Thursday, February 25, 2010

Annual Hotel Weekend - 2010

Every year mom-and-dad in-law take all of us kids and grandkids to a hotel for the weekend. The hotel location is not consistent. We have spent time in Steinbach, in Winnipeg and, last year, in Grand Forks, ND at the casino. A little over a week ago, we went to Winkler. I know, great family destination location. Really, the things that are important are a pool and waterslides for the kids and a continental breakfast for the rest of us. The choice of hotels are based on those criteria plus cost-per-night -- kind of important when you book 5 rooms for 2 nights. So, this year it was the Days Inn in Winkler. Because we are a family of 7, most hotel rooms do not accomodate us. We were fortunate to get a 2 room suite that had room for all of us. Jay and I had our own room, complete with TV and a queen bed (the room was not much bigger than the bed though) and the rest of the suite was another queen bed, a sofa-bed, a small kitchenette and the bathroom. We left the soft-bed as a sofa and set up 2 playpens so there was plenty of room for us. I loved having the fridge and microwave plus cupboards for all our snacks. We had more food than usual as we were celebrating RJ's 4th birthday while there. The big party was yesterday but she knew which day was her birthday and birthdays are VERY important to her so a celebration, with cake and candles, needed to happen.

The weekend is mainly spent in the pool. Well, that is what the kids intend. My intentions were to watch as much HGTV and TLC as possible while crocheting. As you can see, the two don't really go hand-in-hand. After we arrived Friday afternoon, into the pool we went. AJ, my youngest son, never goes in the pool. He hangs out in the hot tub. We figure it is because he actually has no body fat and gets cold way too easily. However, just before we left the room, he did tell us that we would go down the slide by himself because he was now 5. I was gonna believe him when I saw it. When we got to the pool he actually. Went. In. The. Pool! AJ has NEVER gone in the water. He would swim in the hot tub and avoid the pool like the plague. He went in the water. I was shocked. And very pleased. The water was warmer than other pools so that may have been the clincher. Or the fact that he was 5, as he said.

Pepe, our oldest, is a little fish in the water, as is RJ. Both love the water and the slides and have no fear of either. As this was baby girl Ari's first time in the water, we wondered how she would do! Typical of her personality, she loved it, splashing and kicking!

Little side story. Last year, we went to the casino outside Grand Forks and there is a huge water park there. I was 7 months pregnant with Ari at the time. All the other kids had life jackets on. AJ was in the hot tub, as usual, as was Ali. RJ was cruising around with some of her cousins. At one point, I couldn't see her anywhere. That water park has so many structures in it that it is hard to see around all the corners and into every part of the pool. I handed off Ali and went to search for RJ. When I saw her, I had to try hard not to panic. She was floating, on her back, in the deep part of the pool. She knew she was in trouble and was trying to grab onto whoever was close to her but everyone tried to avoid her. The lifeguard was pretty unobservant as well. "Don't panic. Don't panic" That is what I kept telling myself as I scooped her up in my arms and breathed a huge, "O, thank you Lord for keeping her safe!" We had a good talk and she never went to that part of the pool again. That was a stressful weekend! This past weekend was so much better - you could see the whole pool all the time. Water parks are not good for us at this stage of the game.

So, anyway, there was lots of swimming, lots of eating and a bit of TV (not enough, in my opinion. And, with only a few hours on the weekend, you really don't get to see a bunch of shows. But, the bit I did see was good! I know, I know, we could just get cable here but then I would never get anything done and it would take just that much longer to get our next house! I know my priorities!!), a touch of crocheting and small bit of sleep. These weekends are never relaxing for us as the mom and dad but it is so memorable for the kids that we look forward to it each and every year. Thank so much, mom and dad!!

New Look

I don't get haircuts that often but I certainly enjoy them! I love LOVE my stylist and will follow her wherever! For the past year or more, I have been sporting an asymmetrical bob. I decided I wanted to grow my hair out and it was in desperate need of a trim. I wanted something a little more edgy, something that would grow out well but not hang too heavy as I have a LOT of hair! I am SOOOOO happy with the result! What do you think? Now at least when the camera crew and 2 creative directors descend on our house next week to film a commercial starring our littlest babe, myself and hubs, my hair will look fantastic!!

I Am In Love With a Pencil Sharpener

Have you ever tried sharpening a pencil with a standard little stick-the-pencil-in-the-handheld-sharpener-and-turn-forever thing until you think the pencil is sharp only to find it has broken off? So, you try again and it breaks again and you try again and it breaks again and before you know you, you have sharpened the pencil down to a stub and it is STILL BROKEN??!!! That has happened to me maybe a time or two or two hundred. I was getting tired of a sore wrist and disappointed children and a waste of time. So, I went on a hunt. No more $2-$4 sharpeners for me. I was determined to find something that worked even if it cost $20. And it did. Cost a bit more than $20. Let me introduce you to the X-ACTO Helix 1900 Electic Pencil Sharpener available at Staples for $21.90. A little pricey but, oh, the sheer bliss of perfectly pointed pencils. I went through the entire pencil and pencil crayon collection and sharpened every. single. one. They now all sport perfectly pointed tips with little effort from me. Sure, I did overheat the motor in this electric sharpener a time or two. Comes from sharpening 500 pencils at a time (that is just a rough estimate, according to hubby!). But, let me tell you, all other sharpeners are a thing of the past. This baby, this beauty, this amazing little device is my newest love! So, if you are ever in the area and need a pencil (or 30) sharpened, you know where to find me (and my sharpener!!).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Making Memories - Winter Fun

Winter is a magical time for us! Dad-in-law makes a great ice rink each year on their yard. We have a couple of outdoor rinks here in town but the convenience of skating at the farm cannot be beat. The house is a nice warm place to get dressed, washrooms are close by in case of necessity and we generally get fed supper - what's not to like?? RJ decided she wanted to abandon the bob-skates in favor of single-blade skates! What a girl!

One of the best reasons for skating at the farm - the snowmobile is handy in case boredom from skating sets in. It is so fun watching the kids slide around on their sliders behind the sled while their dad tries to run them into the various piles of snow. The boys love it but RJ is right in there with them! The smile on her face is so fun to see.

Yesterday, I sat backwards on the sled while Jay drove so I could take some pictures! The boys are predictable, RJ is a little dare-devil, turning backwards, lying down and generally being a goof! I think all this watching of the Olympics is really getting into their heads!!

Finally, here are some pictures of us wearing the hats I have made! Yes, I made one for myself and love it!

I hope you have a fantastic weekend! The whole in-law clan is going to a hotel in a neighbouring town for the weekend. Swimming and waterslides shall prevail along with a whole pile of home decorating/renovating shows (no cable here so this weekend is my annual chance to enjoy such delights!!). Heavenly for the kids and for me! Guess I better get packing!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Newsboy Brim Beanie

I just can't stop crocheting! I am having so much fun and my kids are enjoying seeing what comes next. I am actually trying to teach my 6-year old how to crochet his own scarf. He is determined to make the scarf while I make a matching hat. We will see just how far that actually goes!!

In the meantime, I tried another pattern I got from Inner Hooker. This one is the Newsboy Brim Beanie! I modified the size 1-5 year pattern as I found it a tad too long ("Mom, I'm blind!!") for my gonna-be-4-on-Saturday girl. After removing 2 rows, it was a perfect fit! She loves it and so do I! What do you think?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crochet Craze

I first learned to knit a long, LONG time ago. My grandmother taught me. I still have that piece of knitted fabric on those circular needles. I have never finished that sweater because, to be honest, I hate knitting! It is too stressful for me. I always worry about dropping a stitch or totally uneven tension which would ruin the appearance of the craft. So, I learned how to crochet. Sort of self-taught, sort of shown by my sister. I crocheted a Mile-a-Minute afghan during the first year of our marriage, more than 10 years ago. I crocheted a little baby sweater for my niece about 9 years ago. That was it. I just stopped. Remember that post from a little while back telling you about the contest the Inner Hooker was having? Well, that was what started the love affair all over again.

I didn't win any patterns so I decided to buy them. I mean, when you Buy 2 and Get 2 Free, you cannot go wrong. Four adorable patterns. I started with my favorite! This scalloped-edge beanie crochets super fast and is incredibly adorable! I made the 6-12 month size but it easily fits my 2 year-old. She loves her new black hat with big blue flower! I made another in ivory with 2 small pink flowers. I ended up selling it a few days later!

Then I found another pattern on-line, thanks to defiKNITely. This time, a hat with ear-flaps, called a chullito. RJ, my very-soon-to-be-four-year-old, wanted a hat with a flower on it. I thought this one would be perfect. However, it was written for an 18" head, which is the size of my gonna-be-one-on-Friday girl. I added a pom-pom on top and it is just adorable on her. No pics of her though as she doesn't sit still long enough to get a pic.

I modified the pattern and increased it in size and came up with a perfect hat for RJ and her 20" head. She wanted a flower so I added a nice large one! So, so cute! Now to make one for my 5 year-old, whose head is the same size. His, however, will be blue, even though he would like pink! Or maybe it was his brother who wanted pink. Whatever the case, no pink for the boys. Daddy's rules!

I love the serenity crocheting allows and how I can do bits and pieces while teaching school or sitting in the tub (yes, I tried), relaxing in bed or riding in the van. It is such an easy craft to learn and requires so few tools. I ordered a couple of crocheting books from Amazon and I am super excited to get them. I will be sure to share them with you once they arrive. So, until next time, happy crocheting!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Favorite Things - January 2010

I have decided to do a little series called "My Favorite Things". I intend to post this on the last day of each month but, as you can see, that may vary by a few days.

So, in no particular order, here are my favorite things for January, 2010.

1. Winter Blooms

Around here, nothing is blooming. The only thing that even looks alive are the evergreen trees. I take great pleasure in forcing amaryllis bulbs to produce showy blossoms just so winter doesn't seem so dreary. Aren't they gorgeous? And, if you time it right and buy a few different varieties, you could have weeks of blooms!

2. Hoar frost

I don't understand the science of it - something to do with fog freezing on the trees but the effect is stunning. I absolutely love waking up to a morning of hoar frost. It makes the whole world seem a little unreal. And if you examine it up closely, it almost looks like coral. White coral everywhere. It really is breathtaking!

3. My Sunbeam electric blanket

There is nothing that compares to climbing into a bed covered with flannel sheets and prewarmed by an electric blanket, especially when it is -35C outside and seemingly only a tad warmer inside. I LOVE my blankie!! Rarely a night goes by that Jay does not hit the PreHeat button for me so my bed is nice and toasty upon my arrival. Funny story about it. A long time ago I wanted an electric blanket. Hubs insisted I just get a twin size, he didn't really need it. A twin size blanket covers exactly the top of a queen-sized bed. After a while, I started hearing comments like, "Do you think you could turn the blanket a little warmer?" and other such nonsense from the guy who didn't really need it. Once that blanket fell apart, I bought a queen-sized one, which has dual controls. Now I can keep my side as hot as I want and so can he!

4. Protect-A-Bed Mattress Protector

This is hands-down the best mattress protector out there. No matter how much the kid pees the bed, the bed stays dry! We have one on every bed in this house and so should you! Do you have any idea the kinds of things that make their way into your mattress each and every night? The amount of liquid in the form of drool or sweat or any other bodily secretions? What about dead skin cells? All in your mattress! The thought just about makes me sick! No wonder old mattresses weigh about a tonne! That is just disgusting! Protect-A-Bed mattress protectors are hospital grade and work wonderfully! We have had a few kids pee the bed or dump water on the bed and no wet mattresses. True, they are a bit spendy - about $100 for a twin-sized one, but worth every penny!

5. Simmons BeautyRest Imperial Royale Pillowtop Mattress

Apparently, this mattress was designed for Queen Elizabeth when she came to Canada or Winnipeg to visit. Seriously, this mattress is amazing. I mean, it is high-end stuff filled with bamboo and cashmere. But the sleep! Oh, the blissful sleep! We bought a new mattress when I was pregnant with #4 and if a mattress can make a 7-month pregnant woman feel good, it can make anyone feel good!

Those are just a few of my favorite things for January!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Resolution Check-In - February 1

Well, I thought I would let you know each month how my New Year's Resolutions are going. After all, I did make some lofty goals so I thought it was only right of me to keep you updated as to how things are going.

Here are the goals (in black) and my updates (in red).

  • No sweets. That's right - no chocolate, no Kit Kat bars, no cheesecake, no Pepsi, no Saucy Hot Fudge Pudding, no homemade Hot Fudge Sauce to smother my icecream, no slurpies, no homemade iced tea - get the point??!!

So far, so good. Actually, I have a confession. 2 of them. I did eat chocolate. Totally unintentionally. Honest! I made pancakes for the kids and put chocolate chips in them. I had them on the serving plate and the chocolate chips were on the underside. I started munching away on it when I realized I was eating chocolate. About 6 chocolate chips. I know, I know. I felt terrible. It has nothing to do with my will-power failing, just my brain going dumb for a moment. After all, I was the one who put the chocolate chips in them! I should have remembered. Confession #2. We went over to some dear people's house the other day for lunch (rarely happens that we get invited to someone's house for a meal). I took a sip of the juice without realizing there was 7-Up in it. I promptly gave the rest to my daughters and drank water for the rest of the day. My will-power is holding up just fine. It is tempting sometimes to eat the wonderful sweets I still make but I just grab some water and start cleaning instead. So, all is good!

  • Run 500 miles. That sounds a little extreme, however, if you break it down, it is only 1.36986301369 miles per day or 9.61538461538 miles per week. Totally doable! Check out the running woman on the side to watch my progress.

If you have been checking out my little running woman, you will see that I am at 41.75 miles! I need to be running 1.369 miles per day to reach my goal so I should be at 43.835 miles by now. I am only 2.08 miles off my goal. That is fantastic. I started the month running 1.5 - 2 miles per day about 5 days per week at a speed of 4 mph. I know, I know, I can walk at that speed. However, I am now running 2 - 2.5 miles per day at 5 - 5.5 mph. That is what I love about a treadmill. It is so much easier to measure your progress. Ultimately, my goal is to run at 6 mph 3 miles per day.

  • Lose weight! #1 and #2 should help with this. So will Jillian Michaels and Billy Blanks. One of the reasons I love being pregnant is because I don't worry about my weight. If I have a big tummy, it is for a reason. Now I have no excuse (and I don't consider 5 kids an excuse!!). So, by the time 2011 rolls around, I'd like you to see about 15 pounds less of me!

I have lost weight! About 3-5 pounds, depending when I weigh myself. I also bought a body fat/hydration scale but I am still figuring out how to get consistent results. Who knew that hydration levels could affect body fat levels so drastically??!! I still don't get the relationship. All I know is, I need to drink even more water than I already do, which is a tonne. See, this scale says that I am on the low level of hydration, and I drink a lot of water, and my husband is on the high end of hydration and he hardly ever drinks anything. I don't get it! Anyhow, yes, with all the running and no sweets, I have lost weight. I am seeing definition in my calves and by my hip bones. And I bought a pair of size 7 pants that actually fit me! I am soooo excited! All this work is paying off!

  • Read through the entire Bible. I see this one as being the most difficult. I tend to get bogged down in Leviticus and Numbers. Something about all those lists. Okay, so if I get through most of the Bible, I will consider this done! After all, just watching the state of your physical being and ignoring the state of your spiritual being is pretty useless. Hell couldn't care less if you are thin.

Thanks to a Bible reading plan sent to me by a friend, I am keeping up with reading my Bible everyday. Some things I still don't get, like the entire book of Romans (something about the Romans class I took at college really gave me a dislike for this book. It just makes no sense to me. Having to dissect EVERY. SINGLE. VERSE. really killed it. I digress). Other than that, this is going well, too!

So, there you have it. I made it through January without any hot chocolate, the thing I miss most! Ice-cold fruit smoothies, though delicious, just don't give you that same cozy feeling on a bitterly cold winter evening! Only 11 more months and 458.25 miles to go!

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