was a cake, food, games, people and pictures (as in printed pictures).

     We took prenatal classes the first time around. We weren’t quite so studious with Number 2. We figured we knew what we were doing. (Besides, I had kept all of the handouts from the first classes in a baby book so I could review them anyway.)

     Yes, #1 has a lovely scrapbook made by yours truly but he also has a Winnie the Pooh box that houses his first hospital hat, arm bands, photocopies of his hospital feeding chart, cards from his first year of everything! I even put the deflated helium balloons and flower cards in there.
What does #2 have? A grocery store bag. Yup. I’ve held on to most of the same stuff but it’s in that grocery store bag. There is no scrapbook, partially due to the fact that I don’t have an interest in scrapbooking anymore, but also TIME. With two kids there is no time to drag all that stuff out and I don’t print pictures.

     While we are talking about printed pictures, it’s worth noting that there are approximately 2000 printed pictures and 7 full video tapes of his first year. #2 has about 300 printed pictures and is included in 2 of those 7 tapes. While that seems very skewed, that doesn’t mean I don’t take pictures of LittleL! Completely the opposite – I take more! I also take lots of video clips on my iPhone and iPad. I don’t print pictures, I save them! I share them via Facebook so I have no need to print them and send them out via snailmail.

Babyboxes2
So am I a slacker mom or a slave to technology? Am I changing with the times? Is LittleL being cheated out of childhood memories? Does it get worse with 3 or 4 kids or more? I think LittleL will be just fine. I have a lot of pictures. I have all the key items. But who are these items for, anyway? Are they for him? He probably won’t care. What 35 year old man is saying “Man, I wish my mom had my OB GYN appointment cards from when she was pregnant with me.”? Probably not too many. I think both boys’ significant others will be pleased with the amount of childhood keepsakes that are here for them to “oooh and ahhhh” over, but they won’t be able to have them because they are MINE!

Must go get my video camera and take some video of Little L. Thanks for reading.